The Asus PC-DL is a product that both excites and disappoints. As the first in what will likely be a long line of Xeon 875 boards, we are very excited about where this branch of development is headed. There is a lot of promise in the prospect of Dual 800FSB Xeons. It is also easy to get excited about the idea of a future PC-DL BIOS upgrade with the full range of tweaking and overclocking options we have today on another Asus Canterwood board — the P4C800-E. When we see how well the Dual-Xeon is executed and how stable the current PC-DL is with two Xeon 3.06 1Mb Cache processors, it makes us hopeful about what is coming.
On the other hand, if we take a close look at the current PC-DL as it exists today, it is hard not to be disappointed. Overclocking options consist of only a very modest FSB adjustment and multipliers that can only be adjusted down on 3.06 processors. There is no PCI/AGP lock, so even these modest options perform poorly. Perhaps worst of all, the modest overclocking options are turned off when any SATA drive is attached to the PC-DL and SATA is enabled in the BIOS.
We also have reservations about where Dual Xeon will really go in the competition with Opteron and Athlon64. There are things that could be better in the execution of Opteron/Athlon64, but one area no one questions is that Opteron scales much better than Xeon. As Anand Shimpi showed in his April launch review of the Opteron, the Opteron CPU gains almost 24% in performance in the move from 1 to 2 CPUs while Xeon gains just 11.4%.
With a single Opteron 2.0GHz already very competitive in most areas with this Dual-Xeon setup, we would expect Dual Opteron to dramatically out-perform this Dual-Xeon setup as we move ahead.
In the things it does very well — Media Encoding and Multimedia Content Creation — the Asus PC-DL is easy to recommend. Also, as a fast workstation or a cost-effective SOHO server, the PC-DL would be a very good choice. However, as a gaming platform or Computer Enthusiasts “brag” box, the Asus PC-DL has a long way to go. The promise is certainly there, but the hardware needs to evolve with Xeons competitive with current Pentium 4 processors. Asus also needs to work on the tweaking and overclocking options, to bring them to the level that will genuinely excite gamers and enthusiasts. Perhaps they can do that with a BIOS upgrade. We certainly hope so.
Del med dine venner