Asus M3N-HT Deluxe Review (Page 12 of 13)

Page 12 - Asus Express Gate Onboard Linux

As introduced originally with the Asus P5E3-Deluxe/WiFi-AP@n motherboard, the Asus M3N-HT Deluxe also features Asus' Express Gate -- a small, lightweight installation of Linux on a flash memory chip on the motherboard. While it doesn't really take you from startup to internet access in 5 seconds like Asus claims, it's still very convenient to use.

After hitting the power button to turn on your computer, the above screen will appear -- that's before the BIOS splash screen. Under the words "Express Gate" are now with three icons instead of two with the latest revision; in which either will launch the onboard Linux based OS -- whereas the left icon is the SplashTop Browser (Modded version of Mozilla Firefox), middle button is for Pidgin, and the icon on the right is Skype. Along the bottom are three icons; in which in order from the left are Enter OS, BIOS Setup, and Power. Enter OS means booting from your hard drive, not into the onboard OS. The rest should be self explanatory.

A timeout can be set in the BIOS for how long this screen appears. This screen can also be disabled entirely in the BIOS.

The desktop of Asus' Express Gate. The latest revision ships with two themes, where the original one can be seen in our P5E3-Deluxe review. The launchbar is located at the bottom with an array of icons separated into sections, as described earlier -- but can be configured for autohide, as well as placement on either of the four sides of the screen.

The SplashTop browser should be very familiar to Firefox users, as the SplashTop browser is an adapted version of Mozilla Firefox. By default, the homepage is set to, although you can change this under "Bookmarks".

Skype is also included out of the box; it will work assuming you are using integrated audio. On the left is the Pidgin multiprotocol IM client software. The window on the top right is the configuration panel, while the one below it is the screen resolution configuration screen. The reason why I highlighted that is due to its lack of support of resolutions -- the supported screen resolution is limited to 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x800, 1366x768, and 1440x1050 -- nothing has been changed since the original Express Gate. It's quite unfortunate there's no 1680x1050 for my 20" widescreen LCD or even 1600x1200 for my standard aspect 20" LCD.

The shutdown menu allows you to power off your computer, restart it, or 'Enter OS' (As in booting off your hard drive) with the button on the very left.

Overall, I found it quite interesting and cool to use -- especially if you are booting up just to check your email. However, you won't be able to access data on your hard drive, limited to a few resolutions that could prevent users from using this and putting their computer into standby instead. It would be pretty nice if features such as the embedded Linux based OS can be loaded as Windows loads in the background and quickly switch into Windows when it's ready. One of the biggest things missed out in my opinion would be some kind of stability testing and temperature/voltage monitor program -- it would be beyond valuable for overclockers. Regardless, this is still very innovative and proves to be a very handy features at times.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Features, and Specifications
2. Bundle, Chipset, BIOS
3. A Closer Look, Board Layout
4. Test System; Benchmark: 3DMark06
5. Benchmark: PCMark05
6. Benchmark: Cinebench R10, SuperPI 1M
7. Benchmark: EVEREST CPU
8. Benchmark: EVEREST FPU
9. Benchmark: EVEREST Memory
10. Benchmark: EVEREST Memory Latency, HDTach
11. Onboard Sound (RMAA 6.06) Analyzation
12. Asus Express Gate Onboard Linux
13. Overclocking and Conclusion