P67 Roundup Part Two

tacohunter52 - 2010-07-16 19:57:56 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: tacohunter52   
Reviewed on: September 8, 2011
Price: $199-$225


In our last P67 roundup, we looked at a total of five P67 motherboards. This time around, we'll be taking a look at three more P67 boards; the Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra, ASUS SABERTOOTH P67, and ASUS P8P67 Deluxe. So what can we expect to see from these P67 boards? We should hopefully see all the standard features of P67 boards. On the ASUS boards we will also see some extra features like DIGI+ VRM, Dual BIOS, and BT. GO. The Sapphire board is not your standard P67 board either — it is equipped with a Lucid Logix Hydra engine. Lucid Logix's technology is something I've been very interested in since it was announced, so I always like to see it being used. However, I do wish the performance and support were just a little better. With that being said, let's put these boards to the test and find out what each one can do!

Closer Look:

The Sapphire P67 Pure Black is the board that most intrigues me in this roundup. Sapphire is more widely known for manufacturing AMD video cards, but we have looked at a few of its motherboards in the past. The Black series in particular have always been great performers, so we should be able to expect nothing less from the P67 Pure Black. The board is equipped with multi-graphics capabilities, as well as a Lucid Logix Hydra engine. While Sapphire's P67 Pure Black might be the board I find the most intriguing, the board that I find the coolest is the ASUS SABERTOOTH. This is a widely known, and very popular board, partly because it is equipped with TUF Thermal Armor and Radar, and partly because it just looks awesome! Along with the advanced cooling solution, the SABERTOOTH is also equipped with ASUS' DIGI+ VRM, E.S.P. Efficient Switching Power Design, and TUF Components (Alloy Choke, Cap. & MOSFET; Certified by Military-standard). The ASUS P8P67 Deluxe also shares some of these high quality components, which should make both of the ASUS boards "TUF" competition.







Now let's take a closer look at each board.

Closer Look:

As previously stated, Sapphire is most widely known for being a video card manufacturer. It's one of the best known AMD video card manufacturers, and it's good at it! However, as we've seen with a few of its past motherboards, Sapphire can do more than just make a mean video card. Every Sapphire board in the "Black" series has been a great motherboard, so we should be able to expect no less from the P67 Pure Black Hydra. This board is equipped with some of Sapphire's highest end components, such as solid capacitors and SAPPHIRE Diamond Black chokes. However, the board's main selling point is the Lucid Logix Hydra engine. This means that the board will be able to take a mixture of graphics cards, provided the games or other software support it. To me this has always been a cool feature and I hope that the support list will grow enough to make the Hydra engine a force to be reckoned with. Until then, I look at the Hydra chip as a novelty chip, but it's nice to see manufactures using it.

For packaging, Sapphire went with a very appealing black and silver design. Located directly in the center is the Black P67 Hydra logo. Two logos, Pure and Sapphire, are located directly above the center logo. The top left-hand corner of the packaging lists a few of the motherboard's key features, such as its four PCIe slots, USB 3.0 Support, and SATA 6Gb/s support. The upper right-hand corner of the packaging sports the Lucid Logix Logo, as well as that the motherboard uses a Lucid Logix chipset. The back of the board features a few more of the P67 Pure Black Hydra's highlights. These consist of its use of the Hydra Engine, its use of three generation 2 PCIe slots and one generation 1 PCIe slot, as well as its use of Sapphire TriXX software. TriXX will allow the user to easily tune and monitor their hardware. Opening up the P67 Pure Black Hydra's packaging reveals a secondary black box that houses the motherboard, as well as the included accessories.








Opening up the black box first reveals an owners manual and a few other accessories. Like many motherboard packages, these accessories are sitting on top of a piece of cardboard that can be removed. Removing this cardboard reveals the Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra sitting in an anti-static bag. While that extra piece of cardboard does help to keep the motherboard safe and secure, I prefer to see motherboards in clam shell packaging. It's not something that a lot of companies do, but the added security is something I'd like to see in all motherboard boxes.



The Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra's bundled accessories, in my opinion, were almost minimalistic compared to other motherboards we've seen. However, the inclusion of six SATA cables is pretty awesome because if you've got a lot of hard drives, nothing is worse than not having enough cables! Along with the SATA cables are a driver CD, an IO Shield, and an owners manual.


Talking about a motherboard's packaging is all well and good, but I know what every one really cares about is what that packaging was intended to protect — in this case, the Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra. The P67 Pure Black Hydra use's the good old ATX form factor and uses a black PCB. The black PCB is something that's grown popular among many motherboard manufacturers and, in the Pure Black Hydra's case, accents the blue slots nicely. The board appears to have a good layout, as well as an onboard speaker; something I've been missing. Flipping the board over reveals a relatively empty backside. However, we can easily see that the Pure Black Hydra is utilizing a Lotes socket and that the heat spreaders for the power phase and the Hydra chip are held on by screws, as apposed to plastic push pins. Whenever I see this on a motherboard, I always feel as though an extra level of quality has been put into manufacturing it.




Nowadays, users want ports and lots of them! Sapphire's P67 Pure Black Hydra will feed your addiction of ports and then some. Sure you'll be able to use your standard PS/2 port for your keyboard or mouse, but more importantly you'll be able to utilize a total of eight USB 2.0 ports! You'll also be equipped with two USB 3.0 ports, a 1394a port, a SPDIF Coaxial Out, a SPDIF Optical Out, an eSATA port, your standard audio ports, and Bluetooth® 2.1 + EDR by Atheros AR3011 support. Now that we've seen just how many ports the Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra offers you, let's take a look at the expansion slots. The first thing you'll notice is that the board has a total of four PCIe x16 slots, three of which are generation two, or x16, x8, and x8. The final PCIe X16 slot is a generation one slot which runs at x4. Along with the PCIe slots you'll be able to utilize two 32-bit PCI slots. I really like how Sapphire arranged the slots on the motherboard. If you're only using one dual-slot video card, or other dual-slot PCIe card, you'll still be able to use both your PCI slots. In fact, you can even run a dual SLI/CrossFire setup and still be left with a PCI slot. This can be very convenient for users using networking cards, such as a wireless adapter.



Moving on to the bottom side of the board, we can see that Sapphire included a great deal of features. Moving from left to right, you'll see a 4-pin Molex connector, a chassis fan connector, and a Clear CMOS button. Everyone who overclocks has probably used a clear CMOS button and knows how much easier it is to use than messing around with jumpers. Right above the Molex connector is the Sapphire Pure Black Hydra's AMI BIOS chip. To the right of the Clear CMOS button are two more buttons, the Power and Reset switches. While these are becoming more and more popular to be placed on motherboards, not every board has them. I definitely like to see them because it adds a convenience factor for people using benching stations. To the right of the power switch is the BIOS SEL switch. This allows you to switch between the board's dual BIOS if you manage to corrupt something while tinkering in the BIOS. After that, the P67 Pure Black Hydra has a 1394a header, two USB headers, another fan connector, and a SATA connector. Right above the SATA connector is a debug LED, which paired with the onboard speaker should make this motherboard very easy to... well... debug! Not only that, but once powered on, the Debug LED doubles as a temperature monitor for the CPU. Pretty cool feature, if you ask me.



Taking a look at the Sapphire P6 Pure Black Hydra's left side shows us that not every corner of the board was stuffed full of features. However, there is still a lot going on. The first thing you'll notice is that there are only six SATA connectors, giving the board a total of seven connectors. I would have liked to see more, especially considering I'm currently using all nine available on my current board. On the bright side, four of these SATA connectors are SATA III 6Gb/s, while the remaining three are SATA II 3Gb/s. Located in between the sets of SATA III connectors is the P67 Pure Black Hydra's onboard speaker. Moving in the direction I like to call 'up the board', we can see that it draws its power by the standard 24-pin connector. The board's 8-pin auxiliary connector is located right next to the P67 Pure Hydra's power phase. This is a relatively convenient place for wire management, but I would prefer to see the connectors placed at the edge of the board. Located behind the main 24-pin power connector are the four DDR3 DIMM slots, as well as the Pure Black Hydra's CMOS battery. The Pure Black Hydra supports up to 16GB of unbuffered, non-ECC memory rated at 1600+ MHz. Also located behind the main 24-pin power connector are a few of Sapphire's high quality Diamond Black Chokes. Before we move on, I'd also like to point out that Sapphire included some voltage read points. They are located right next to the DIMM slots and are something many overclockers look for.




For cooling, the Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra uses a few black heat spreaders. While they aren't the biggest cooling solutions, they should still hopefully get the job done. What's more interesting is what's located underneath these spreaders. I'm of course talking about the Lucid Logix Hydra chip. As most of you know by now, this chip will allow you to use multiple combinations of video cards, including mixtures of AMD and NVIDIA cards. However, these combinations don't scale as well as some hoped, but they are getting better. Perhaps worse than the scaling issues is the software support. There aren't currently a whole lot of games out there that support Hydra, so until that changes it isn't going to be all that useful of a tool. However, I do believe that it will eventually become a very useful tool, especially for those who use multi-GPU setups.



Last, but not least, the LGA 1155 socket and the area around it. The Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra uses a socket manufactured by Lotes, which I tend to prefer over Foxconn due to some past experiences. The DIMM slots are located pretty close to the socket, which means finned memory will probably get in the way of a large cooler if it occupies the first slot. Directly accross from the DIMM slots is the board's power phase, where we can see a nice row of Sapphire's Diamond Black Chokes.



Now that we've seen the Pure Black Hydra, let's take a look at a SABERTOOTH!

Closer Look:

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!

Closer Look:

We just looked at the ASUS SABERTOOTH, now we are going to take a look at another board from ASUS that is just $20 more expensive, the ASUS P8P67 Deluxe. While the P8P67 may not come complete with TUF Thermal Armor, it comes with an insane amount of unique ASUS Features, as well as overclocking features. Some of these features include ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 2 with DIGI+ VRM, ASUS Digital Power Design, ASUS BT GO! (Bluetooth), ASUS Exclusive Features, ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution, ASUS EZ DIY, and ASUS Q-Design. For overclocking features, you'll be able to use Precision Tweaker 2, SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection), and Overclocking Protection. Along with all these features you'll also get the extra cool stuff, like dual Gigabit LAN, Bluetooth support, and a multitude of back panel I/O connections. All of this together should make this one of the meanest boards in our roundup.

The ASUS P8P67 Deluxe uses a black carbon fiber-like color scheme for its packaging. The ASUS logo sits at the very top, with the P8P67 Deluxe logo directly underneath. To the right is an advert for the board's Dual Intelligent Processor Design. This features the ASUS DIGI+ VRM EPU, as well as the ASUS TPU. Flipping the box over reveals a very detailed description of the board, as well as some of its key features. These include the Dual Intelligent Processors, the Complete USB 3.0 support, the front panel USB 3.0 box, the BT GO!, and the extra SATA 6Gb/s support. Lifting up the box's tab reveals even more info on the P8P67's features. These include the board's TPU for great voltage control, the EPU for great energy efficiency, the EFI BIOS, the AI Suite II, the DTS Surround sound support, and the Quad SLI/CrossFire Support. This box has so much information it feels like a review on its own!







The ASUS P8P67 Deluxe was packaged similarly to how the ASUS SABERTOOTH was. We do not see any plastic clamshell packaging, but the board was packaged before the included accessories.


Speaking of accessories, the P8P67 Deluxe has a lot of them. For starters you'll be able to use the ASUS Q-Shield, which is a padded I/O shield. You'll also be equipped with two SATA II 3Gb/s cables, and four SATA III 6Gb/s cables. Along with the cables, you'll also get an ASUS Q-Connector and a SLI bridge. There's one more rather large accessory included with the P8P67 Deluxe. Remember back when USB 3.0 was just being released and you needed to run USB cables through your case to the back panel I/O ports if you wanted to use it? Well, now you can easily have USB 3.0 coming from the front of your case, even if your case doesn't offer USB 3.0 support. How, you ask? With the ASUS front panel USB 3.0 box, of course! The box will fit in a 5.25" drive bay and will give you an extra two USB 3.0 ports.




The ASUS P8P67 Deluxe uses a black PCB with a blue color scheme. At first glance, the board appears to have an exceptionally great layout, which to me is more important than anything else. Flipping the board over reveals a relatively empty PCB, but from looking at it we can see that the board's heat spreaders are held on by screws as apposed to push pins.



After having just looked at the ports from two other motherboards, I'm willing to say that the ASUS P8P67 Deluxe has the best available options, when it comes to that. You'll have a PS/2 port, a Bluetooth module, an eSATA port and a Power eSATA 3Gb/s, eight USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports, an IEEE 1394a port, dual Gigabit LAN ports, a Coaxial S/PDIF out, an Optical S/PDIF out, your standard audio ports, and a Clear CMOS switch. Multi-GPU users will love the ASUS P8P67 Deluxe because the board supports both Quad SLI and Quad CrossFire solutions. The board achieves this with its two PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, which default to x8 in dual mode, and its PCIe 2.0 x16 slot that runs at x4. Accompanying these PCIe slots are two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots, and two PCI slots.



Moving on to the bottom of the P8P67 Deluxe, we can see that it's got quite a few features. Starting from the left, you'll have access to an HD audio header, a 1394a header, a power switch, and a reset switch. Located between the switches and the headers is the EPU switch. This will allow you to enable or disable the energy efficient EPU. The EPU offers real time power savings by monitoring and optimizing hardware loads to moderate power consumption. The EPU will also help reduce fan noise and, according to ASUS, increase your components' lifespan! Located after the reset switch are two USB headers, two 3-pin fan connectors, an onboard LED display, and your front panel headers.




Moving on to the right side of the board, we'll first notice the eight SATA ports. The first four are SATA II 3Gb/s ports and they are followed by two SATA III 6Gb/s ports. The remaining two ports are on the Marvell® PCIe 9128 controller and run at SATA III 6Gb/s. Directly to the right of the SATA ports is the connector for the ASUS front panel USB 3.0 port. Like all P67 motherboards, the ASUS P8P67 Deluxe draws its power from a standard 24-pin connector. What's more interesting is what is located to the right of the 24-pin connector. These are the MemOK! button and TPU switch. The MemOK! button is something we've seen on ASUS motherboards for a while now and it's something many users have found useful. If you're having trouble booting with a particular stick of memory, simply hit the MemOK! button and the motherboard will automatically determine safe memory settings to boot with. The TPU switch will enable you to disable/enable the P8P67 Deluxe's TPU. The ASUS TPU offers the user advanced overclocking and monitoring options, which combined with ASUS TurboV, can generate some massive overclocks. Last, but not least, the board draws its auxiliary power from a single 8-pin connector.




Unlike other motherboards, the ASUS P8P67 Deluxe does not use a finned heat spreader for its chipset. Well actually, the heat spreader is finned, but you can't see them. Instead you'll see the ASUS logo on a square decal that uses a black, blue, and silver color scheme. The TPU and EPU are located under a heatspreader that uses a similar color scheme for its design. Located around the P8P67 Deluxe's LGA 1155 socket and covered by blue wave-like heat spreaders is the 16+2 power phase, which is powered by DIGI+ VRM technology. This technology provides, according to ASUS, twice the "precision power". Basically, it will help to extend your overclocking range to your hardware's full potential. The DIGI+ VRM will also provide your system with greater stability and higher power efficiency.




Now that we've seen all the boards we will be looking at in this roundup, let's take a look at their included utilities.

Closer Look:

When you buy a motherboard you also get all the bells and whistles that come with it. This usually means utilities. The utilities that motherboard manufacturers include with its product come in all shapes and sizes. Some are aimed at overclockers, in the form of overclocking utilities and monitoring programs. There are also more widely used utilities, such as programs that make it much easier to perform a BIOS Flash. We even see built-in mini operating systems that give you the power to browse the web long before Windows would have booted. Today I'll be looking at the overclocking and monitoring utilities included with these motherboards.


The Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra comes to the table equipped with the TriXX overclocking and monitoring utility. Many users know TriXX as Sapphire's video card overclocking utility that is equipped with voltage controls, but what good is an overclocking utility if you can't overclock your CPU. The version of TriXX included with the P67 Pure Black Hydra is meant for overclocking your processor while still in Windows. You'll have access to voltage controls for the VCore, DIMM Voltage, VTT, DIMM DQA, DIMM DQB, DIMM SMRR, PCH VCore, VSA, and PLL. Along with the voltage controls you'll be able to adjust the CPU, and PCIE frequencies, or monitor fan speeds, temperatures, and voltages. All in all making the TriXX appear to be a decent overclocking tool.











While the Sapphire board may have came with a nice overclocking utility, ASUS blew it out of the water with what the company equipped its motherboards with. I'm of course talking about the AISuite II. This extremely powerful utility is pretty much everything rolled into one. It's got overclocking, monitoring, updating, history records, and pretty much everything else you could want! Both the ASUS SABERTOOTH and the P8P67 Deluxe share the same AISuite II utility, with the exception of the SABERTOOTH Thermal Radar, of course.

Thermal Radar:

The ASUS Thermal Radar is first and foremost a temperature monitoring program, but it isn't just any temperature monitoring program. As opposed to just monitoring the CPU temperatures, or even the CPU temp and some of the other more important temperatures, it monitors everything. You'll have temps at hand for your CPU, motherboard, power phase, memory, VCCIO, PCIe slots, USB, VCCSA, and SATA controller. Along with the detailed temperature readouts, you'll also be able to monitor voltage, and fan speeds.



The rest of the ASUS AISuite II gives you a few options. You'll be able to choose from Tool, Monitor, Update, System Information, and Settings. We'll start with the "Tool" category. First up in the Tool section is the ASUS TurboV EVO, which is powered by the TPU. Here you'll be able to adjust the BCLK, CPU Voltage, and Memory Voltage. You'll also be able to adjust VCCSA, VCCIO, PLL, and PCH voltages under the advanced settings. After you've had your fun doing some "in Windows" overclocking you'll be able to head over to the DIGI+ VRM section. Here you'll be able to adjust Load Line Calibration, CPU Current Capability, and the DIGI+ VRM frequency. You'll also be able to set both the DIGI+ VRm Phase and Duty control. If you thought we were done with the Tool section, you were wrong. Next up we'll head on over to the Sensor Recorder, where you'll be able to actively monitor voltages, temperatures, fan speeds, CPU frequency, and CPU usage. You'll also be able to record changes in your system over a set duration. All of which is pretty cool if you ask me.






Overclocking is probably something you're at least semi interested in, after all, you are reading this review on OverclockersClub.com. With that being said, you'll find that on your overclocking escapades you'll occasionally need to update your BIOS. Yeah you could update your BIOS the old fashion way, or you could use the update tool in ASUS' AISuite II. The Update menu will allow you to update your BIOS from the web, download a BIOS update from the web, update the BIOS from a file, or save your BIOS to a file. You'll also be able to change the BIOS boot logo in multiple ways. This is an interesting feature, but one that doesn't have all that much use. However, I do like the inclusion of "easy" BIOS updaters, as they're much easier than updating the old fashion way.



System Information:

This section should be pretty self explanatory. Here you'll be able to view information on your motherboard, BIOS, CPU, CACHE, and SPD.




Last, but not least, the settings category. Here you'll be able to enable/disable applications included in the AISuite II. You'll also be able to adjust the "Bar" settings, as well as customize the skin to your liking.



Now that we've seen the utilities, let's take a good hard look at the BIOS for each board!

Closer Look:

The Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra is not using an EFI BIOS like we've been seeing on many newer motherboards. Instead it uses the good old American Megatrends AMI BIOS, which every overclocker should be very used to. Don't let the lack of a fancy user interface drive you away though. As long as you know what you're doing, you'll still be able to pull off a great overclock.

The P67 Pure Black Hydra's Main section of the BIOS doesn't have much to look at. You'll be able to see a few bits of system information, such as the amount of memory and BIOS version. You'll also be able to adjust the system date and time. The Performance section is where you'll be doing your overclocking. Here you can choose between CPU, Memory, and Voltage Configuration options. The CPU Configuration and Memory Configuration menus will allow you to adjust settings to overclock your CPU and memory, respectively. The Voltage Configuration menu, as the name suggests, will allow you to tweak system voltages of your choosing.













The Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra's BIOS Advanced tab is another place where you'll find a CPU Configuration menu. That being said, this CPU Configuration menu will only allow you to enable/disable hyperthreading, limit CPU cores, enable/disable the hardware prefetcher, and a few other things. Also under the Advanced tab is SATA Configuration, PC Health Status, and an onboard device manager.




The P67 Pure Black Hydra's BIOS Chipset tab will allow you to adjust northbridge and southbridge settings, while the Boot tab will allow you to adjust boot settings, including setting the boot options.




We are now down to the final two BIOS sections we'll be looking at for the Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra. First up, the Security section. Here you'll be able to set a BIOS password as well as log in a HDD to boot from. The final tab is of course, Save and Exit, which will allow you to save your BIOS settings and then exit!



Now let's move on to the ASUS uEFI BIOS!

Closer Look:

The Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra may have been equipped with the widely known and used AMI BIOS, but AMI is becoming a thing of the past due to the EFI BIOS. Older users may have liked navigating through their systems settings with a keyboard, but that's pretty much been replaced in EFI BIOS. The mouse is now the navigation interface for these OS-like BIOS, which some users will like instantly, while others will need to get used to it. Both the ASUS SABERTOOTH and the ASUS P8P67 Deluxe use uEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS. I'll be going through the main bits of it now.

Right off the bat, the EZ Mode will tell you important system information as well as the date, time, and how long the CPU has been used. Below this information are temperature monitors, voltage monitors, and fan speed monitors. There are also a few presets for you to choose from depending on whether you want silence, energy savings, or performance. Moving over to the advanced menu gives us a slightly more "BIOS" looking screen, with a total of six menus to go through.












Moving on to the AI Tweaker menu will allow you to overclock your hardware. In order to overclock in the uEFI BIOS, you'll need to first change the AI Overclock Tuner from Auto to Manual. It can also be switched to XMP, which will automatically optimize settings for you. Once you select Manual, a myriad of other options will appear. These include voltage controls, memory timings, CPU Ratio, and Turbo Mode Parameters. You'll also notice the EPU Power Saving Mode and the OC Tuner. The EPU Power Saving Mode does exactly what its name implies and helps you lower the usage of your computer. OC Tuner will allow you to automatically overclock your system.




The good old Advanced section of the uEFI BIOS will allow you to adjust a few more settings for the CPU under the CPU Configuration menu. You'll also be able to adjust PCH, SATA, USB, APH, and Onboard Device settings.






The purpose of the Monitor section should be fairly obvious. Here you'll be able to monitor fan speeds, voltages, and temperatures.



Next up is the Boot section. Here you'll be able to enable/disable NumLock on bootup, the full screen logo, and wait for F1. You'll also be able to adjust whether the uEFI will start in EZ Mode or Advanced mode. Oh yeah, you'll be able to change the order of your boot devices as well!


Last, but not least, the Tool section. Here you'll be able to flash your BIOS using the ASUS EZ Flash 2 utility. You'll also be able to save up to eight BIOS profiles in the ASUS O.C. Profile. If that's not enough for you, you can use the ASUS SPD Information option to view information stored on the SPD chip of the memory modules.




Now that we've seen the BIOS, let's see what these babies can do!


Support Intel LGA1155: Intel Core i7 /i5 / i3 series processors
Intel® P67 Express Chipset
AMI BIOS, 16Mb Flash ROM
4 slots 240-pin DDR3 800/1066/1333/1600+ non-ECC ,un-buffered memory
16 GB Max.
Expansion Slots
4 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots
2 x 32-bit PCI slots
4 x Serial ATA III 6Gb/s connectors
3 x Serial ATA II 3Gb/s connectors
Supports HDDs with RAID 0, 1,5,10 functions
Realtek ALC892 HD Audio CODEC with 8-Channel
Ethernet LAN
Marvell 88E8057 PCI-Express Gigabit LAN
Rear Panel I / O
8 x USB 2.0 port
2 x USB 3.0 port
1 x 1394a port
1 x SPDIF Coaxial OUT
1 x Audio I / O ports
1 x SPDIF Optical Out
1 x Supporting Bluetooth® 2.1 + EDR by Atheros AR3011
1 x e-SATA port
PS/2 KB/MS combo port
Internal I / O
2 x USB 2.0 headers
CPU 4 pin PWM Fan connectors
3 Pin Chassis Fan connectors
24-pin ATX Power connector
8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
Control (Front) panel headers
SPDIF In/out header
1 x 1394a headers
Form Factor
ATX, Size 12" x 9.6"
OS Support
Windows Vista (32/64) bit
Windows 7 (32/64) bit



All information on this page courtesy of Sapphire @ http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/product/?cid=2&gid=1040&sgid=1052&pid=1046&psn=&lid=1&leg=0#


ASUS P8P67 Deluxe
Intel® Socket 1155 Core™ i5 Processor/Core™ i3 Processor/Core™ i7 Processor/
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
Support Intel® 32nm CPU
* The Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 support depends on the CPU types
* Refer to www.asus.com for Intel CPU support list
Intel® P67 Express Chipset
* The Max. 32GB memory capacity can be supported with DIMMs of 8GB (or above). ASUS will update QVL once the DIMMs are available on the market.
* Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs. Some hyper DIMMs only support one DIMM per channel. Please refer to Memory QVL for details.
* Due to CPU behavior, DDR3 1800 MHz memory module will run at DDR3 1600 MHz frequency as default.
4 x DIMM, Max. 32 GB, DDR3 1800/1866/1600/1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
Please refer to www.asus.com or user manual for Memory QVL.
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
* The Max. 32GB memory capacity can be supported with DIMMs of 8GB (or above). ASUS will update QVL once the DIMMs are available on the market.
* Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs. Some hyper DIMMs only support one DIMM per channel. Please refer to Memory QVL for details.
* Due to CPU behavior, DDR3 2200/2000/1800 MHz memory module will run at DDR3 2133/1866/1600 MHz frequency as default.
4 x DIMM, Max. 32 GB, DDR3 1866(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)*/1600/1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
Please refer to www.asus.com or user manual for Memory QVL.
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
Expansion Slots
(single at x16 or dual at x8/x8 mode)
x PCIe 2.0 x16 2 3 x PCIe 2.0 x 1
1 x PCI
(single at x16 or dual at x8/x8 mode)
x PCIe 2.0 x16 2 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 [Black] (at x4 mode, compatible with PCIe x1 and x4 devices)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x 1
2 x PCI
Multi-GPU Support
Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports ATI® Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Intel® P67 Express Chipset
2 xSATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
4 xSATA 3Gb/s ports (black)
Intel® Rapid Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
Marvell® PCIe SATA 6Gb/s controller
2 xSATA 6Gb/s ports (gray)
JMicron® JMB362 SATA controller
1 xPower eSATA 3Gb/s port (green)
1 xExternal SATA 3Gb/s port (red)
Intel® P67 Express Chipset
2 xSATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
4 xSATA 3.0 Gb/s ports (blue)
Intel® Rapid Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
Marvell® PCIe 9128 SATA 6Gb/s controller with HyperDuo function*
2 xSATA 6.0 Gb/s ports (navy blue)
JMicron® JMB362 SATA controller*
2 xExternal SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports (1 x Power eSATA)
* These SATA ports are for data hard drives only. ATAPI devices are not supported.




ASUS SABERTOOTH Unique Features:


ASUS P8P67 Deluxe Unique Features:


ASUS Features:

Information on this page courtesy of ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_1155/SABERTOOTH_P67/#overview


Testing this group of P67-based motherboards will include running them through the OCC test suite of benchmarks that include both synthetic benchmarks and real world applications to see how each of these boards perform. The gaming tests will also include a couple of synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay to see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. Each board received a fully updated fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition and used the latest drivers for each board and the latest AMD Catayst drivers for the HD 5870. In light of the recent announcement from Intel, each board has been re-tested using the SATA 6Gb/s ports.

Testing Setup: Intel Core i5/i7 Socket 1155


Comparison Boards:


Overclocked Settings:

Overclocking the Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra was slightly different than what we've gotten used to, do to the fact that it is still using AMI BIOS. Getting higher clock speeds was a little bit trickier with this board, but in the end we were able to see a decent overclock of 4728MHz. The Sapphire TriXX utility doesn't have as many features as you'd find in the BIOS, but it still allows for some nice on-the-fly tweaks.


Overclocking the second generation i7 processors is nothing like overclocking the original i7s. Instead of pushing the BCLK to insanely high frequencies, you rely primarily on the multiplier. This in itself has allowed many people to hit ridiculous speeds on air cooling, which is always a fun thing to see! We've recently seen quite a few overclocks on ASUS boards and each of them was upwards of 4900MHz, so we should be able to expect that the SABERTOOTH will overclock just as well. In the end, the board was able to give us a core clock of 4830MHz, which isn't as good as what we've been seeing from ASUS boards. However, it's still a tasty increase.


Overclocking the ASUS P8P67 Deluxe was a lot like overclocking the ASUS SABERTOOTH, as it should be considering they use the same uEFI BIOS. The TurboV worked beautifully, easily scaling the chip up to 4.4GHz because the internal PLL voltage override is not an adjustment that is made in the overclocking algorithm. After a plethora of tweaks and stability testing, we were able to see a nice stable overclock at 4849MHz, just slightly faster than what we saw from the ASUS SABERTOOTH.



  1. Apophysis
  2. Bibble 5
  3. WinRAR
  4. Geekbench
  5. Office 2007
  6. POV Ray 3.7
  7. PCMark Vantage Professional
  8. Sandra XII
  9. ScienceMark 2.02
  10. Cinebench 10
  11. Cinebench 11.5
  12. HD Tune 4.60
  1. Aliens vs. Predator
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  3. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  4. 3DMark Vantage


The first part of our testing will be the system specific benchmarks.


Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:



The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.









Lower is Better


WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 100MB and 500MB files to test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds. Additionally, I will use the built-in benchmark as a comparison.




Lower is Better



Lower is Better





Lower is Better



Lower is Better


Geekbench 2.1 provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance. Designed to make benchmarks easy to run and easy to understand, Geekbench takes the guesswork out of producing robust and reliable benchmark results.



Higher is Better


When it comes down to it, all the motherboards performed the same with extremely minimal performance differences. If you want to start nitpicking, you could say that the ASUS boards came out slightly ahead of Sapphire's offering.


Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2MB Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations that represent many of the most commonly used calculations in Excel. The measure of this test is how long it takes to refresh the sheet.















Lower Is Better


POV Ray 3.7: This program features a built-in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric Multiprocessing) enabling the workload to be spread across the cores for a quicker completion.


Higher Is Better


Once again, all the boards performed practically the same, with the ASUS boards coming out just ahead of the Sapphire offering.


SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.












Processor Arithmetic


Higher is Better



Higher is Better


Multi-Core Efficiency


Higher is Better



Lower is Better


Memory Bandwidth


Higher is Better



Higher is Better


Memory Latency


Lower is Better



Cache and Memory


Higher is Better


Power Management Efficiency


Higher is Better


The three boards again performed very close together. The Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra would sometimes come out slightly above the two ASUS boards, and the ASUS boards would sometimes come out on top of the Sapphire offering.


ScienceMark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.















Higher is Better


CineBench 10 is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.


Higher is Better



Higher is Better


CineBench 11.5 is the latest iteration of this popular benchmark that features a new look to the interface. This test now has a simple GPU and CPU test built in.


Higher is Better


HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.


Higher is Better



Higher is Better



Lower is Better



Lower is Better


For the most part, the Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra came out just under the ASUS boards. The ASUS P8P66 Deluxe came out on top of the SABERTOOTH in a majority of the benchmarks.

Aliens vs. Predator, developed by Rebellion Developments, is a science fiction first-person shooter and is a remake of its 1999 game. The game is based off the two popular sci fi franchises. In this game, you have the option of playing through the single player campaigns as one of three species, the Alien, the Predator, and the Human Colonial Marine. The Game uses Rebellion's Asura game engine that supports Dynamic Lighting, Shader Model 3.0, Soft Particle systems, and Physics. To test this game I will be using the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark tool with the settings listed below. All DirectX 11 features are enabled.















Higher = Better


At the lowest resolution, the SABERTOOTH was able to perform 1 FPS faster than the other two boards. As the resolution got higher, the boards started to perform closer together. At the highest resolution, we saw the SABERTOOTH perform 1 FPS slower than the other two boards.


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is an iteration of the venerable first person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking. You start off the single player missions playing as Private Allen and jump right into a serious firefight. This is the point where testing will begin. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps.















Higher = Better


Once again, all three boards performed practically the same. At most there was nothing more than a 1 FPS difference between these boards throughout the benchmark.


Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter rivals, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to become the Dark Knight.















Higher = Better


The three boards, once again, all performed painfully close together. The board that usually came out on top was the ASUS P8P67 Deluxe, however, only by 1 FPS.


Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. "Entry" is 1024 x 768 progressing to "Extreme" at 1920 x 1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.















Higher = Better


Both the ASUS boards were able to come out on top of Sapphire's offering. The SABERTOOTH and the P8P67 Deluxe switched off with who was on the top spot throughout this benchmark.

Conclusion: Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra

Many AMD users find themselves extremely happy with a Sapphire video card, however these same users may be slightly skeptical about buying a Sapphire motherboard. This makes perfect sense and I don't mind admitting that I've been skeptical about Sapphire boards as well. After all, there is a pretty big difference between a video card and the motherboard that holds it. With that being said, I was extremely impressed with the Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra.

The board had a nice layout, although I would have liked to see the auxiliary cable a little closer to the edge of the board. The board also performed on par with the ASUS board, which should have been a given considering all the P67 boards perform more or less the same. Rather than its performance, the P67 Pure Black Hydra's main selling point is going to be its features. Its main feature just happens to be the Lucid Logix Hydra engine. The Hydra engine is something many users, as well as myself, have been interested in ever since it was announced all those years ago. The Hydra engine may not require its own separate motherboard or match any of the other speculation about it for that matter. It's still extremely cool. The Lucid Logix Hydra engine allows you to use multiple configurations of graphics cards, even combinations of AMD and NVIDIA cards together. However, the Hydra engine uses software to do this, so the games or benchmarks you want to be playing need to support it. The Hydra engine currently has a very small support list, which kind of hinders its usefulness. I do, however, think that it will eventually be a very useful technology and I'm always glad to see motherboards utilize it.

Other than the Lucid Logix Hydra engine, the P67 Pure Black Hydra's features were relatively basic. The board also didn't have a whole lot of bundled accessories. The board can be had for around $200, which is a pretty attractive price point for a P67 motherboard. The P67 Pure Black Hydra was even able to stay pretty close to the ASUS boards when it came to overclocking. While it didn't hit the 4.8GHz mark, the board was still able to give us a core clock of 4.72GHz. Not too shabby! Honestly, the only thing I would have really liked to see on this motherboard was an EFI BIOS. It's something we are seeing more and more of on these newer motherboards, so seeing an AMI BIOS is a bit of a let down.







Conclusion: ASUS

Here at OCC we've looked at a multitude of high quality motherboards, many of which were from ASUS! Today was no different, as we looked at two more of ASUS' higher-end P67 boards, the ASUS SABERTOOTH and the ASUS P8P67 Deluxe. Both boards had an extremely great layout and both have the ability to accommodate a large cooler without anything getting in the way. Both boards had cooling solutions that kept the chipsets and other important components nice and chilly. Not surprisingly, the SABERTOOTH did a slightly better job at this. In some ways, I would have liked to see the Thermal Armor on the P8P67 Deluxe instead of the SABERTOOTH. Both boards were also equipped with ASUS'S DIGI+ VRM technology, which ensures that both boards have increased stability and higher efficiency, as well as giving you the ability to make finer adjustments to your voltages. The DIGI+ VRM's give you higher efficiency by spreading the load across the power phases, as well dynamically managing them to keep their temperatures down.

Both boards were equipped with some advanced features unique to ASUS. The SABERTOOTH was using ASUS' "TUF" features. This includes the board's TUF Thermal Armor and Thermal Radar. The board also utilized a TUF 8+2 Digital Phase Power Design, with E.S.P. (Efficient Switching Power Design), TUF Components, ESD Guards, and anti surge protection. The P8P67 Deluxe on the other hand used both the ASUS EPU and the ASUS TPU. These technologies will give you advanced overclocking capabilities, as well as some extremely great energy efficiency. When it came time to overclock the boards, the ASUS SABERTOOTH was able to hit a clock speed of 4.83GHz, while the Deluxe was able to come out slightly on top of that with a final clock speed of 4849MHz. Both boards overclocked to about the same clock speed, so from an overclocking standpoint it's hard to say which is better. The SABERTOOTH may appeal to people using more extreme cooling, just because the entire board is being cooled as opposed to just certain parts. I personally think that the Thermal Armor is an extremely cool idea and I hope we start to see ASUS include it on all of its higher-end boards. However, as cool as the SABERTOOTH's Thermal Armor is, part of me feels like the P8P67 Deluxe is the better motherboard.

Both boards came with a nice amount of bundled accessories - the P8P67 Deluxe had slightly more than the SABERTOOTH, while both had more than the Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra. I was also a little surprised to see that ASUS is selling the SABERTOOTH's extra fan separately. It definitely would have been nice to see this included with the board. As far as features go, both the P8P67 Deluxe and the SABERTOOTH had a ton of them. Once again I feel like the P8P67 Deluxe had slightly more features than the SABERTOOTH, which would also explain why it's slightly more expensive. The SABERTOOTH can be had on Newegg for $220, while the P8P67 Deluxe comes in at $240. I'm not entirely sure the P8P67 Deluxe's extra features and accessories are worth the extra $20, but like I said earlier, my gut feeling is that this is the better of the two boards.

In the end, both of the ASUS boards performed, overclocked, and looked extremely great. I can honestly say that if you were to pick up either of the two, you'd be happy. With that being said, it'd be great if ASUS would add the TUF components and the Thermal Armor to the P8P67 Deluxe!