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P67 Motherboard Roundup: Nine $150-200 Boards

Conclusion

A few of the boards in today’s comparison have yet to reach the market, while a few others are likely to face overpricing over the next few weeks until supply is able to catch up with demand. While that makes any comparison of value purely speculative, we can at least point out the strengths of our candidates.

ECS, for example, packs its P67H2-A2 with the greatest number of features, going so far as to include RAID mode for both of its additional 6Gb/s controllers (SATA and eSATA), and even supplying the board with teaming-capable dual network controllers and a black-dyed brushed-aluminum bay adapter for its front-panel USB 3.0 jacks. This board went on to take second place in CPU overclocking behind the legendary Asus, and our only real complaint is an immature UEFI that had a few of its labels switched. The P67H2-A2 was delivered as a $200 sample, and ECS is likely to win over a great number of converts if it can keep that price while resolving its last few early-firmware problems.

Opposite of ECS, Foxconn’s P67A-S included very few feature and very many firmware limitations. We have a hard time believing that this will be a $150 product (the bottom end of this roundup), though the company might be basing its price target on MSRP rather than the discount Web prices to which we’ve grown accustomed. It did perform well, but we wouldn’t pay over $130 for it.

Asus had the highest overclock, and one of the extra features it includes might blow ECS out of the water. Though it lacks dual-networking or RAID capability on its slower eSATA ports, the Bluetooth adapter could potentially save its buyers around $20 compared to a USB dongle, while tucking nicely into its own port. Asus even optimizes the placement of its front-panel USB 3.0 connector, though it doesn’t actually include a bay adapter to connect it. This particular product will become even more attractive as case manufacturers release models that use the internal USB 3.0 interface.

Doing well at everything, but not leading the pack at anything, the MSI P67A-GD65’s only weakness is that it never completely overtakes the similarly-featured product from Asus. Perhaps MSI will attempt to win that war on the battlefield of price!

ASRock’s P67 Extreme4 had the highest memory overclock and second-best efficiency, while Gigabyte’s second-highest memory overclock and tied-for-second CPU overclock makes its P67A-UD4 a worthy adversary. Extra features tip the scale in ASRock’s favor, though not likely by a large enough margin for the firm to steal previous Gigabyte customers.

Though the performance of the top eight boards was almost identical, Biostar’s slim performance lead is still noteworthy. We particularly liked the old-fashioned menus found in its new UEFI, but fans of the brand will certainly be disappointed that it didn’t also take a lead in overclocking. After all, mid-budget overclocking should be Biostar’s tour-de-force.

Finally there’s the Jetway HI08. This appears to be a very well-designed, well-produced product for mid-budget gamers who want three-way CrossFire. It’s even the only board to support three double-slot cards within a standard seven-slot case. Though high-end builders won’t like the four-lane limitation of its third slot, this chipset limitation surely won’t dissuade anyone who wants to inexpensively carry-over three cards from a previous build. The only real problem, then, is its firmware, and that problem put it on the bottom of most of our performance charts. We look forward to future improvements, but must wait for those before we can add this product to our list of recommendations.

  • Tamz_msc
    Nice review.That ASUS came up with the highest CPU overclock wasn't surprising.
    Reply
  • reprotected
    I thought that the ECS looked pretty sick, and it did perform alright. But unfortunately, it wasn't the best.
    Reply
  • rantsky
    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!
    Reply
  • Tamz_msc
    When will we see an overclocking article on these CPUs?
    Reply
  • rmse17
    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.
    Reply
  • VVV850
    Would have been good to know the bios version for the tested motherboards. Sorry if I double posted.
    Reply
  • flabbergasted
    I'm going for the ASrock because I can use my socket 775 aftermarket cooler with it.
    Reply
  • VVV850
    I was wrong. The BIOS version is posted.
    Reply
  • stasdm
    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.

    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply