UEFI! Native SATA 6Gb/s
Confusing SATA ports; pre-release drivers are a little wonky.
We’ll be honest: We’ve had the most hands-on time with Asus’s new P8P67 Deluxe board of any P67-based board this cycle. That’s because Asus sent a functioning board to us far before its competitors (including Intel) did, and as such, we conducted the bulk of our Sandy Bridge chip testing with the P8P67 Deluxe board.
Usually, early boards mean soldered-on wires, unpredictable performance, and hiccups that are often a consequence of very early hardware. None of that was true of the P8P67 Deluxe board. Out of the box, it offered rock-solid stability and its performance was excellent across the board.
Front-panel USB 3.0 is finally a reality with Asus’s P8P67 Deluxe.
POST the P8P67 Deluxe and you’ll notice the first big change: Universal Extendible Firmware Interface, or UEFI. The arrival of UEFI on the PC might feel like that long-awaited unicorn bar mitzvah, but it’s actually been around for some time. Numerous Intel boards have had UEFI but you’d never know it from looking at their BIOS-like interface.
You won’t get that feeling from the P8P67 Deluxe board, and any misgivings you have regarding the change to UEFI will likely vanish when you see the beautiful interface Asus has developed. The configuration screen alone will remind you how ancient that 16-bit BIOS is. Navigating the UEFI isn’t as intuitive if you’re used to moving about a BIOS, but it’s a brave new world we like.
On the hardware front, Asus packs a lot into this $240 motherboard. With Intel finally releasing a spec for a USB 3.0 internal header, Asus takes advantage by including a 3.5-inch drive-bay adapter with two USB 3.0 ports to boot. Why is this needed? Previously, case enclosures that included front USB 3.0 required you to run cables out of the back of the case and plug into the rear USB 3.0 ports. This eats up your USB 3.0 ports and is inelegant, to say the least. The Deluxe board gives you two front USB 3.0 ports, plus the two on the rear.
The USB 3.0 isn’t native to the P67 chipset, but the SATA 6Gb/s is. Sort of. Intel finally adds SATA 6Gb/s but only two of the ports in the P67’s peripheral controller hub have it. Why? To save money. Intel says running more than two ports would add additional pin-outs to the PCH and, well, that costs dinero. The result is a horrific headache of port confusion. On feature-rich boards like the P8P67 Deluxe, this gives you four SATA 3Gb/s ports plus two SATA 6Gb/s off of the Intel PCH. Add another two SATA 6Gb/s from the Marvell 9128 controller and your SATA mode will greatly depend on which port you luck yourself into. You’ll definitely want to run the Intel SATA 6Gb/s over the Marvell because it’s faster, but you have to RTFM first.
Also cool, but a bit tricky, is the inclusion of Asus’s nifty Bluetooth control option for the board, which lets you boot, reset, shut down, and overclock the board remotely from popular smartphones. Asus said it tweaked the Bluetooth stack and app to make it easier to transfer files from your phone, too. While that aspect worked fine with our Android phone, we couldn’t get the remote capability up and running. We’ve tested it successfully on other Asus boards, so we suspect that it’s a side effect of the early application, or us.
In general performance, the Asus board held its own against the MSI, but both boards traded wins and losses. In other words, don’t consider performance a deciding factor. We’d rather that you look at price, layout, and features. In those respects, it’s hard not to recommend the P8P67 Deluxe as a worthy ride for your new Sandy Bridge chip.
|Asus P8P67 Deluxe ||MSI P67A-GD65|
|PCMark Vantage 64-bit Overall||11,250||10,388|
|Everest Ultimate MEM Read (MB/s)||16,110 ||16,492|
|Everest Ultimate MEM Write (MB/s)||16,757 ||18,602|
|Everest Ultimate MEM Copy (MB/s)||25,128||21,628|
|Everest Ultimate MEM Latency (ns)||35.8 ||53.5|
|SiSoft Sandra RAM Bandwidth (GB/s)||15.7||15.8|
|3DMark Vantage Overall ||14,845||15,214|
|3DMark Vantage GPU ||11,947 ||12,287|
|3DMark Vantage CPU||54,470 ||53,282|
|Valve Particle Test (fps)||180||177|
|Resident Evil 5 low-res (fps) ||132 ||131.7|
|HAWX low-res (fps) ||244 ||247|
|HD Tune Pro Sustained Write w/ Marvell 6GB/s Controller (MB/s)||208||202.4|
|HD Tune Pro Burst (MB/s) (Marvell)||157||167|
|HD Tune Pro Sustained Write w/Intel 6GB/s Controller (MB/s)||256.7||242|
|HD Tune Pro Burst (MB/s) (Intel)||170 ||204 |
|HD Tune USB 3.0 (MB/s)||155.6||156 |
|16GB POST test||Pass||Pass |
|3TB boot test||Pass ||Pass |
|SLI test||Pass ||Pass |
We used a 3.4GHz Core i7-2600K, 4GB of Corsair DDR3/1600, 64-bit Windows 7 Professional, a Western Digital 150GB Raptor, and an EVGA GeForce GTX 285. To test SATA 6Gb/s, we used a Crucial C300 SATA 6Gb/s SSD on each controller. USB 3.0 performance was tested using an OCZ Enyo. To test SLI, we used two EVGA GeForce GTX 285 cards. Both boards were also booted with 16GB of Corsair DDR3/1333.