High-End P67 Express: Five $200-250 Motherboards

MSI P67A-GD80

MSI’s P67A-GD80 has the same slot arrangement as every other board in today’s $200-250 P67 roundup, yet nearly everything else is at least somewhat different. For example, the P67A-GD80 has an incredible six I/O panel and four front-panel USB 3.0 headers.

MSI goes one-better than its competitors in the eSATA department by adding RAID support via Marvell’s 9128 SATA 6Gb/s controller. Conspicuously missing, however, are any third-party internal port controllers, as MSI figured out that even enthusiasts rarely use more than six internal drives.

Less conspicuous is the lack of any PCIe-expanding bridge. The P67A-GD80 has the same limitations as Asus’ P8P67 EVO, where enabling x4 mode on its third x16 slot disables front-panel USB 3.0, eSATA, and the PCIe-to-PCI bridge. Not mentioned in MSI’s documentation is that its FireWire controller is also PCI-based, so disabling the PCIe-to-PCI bridge means losing FireWire.

The GD80’s second PCIe x1 slot shares a single lane with the top PCIe x1 slot, so builders can only use one of these at a time. As we said of the competing Asus model, a layout with fewer compromises would have eliminated the second x1 slot altogether, since it’s always tied to another slot (unusable) and blocked by the graphics coolers of most performance-oriented graphics cards anyway (inaccessible).

With those marks against it, we might not have even bothered to mention that the remaining USB 3.0 ports all share a single 5 Gb/s PCIe lane through a single NEC D720200F1 controller and VIA Labs VL810 hub, except that this restriction stands even when the last graphics slot is empty.

The P67A-GD80 includes a mid-market installation kit with four SATA cables, a slot adapter for two of its front-panel USB 3.0 ports, and a flexible SLI bridge. MSI adds some quick connectors to help builders bundle the ends of loose front-panel cables, along with four probe wires for its voltage check-point feature.

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46 comments
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  • rolli59
    Nice article would have been nice to have a Gigabyte board in there as well.
    4
  • joytech22
    So glad I grabbed my P8P67 Deluxe!

    It had all the features I was looking for at a low enough price to make it very appealing.
    2
  • Crashman
    rolli59Nice article would have been nice to have a Gigabyte board in there as well.
    Please tell Gigabyte to produce something for this market!

    Tom's Hardware included the UD4 in its $150-200 motherboard roundup, and the UD5 costs more than $250.
    1
  • Manos
    How te hell is it possible that a website like this keeps ignoring my question as in WHY its been for so many months if not year or whatever, that they dont fix this *** and I cant click to submit my comment from IE? How can THIS be the only website with issues with IE? I find it rather sad. Its why i quit commenting instead of being forced to open a different browser for this site which I used to love and respect. Till they started ignoring this issue Ive been pointing out ( and not just me ).

    Thank you for the charts tho id love to see one with Maximus IV included x.x ( I edited cause I asked something stupid as in why I dont see it in the chart. Sorry.. Been working all night and no time to read the article. Bits only.And no I obviously hadnt read the title x.x My bad. Happy Easter!
    -4
  • jerreddredd
    It would have been nice to see if there is a performance gain in these "high end" boards over a value P67 board.

    For an even better article also throw in one of each value rated H67 and H61 boards. ($240 vs $130 vs $70 boards)
    -2
  • alidan
    jerreddreddIt would have been nice to see if there is a performance gain in these "high end" boards over a value P67 board. For an even better article also throw in one of each value rated H67 and H61 boards. ($240 vs $130 vs $70 boards)

    this, i would love to see how the high end stacks up with the low end. the low may not have as much as the high end, but performance is really all that matters considering we can just get expansion cards for things we dont have.
    1
  • sudeshc
    Nice analysis glad to know ASUS is good to go.
    0
  • Hupiscratch
    Great article. Now it´s time for the high-end overclocking oriented boards, like the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme.
    0
  • memadmax
    I'm gonna go all out on this chipset when it matures a bit. A cool 5 grand i'm thinking for my next gen build.
    -1
  • Anonymous
    Quote:
    Please tell Gigabyte to produce something for this market!


    GA-P67A-UD7 doesn't count?
    0
  • Onus
    Thanks for the wake-up call on MSI; I had thought to maybe risk buying one of their boards again. Sounds like I should be happy to stick with ASRock.

    Edit: Oh, and those shots of the ASRock boards show three pairs of two SATA cables, not just three individual cables.
    0
  • Anonymous
    Looks like the mid-range mobos do better in some of the gaming tests. That's surprising to me, since the test setups are identical.
    0
  • rolli59
    Anonymous said:
    Please tell Gigabyte to produce something for this market!

    GA-P67A-UD5-B3 http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3762#ov
    0
  • ammar711
    hope if u can make a review of Asus Saertooth P67
    0
  • jfby
    ManosHow te hell is it possible that a website like this keeps ignoring my question as in WHY its been for so many months if not year or whatever, that they dont fix this *** and I cant click to submit my comment from IE? How can THIS be the only website with issues with IE? I find it rather sad. Its why i quit commenting instead of being forced to open a different browser for this site which I used to love and respect. Till they started ignoring this issue Ive been pointing out ( and not just me ).Thank you for the charts tho id love to see one with Maximus IV included x.x ( I edited cause I asked something stupid as in why I dont see it in the chart. Sorry.. Been working all night and no time to read the article. Bits only.And no I obviously hadnt read the title x.x My bad. Happy Easter!


    I am using IE and Firefox at home and both allow me to comment on articles.

    I would like to see the 'thumbs up' and 'thumbs down' buttons function appropriately, though.
    1
  • Onus
    I too am waiting for the return of the thumbs. It's been months; come on guys, it USED to work just fine, so please roll it back. In the forums, it says I've already voted, and here it is possible to vote, but not see the results.
    4
  • Max_DTH
    Hi everyone :hello: it's nice to be a part of Tom's Hardware forum community :) I'm constant Tom's Hardware reader and I just love this site, especially for professional and reliable reviews.

    My Q6600 based PC just died and I'm building Sandy Bridge machine. I'm having a tough time understanding new architecture.
    I can't get the idea of second paragraph at "ASRock UEFI" page:
    Quote:
    ASRock is among the brands that can use programming tricks to make the installed CPU run at its maximum Turbo Boost frequency full-time, which is apparently against Intel's design recommendations, but preferable to anyone accustomed to overclocking previous Intel platforms. That basically means that disabling Turbo Boost and increasing the standard multiplier does just the opposite, forcing Turbo to stay at full throttle using whatever multiplier the overclocker desires.

    and it made me somewhat lost. I've read a lot about Sandy Bridge and thought that I know how things are, but now I'm not so sure, so please clarify some things for me.

    Below statements are to be confirmed:
    In general
    1) Stock 2500K run at 3300MHz (2600K at 3400MHz) when all 4 cores are active.
    1a) With SpeedStep is enabled when there is no load multiplier drops to x16.
    1b) With Turbo Boost enabled, when 4/3/2/1 cores are stressed, they run at +1/+2/+3/+4 bins respectively (so multiplier increases by given value).
    2) When we are overclocking Sandy Bridge we set maximal Turbo Boost multiplier.
    2a) With both Turbo Boost and SpeedStep disabled CPU run constantly at set multiplier.
    2b) With both Turbo Boost and SpeedStep enabled CPU run at x16 multiplier when idle and at set multiplier when at load (it doesn't matter how many cores are stressed, the multiplier is fixed at set value).

    Are above statements correct? Do they also apply to ASRock?
    I would also like to ask what quoted paragraph means, because I get an impression from it, that at stock with Turbo Boost enabled CPU run constantly at +4 bins and I don't get the point of "does just the opposite" part, because it's contrasting two things which are the same (maxiing multiplier all the time). This may be just a problem of my poor understanding, because I'm not native English speaker, so maybe just saying it in other words would help.

    Thank you very much for all help :)


    P.S. At first page we got information that CLR_CMOS Button in ASRock's is Jumper-Only. Why back pannel CLR CMOS doesn't qualify?
    2
  • Leaps-from-Shadows
    1) If you ignore Turbo Boost, this is correct.
    1a) Correct.
    1b) Correct.
    2) Depending on the board. For ASRock, this is correct.
    2a) You also have to disable C1E and all of the CStates settings.
    2b) Depends on the board. For ASRock, this is correct.
    1
  • prabal34
    After reading this review I will stay away from future MSI motherboards. What a sham.
    -1
  • rockitman
    The nice thing about the Asus Deluxe is the spacing of the PCI slots for Crossfired Video cards. A nice 2" gap exists between my 2 6950's.
    And as my case is a Silverstone Fortress, the MB is rotated 90 degrees so all the outputs come out the top. This enhances the cooling ability for these 2 cards as they both receive direct airflow from the bottom mounted 180mm fans.
    The front mounted USB 3 device is a nice idea except that the short cable that is provided will not work with these 2 huge graphic cards in the way. I need to find an extender if they make one.
    Glad to know my MB was rated tops.
    1