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Editor: Julio Franco

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Features & Specifications

The Intel X48 Express chipset supports new technologies such as a 1600MHz system bus speed, next-generation 45nm dual- and quad-core processors, and DDR3 memory to deliver increased system bandwidth and improved performance. This chipset also supports the PCI Express 2.0 interface to deliver two fully capable PCI x16 slots for maximum performance when operating in Crossfire mode.

In order to support the latest DDR2 and DDR3 memory types, the Memory Controller Hub (MCH) features wider buses that support Dual-Channel DDR2 at 533/677/800/1066MHz, while official DDR3 memory support goes as high as 1600MHz. ASUS also supports native DDR3-2000 memory with the P5E3 Premium through overclocking. While the X48 chipset does support both DDR2 and DDR3 memory, only one type can be used at once and most motherboards will support one or the other, in this case the P5E3 Premium exclusively supports DDR3.

The P5E3 Premium features an ADI 1988B codec which has been used quite a lot by ASUS in recent times. This version comes with a software utility called SoundMAX BlackHawk, which features the Sonic Focus Adaptive Dynamics process that "restores the clarity and quality of compressed audio in movies, music, and games." Serving as the primary interface for your PC audio driver, Sonic Focus Adaptive Dynamics is designed to enhance all audio in the system regardless of the application being used. A powerful yet intuitive user interface puts you in command of its full array of capabilities.

In an effort to remove the conventional IDE ATA standard, the X48 chipset removes IDE support all together. The ICH9R Southbridge offers up to six Serial II ATA ports, boasting data transfer rates up to 300MB/s. Intel also offers RAID functions for these four SATA ports, supporting RAID 0 for performance and RAID 1 for protection, along with RAID 5 and RAID10. Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) further boosts performance with Native Command Queuing (NCQ), and provides native hot plug for drive swaps.

In the past we have found many ASUS boards to include the onboard WiFi-AP feature, which is great for those using or planning to use a wireless network. This new WiFi-AP @n version is up to six times faster than ordinary 802.11g WiFi technology as it boasts 300Mbps transfer rates. Using the 802.11n standard this motherboard offers better signal coverage, stronger signals and faster data transmissions in comparison to previous 802.11b/g standards. Utilizing dual antennas, users will not suffer from signal loss and like previous versions it can be set to either access point or client mode.

The other unique feature in this motherboard is called ASUS Express Gate and this is unlike anything we have found on a motherboard before. This feature makes it possible to surf the Internet after a 5-second-bootup time without entering Windows. This feature uses an embedded Linux environment that allows users to enjoy instant access to commonly used functions like accessing the Internet, VoIP, and Web emailing without entering the OS.

Asus Express Gate is powered by the soon-to-be-announced Splashtop instant-on Linux desktop environment by DeviceVM, which will offer a way to surf the web with Firefox or make VoIP phone calls through Skype within five seconds of pushing the PCs start button and without fully booting the computer. Splashtop is also able to access and use the built-in 802.11n wireless adapter right out of the box. Future incarnations of the product will reportedly allow quick access to photos, MP3s, and a DVD player.

Like many high-end Deluxe and Premium ASUS motherboards the P5E3 Premium sports dual Gigabit LAN controllers. The first is a Marvell 88E8056 PCI Express controller, while the second runs off the standard PCI bus using a Realtek RTL8110SC controller. The P5E3 Premium features a number of thermal improvements such as ASUS EPU, Stack Cool 2, Pure Copper Pipe, Q-Fan 2, AI Nap and what ASUS call the 3rd Generation 8 Phase Power Design.