|ASUS Sabertooth P67 B3 TUF Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Tuesday, 03 May 2011|
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The Intel P67 Express Chipset
The Intel P67 Express chipset is the top-performing desktop version of a new range of "Cougar Point" mobile and desktop chipsets (10 in all). It's an evolutionary development of the P55 chipset, as this architecture diagram shows:
If this diagram looks familiar, it's probably because it's pretty much identical to all the P55 architecture diagrams you saw when the P55 chipset was introduced last year. In fact, there seem to be only three differences between the P55 and P67 chipsets:
That's it as far as the functional changes go. For enthusiasts, the most significant feature is that the chipset PCIe lanes are now full 2.0 lanes with 5 Gb/s bandwidth instead of the older 1.0 lanes which were limited to 2.5Gb/s. Since PCIe lanes are used to support other subsystems than just the graphics card slots (USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s, for example), having more, faster lanes is always better, especially if you plan to run other PCIe cards like RAID or sound cards (see our review of the ASUS P7H55D-M EVO motherboard for the difference PCIe 2.0 lanes can make in USB 3.0 performance). Combined with the 16 PCIe lanes on a Sandy Bridge processor, a Cougar Point-based system has a total of 24 PCIe lanes, which is far short of the 40 provided by an X58 system or the 42 on an AMD 890FX system. Enthusiasts should think carefully about their current and future system configurations and determine if the available PCIe lanes on a P67 system will be sufficient.
The P67 Express chipset is one of four total desktop Cougar Point chipsets, the other three being the Q67, B65, and H67. The main difference between the P67 and the other desktop chipsets is that the others support the integrated video feature of Sandy Bridge CPUs, and add associated features such as content protection and on-chip 3D support. According to Intel, the P67 Express chipset is the only one that support processor core overclocking, so it's definitely the one you'll want to get.
Intel's Sandy Bridge processor architecture replaces the aging Nehalem series introduced back on 3 November 2008 for the X58-Express platform, and extended to the P55 platform some months later. Housing a new LGA1155 socket, Intel P67-series motherboards are compatible with the following Sandy Bridge processors:
Fortunately, Intel did not change the CPU cooler mounting holes for the new Socket 1155; existing 1156 coolers will work fine.