|Intel DP67BG P67-Express Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Sunday, 02 January 2011|
Page 17 of 17
DP67BG Burrage Final Thoughts
I think of the P67 chipset as "P55 Plus". It's the top of the range of Intel's Cougar Point line, which comprises five mobile and four desktop chipsets. It adds significant new features such as native SATA 6Gb/s, support for automated performance tuning (when XTU catches up, anyway), and official support for DDR3-1600 memory.
But there are some downsides, too: although the 8 PCIe lanes provided by the chipset (the Sandy Bridge processors supply 16 PCIe lanes) are now version 2.0, supporting 5GT/s bandwidth as opposed to the P55's 8 lanes of 2.5GT/s bandwidth, there are still only 24 PCIe lanes total on a P67 system, which pales in comparison to the 40 lanes available on an X58 system and the 42 lanes available on an AMD 890FX system. The DP67BG has the advantage of supporting NVIDIA SLI, which the AMD chipset does not, but not all P67 Express motherboards support it: for example, the ASUS P8P67 motherboard doesn't support SLI, while the ASUS P8P67 EVO does, so you should check your motherboard specifications carefully if you plan to run a P67/NVIDIA SLI system.
But if you're a CrossFireX afficionado, the AMD system lets you run tri-CrossFireX, and even with three video cards, you don't have to worry about "stealing" PCIe lanes from your SATA 6Gb/s or SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports. I suspect this PCIe limitation was a marketing decision: given the performance of a P67/2600K system, adding more PCIe lanes would make X58 systems almost irrelevant. Of course I expect to see high-end P67 systems adding more lanes with NVIDIA NF200 chips as we've seen in the P55 world.
Another point is Intel's decision to make the chipset base clock the reference for almost every clock on the system, which removes base clock frequency increases as an overclocking mechanism. Although any Sandy Bridge chip can increase its multiplier by 4 bins (when used with a P67 Express chipset), this still leaves a lot of potential performance on the table: the non-K Core i7-2600 will be limited to a maximum multiplier of 38, significantly below the 41 I achieved with the Intel board and the 46 I reached with the ASUS motherboards. And if you choose a motherboard based on a desktop Cougar Point chipset other than the P67 Express, you won't be able to overclock the CPU cores at all, since Intel's press materials note that "P67 Express chipset required for core overclocking."
If the P67 Express chipset is somewhat disappointing, the Intel DP67BG Desktop Board is nonetheless a credible effort to build a high-end motherboard around it. With features like 4 PWM-controllable fan headers, power and reset buttons, a POST code display and init-sequence LEDs, and even the whimsical lighted skull logo, it seems Intel is serious about addressing the P67 Express enthusiast market. I found the overclocking abilities disappointing, but I expect this is mostly the result of a very early BIOS and production boards should be a lot better (especially given that Intel's press kit makes a point of emphasizing the overclocking and auto-tuning abilities of the P67 in combination with an unlocked processor and the Intel Extreme Tuning utility).
Intel DP67BG Conclusion
Although we strive to be as objective as possible, any review will reflect to some extent the perceptions and biases of the reviewer. Also, keep in mind that the computer market is very volatile, and that today's killer super product can easily become yesterday's also-ran as the market competition changes. Don't base a purchase decision solely on this review, but use it as part of your research.
Since Benchmark Reviews did not receive the full retail package of the Intel DP67BG motherboard, nor do we know the suggested retail price, we can't rate the board's value. However, we can report on the other aspects of the board.
The physical quality of the board is excellent. There are none of the small indications of rushed production like misaligned solder masks or components. Little touches like labelling the front panel connectors and making all the fan connectors red so you can easily find them indicates someone at Intel put some thought into this board.
I was especially impressed by the board's layout, and Intel's decision to eschew of legacy ports like floppy and IDE, which opens up board space for both innovations (like the sequential-LED POST status display) and fun features like the flashing-eyed skull. The slot layout is excellent, maximizing the potential of the board when equipped with two double-wide video cards.
Functionally, the Intel DP67BG has the features one expects of an enthusiast-level board: on-board power and reset switches; a POST code display, all-PWM fans, the "Back to BIOS" button for recovering from failed overclocks, and the robust power supply cicuitry needed to support stable overclocks...BIOS permitting.
With an updated BIOS, the Intel DP67BG motherboard would make an excellent basis for an enthusiast-level P67 system...especially with a windowed case so you can see the skull.
+ Excellent slot layout
- Immature BIOS limits overclocking
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