Page 7 - Onboard Sound, Overclocking, Conclusion
The ADI 1988B based SoundMAX 7.1 High Definition Audio is quite acceptable for some very casual usage. I found its signal to noise ratio not as good as the Realtek integrated sound on abit AB9-Pro, surprisingly. I've enabled HD Audio in the BIOS (By default it is set to AC'97) with my case connector plugged in internally as well. It seems that there is less noise with my case connector connected -- it's kind of weird from the same sound processor (Although physically located differently on the motherboard).
Compared to the hyped Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic, the midrange of the SoundMAX seems to be much 'thinner' compared to the X-Fi. Bass is not as solid, while treble on the Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic is clearly more distinct and just simply better. However, if you have a set of relatively low end speakers or just not that picky on sound, you might not need to get dedicated audio. One thing to note though, I found the SoundMAX software freezes pretty often during usage; which means some code optimization could be made in regards to this.
In terms of overclocking, it seems that the Asus P5W64-WS Professional is not the best overclocking motherboard I've come across. The maximum overclock I've got is 2.80GHz on my Core 2 Duo E6300 running at 400MHz*7 and 1:1 with my RAM. The RAM should not be limiting as my OCZ Special Ops Edition Urban Elite PC6400 2x1GB RAM has been tested to run at up to 470MHz at 4-4-3-15.
Surprisingly, voltage increase on various components and a few optimization of settings did not help much. The maximum I got up to is 410MHz*7, bringing the CPU an operating frequency of 2.87GHz stable. However, with the abit AB9-Pro, 2.94GHz (420MHz*7) stable is achievable without much effort -- both boards were tested with Intel stock cooling.
In the end, I kept my Core 2 Duo E6300 at 2.80GHz, which is extremely stable to date. I even gave the lowest voltage allowed on the board (1.2250V) and I have experienced absolutely no problems at all.
Is this an overclocker's motherboard? Not entirely, but it's still not bad. I've seen others bringing a Core 2 Duo E6300 running over 3.20GHz with the same motherboard -- so there are many dependencies in regards to this. Based on my initial results, a ~50% overclock is still not too bad. Also, I don't think Wall Street professionals would be too into overclocking!
If you set your frequencies too high, a quick shutdown and restart will automatically boot on default CPU frequency values with other settings untouched. You can quickly bring your settings down and try again without clearing the CMOS and losing other custom settings.
Incorporating Asus' unique design and technology implementation, the Asus P5W64-WS Professional is quite a workstation motherboard. Even with hordes of features and a variety of components to physically put onto the PCB itself, the layout is really, really excellent with one very minor flaw that isn't much of a complaint. Board is excellent in terms of aesthetics, performance is decent and if stability is your concern, the Asus P5W64-WS Professional will not disappoint you. If only the four PCI Express x16 slots would each run at a faster speed, and... and... really, there's nothing much to complain about. If you have the cash, this workstation motherboard is for you.
Special thanks to Charlton over at Asus for making this review possible.
Rating: 7.9/10 | APH Recommended
- The rating 7/10 means "Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.".
- The rating 8/10 means "Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that isn't likely going to matter to the end user.".
- More information of ratings and the "APH Recommended" award in our Review Focus.
At this rate, the current professionals on Wall Street will be the next professionals in the CPL league playing competitive Counter-Strike. I am not even kidding.
Do you have any comments or questions about the Asus P5W64-WS Professional? Drop by our Forums. Registration is free, and it only takes a minute!
1. Introduction, Packaging, Features
2. Chipset, BIOS, Accessories
3. Board Layout and Design
4. Test System; Benchmarks: PCMark05, 3DMark06
5. Benchmarks: EVEREST Ultimate Edition 3.50.799
6. Benchmarks: Cinebench 9.5, HDTachRW 184.108.40.206
7. Onboard Sound, Overclocking, Conclusion