During our hours of testing the G35 northbridge cooler ran at 50°C and the southbridge was even hotter, at 55°C. This isn’t the sort of thing that we expect from Intel chipsets as the passive heatsinks are generally cool to the touch.
Longer bars are better
It took a few hours to run the graphics comparisons and our conclusion was a bit of a wet blanket. The G35 may well support DirectX 10 but it’s a complete irrelevance and from a graphics standpoint the GMA X3500 has made minimal advances over GMA X3000. The significant point of this chipset is the support for 1333MHz processors with DDR 2 memory. On which subject, we suffered a glitch during our PCMark05 testing as the memory figure was rather low in Windows XP.
The good news is that Asus has provided both VGA and HDMI outputs along with an HDMI-to-DVI adaptor and this support for dual monitors and HDTV puts G35 head-to-head with Nvidia’s MCP73 chipset if you’re building a Media Centre PC. There’s no denying that Nvidia has a better IGP for gaming but non-gamers won’t give a hoot about that and in every other department the Asus P5E-VM HDMI delivers the goods.
We’re disappointed that Intel didn’t add more graphics grunt to the G35 at the same time that it added the rather irrelevant support for DirectX 10. Asus has used the G35 to produce a tidy motherboard that is packed with features but you pay a hefty price compared, say, to an AMD 690G-based board running an Athlon 64 processor.
Asus P5E-VM HDMI motherboard
Linux Drivers available
@Andrew Meredith: According to www.intellinuxgraphics.org/documentation.html the G35 chipset is supported
HDMI and video details: P5E-VM HDMI
HDMI is 1.2, and passes 7.1 channel 24 bit LPCM audio at up to 96kHz if fed it by software. The path from the G35 to the HDMI audio is not "protected", so some software solutions like PowerDVD Ultra will downconvert to 16 bit 48kHz (like it does with analog right now).
G35 does full decode of MPEG2 in XP, but is handicapped by a bug in Vista which will keep full decode away until Vista SP1. It does motion-compensation and in-loop filtering on VC-1, but not the full decode, and provides no acceleration of H,264 (the CPU has to do the whole thing).
Supports HDCP and Blu-ray/HD DVD (Vista Only).
Which version HDMI ?
Anyone advise which standard of HDMI is adopted on this mobo. The latest spec is v1.3, which includes Deep Color, Lip Sync and Dolby TrueHD sound.....which reminds me - does this board output 7.1 sound via the HDMI?
Yes I'm thinking of building an HTPC to replace my clunky Packard Bell HDD recorder sat under my telly.
I haven't obviously built it yet, but I'd aim for Blu-Ray support, obviously complete with HDCP support - need to learn more about how to get XP or Vista Media Centre working fine with HDCP content.
I would most certainly only build my unit for use with an HD telly, it being a lounge thing. It must fully support 1080p decoding and be quick about it - which is why I'd aim for the HDMI connector like this mobo has (see below though).
Audio wise, I'm not sure, I've never been a big fan of trailing loads of cables all over the place just for 5.1 surround. Its not that important to me. Would be nice tho but all the cables wud make me think I'm in something out of a HR Giger drawing.
I would want a certain amount of grunt out of its CPU, but a unified video decoder would be an obvious advantage even if the CPU could do 1080p decoding itself.
I would not aim for a celeron or a low voltage mobile type CPU, rather a fast CPU with a decent cooling solution, I'd then put the HTPC in a cabinet of some description for noise control.
The point of the good CPU is for decent games like Crysis, and so a mobo like this review would not be what I aim for. If anything I would aim for a non-HDMI motherboard, with a decent gfx card with an HDMI connector.
But it would have to run relatively silently for the living room.
I don't ask much do I! ;-)
The way I see it, if I'm shelling out for a system to watch TV on, I might as well make it a decent gaming platform too - but maybe not up in the Nvidia 8800 ranks though cos it'll run too noisy.
I too agree that it was totally pointless of Intel to make it a DX10 chipset. Were they honestly expecting people to ooh and aah over the X3500? Its a joke.
Its like trying to streamline an elephant with go faster stripes and aerodynamics!
Intel should get their chipsets average frames per second up there before even contemplating DX10 support.
Linux Drivers ?
Are there any Linux display drivers for this board? It would make an excellent little MythTV client box if it does.