P67 Motherboard Roundupccokeman -
Price: $179- $280
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At the beginning of January, Intel launched their second generation Core series processors that set a new benchmark for performance while at the same time, still using all of the power savings features that Intel has been equipping their processors with. Things such as using Turbo Boost 2.0 to dynamically lower and increase the CPU muliplier to get the best of both worlds. Those two worlds being energy efficiency and increased performance. This introduction brought us to yet another different way to overclock as traditional BLCK (base clock or bclock) overclocking is now fairly limited (to between 100MHz to 109MHz) meaning it's all about the multiplier now. In the Intel Core i7 2600K launch article we looked at what Intel has to offer in terms of the performance of the 2600K when mounted in their in-house board, the DP67 BG. What I found was that performance and overclocking had been improved since the last generation boards (the DP55WG on the P55 platform and DX58SO for the X58 based processors). This Intel board offers a full feature set and allowed for some decent overclocking. But, if that won't suffice, the aftermarket has plenty to offer from improved components through to proprietary features. What I have to look at today is a broad cross section of P67 based motherboards from ASUS, ECS and MSI that showcase some of the latest features offered by each manufacturer. Some of these features are proprietary and others are standard for the P67 lineup. With ASUS you have DIGI+ VRM, Dual BIOS, BT, Go and ROG options. With MSI, you get Military Class II components and DrMOS. While with ECS, you get a Lucid Hydra graphics solution and a much richer feature set with the goal to really compete in the enthusiast market.
The boards we have to look at in this comparison are two versions of ASUS's P8P67 series. We have the P8P67 WS Revolution and the P8P67 Pro giving us the chance to do a comparison of the feature set from the mid to the upper end of the spectrum. At the opposite end of the spectrum we have the Maximus IV Extreme which is targeted at the extreme gamer and hardcore enthusiast with a significant jump in features to make this an attractive board for the consumer looking for it all. The ECS Black series board moves up to play in the enthusiast ranks after seeing success with the ECS P55H-AK and they have not pulled any punches with the P67H2-A. The MSI offering will be the MSI P67A-GD65 that makes use of the company's Military Class II components and one touch overclocking with OC Genie.
Let's look at each one of these boards individually to see what they have to offer in terms of feature sets and performance.