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P67 Motherboard Roundup: Nine $150-200 Boards

P67 Motherboard Roundup: Nine $150-200 Boards
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Improved per-clock performance and higher achievable frequencies are sure to put Intel’s latest K-Series CPUs on top of many builders’ whish lists, but they’ll still need a new socket to put it in. We test nine enthusiast-oriented LGA-1155 motherboards.

Before you buy a new Sandy Bridge-based platform, check out the recent news about Intel's recall of its Cougar Point chipsets.

Right now, anyone who just bought anything with an LGA 1156 interface is probably kicking themselves. Intel’s new Core i3/i5/i7-2000-series processors have the highest per clock, per-core performance we’ve ever seen. And better yet, the unlocked K-series models support the highest air-cooled overclocks we’ve ever seen. Within “normal” cooling limits, these processors even stand a chance of outgunning Intel’s ultra-expensive six-core chips, and the performance picture isn't even a contest in games that cannot use more than four cores.

The need for a new motherboard might be a slap in the face for anyone who sank significant cash into an LGA 1156-based platform thinking it might be upgradable for a while. But those who chose to wait, holding on to an older Core 2 Quad or a slower Phenom II, did so for good reason.

Nine products will make this a long review, so rather than discuss those things already covered by Chris and Patrick, let's jump straight to a features comparison.

Motherboard Features
 ASRock P67 Extreme4Asus P8P67 ProBiostar TP67XE
PCB Revision1.071.015.0
ChipsetIntel P67 ExpressIntel P67 ExpressIntel P67 Express
Voltage RegulatorTen PhasesTwelve PhasesTen Phases
BIOSM1.20A (12/14/2010)0803 (11/23/2010)A2 (11/12/2010)
100.0 MHz BCLK100.4 MHz (+0.4%)100.0 MHz (+0.0%)100.1 (+0.1%)
Clock GeneratorP67 IntegratedP67 IntegratedP67 Integrated
Internal Interfaces
PCIe x163 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)2 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)
PCIe x1/x42/02/0 (Shared with x4)2/0
Legacy PCI222
USB 2.03 (6-ports)3 (6-ports)3 (6-ports)
USB 3.01 (2-ports)1 (2-ports)None
IEEE-1394111
Serial Port1None1
Parallel PortNoneNoneNone
FloppyYesNoNo
Ultra-ATA 133NoneNoneNone
SATA 3.0 Gb/s443
SATA 6.0 Gb/s442
4-Pin Fan221
3-Pin Fan422
FP-AudioYesYesYes
CD-AudioNoNoNo
S/PDIF I/OOutput OnlyOutput OnlyOutput Only
Power ButtonYesNoYes
Reset ButtonYesNoYes
CLR_CMOS ButtonJumper OnlyJumper OnlyJumper Only
Diagnostics PanelNumeric
Pass/Fail LEDsNumeric
I/O Panel Connectors
P/S 2221
USB 2.0666
USB 3.0222
IEEE-1394111
NetworkSingleSingleSingle
eSATA121
CLR_CMOS ButtonYesNoNo
Digital Audio OutOptical + CoaxialOptical + CoaxialOptical + Coaxial
Digital Audio InNoneNoneNone
Analog Audio666
Other DevicesNoneBluetooth TransceiverNone
Mass Storage Controllers
Chipset SATA2 x SATA 6Gb/s
4 x SATA 3Gb/s
2 x SATA 6Gb/s
4 x SATA 3Gb/s
2 x SATA 6Gb/s
3 x SATA 3Gb/s
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s
Chipset RAID Modes0, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 10
Add-In SATAMarvell 9120 PCIe
1 x SATA 6Gb/s
1 x SATA/eSATA shared
Marvell 9120 PCIe
2 x SATA 6Gb/s
JMicron JMB362
2 x eSATA 3Gb/s
None
Add-In Ultra ATANoneNoneNone
USB 3.02 x EtronTech EJ168A2 x NEC D720200F11 x NEC D720200F1
IEEE-1394VT6315N PCIe
2 x 400 Mb/s
VT6308P PCI
2 x 400 Mb/s
VT6315N PCIe
2 x 400 Mb/s
Gigabit Ethernet
Primary LANRTL8111E PCIeIntel WG82579V PHYRTL8111DL PCIe
Secondary LANNoneNoneNone
Audio
HD Audio CodecALC892ALC892ALC892
DDL/DTS ConnectNoneNoneNone
Motherboard Features
 ECS P67H2-A2Foxconn P67A-SGigabyte P67A-UD4
PCB Revision1.01.01.0
ChipsetIntel P67 ExpressIntel P67 ExpressIntel P67 Express
Voltage RegulatorNine PhasesFour Phases14 Phases
BIOS101022BS (10/22/2010)AF46F1016 (11/22/2010)F2 (10/22/2010)
100.0 MHz BCLK99.8 (-0.2%)99.8 (-0.2%)99.8 (-0.2%)
Clock GeneratorP67 IntegratedP67 IntegratedP67 Integrated
Internal Interfaces
PCIe x162 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)2 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)2 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)
PCIe x1/x41/03/03/0
Legacy PCI222
USB 2.03 (6-ports)3 (6-ports)3 (6-ports)
USB 3.01 (2-ports)None1 (2-ports)
IEEE-1394NoneNoneNone
Serial Port111
Parallel PortNoneNoneNone
FloppyNoNoNo
Ultra-ATA 133None1 (2-drives)None
SATA 3.0 Gb/s444
SATA 6.0 Gb/s422
4-Pin Fan132
3-Pin Fan202
FP-AudioYesYesYes
CD-AudioNoNoNo
S/PDIF I/OOutput OnlyNoOutput Only
Power ButtonYesYesNo
Reset ButtonYesYesNo
CLR_CMOS ButtonJumper OnlyJumper OnlyJumper Only
Diagnostics PanelNumericNumericNone
I/O Panel Connectors
P/S 2111
USB 2.0868
USB 3.0222
IEEE-1394NoneNoneNone
NetworkDual (w/Teaming)SingleSingle
eSATA222
CLR_CMOS ButtonYesNoNo
Digital Audio OutOpticalOptical + CoaxialOptical + Coaxial
Digital Audio InNoneNoneNone
Analog Audio566
Other DevicesNoneNoneNone
Mass Storage Controllers
Chipset SATA2 x SATA 6Gb/s
4 x SATA 3Gb/s
2 x SATA 6Gb/s
4 x SATA 3Gb/s
2 x SATA 6Gb/s
4 x SATA 3Gb/s
Chipset RAID Modes0, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 10
Add-In SATA2 x Marvell 9128 PCIe
2 x SATA 6Gb/s
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s
2 x RAID 0, 1
Marvell 6121 PCIe
2 x eSATA 3Gb/s
Marvell 9128 PCIe
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s
2 x RAID 0, 1
Add-In Ultra ATANoneMarvell 6121 PCIeNone
USB 3.02 x EtronTech EJ168A1 x NEC D720200F12 x NEC D720200F1
IEEE-1394NoneNoneNone
Gigabit Ethernet
Primary LANRTL8111E PCIeRTL8111E PCIeRTL8111E PCIe
Secondary LANRTL8111E PCIeNoneNone
Audio
HD Audio CodecALC892ALC888SALC892
DDL/DTS ConnectNoneNoneDolby Digital Live
Motherboard Features
 Intel DP67BGJetway HI08MSI P67A-GD65
PCB Revision010.12.0
NorthbridgeIntel P67 ExpressIntel P67 ExpressIntel P67 Express
Voltage RegulatorEight Phases14 PhasesEight Phases
BIOS1780 (11/29/2010)T07 (11/30/2010)1.5B2
100.0 MHz BCLK99.8 MHz (-0.20%)99.8 MHz (-0.20%)99.8 MHz (-0.20%)
Clock GeneratorP67 IntegratedP67 IntegratedP67 Integrated
Internal Interfaces
PCIe  x162 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)2 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)
PCIe x1/x43/01/03/0
Legacy PCI222
USB 2.03 (6-ports)2 (4-ports)1 (2-ports)
USB 3.0NoneNone1 (2-ports)
IEEE-13941None1
Serial PortNone11
Parallel PortNone1None
FloppyNoNoNo
Ultra-ATA 133NoneNoneNone
SATA 3.0 Gb/s444
SATA 6.0 Gb/s224
4-Pin Fan411
3-Pin Fan014
FP-AudioYesYesYes
CD-AudioNoYesYes
S/PDIF I/OOutput OnlyOutput OnlyOutput Only
Power ButtonYesYesYes
Reset ButtonYesYesYes
CLR_CMOS ButtonConfig Mode JumperJumper OnlyJumper Only
Diagnostics PanelNumericNumericNone
I/O Panel Connectors
P/S 2None11
USB 2.0888
USB 3.0222
IEEE-13941None1
NetworkSingleSingleSingle
eSATA1None2
CLR_CMOS ButtonBack To BIOSYesYes
Digital Audio OutOpticalOptical + CoaxialOptical + Coaxial
Digital Audio InNoneNoneNone
Analog Audio566
Other DevicesNoneNoneNone
Mass Storage Controllers
Chipset SATA2 x SATA 6Gb/s
4 x SATA 3Gb/s
2 x SATA 6Gb/s
4 x SATA 3Gb/s
2 x SATA 6Gb/s
4 x SATA 3Gb/s
Chipset RAID Modes0, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 10
Add-In SATAMarvell 6111 PCIe
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s
NoneMarvell 9128 PCIe
2 x SATA 6Gb/s (RAID)
JMicron JMB362 PCIe
2 x eSATA 3Gb/s
Add-In Ultra ATANoneNoneNone
USB 3.0NEC D720200F1ASMedia ASM10422 x NEC D720200F1
IEEE-1394TSB43AB22A PCI
2 x 400 Mb/s
NoneVIA VT6308P PCI
2 x 400 Mb/s
Gigabit Ethernet
Primary LANIntel WG82579V PHYIntel WG82579LM PHYRTL8111E PCIe
Secondary LANNoneNoneNone
Audio
HD Audio CodecRealtek ALC892ALC888Realtek ALC892
DDL/DTS ConnectUnspecifiedNoneNone
Display all 95 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    Tamz_msc , January 10, 2011 4:25 AM
    Nice review.That ASUS came up with the highest CPU overclock wasn't surprising.
  • 0 Hide
    reprotected , January 10, 2011 4:27 AM
    I thought that the ECS looked pretty sick, and it did perform alright. But unfortunately, it wasn't the best.
  • 0 Hide
    rantsky , January 10, 2011 4:29 AM
    You guys rock! Thanks for the review!

    I'm just missing benchmarks like SATA/USB speeds etc. Please Tom's get those numbers for us!
  • 2 Hide
    Tamz_msc , January 10, 2011 4:30 AM
    When will we see an overclocking article on these CPUs?
  • 3 Hide
    rmse17 , January 10, 2011 4:31 AM
    Thanks for the prompt review of the boards! I would like to see any differences in quality of audio and networking components. For example, what chipsets are used for Audio in each board, how that affects sound quality. Same thing for network, which chipset is used for networking, and bandwidth benchmarks. If you guys make part 2 to the review, it would be nice to see those features, as I think that would be one more way these boards would differentiate themselves.
  • 0 Hide
    VVV850 , January 10, 2011 4:50 AM
    Would have been good to know the bios version for the tested motherboards. Sorry if I double posted.
  • 1 Hide
    flabbergasted , January 10, 2011 5:25 AM
    I'm going for the ASrock because I can use my socket 775 aftermarket cooler with it.
  • 0 Hide
    VVV850 , January 10, 2011 5:25 AM
    I was wrong. The BIOS version is posted.
  • -4 Hide
    stasdm , January 10, 2011 5:47 AM
    Do not see any board worth spending money on.

    1. SLI "support". Do not understand why end-user has to pay for mythical SLI "sertification" (all latest Intel chips support SLI by definition) and a SLI bridge coming with the board (at least 75% of end users would never need one). The bridge should come with NVIDIA cards (same as with AMD ones). Also, in x8/x8 PCIe configuration nearly all NVIDIA cards (exept for low-end ones) will loose at least 12% productivity - with top cards that is about $100 spent for nothing (AMD cards would not see that difference). So, If those cards are coming as SLI-"sertified" they have to be, in the worst case, equipped by NVIDIA NF200 chip (though, I would not recommend to by cards with this PCIe v.1.1 bridge). As even NVIDIA GF110 cards really need less than 1GB/s bandwidth (all other NVIDIA and AMD - less than 0.8GB/s)and secondary cards in SLI/CrossFire use no more than 1/4 of that, a normal PCIe v.2.0 switch (costing less than thrown away with x8/x8 SLI money) will nicely support three "Graphics only" x16 slots, fully-functional x8 slot and will provide bandwidth enough to support one PCIe v.2.0 x4 (or 4 x x1) slot(s)/device(s).

    2. Do not understand the author euphoria of mass use of Marvell "SATA 6G" chips. The PCIe x1 chip might not be "SATA 6G" by definision, as it woud newer be able to provide more than 470GB/s (which is far from the standard 600GB/s) - so, I'd recommend to denote tham as 3G+ or 6G-. As it is shown in the upper section, there is enough bandwidth for real 6G solution (PCIe x8 LSISAS 2008 or x4 LSISAS 2004). Yes, will be a bit more expensive, but do not see the reason to have a palliative solutions on $200+ mobos.

  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 10, 2011 6:37 AM
    I was hoping that the new Asus Sabertooth P67 would be included. Its new design really is leaving people wondering if the change is as good as they claim.
  • 0 Hide
    stasdm , January 10, 2011 7:12 AM
    To rmse17
    Do not think they use anything better than native southbridge or Realtec controller. Adding better chip will add some cents to the board cost. And, anyway, these boards are not positioned as "Hard gaimer" ones - more like low-middle class (though, with proper design LGA1155 boards may be exellent gaming boards.
  • 0 Hide
    Lutfij , January 10, 2011 7:18 AM
    oh, yeah, wheres the ROG boards?!?!?!
  • 0 Hide
    Vatharian , January 10, 2011 7:48 AM
    @Lutfij - they're over the price limit for this article.
    @stasdm - SLI - it's a trick nVidia pulls to make money from every mobo sold (with SLi support). Mythical or not, intel's PCHs DO NOT support SLi by default - they do not support SLi at all. It's all by means of nV's driver and BIOS-included string. Everything is supported by the fact that PCI-Express has enough bandwidth to sustain two cards - that wasn't exactly always possible with PCIe 1.0 lower bandwidth on previous-gen chipsets. About SATA 6G - most of the crowd won't utilize even half of the SATA ports at all. If they will, then probably they'll treat them only as additional sata ports with no regard to their speed. Enthusiasts will attach their SSDs to PCIe in extreme cases or at least to intel's own controller, which in turn handles SATA internally in PCH without using PCIe. External controllers are out of scope for 99% of the crowd, mind you. For example - show me PCIe based 4x SATA (or SAS, for availablity sake) controller with RAID 5 support below 300$. Any? Don't think so, save one crappy LSI. It's budget side, man. If you want top-of-the-line, get server board for storage and second, gaming, or performance rig, but that's not what's this article about.

    @Author - Thank you for great comparison. Too bad it ended on counting what does not work on the boards. It seems that atm intel and ASUS have the most mature and reliable products. However, I'd still wait for second-gen P67 boards (in Q2?), before upgrading. Still wondering what to do with my 1366 rig.
  • 0 Hide
    stasdm , January 10, 2011 8:30 AM
    @Vatharian
    1. As SLI is software only solution (BIOS string is just a trick), that is why it is by default supported by Intel (AMD too).
    2. Even PCIe 1.1 bandwidth is over the head to support four-way SLI/CroaaFire. They use a few administrative tools from 2.0 now - but that's all. The difference between AMD and NVIDIA is that for at least two generations already AMD uses standard PCIe protocol, but at 1/4 of the standard speed. NVIDIA used even slower speed at pre-GF110 chips (that's why they decided not to issue 512-cores NF100 cards - they would not be faster than "abridged" version), with non-stsndard "Graphics PCIe" protocol (Basically PCIe, but w/o parity control, using parity bits for data, w/o distributed clock support and some other "speed-up" tricks. On x8 bus their cards have to return to standard PCIe protocol and automatically loose the "no parity" part of the bandwidth.
  • 0 Hide
    stasdm , January 10, 2011 8:36 AM
    @Vatharian
    As for "budget mobos - carrent dual-core Atoms are enough for most non-heavy graphics tasks. To position LGA1155 processors along with them - to insult Intel engineers, created these chips. That's the hi-end product, improperly used.
  • -1 Hide
    belardo , January 10, 2011 9:11 AM
    Good article... But these are still 1st gen boards and at $150~200 for feature sets that's the same for an AMD Chipset board is not impressive. Obviously, the new CPUs are usually faster than AMD of course. Which helps to regulate AMD into the low-end ~ mid-range computer systems.

    Still not impressed with intel's locking down flexibility of their boards & CPUs. But that's intel for you. Sandy Bridge would be great for my video encoding... but it most likely not work for me... blah blah.


  • 1 Hide
    feeddagoat , January 10, 2011 9:36 AM
    A quick look at overclock results and tbh intel SB has killed the excitement of motherboards. After looking for features you want (even then they're all similar to a degree) all that's left is to match up the colour of your curtains.
  • 0 Hide
    aaron88_7 , January 10, 2011 9:50 AM
    The Deluxe version of that Asus board comes with a USB 3.0 drive bay, but I was a little confused as to why one would want that if their Case already has front faced USB 3.0 ports like the one I got does.

    I'll have to look at the connections again, but can you use that same cable to plug into the board on the inside or do those case USB 3.0 ports have to be connected to the rear of the board? Personally I think the drive bay including just 2 USB ports looks kind of lame and I'd much, much rather use the ports on my case....even if that means running a cable out the back of the case, (nobody looks at the back anyway).
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , January 10, 2011 9:59 AM
    Front-panel USB 3.0 header:


    First introduced by ASRock in response to a request by Tom's Hardware, using an Intel design according to ASRock's engineers.
  • 0 Hide
    Vatharian , January 10, 2011 10:03 AM
    @stasdm - Dual core Atoms are strangely rare. To be honest their performance is an insult considering the price you pay for them. For compact PC in ITX case, sure, but SFF is pricey, I'd say, comparable to far-faster normal microATX format. Also very simple, common situation: I want to use budget mobo, decent CPU (not the slowest one), and I'd like to have TV tuner card, some SB Audigy2 lying around, (or ASUS Xonar :p  ), still better than the dreaded Realtek. Maybe some used PCIe graphics, so my daughter can play Sims 3 without a problem. So there is a problem, because I do not know any not-SFF Atom board. It's either PCIe or PCI, and only single slot. If you want a typing machine, go buy used PC for 40$ or even less.
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