Enthusiast P55: Eight LGA 1156 Boards Between $150 And $200

Test Configuration

Test System Configuration

CPU

Intel Core i7-870 (2.93 GHz, 8MB Cache)

CPU Cooler

Thermalright MUX-120

RAM

Kingston KHX2133C9D3T1K2/4GX (4GB)
DDR3-2133 at DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24

Graphics

XFX GeForce GTX 285 XXX Edition
670 MHz GPU, GDDR3-2500

Hard Drive

Western Digital VelociRaptor WD3000HLFS, 300GB
10,000 RPM, SATA 3Gb/s, 16MB cache

Sound

Integrated HD Audio

Network

Integrated Gigabit Networking

Power

Corsair CMPSU-850HX 850W Modular
ATX12V v2.2, EPS12V, 80-Plus Gold

Software

OS

Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Graphics

Nvidia GeForce 190.62 WHQL

Chipset

Intel INF 9.1.1.1014


We continue to use Intel’s eminently-overclockable Core i7-870 to test the true capabilities of each LGA 1156 motherboard.

Intel Turbo Boost is a primary feature of this processor, allowing it to clock up to 3.60 GHz depending on how many cores are loaded. Because the highest Turbo multipliers require unused cores to power down completely, we enable EIST and the highest available C-states during our benchmark runs.

High overclocking requires excellent cooling, and the Thermalright MUX-120 is barely enough to handle the heat output at 1.45V core during our overclocking tests.

Kingston’s HyperX DDR3-2133 overclocks well enough to outpace every board we’ve tested in our memory stability comparison.

Benchmark Configuration

3D Games

Crysis

Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 8x AA

Far Cry 2

Patch 1.03, DirectX 10, in-game benchmark
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 8x AA

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky

Clear Sky Benchmark version
Test Set 1: High Preset, DX10 EFDL, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX10 EFDL, 4x MSAA

World in Conflict

Patch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo
Test 1: High Details, No AA / No AF
Test 2: Very High Details 4x AA / 16x AF

Audio/Video Encoding

iTunes

Version: 8.2.1.6 x64
Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min
Default format AAC

Lame MP3

Version: 3.98.2, wave to MP3
Audio CD "Terminator II" SE, 53 min

TMPEGEnc 4.0 Express

Version: 4.7.3.292
Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)
Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9

DivX 6.8.5

Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4
Quarter-pixel search

XviD 1.2.2

Display encoding status = off

MainConcept Reference 1.6.1
Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1

MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224Kbp/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)

Productivity

Adobe Photoshop CS4

Version: 11.0 x64, Filter 15.7MB TIF Image
Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates

Autodesk 3ds Max 2009

Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)

Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8.5

Version: 8.5.287, Virus base: 270.12.16/2094, Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files

WinRAR 3.90

Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)

WinZip 12

Version 12.1, WinZip Command Line Version 3.0, Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)

Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings

3DMark Vantage

Version: 1.0.1, GPU and CPU scores

PCMark Vantage

Version: 1.00 x64, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646

SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4a

Version 2009.9.15.130, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark

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60 comments
    Your comment
  • enzo matrix
    interesting
    -4
  • skora
    There's two market segments. Once you get the features you need, there's overclockers, and stock users. I've never seen a mobo recommended based on its application performance and all thats looked at is how well it OCs. Hopefully, people read the article and don't just go buying biostar expecting the regular quality of gigabyte or asus though the asus is a little overpriced here for my taste. That $25 can go towards a better GPU, but I'm a gamer.
    3
  • Crashman
    enzo matrixinteresting


    Gigabyte had some additional interesting news about the new P55A-UD4P, where the addition of the letter "A" supposedly means "Advanced" and refers to the addition of SATA 6.0 Gb/s and USB 3.0 controllers. Unfortunately, it wasn't ready when the comparison was written. The "A" also cost slightly more.
    2
  • ibnsina
    For $15 more is best to go for the newly released Giga-byte GA-P55A-UD4P, the extra’s you get are:-

    2 x USB 3.0
    2 x SATA 6Gb/s.

    $184.99 on newegg.
    5
  • Crashman
    ibnsinaFor $15 more is best to go for the newly released Giga-byte GA-P55A-UD4P, the extra’s you get are:-2 x USB 3.0 2 x SATA 6Gb/s.$184.99 on newegg.


    $15 for all that sounds great, unless those features are useless to you. SATA 6.0 Gb/s will remain completely useless until long after the board is outdated, and USB 3.0 is nothing more than an eSATA substitute at the moment.
    1
  • apache_lives
    Why do we bitch about IDE and FDD connectors? If your using windows xp and IDE hdd/dvd drives your should be ashamed, and even then you can get USB floppys etc, and if you are using those fittings you are not getting the true performance out of your modern system, and IDE also makes boot times longer thanks to detection and legacy delays - cudos to those who ditch those ports in an effort to modernise modern systems, and to those who keep them - its like adding ISA ports to the board - times up.
    3
  • cahl
    The new P55A-UD4P has better power phasing, 12+2 vs 8+2 on the old gigabyte UD4P, and probably more stuff aswell, like the LOTES socket, well worth the extra $15 to me.
    4
  • bigballinggpr
    You don't bring up MSI's board at all in the conclusion. . . i'm a little curious as to what your final thoughts are on it.
    5
  • Crashman
    apache_livesWhy do we bitch about IDE and FDD connectors? If your using windows xp and IDE hdd/dvd drives your should be ashamed, and even then you can get USB floppys etc, and if you are using those fittings you are not getting the true performance out of your modern system, and IDE also makes boot times longer thanks to detection and legacy delays - cudos to those who ditch those ports in an effort to modernise modern systems, and to those who keep them - its like adding ISA ports to the board - times up.


    You mean complain? Like you're complaining right now? It's all a matter of logic: There are probably more Windows XP users carrying over their old OS into a new build than there are Ultra ATA users carrying over their ancient hard drives. Therefor, the floppy interface, as outdated as it is, is more useful than the Ultra ATA interface.

    The problem as described is that you PAY for an Ultra ATA controller. Why bother? Even if you're an XP devotee you probably don't WANT to pay for an Ultra ATA connector.

    But for most motherboards, the floppy interface is free. It doesn't slow down boot times or performance either, if you don't need it you can ignore it.

    Well, maybe you can't ignore it, but a logic dictates over emotion in reviews.

    THG has no reason to love or hate the floppy connector, no stake in the legacy OS game, but anyone reader who wants to play the hater deserves to be called out for it. As for the manufacturers, honest reporting is Tom's Hardware's goal. Personally, I like the fact that some manufacturers provide legacy features and others don't, both types of products work well.
    -3
  • doomtomb
    Quote:
    with only a single PS/2 port left behind to support the older mice occasionally preferred by seasoned gamers


    This is from the page on the EVGA P55 but you can clearly see it is a purple PS/2 port which is for keyboards... lol
    3
  • zeuscgp
    Anyone else jump on that $130 Halloween deal on NewEgg for the GD65? :)
    3
  • zeuscgp
    Anyone else jump on that $130 Halloween deal on NewEgg for the GD65? :)
    -5
  • gaiden2k7
    that was the best looking picture for an article on TH this year! how i wished that was a single mobo... cant stop staring at it!
    3
  • Anonymous
    I'm a little annoyed that this is a look at enthusiast-level boards, yet they make no comparisons to any X58 boards.

    If I'm considering an enthusiast-level board, I'd like to see what I'm losing (if anything) by saving an extra $100 and going with the cheaper platform.
    -4
  • Anonymous
    @gaiden2k7:
    I agree. All those multi-colored mobos lined up next to each other are mesmerizing. I'd give you a +1, but I'm anonymous :(
    2
  • terr281
    Regarding the floppy vs IDE interface debate...

    The solution to the lack of a floppy interface for Win XP raid configuration users is to slipstream the drivers into the Win installation. (Yes, you have to "copy" the Win XP disk, at the cost of a blank CD, and you have to have a functional computer with a burner and the ability to run copy software. But, most builders have this.)

    I, personally, am one of the people that will continue to buy MBs with an IDE connector. Why? I have a very quiet, high quality IDE DVD-Burner that will be carried over into any new system I build from my old system. I rarely used the burner on the currently installed pc, thus it is "like new."

    The same model burner, installed in my mate's computer, will also be moved to that new system. (Thus, IDE required.)

    It is a "cost added" part, and many people don't use it anymore. But, to each their own. (I don't use Firewire, Esata, or more than 4 rear and 1 front USB 2.0 port on any computer. I still have to pay for those.)

    As Crashman said, manufacturers provide different features on their products based upon different consumer wishes.
    2
  • Anonymous
    Hmmm, based on Gigabyte's specs page for the GA-P55A-UD4P, SATA3/USB3 capability is lost if you have two video cards:

    "* When dual graphics cards are used in 1st and 2nd PCIex16 slots, SATA3 / USB 3.0 (Marvell 9128 /NEC USB 3.0 Controllers) will work at normal mode."

    http://www.gigabyte.us/Products/Motherboard/Products_Spec.aspx?ClassValue=Motherboard&ProductID=3250&ProductName=GA-P55A-UD4P
    2
  • Crashman
    nopointpayingextraHmmm, based on Gigabyte's specs page for the GA-P55A-UD4P, SATA3/USB3 capability is lost if you have two video cards:"* When dual graphics cards are used in 1st and 2nd PCIex16 slots, SATA3 / USB 3.0 (Marvell 9128 /NEC USB 3.0 Controllers) will work at normal mode."http://www.gigabyte.us/Products/Mo [...] -P55A-UD4P


    That sounds like "normal mode" is refering to PCIe x1, which is 250MB/s (2.5 Gb/s).
    1
  • Gedoe_
    paying $150 for a mobo

    haha o wow what a joke. I would spend my money at the CPU or GPU, where it matters.
    -3
  • Br4v0guy
    Some day, there will be a roundup for uATX mobos for the 1156 platform. Until then.... mehhhhhhhhhhhh.
    -2