P67 Roundup Part Twotacohunter52 - September 8, 2011
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ASUS is, at least in my opinion, one of the most respected motherboard manufacturers around. The company produces a wide range of extremely great quality motherboards, with a wide range of naming schemes. ASUS is responsible for the extremely popular Rampage, Maximus, and Crosshair line of motherboards. Today we'll be taking a look at another popular motherboard from ASUS, the SABERTOOTH, which utilizes TUF (The Ultimate Force) components! The ASUS P67 SABERTOOTH is, perhaps, best known for its full body TUF Thermal Armor. This thermal armor keeps the entire motherboard cool, as opposed to just certain key areas. Not only that, but the thermal armor is paired with TUF Thermal Radar. The thermal radar will actively detect temperatures of key areas around the motherboard and automatically adjust fan speeds to insure that these areas are kept cool. Furthermore, the thermal radar will actually calculate ideal fan speeds based on user parameters to keep the board cool and quite. These thermal advancements combined with the board's TUF Engine power design, which consists of DIGI+ VRMs, ESP efficient power switching, and TUF Components, should make this one of the best P67 motherboards available.
The ASUS P67 SABERTOOTH's packaging follows a mostly silver color scheme. Slightly off-centered is the large P67 SABERTOOTH logo and to the right of that is a wing cutout showing an engine. The ASUS logo is located on the packaging's bottom right-hand side, while the TUF logo can be found in the upper left-hand corner. Flipping the box over gives us a lot more detail on some of its main features. These are its TUF Thermal Armor, TUF Thermal Radar, TUF Components, and server grade reliability. The SABERTOOTH's box also had a flap, which upon lifting gives us even more details on the board's key features. This includes its front panel USB 3.0 support, complete USB 3.0 solution, DIGI+ VRMs, and that the board utilizes EFI BIOS as opposed to AMI.
Opening the box shows us that the P67 SABERTOOTH was packaged a bit differently from what we usually see. Instead of the accessories being located on top of the motherboard, the first thing you'll see is the ASUS P67 SABERTOOTH nice and secure with a plastic clamshell covering. Removing the motherboard will then reveal the accessories.
As we all know, some motherboards come with very few accessories — the ASUS P67 SABERTOOTH is not one of those motherboards. If anything, the P67 SABERTOOTH is the polar opposite! For starters, as opposed to a single owners manual, you'll receive a total of four pamphlets. These include a user's guide, a certificate of reliability, a manual on the five year warranty, and a "The Ultimate Force" guide. Along with these manuals is a "TUF Inside" decal, two SATA III 6Gb/s cables, two SATA II 3Gb/s cables, a Q-Shield, a Q-Shield connector, an SLI bridge, and four screws for the board's assistant fan.
The most noticeable thing about the ASUS P67 SABERTOOTH is the board's thermal armor, partly because it's so different and partly just because of how cool it is. The SABERTOOTH is a full ATX motherboard and utilizes a ton of features unique to ASUS. These include the board's TUF Thermal Armor, TUF Thermal Radar, TUF Engine Power Design, 8+2 Digital Phase Power Design, TUF Components, ASUS DIGI+ VRM Utility, E.S.P. (Efficient Switching Power Design), Safe & Stable Guardian Angel, ESD Guards, MemOK!, and Anti Surge protection. Not only that, but the board is also equipped with a multitude of other special features that we'll get into later. The SABERTOOTH is also using a brown PCB and a LOTES socket. Flipping the board over reveals that the chipset is nice and secure via screws as opposed to push pins, which is something I always like to see!
The ports and the amount of ports on a motherboard are extremely important. In fact, they are one of the main things people look at when deciding between two motherboards. ASUS knows this and included a great deal of ports on the P67 SABERTOOTH. You'll be able to utilize two USB 3.0 ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, a standard eSATA port, a Power eSATA 3Gb/s port, a PS/2 port, an optical audio out, a LAN port, and your standard audio ports. As for expansion, you'll be able to run an SLI or CrossFire configuration off of the SABERTOOTH's two PCIe 2.0 x16 slots. That being said, running two GPUs will cause the slots to run in x8 mode. Along with the PCIe x16 slots, you'll be able to utilize three PCIe 2.0 x1 slots and a single PCI slot.
The bottom of the ASUS P67 SABERTOOTH features mostly headers. One of the first things I noticed was that the HD audio header is located at the bottom of the board as opposed to up near the PCIe slots. This is something that I really like to see because it makes wire management much easier and prettier. To the right of the audio header there is an SPDIF header, a 1394a header, and three USB headers. Again moving to the right we can see a chassis fan connector, a COMM header, and the front panel headers.
Moving to the right side of the ASUS P67 SABERTOOTH we can see a total of eight SATA ports. The first four are SATA II 3Gb/s ports, while the two brown ones are SATA III 6Gb/s ports. These ports support Intel® Rapid Storage Technology RAID 0,1,5, and 10. The remaining two grey SATA ports run off a Marvell® PCIe SATA 6Gb/s controller and are SATA III 6Gb/s ports. To the right of these SATA ports is a slot for a boot device LED. Moving up the board we can see that the SABERTOOTH draws its power from the standard 24-pin main power connector. Behind the main power connector are the SABERTOOTH's DIMM slots. Unlike other motherboard manufacturers, ASUS uses ASUS Q-Slots. These make installing and removing memory much easier if you have a GPU installed, because you're only dealing with one tab. To the right of the main power connector is another chassis fan connector, as well as the MemOK! button, which is something many users have found to be very useful. Looking at the top of the board shows us that the P67 SABERTOOTH uses an 8-pin auxiliary power connector. To the left of this power connector are two 4-pin fan connectors.
The P67 SABERTOOTH uses a LGA 1155 socket manufactured by LOTES. The area around the socket is free of the TUF Thermal armor in order to allow the board to accommodate a large CPU cooler. Also located near the CPU socket is the board's 8+2 Digital Phase Power Design, which consists of military grade components. In fact, all the TUF components, Alloy chokes, Capacitors, and MOSFETs have been certified by military standards. Moving down to the board's P67 Express chipset, we can see that it is cooled by a fair-sized heat spreader. Perhaps more interesting is what is located in the upper left of the chipset's cooler. This area can be removed in order to accommodate an extra fan, sold separately. If used, this extra fan will help improve airflow throughout the SABERTOOTH's thermal armor.
Now let's move on to the last board in our roundup!