The upcoming Intel X48 chipset has been a poorly kept secret, but then again there has been little to be secretive or excited about. This is because the X48 is nothing more than a slightly updated version of the existing X38 chipset, which is a solid offering that nevertheless is not a whole lot better than the less pricey P35. So why not, let's blame Intel for making great mainstream chipsets that perform like its cream of the crop.

And while the X48 chipset is yet to be officially released, we have already seen a number of motherboards that use it and are just waiting for the announcement to go mass production. Intel should be unveiling the X48 chipset later this month bringing official support for 1600MHz FSB (Front Side Bus) processors and DDR3-1600 memory, but other than that picking a difference between the X38 and X48 chipsets is near impossible. So don't expect Intel or any of its partners to make a big fuss about it. The X48 is an evolutionary step that we believe may not come at any price premium over current X38 products, with that in mind today we will be looking at the ASUS P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP @n, the company's first X48 motherboard.

But before we delve deep into the P5E3 Premium, you will want to know that last month (February) ASUS announced that 19 of their existing G33/P35 and X38 motherboards would all be given the ability to fully support the upcoming 1600MHz FSB. Boards such as the ASUS P5K-SE which cost less than $100 will have the ability to support 1600MHz FSB processors. This is great news for those that just recently dropped a heap of cash on a high-end ASUS X38 or P35 motherboard as they will support the next generation of Intel processors without having to spend a cent.

This does however put the new ASUS P5E3 Premium motherboard in a bit of an awkward position as it offers almost nothing that cannot be found on the P5E3 Deluxe, a board that has been available for quite some time now. In fact, the feature lists for both boards are identical, and so is the board design.

So is this new "Premium" version really identical to the Deluxe? In terms of features and design it is, but how does the P5E3 Premium perform? Early indications have suggested that the X48 is no faster than the X38 chipset though Intel is claiming superior overclocking performance. Either way we plan to find out today if there is any point to the P5E3 Premium and more importantly the X48 chipset.