Counting Down to 2011 - Sandy Bridge Motherboards Preview


ASUS P8P67 Deluxe

ASUS P8P67 Deluxe

Now that we have glimpsed some of the motherboard features and technologies from ASUS next year, let's take a look at one of those boards that will actually have them. The ASUS P8P67 Deluxe is probably ASUS' highest end P67 motherboard outside of its Republic of Gamers (ROG) series. It comes with those touted features, like the EFI BIOS, the digital power design and the hardware chip for auto-tuning. It also comes with a built-in Bluetooth module for ASUS' BT GO! feature. Along with all these new features, you'll find ASUS' usual features that are too numerous to list here, from minor ones like Q-Connector to more useful ones like our favorite EZ Flash 2 utility.

In terms of the hardware, you'll find that ASUS has designed for three PCIe x16 slots, though only the first two slots are multi-GPU capable (dual at x8/x8, single at x16 and both ATI and NVIDIA supported) with the last slot (in black) at x4 mode. The Intel P67 Express chipset provides two SATA 6Gbps ports with four SATA 3Gbps ones. This is complemented by ASUS with two more SATA 6Gbps from a Marvell 9128 controller and an additional two eSATA 3Gbps port from a JMicron controller.

You'll also find dual Gigabit LAN, another sign of the 'Deluxe' nature of this board. Audio is provided by a Realtek ALC889 HD CODEC, which is pretty standard on motherboards. Despite the presence of dual NEC USB 3.0 controllers for a total of four USB 3.0 ports (two at the rear, two more via a separate front panel unit), FireWire is retained. Of course, there are many USB 2.0 ports courtesy of the chipset, with eight alone at the rear.

 ASUS has retained a similar color scheme from its previous gen motherboards. It's fine since users should be quite familiar with the blue design by now.

A full complement of ports at the rear, including the Bluetooth module protruding from the rear panel. You'll find both coaxial and optical S/PDIF outputs, up to eight USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports (in blue), the dual Gigabit LAN ports, a Clear CMOS button and FireWire and two eSATA ports.

Underneath that low heatsink is the P67 chipset. Meanwhile, the SATA ports include four SATA 6Gbps (the gray and navy blue ones) and four SATA 3Gbps ports (in light blue), all aligned facing outwards for optimal cable management.

The power and reset buttons beside a hardware switch to enable ASUS' EPU processor which is in charge of optimizing the power consumption of the board.

The Intel P67 uses a dual-channel memory architecture, with ASUS supporting up to DDR3 2400MHz for overclocked frequencies. You can also find hardware switches for the TPU chip and ASUS' MemOK utility, meant to troubleshoot memory compatibility issues.

We have seen this PLX PCIe 2.0 switch and lane multiplier on older ASUS motherboards and it serves the same purpose as before to ensure that you'll get the full bandwidth for the SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 ports when used simultaneously.

The usual high quality components found in higher end motherboards nowadays, along with a relatively simple, low-profile cooling system linked with heat-pipes. ASUS quotes a 16+2 digital phase power design for this board.

Near the rear of the board are clustered the onboard controllers for features like HD audio (Realtek), FireWire (VIA) and Ethernet.

ASUS has included two NEC 3.0 controllers for a total of four USB 3.0 ports.

This front panel box for two USB 3.0 controllers can be slotted into your chassis' 3.5-inch bay and connected to the ASUS board to enable the functionality. Useful if your chassis has no allowance for front USB 3.0 ports.

Overall, the design and features are very similar to ASUS' last-gen P55 boards, which is not surprising given the way Intel has been designing its chipsets. Discrete graphics is still required for this chipset and this board supports the necessary multi-GPU technologies. If you liked (and we did) the layout of ASUS' older boards, you'll find it to be more of the same. We didn't see any obvious issues, with the PCIe x16 slots spaced properly and the low-profile heatsinks should make it even easier for those with larger, third-party coolers. However, like ASUS boards in the past, you may have to fork out a bit more compared to some other brands.