Testing Intel’s X48 chipset: ASUS P5E3 Premium WiFi

The upcoming Intel X48 chipset was a poorly kept secret, but there was little to keep secret or upset about. This is because the X48 is nothing more than a slightly updated version of the existing X38 chipset. This is a solid offering, but it's not much better than the less expensive P35. So why not, we blame Intel for making great mainstream chipsets that work like the crème de la crème.

And while the X48 chipset has not yet been officially released, we have already seen a number of motherboards using it and are just waiting for mass production to be announced. Intel should launch the X48 chipset later this month and offer official support for 1600 MHz Front Side Bus (FSB) processors and DDR3-1600 memory. That being said, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between the X38 and X48 chipsets. So don't expect Intel or any of its partners to make a fuss about it. The X48 is an evolutionary step that we believe may not offer a premium over current X38 products. With that in mind, today we're going to look at the ASUS P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP @n, the company's first X48 motherboard.

Before we delve into the P5E3 Premium, however, you should know that ASUS announced last month (February) that 19 of the existing G33 / P35 and X38 motherboards could fully support the upcoming 1600 MHz FSB. Boards like the ASUS P5K-SE, which cost less than $ 100, can support 1600 MHz FSB processors. This is great news for those who have recently put a lot of money on a high-end ASUS X38 or P35 motherboard as they will support the next generation of Intel processors without having to spend a penny.

However, this puts the new ASUS P5E3 Premium motherboard in an uncomfortable position as it offers almost nothing that cannot be found on the P5E3 Deluxe, a board that has been available for some time. In fact, the function lists for both cards are identical, as is the card design.

Is this new premium version really the same as the deluxe version? In terms of features and design, it is, but how does the P5E3 Premium work? Early signs indicate that the X48 is no faster than the X38 chipset, although Intel claims superior overclocking performance. Either way, we want to find out today whether the P5E3 Premium and especially the X48 chipset make any sense.

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