|ASUS Sabertooth P67 B3 TUF Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Monday, 02 May 2011|
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Sabertooth P67 Detailed Features
To remain competitive against Intel manufactured motherboards and P67 boards made by other manufacturers, ASUS really has to beef up the features they offer on their P67 line. The Sabertooth P67 motherboard does this in a lot ways. For one, while Intel does offer native SATA 6Gb/s support on their 6-series motherboards, they've left native SuperSpeed USB 3.0 support out of the mix. With a 5Gb/s signaling rate, USB 3.0 doesn't quite match up to SATA 6Gb/s. It does, however, far outpace older SATA 3Gb/s transfer rates. It seems like an easy choice for motherboard manufactures to add a controller for USB 3.0 support and ASUS does this on the Sabertooth P67 through the use of the NEC D720200F1 SuperSpeed USB-3.0 chip.
ASUS integrates a new feature into their P67-Express platform motherboards called the DIP2 (Dual-Intelligent Processors). The two processors are a TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) and an EPU (Energy Processing Unit) and focus on performance and power management. The TPU takes some stress off the CPU to increase performance and the EPU decreases power drain from system components. The DIP2 can be controlled using the ASUS AI Suite II that comes with the Sabertooth P67 or through the uEFI.
Along with the DIP2 for power and performance management, ASUS has integrated a digital power voltage regulator module on the Sabertooth P67 motherboard (as well as the P8P67-series motherboards). They call it DIGI+ VRM and it consists of a programmable micro-processor that can match multiple PWM signals without power loss. This is an excellent feature for extra power management (something concerning just about everyone these days) because it makes the Sabertooth P67 motherboard moer energy efficient by reducing dissipation through the use of digital power regulation. In addition, being digitally controlled, it doesn't cause excess heat to be created by the components. Within the uEFI, the DIGI+ VRM on the Sabertooth P67 allows you to control the power management to choose an auto Spread Spectrum mode that varies the VRM frequency dynamically, reduces interference, and increases system stability.
You can also choose Fixed Frequency Mode that lets you pull more juice into overclocking by increasing the frequency in 10k Hz increments up towards 500k Hz. This is really outstanding in terms of overclocking, overvolting, and even under-volting. Rather than setting your voltage to 1.50V and getting only 1.45V of power, the digital controller offers the exact amount of power you designate. ASUS even includes a program called ASUS Probe II within the AI Suite II that increases your options as to setting power limits.
While the ASUS Sabertooth P67 motherboard doesn't have a power and reset switch on the board, it does include another button, the MemOK! button. This button is for a feature that helps you deal with using incompatible memory in the four DDR3 dual-channel DIMM slots. If the motherboard won't boot because of incompatible memory, you can hold down the MemOK! button until the DRAM_LED starts blinking. The ASUS MemOK! feature will automatically try to tune the memory to make it more likely for the system to boot successfully.
Picture courtesy of ASUS.com
On the ASUS Sabertooth P67, the TUF Thermal Armor and TUF Thermal Radar are not the only TUF components you will find. The TUF series Sabertooth P67 motherboard also boasts TUF alloy chokes, solid capacitors, and MOSFETs that are certified by a third-party through military grade testing. The components are said to extend durability, even under extreme conditions. The TUF chokes, in particular, are different from standard chokes for their use of various metals rather than iron. ASUS says this gives them a 25% higher current support; up to 40A.
The components surrounding the CPU socket are covered on the ASUS Sabertooth P67 by aluminum heatsinks. Under the heatsinks, the hardware on the ASUS Sabertooth P67 differs slightly from many other ASUS P67 motherboards. The Sabertooth P67 settles for eight (vCore) DIGI+ VRM phases plus two (vDRAM/QPI). This is down from the 12+2 found on the P8P67 and the EVO and PRO versions of the same. It is also less than the 16+2 on the P8P67 Deluxe. It is, however, more than the 4+1 found on the P8P67 LE and which is standard on many motherboards. ASUS uses solid state capacitors with a solid organic polymer. These capacitors have a very long life, probably longer than you would be using the motherboard anyway.
While ASUS added a lot of functionality to the Sabertooth P67 motherboard through the use of third party controllers, they left the PCI lanes alone. The Intel PCI-Express controller on the Sandy Bridge CPUs has 16 shared PCI-Express 2.0 graphics lanes and the P67-Express chip throws in another 8 PCI-Express lanes to control the 3 PCIe x1 2.0 slots, the single PCI slot, the SATA ports, and the USB 2.0 ports. The graphics lanes can be used singly at x16 for either of the 2 PCIe 2.0 x16 slots or they can be split into x8/x8 mode for multiple GPU usage. The ASUS Sabertooth P67 motherboard supports both AMD CrossFireX and NVIDA SLI configurations. This is common on many boards, including other ASUS boards, but it isn't something you find everywhere.
Also native to the P67 chipset are two SATA 6Gb/s ports. They show up in brown on the motherboard. The controller for these ports is on the P67-Express chip rather than southbridge, which used to control SATA ports. ASUS ups the ante in this department as well by including the Marvel 88SE9120 controller to power an additional two SATA 6Gb/s ports (colored gray). Both the Marvel controller and the P67-Express chip's SATA 6Gb/s ports support RAID functionality, with the Marvel covering RAID-1/0 only and the Intel chip supporting RAID-0/1/5/10. The four black SATA 3Gb/s ports also run off the Intel P67-Express chip and support RAID-0/1/5/10.
The SATA ports on the Sabertooth P67 are positioned for transverse-mount connections, an increasingly common feature on motherboards. This allows the cables to extend outward rather than upward and makes things a lot easier, especially when using a longer video card. Another storage feature implemented by ASUS comes in the form of software called ASUS HyperDuo. This program allows you to create hybrid storage drives by combining an HDD and SSD.