Refinements and performance optimizations in PC motherboard designs often track chipset re-spins and tweaks, as a new base architecture matures. Intel is absolutely famous (or shall we say infamous) for releasing a new chipset only to set sail with a re-spin or further characterization of the product, just a few months later. Such was the case for Intel's i925X chipset. PC Motherboard OEMs first to market with new i925X "Alderwood" offerings are now trying to shift gears and react to Intel's characterization and branding of the chip at 1066MHz Front Side Bus speeds. The i925X now has an "E" revision denoting "official" support for this new higher speed system bus, only its the exact same die in that Northbridge package, just validated to perform at 1066MHz.
The i925XE, as it is known now, is another step down Intel's roadmap and any user looking at a motherboard based on the i925X chipset would be advised to seriously consider only motherboards based on the "E" flavor of the chip. Next generation high end CPUs from Intel will be running on a 1066MHz FSB, so it makes little sense going with a "non-E" version motherboard. Having said that, we're sure some motherboard manufacturers are planning on releasing BIOS updates that allow for overclocking bus speeds to this level, even on a standard i925X chipset design. But why run "unofficially" when i925XE offerings are right around the corner? Our sentiments exactly...
Asus steps up to the plate today with one of the first i925XE boards to hit our labs, the P5AD2-E Premium. We're fairly certain you couldn't tell the difference physically in the "E" version versus the "non-E" version of this motherboard that we tested here not long ago, save for the model number silk screened on the PCB. However, it will be very interesting to see what a little maturity in the chipset and BIOS revisions of the past few months, bring us in terms of performance improvements. Not to mention faster, lower latency DDR2 memory that is available now as well. We'll give you some insight into all of these areas in the pages ahead.
Asus bundles in quite an offering with their "Premium" line of motherboards. Asus sent in their P5AD2-E Premium Wireless Edition bundle, which among a myriad of other features has integrated 802.11g /b wireless LAN connectivity with supported software enabled Access Point features. Pictured above is the P5AD2-E's WiFi antenna that screws on to a small co-ax connector on the IO back-plate of the board. The board also comes with Dual Gigabit Ethernet controllers one of which is made available through a slot bracket that also has two Firewire ports on it. In addition, Asus also bundled in an external 2 port SATA extension bracket with a Molex power connector, for external Serial ATA hard drive support. The board also comes with 10 SATA cables which almost seems like overkill but we're not levying any complaints.
Of course the P5AD2-E also brings with it all the benefits of Intel's i925XE chipset, including support for a 1066MHz Front Side Bus speed, DDR2 System Memory, PCI Express Graphics and High Definition 8 channel Audio, which is supported by C-Media's High-Def Audio Codec on this motherboard in particular.