|ASUS Sabertooth P67 B3 TUF Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Monday, 02 May 2011|
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Closer Look: ASUS Sabertooth P67
One look at the ASUS Sabertooth P67 and you can tell it's a different monster than you are used to. The familiar ASUS colors and styles are replaced with browns and grays. And, of course, there is the black shroud that covers most of the familiar, black PCB. When I first saw the Sabertooth P67 I thought it looked awesome, and I still do. Of course it's an aesthetic appeal and a lot of consumers won't like it, but I do. It reminds me of something I might have built out of legos when I was young. Additionally, if the shroud can accomplish what ASUS says it's there to do, it will actually be of more than simply aesthetic value. ASUS consistently produces extremely high quality products. They are at the top when it comes to motherboard manufacturing and their solid products with reliable and durable components rarely disappoint. We don't expect anything different with the Sabertooth P67 B3/TUF Motherboard.
ASUS calls the Sabertooth P67 a TUF motherboard, which stands for The Ultimate Force. The shroud that covers the entire board is called TUF Thermal Armor and claims to offer "Total Airflow-Boosting Heat Dissipation". Basically, the TUF Armor is supposed to keep the heat from the onboard components and the add-in components from heating each other up. The shroud also offers superior performance in utilizing system and case fans to whisk heat away over the aerodynamic, flat surface rather than running it through the gauntlet of onboard features. As I have already mentioned, I like the look, and the boast of increased airflow and heat dissipation is certainly a plus. That being said, I'm not sure the actual value of the shroud justifies the look if you don't like it.
Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture further extends Moore's Law by packing more transistors into a smaller space. This allows for improvements to the micro-operations cache that enables better efficiency and greater power savings. In benchmarks this adds up to a significant increase over previous architectures, but in terms of real-world performance the average user won't see a dramatic difference in their daily computing experience. Intel's 'K' series processors will offer a completely-unlocked product for overclocking enthusiasts, while the others can still manipulate the maximum Turbo Boost delivered to one CPU core.
The release of the Intel H55 platform was highly anticipated, but manufacturers still had to come up with new and innovative ways to market a platform that provided relatively little changes outside of the CPU. After the SATA 3Gb/s port issues and subsequent recall, the market lost sight of this new platform and B3 revisions will have to work even harder to get noticed. ASUS hasn't made any changes to their B3 revision Sabertooth P67 board, but there are plenty of enhancements over the Intel P67 reference designs.
Intel made a smart move by implementing two native SATA 6Gb/s onto the P67-Express platform. Unfortunately, that was about the extent of non-CPU related changes made. ASUS has provided other enhancements to the Sabertooth P67 to make it a little more interesting.
The Sabertooth P67 Motherboard supports up to 32GB of non-ECC unbuffered DDR3 motherboard through four DIMM slots. Supported DIMM speeds on the Sabertooth P67 include DDR3 1866/1800/1600/1333/1066. Speaking of the DIMM slots, you might notice that the color scheme on the ASUS Sabertooth P67 is slightly different than what we are used to from ASUS. For some time now, ASUS, especially with Intel chipsets, has stuck to the black and blue theme. You can see this on the other P67 motherboards. The Sabertooth P67 moves to a black, brown, and tan theme.
The Sabertooth P67 fits only the new Sandy Bridge CPUs in the LGA1155 socket. You can't upgrade to a P67 motherboard and keep your old LGA1156 CPU. This is normal for Intel upgrades while AMD, up through the 890 chipset, allows for backwards compatibility with older socket AM2 CPUs. What Intel didn't change in the P67 motherboards was the heatsink layout so you won't have to go out and find another heatsink; the LGA1156 heatsinks will fit just fine. At the same time, the necessity of an aftermarket heatsink is somewhat diminished with the new Sandy Bridge processors because they run much cooler than their predecessor. That being said, extreme enthusiast overclockers will still want to use an aftermarket CPU cooler.
As we take a look at the rear I/O panel on the Sabertooth P67 motherboard, we find some interesting deviation from other ASUS P67 motherboards. First, there is only a single, shared PS/2 port for a legacy mouse or keyboard. I appreciate the move away from legacy hardware, as I'm not really sure how many people upgrading to the P67 platform will still be using their ancient keyboard and mouse. Both the P8P67 and the P8P67-Evo kept two PS/2 ports. With one PS/2 port out of the way, there is room for an additional two USB ports under it.
Next to the PS/2 port are three red ports. The two on top are USB 2.0 ports and the bottom one is the eSATA port powered by the JMicron JMB362 SATA Controller. This is a major difference from the ASUS P8P67 motherboards, that don't have any eSATA ports on the back I/O panel. The Sabertooth actually has two. The green port under the 1394a firewire is a powered eSATA port that also runs off the JMicron controller. The 1394a port is actually one of a pair of IEEE-1394a ports (this other is at the edge of the motherboard) that are powered by the VIA Technologies VT6308P controller. Those two firewire ports are the same on the ASUS P8P67 motherboards, as is the single RJ-45 Ethernet jack and the two SuperSpeed, NEC-D720200F1 (µPD720200) driven, USB-3.0 ports in blue under the RJ-45 jack. Another difference is that the Ethernet port on the Sabertooth P67 is driven by the Intel Chipset. It's a gigabit port, but since we know ASUS uses the Realtek 8111E Gigabit LAN controller on its other boards, why not give us two here? The only other difference between the Sabertooth P67 and the P8P67 boards is that the Sabertooth doesn't have the ASUS BT GO! Bluetooth receiver. Looks like a trade-off for the eSATA ports.
The audio support on the ASUS Sabertooth P67 motherboard is the same throughout the other ASUS P67 boards and runs off the Realtek ALC892 chip. The ALC892 offers 7.1 channel High-Definition audio. This Realtek audio chip has proven to be quite competitive. It features a 106 dB Signal-to Noise ratio over eight digital channels and includes the S/PDIF port for those that want to take advantage of all of them. It also offers DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC support and Blu-Ray Disc audio layer Contect Protection as well as audio-jack detection, multi-streaming, and front panel jack-retasking.