First of all, you got to upgrade the BIOS of your P5B, if you have one. Our board came with 0211 BIOS and we achieved very low performance results with it. This was solved by upgrading the BIOS to the latest version available on the day we tested this board, which was the 0904 version. For you to have an idea of the problem, performance increased by almost 20% on PCMark05 and 15% on Quake 4 with this BIOS upgrade. This is amazing.
ASUS P5B is a good choice for the mainstream user building a Core 2 Duo-based system willing to achieve the best performance at the lowest price point possible. In other words, this motherboard is targeted to users that want a high-end performance but don’t want to spend a lot of money on a high-end motherboard.
This motherboard is faster than boards based on Intel 975X chipset, which is great. It also supports DDR2-1066/PC2-8500 memories and has a good overclocking potential for its market segment, features that will surely attract users wanting to pump the maximum performance possible from their systems.
It also features SPDIF optical and coaxial outputs soldered on the board, allowing you to connect its on-board audio to digital speakers or to your home theater receiver. This board provides a better on-board audio than the one provided by MSI P965 Platinum and Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 (90 dB vs 85 dB input signal-to-noise ratio and 192 kHz vs 96 kHz maximum input sampling rate). We, however, still recommend a minimum 95 dB SNR ADC (i.e., for the audio inputs) if you want to use your PC to capture analog audio and edit it professionally.
This motherboard uses only Japanese electrolytic capacitors, which is great, as this prevents you from suffering from the infamous capacitor leakage problem.
The problem, however, is that MSI P965 Platinum has more features and costs the same thing or less than this motherboard from ASUS (even worse, you can get a USD 15 mail-in rebate at Newegg.com and this board from MSI will cost you only USD 120). MSI P965 Platinum uses ICH8R chip instead of the plain ICH8 used by ASUS P5B and Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3, supporting six SATA-300 ports with RAID0, 1, 10 and 5, plus one extra SATA-300 port. It also has FireWire ports and a second x16 PCI Express slot (working at x4 though), allowing you to connect a second video card for attaching three or four video monitors to your system or even to increase 3D performance, as it supports CrossFire technology.
Even though ASUS P5B is a good product, MSI P965 Platinum offers a better cost/benefit ratio, as it provides more features for the same price. That is the only reason we are giving this motherboard our Silver award instead of our Golden award.