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Motherboard peripheral performance
To provide a closer look at the peripheral performance you can expect from these motherboards, we've complied Ethernet, USB, Firewire, Serial ATA, and audio performance results below. You'll notice that there isn't much variance from one board to another, but there are a few things worth pointing out. The Rampage Formula and DX48BT2 are highlighted and in bold to make them easier to pick out from the crowd.

NTttcp Ethernet performance
Throughput (Mbps) CPU utilization (%)
Asus P5E3 Deluxe (88E8056) 939 14.6
Asus P5E3 Deluxe (RTL8169) 379 40.0
Asus P5K3 Deluxe (88E8056) 937 15.2
Asus P5K3 Deluxe (RTL8169) 362 37.8
Asus Rampage Formula (1) 941 17.6
Asus Rampage Formula (2) 943 15.4
Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 (1) 930 46.7
Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 (2) 931 46.6
Intel DX48BT2 941 13.3
XFX MB-N780-ISH9 (1) 819 21.5
XFX MB-N780-ISH9 (2) 814 20.5
XFX MB-N790-IUL9 (1) 822 17.4
XFX MB-N790-IUL9 (2) 829 21.6

The Rampage Formula and DX48BT2 both do well in our Ethernet performance test, with the Intel board registering the lowest CPU utilization of the lot.

HD Tach Firewire performance
Read burst
speed (MB/s)
Average read
speed (MB/s)
Average write
speed (MB/s)
CPU utilization
(%)
Asus P5E3 Deluxe 42.3 37.5 28.8 1.7
Asus P5K3 Deluxe 42.3 37.4 28.8 0.7
Asus Rampage Formula 33.1 30.1 21.7 1.0
Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 42.1 37.5 28.7 2.3
Intel DX48BT2 42.0 37.6 28.7 2.0
XFX MB-N780-ISH9 42.2 37.5 21.8 3.0
XFX MB-N790-IUL9 42.2 37.6 21.8 1.3

Repeat after me, Asus: I will not use slow VIA Firewire chips on $300 motherboards.

HD Tach USB performance
Read burst
speed (MB/s)
Average read
speed (MB/s)
Average write
speed (MB/s)
CPU utilization
(%)
Asus P5E3 Deluxe 33.9 32.5 29.9 4.3
Asus P5K3 Deluxe 33.9 32.6 25.9 4.0
Asus Rampage Formula 33.9 32.6 29.9 5.7
Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 33.9 32.6 30.1 5.7
Intel DX48BT2 33.9 32.6 29.9 4.0
XFX MB-N780-ISH9 33.9 32.6 32.3 4.0
XFX MB-N790-IUL9 33.9 32.6 32.3 7.7

Nothing to see here. Move along.

HD Tach Serial ATA performance
Read burst
speed (MB/s)
Average read
speed (MB/s)
Average write
speed (MB/s)
Access time (ms) CPU utilization
(%)
Asus P5E3 Deluxe 133.5 75.2 101.0 2.0 8.4
Asus P5K3 Deluxe 133.7 75.2 98.7 3.7 8.3
Asus Rampage Formula 132.7 75.2 93.7 3.3 8.4
Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 (GSATA) 129.5 75.2 47.4 5.3 8.1
Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 (ICH9R) 133.2 75.2 94.5 2.7 8.3
Intel DX48BT2 132.0 75.2 96.7 2.0 8.3
XFX MB-N780-ISH9 131.9 75.2 87.0 4.0 8.4
XFX MB-N790-IUL9 (JMB362) 109.8 75.3 42.7 20.3 8.7
XFX MB-N790-IUL9 (nForce 790i) 132.2 75.2 87.5 3.3 8.3

Yeah. Uh-huh.

RightMark Audio Analyzer audio quality
Overall score Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD THD + Noise IMD + Noise Stereo Crosstalk IMD at 10kHz
Asus P5E3 Deluxe 4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3
Asus P5K3 Deluxe 4 5 3 1 3 1 3 4 3
Asus Rampage Formula 4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3
Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3
Intel DX48BT2 4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 4
XFX MB-N780-ISH9 4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3
XFX nForce N790-IUL9 4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3

So much for audio risers. The Rampage Formula's SupremeFX card does little for the board's score in our RightMark Audio Analyzer signal quality tests. The Rampage doesn't score any better than the BT2 with its Sigmatel codec.