Intel P67 Roundup - The Mainstream Invasion

ASRock P67 Pro3

ASRock P67 Pro3

With just one PCIe 2.0 x16 graphics slot, the ASRock P67 Pro3 is clearly a mainstream P67 board, eschewing even the native CrossFireX support that you'll find on the chipset. This is fortunately translated to the price, which at US$124, makes it the least expensive P67 board in our roundup today, and dips into the microATX price range. This ASRock however is a full ATX board, though the presence of three PCI slots may seem like a big step backwards to some users.

Continuing with its surprising support for legacy devices, there are both PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports at the rear panel; we even found a floppy and COM port onboard. IDE ports though remain missing and users will have to be content with the standard four SATA 3Gbps and two SATA 6Gbps configuration mandated by the Intel P67 Express chipset. USB 3.0 is supported, with EtronTech USB controllers preferred over the more popular NEC implementation, possibly due to cost issues.

 ASRock has made some interesting decisions with the mainstream Pro3, like having only a single x16 graphics slot and support for several legacy devices.

It's quite a crowded rear panel, with both PS/2 ports, up to six USB 2.0 ports and the two blue USB 3.0 ports. Both S/PDIF outputs are available and there's even a Clear CMOS button. All in all, we have no complaints.

Despite its affordable price tag, there's no skimping on the quality of the components, as we found the usual solid capacitors that are almost standard fare nowadays. There's also ample space on the PCB, due to the lack of extra onboard controllers, from the likes of Marvell, for example, that increase the number of SATA ports. Hence, we also didn't notice anything wrong with the layout. There is plenty of allowance for third-party CPU coolers and onboard connectors generally seem to be free of cable interference.

The passive heatsinks we saw on this board are rather modest, reflecting the relatively cool thermal situation on such P67 boards. They are low enough not to pose any obstruction for CPU coolers or graphics cards.

Only the standard 4+2 SATA port configuration is found on this ASRock board, all sustained by the chipset, presumably to reduce cost. There are onboard power and reset buttons and even a debugging LED panel. Not exactly what we expected from a mainstream, cost-conscious board.

The standard dual-channel, four DDR3 DIMM configuration that you'll find on practically all P67 boards. The memory support goes up to 2133MHz, with a max capacity of 32GB. Intel's Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) is supported.

Even though most consumers are likely to stick with a single graphics card, those who are buying a P67 board may prefer the option of a second graphics card, an option that's surprisingly missing on this ASRock board.

The traditional jumper method of clearing the CMOS. We can't imagine who would use this method given the convenient Clear CMOS button at the rear panel.

A surprise here - COM and floppy port!

As you can expect from a modern, albeit mainstream motherboard, solid capacitors and decent quality chokes are used. Consumers have a certain level of expectations nowadays and these components are now part of that.

Besides a host of proprietary technologies, from an 'Instant Flash' option for updating the BIOS with a flash drive in the BIOS, to an App Charger driver that claims to boost the speed of charging through the USB ports (for Apple devices only apparently), ASRock has also followed the crowd of including an UEFI BIOS. This is accompanied by a brand new interface which we found quite refreshing and most importantly, responsive.

While being able to use a mouse in the BIOS was much welcomed, it was the overall feel of the interface that got our approval. The various BIOS sections were sufficiently clear and ASRock even had a couple of 'Turbo', overclocking profiles that boosted our 2600K processor up to 4.8GHz.

 ASRock's new UEFI BIOS looks pretty competent and user-friendly. While there are no overly fancy graphics or icons, it's rather responsive and fast. It's a nice usable interface that's pleasing to the eye.

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