Asus will be the first to admit that the launch of its motherboards for Intel’s Socket 1156 processors fell short of perfection, allowing rivals Gigabyte and MSI to get an early foothold in the market. Keen to avoid a repeat performance with the newer Socket 1155 ‘Sandy Bridge’ chipsets, Asus has rolled out a comprehensive line-up of P67 and H67 boards for the launch including this, the P8P67 Deluxe, a board that sits near the top of Asus’ P67 hierarchy.
Like all of Asus’ new P67 and H67 boards, including its budget Micro-ATX sibling (reviewed here), the P8P67 Deluxe features an ‘EFI’ setup, enabling users to change settings using their mouse.
As well as being far more intuitive to use than a text-based BIOS, EFI allows for faster booting times and enables support for drives of larger than 2TB. It also looks much better and finally does away with the ugly DOS-style text that has been adorning BIOS menus since time began.
At a penny under £200 including VAT, this board is far from cheap – but it does have all of the high-end features you’d expect, including SLI and CrossFire support, dual Gigabit networking controllers, FireWire and USB 3.0.
The board is finished in the manufacturer’s now-familiar blue and black livery, and has very substantial heat sinks over its CPU voltage circuitry. This uses an industry leading 16+2 digital power phase design, which should help the board to achieve outstanding overclocking results and more stability under load.
As with most other P67 boards, the P8P67 Deluxe sports four memory slots, each of which can hold up to an 8GB high-density DDR3 module. This gives the board a total memory capacity of 32GB; even more than the flagship X58 platform. Users are also provided with a comprehensive array of expansion opportunities in the form of three full-length PCI Express slots, two 1x slots and two conventional PCI slots.
Storage can be attached via eight SATA ports, four of which are of the 3Gbit/s SATA II variety, with the remaining being 6Gbit/s compliant. This is of particular importance for users wanting to invest in Sandy Bridge before the well-publicised P67 SATA II vulnerability is fixed. You can attach all of your hard disks to the four high-speed connectors, leaving the SATA II ports for low-intensity optical drive use.
Inputs and outputs
Moving to the I/O panel we find a plethora of connectivity. A total of ten USB ports are offered (two of which are high speed USB 3.0), alongside dual eSATA ports and a single FireWire port. There is a single PS2 plug for legacy input devices and both flavours of digital S/P-DIF output; optical and coaxial.
Smartphone users will be overjoyed to see Bluetooth is finally receiving the attention it deserves from motherboard manufacturers, and overclockers will welcome the clear CMOS jumper that can be tripped without venturing inside the case. The P8P67 Deluxe is easily one of the best featured boards we have seen, and for a change these bells and whistles do not come at a cost to practicality.
In addition to the board itself Asus provides its usual bundle of manuals and support CDs. More interesting is the 3.5in bay device also supplied. This helpfully solves the problem of how to move USB 3.0 ports to the front of your PC case, though we can’t help but think Asus has missed a trick by not also including something else like a FireWire header or card reader. This may sound picky, but this board does cost £200!
Tweaks for overclockers
Venturing into the EFI setup utility, it’s good to see that Asus hasn’t completely abandoned the layout it has been using for years. Anyone used to a conventional Asus BIOS will feel at home, and the ability to use the mouse and scroll wheel to select options is a luxury we quickly grew used to.
The P8P67 Deluxe is an overclocking leviathan. We managed to push a 2600K chip up to a clock speed of 4.6GHz, fully stable, using a Titan Fenrir Evo CPU cooler – and we’re sure we could go further on water or similarly exotic cooling. You can achieve similar results without any need for a degree in BIOS design as well, although the Auto setting is far too aggressive with the CPU voltage; you’ll want to set that manually.
In terms of performance the P8P67 Deluxe is one of the fastest P67 boards on the market, speedier than its Gigabyte competition, and only marginally behind the MSI P67A-GD65. The BIOS is better than both of these competing solutions however, as are the board’s features.
When taken as a whole it is difficult not to be impressed with the P8P67 Deluxe. It’s a feature-packed and perfectly laid out board that behaved impeccably during our testing. Cheaper boards are certainly available – but if you want to build a high-end Sandy Bridge PC right now, there are few better options.
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