Intel P67 Shootout - The Top Guns

ASRock P67 Extreme6

ASRock P67 Extreme6

We start with ASRock's P67 Extreme6, which represents the manufacturer's latest attempt at cracking the high-end market. While the design itself breaks no new ground and is derivative of other more established brands, this board does fulfill many of the criteria one expects of a relatively expensive, high-end motherboard. First, the features are there.

Support for newer technologies, like USB 3.0 is amply provided, though ASRock went with EtronTech's controller rather than the more well-known and presumably more costly NEC controller. There are six SATA 6Gbps ports, which are more than some of its competitors (and which means you don't really need to worry about the Cougar Point glitch), two of which are native to the P67 chipset while the rest are from a Marvell controller. You'll get dual Gigabit Ethernet controllers from Realtek, with FireWire and eSATA thrown in too. Finally, all the conveniences of a modern, high-end motherboard - onboard power and reset switches, LED for debugging and a Clear CMOS button are all present. There's even a front USB 3.0 panel for the chassis included.

Multi-GPU configurations (CrossFireX and SLI) are supported, though the last of the three PCIe 2.0 x16 slot onboard is actually running at x4, due to the lack of PCIe lanes. There is sufficient allowance for up to three dual-slot graphics cards if you choose to go down that route.

We can't say we are fans of the color scheme, but it looks like a neat, competent motherboard.

The rear I/O panel is quite balanced and more than adequate. USB 3.0 ports, FireWire and eSATA ports and there's even a handy Clear CMOS switch. Both optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs are also present.

There's no lack of SATA 6Gbps ports here (in white) as thanks to a Marvell controller, they even outnumber the SATA 3Gbps ports.

The dual-channel DDR3 DIMMs support up to 32GB of memory, and an overclocked frequency of 2133MHz.

ASRock is not yet closing the door on older interfaces, as we found headers for COM and floppy ports. There are also plenty of headers for USB.

EtronTech is fast becoming the alternative to NEC's USB 3.0 controllers.

There may be three PCIe 2.0 x16 slots but the leftmost slot is capped at x4 speeds. Dual cards will be configured at x8/x8.

Gold tipped solid capacitors from Japan complement the 16+2 power phases that this motherboard is capable of producing. No doubt, ASRock has done its homework about what's necessary for a high-end motherboard.

One of ASRock's more innovative moments (albeit not something new) - the multiple mounting holes for the CPU cooler allow for the use of either a newer LGA1155/1156 compatible cooler or an older LGA775 cooler.

Despite the ATX form factor, everything fits nicely on this board, with no layout issues evident to us. The onboard components had adequate space from each other for the most part, with the DIMM slots perhaps too close to the CPU socket if one goes for a larger, third-party cooler. Besides that, this is a neat board.

Overall, ASRock has designed a P67 board that appears on paper to fit the high-end price segment that it is targeting. Although the lack of PCIe lanes compared to the competition weakens its case, it all boils down to whether the consumer requires this feature. Besides, ASRock has opted to price it rather attractively at S$329, which should fare well against its intended rivals. Also, ASRock's local distro has informed us that the revised B3 boards will be available after 29 March.

The UEFI BIOS on this ASRock board is also another plus point. It comes with auto-overclocking profiles of up to 4.8GHz for our Core i7-2600K processor (though we didn't manage to hit that with the utility) and the other BIOS options were generally clear and straightforward. Compared to some other BIOS we have seen, the ASRock one is definitely easy to use and we encountered no problems.

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