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Extreme P55: Four LGA 1156 Motherboards Over $250

Test Settings

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-870 (2.93 GHz, 8MB Shared L3 Cache)
CPU CoolerThermalright MUX-120
RAMKingston KHX2133C9D3T1K2/4GX (4GB) DDR3-2133 at DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24
GraphicsXFX GeForce GTX 285 XXX Edition 670 MHz GPU, GDDR3-2500
Hard DriveWestern Digital Velociraptor WD3000HLFS, 300GB 10,000 RPM, SATA 3 Gb/s, 16MB cache
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerCorsair CMPSU-850HX 850W Modular ATX12V v2.2, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 190.62 WHQL
ChipsetIntel INF 9.1.1.1014

Intel’s Core i7-870 processor reaches beyond 4.0 GHz at 1.45V, allowing us to test each motherboard with nothing more than a large heat sink and fan.

Thermalright’s MUX-120 provides just enough cooling to prevent thermal throttling during our overclocking stability tests at full CPU load.

Kingston’s DDR3-2133 enables our 1.65V DRAM overclocking stability tests and is also capable of running our normal benchmarks at DDR3-1600 using the default voltage.

Now certified by the 80 PLUS organization to meet its Gold efficiency standard, Corsair CMPSU-850HX gives our test rig superb stability under every conceivable load.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
CrysisPatch 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 2Patch 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 SkyClear Sky Benchmark version Test Set 1: High Preset, DX10 EFDL, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, DX10 EFDL, 4x MSAA
World in ConflictPatch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo Test 1: High Details, No AA / No AF Test 2: Very High Details 4x AA / 16x AF
Audio and Video Encoding
iTunesVersion: 8.2.1.6 x64 Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min. Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98.2, wave to MP3 Audio CD "Terminator II," 53 min
TMPEGEnc 4.0 ExpressVersion: 4.7.3.292 Import File: "Terminator 2" SE DVD (5 Minutes) Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4 Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.2Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1 Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kbp/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS4Version: 11.0 x64, Filter 15.7MB TIF Image Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009Version: 11.0 x64, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8.5Version: 8.5.287, Virus base: 270.12.16/2094, Benchmark: Scan 334MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.90Version x64 3.90, Dictionary = 4,096KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
WinZip 12Version 12.1, WinZip Command Line Version 3.0 Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.0.1, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00 x64, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4aVersion 2009.9.15.130, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • kumaiti
    I will comment the same as in the previous motherboard roundup: please add more details the CODECs on each board. There is almost nothing about the Via VT2020 and many crucial features of the ALC889 are vendor-dependant. It would be really good to know if they support Dolby Digital Live, DTS connect, Dolby Headphone and so on.
    Reply
  • notty22
    Keep spreading the love for the best platform PERIOD.
    1156 FTW !!!!!
    Reply
  • dcay
    "Already several years old, we have yet to build a system that can overcome Crysis’ system demands at 2560x1600 and 8x anti-aliasing (AA). That makes this outdated game a solid benchmark application."
    Reply
  • dcay
    "Already several years old, we have yet to build a system that can overcome Crysis’ system demands at 2560x1600 and 8x anti-aliasing (AA). That makes this outdated game a solid benchmark application."
    Reply
  • johnbilicki
    So socket 1156 is supposed to be the most awesome thing in the world?

    - No six core CPU's, EVER.
    - Requires a glued on chip for more then 16 lanes.
    - Motherboards overpriced compared to socket AM3.

    When you buy a socket 1156 system that is all the performance you're going go get out of it. The top-end CPU's won't come down in price by much and Intel made it clear it's a mainstream platform. My socket AM3 has playable FPS, the motherboard is high end and under $200, and I'll be able to continue upgrading in the future. That is what matters to me. The Intel fan boy articles are getting so old.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    kumaitiI will comment the same as in the previous motherboard roundup: please add more details the CODECs on each board. There is almost nothing about the Via VT2020 and many crucial features of the ALC889 are vendor-dependant. It would be really good to know if they support Dolby Digital Live, DTS connect, Dolby Headphone and so on.
    They don't.
    johnbilickiThe Intel fan boy articles are getting so old.
    It might surprise you that new motherboard series articles follow new chipsets. So AMD fanboy, where's the new AMD chipset?
    Reply
  • kumaiti
    CrashmanThey don't.
    1. Do you mean on these boards or in general?
    2. If it is for these boards, did you install the drivers/software from each manufaturer or used the default Windows drivers?

    Thanks for the reply
    Reply
  • Crashman
    kumaiti1. Do you mean on these boards or in general?2. If it is for these boards, did you install the drivers/software from each manufaturer or used the default Windows drivers?Thanks for the reply
    None of the manufacturers list support for DDL or DTS Connect any longer. Those technologies were most likely licensed in the past and neglected due to lack of demand and cost, because typical buyers don't know what they are and won't pay extra for them.
    Reply
  • dman3k
    Sorry, I'm not an Intel fanboy, but AMD thoroughly sucks right now. Heck, even with their top of the line 5xxx series graphics, they still can't damn write a driver.

    It may well be Intel's monopolize actions that got AMD to this point when AMD had the top processors, but the truth is AMD products suck right now.

    There are P55 mobos under $160 that you can easily find, which will still beat AM3 systems quite handily. For example, get a DFI Lanparty P55-T36. johnbilickiMy socket AM3 has playable FPS, the motherboard is high end and under $200, and I'll be able to continue upgrading in the future. That is what matters to me. The Intel fan boy articles are getting so old.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    dman3kSorry, I'm not an Intel fanboy, but AMD thoroughly sucks right now...There are P55 mobos under $160 that you can easily find, which will still beat AM3 systems quite handily. For example, get a DFI Lanparty P55-T36.
    First of all, most reviewers are begging AMD to pull a rabbit out of the hat just to get the competition moving again. Second, AMD does give you more chipset for your money.
    Reply