P55 Motherboard Round-up: Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte, Intel, MSI - HotHardware
P55 Motherboard Round-up: Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte, Intel, MSI

P55 Motherboard Round-up: Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte, Intel, MSI

Some might say that there has never been a better time to be a PC enthusiast. Compelling new products fighting for our attention abound, as the computer hardware scene is bursting at the seams with upgrade options. For example, it wasn't long ago that AMD launched the world's first DX11 videocard and now the company features a full lineup of products at a wide variety of price points. NVIDIA's answer to the Radeon HD 5000 series has just arrived as well, and the battle for dominance in the graphics market is as fierce as ever. SSDs are also becoming increasingly more affordable, while the release of SATA 6Gbps opens the door to a new generation of faster drives. Equally important, huge 1TB hard drives can be purchased for less than $100, allowing us to backup and store copious amounts of data without breaking the bank.

No matter which of the aforementioned breakthroughs piques your interest, we all have specific reasons for choosing and buying one product over another. But during these difficult economic times, consumers need to be smarter than ever and demand more value for their money. PC hardware companies are left with the task of creating products that provide the performance we seek, while also offering compelling value.

Consequently, the demand for affordable, high performance computing components has brought about Intel's P55 chipset. Initially launched in September 2009, P55 based motherboards are attractive options for those looking to build a new, mainstream system. Its no secret that this platform was created in order to target mainstream consumers that balk at the high overall cost of a flagship X58-based system, but still want the features and performance of Intel's Nehalem microarchitecture. The demand for such products was so high that motherboard makers seemingly had no choice but to saturate the market with multiple P55-based boards that cater to almost every type of PC consumer.
 
P55 Motherboard Round-up: Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte, Intel, MSI

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Great article on a motherboard roundup it is articles like this that really help solidify someones purchasing decision as you can see the results mono E mono. All the scores looked pretty close to one another except when you factored in overclocking where the Asus and Gigabyte boards pulled away. It was interesting though how on the gaming benchmarks all boards were neck and neck. All in all it appears if you are looking to a P55 motherboard there are plenty of choices out there it also appears the best bang for the buck is to go the P55 route. Wink

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Excellent article, really helped break down the differences (albeit typically minor) between boards.

As a bit of article feedback: I felt that there was a lot of information on each board. I realize that it's important to list the featureset/design of the boards, but I feel that it would be a clearer and more concise article to basically say: "all P55 boards share these features.... then go on to basically only mention differentiating ones, like extra lan or SATA3.

The conclusion and graphical results really helped compact that information into more useful form.

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Awesome article as always! the graph in the end compared all of them with the gigabyte P55A-UD6 wining everyone but the physical disks!

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This is an amazing review. This is why I love this site!

A review like this has just cut down on months of research and questions about what features we all look for. I know personally I have spent alot of time looking for a new motherboard. Then it has gotten to the point to where my brain was about to explode.

I was about to give up on the choice of any of the Intel boards, because most seemed to focus on using Nvidia onboard. Which I found to conflict with using an ATI GPU.  So it is good to know which ones don't.

I have been wanting to try one of the Intel boards, because of the use of Turboboost. They say this is very useful in workstation performance. Some of these EVGA boards look amazing, yet they have a reputation for not being to reliable. It is good to know that, through this review that the Gigabits have emerged victorious.  I have narrowed my choice down to that one manufacturer. Now I am still just stuck with the conundrum of AMD or Intel!

I never really thought about the X55 boards, but thanks to this article. I am now really thinking about it. Seems they have all the features I am looking for Optical out, massive RAM, Good USB connections and Crossfire.  Also some of those EVGA boards are really cool looking. I guess we will have to see if the prices come down in the next few months. Or if the Egg comes down with some really good combo deals!

My main concern would be the upcoming Opteron processors and their comparative performance going up against the I-Series?

Now if HH could just do a current comparison review such as this, for the current AM3 Motherboards? Trying to find the best value for those, with all these great features really gives me a headache :(

Either way, Cracking review Grommet :)

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Is it just me or is the EVGA P55 Classified warped?  It looks like the board is trying to smile from the side.  For a $300 board, I sure hope it didn't look like that out of the box.

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I was thinking the same thing Infinity....After all the appearance is the only thing we get from these boards on the internet, but I'm sure it doesn't usually come like that, and the boards can warp a great deal and not be damaged.

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Holy crap. Looking at these tests definitely surprised me in just how close each of these boards were in terms of scores. 

The P55A-UD6 performed the best in overall scores, I can't agree with you guys more. What REALLY surprised me was that not only did it perform all the other boards, but it uses the least amount of power on idle and load times. THAT was really surprising and impressive. 

I believe that $250 is a very stable price when you consider the overall performance of this bad boy. 

I remember that a friend of mine was trying to explain to me how motherboards don't really matter when building a PC, but this article just proved him wrong I bet. 

I occasionally go to cyberpowerpc.com to build a Intel PC there, and I always stall when I come across my motherboard selection. I have always understood what the long lines of text besides the pictures meant, but I had never really understood how each motherboard actually performed. 

Speaking of which, there was something noteworthy I figured that I should mention. On cyberpowerpc's website, under the motherboard selection category, I noticed that there are only , UD3, UD5 and UD7 versions of the Gigabyte motherboards to choose from, but the HH reviewed the UD6 version. 

I'm curious of why cyberpower doesn't display the UD6 version but will still sell previous versions and the newer, Flagship version model: UD7. 

I'm sure it's nothing, but I've always wondered why cyberpower does things like that haha. 

Another worthy mention, is the other advantage that the Gigabyte motherboards have on all the other boards that were reviewed here: USB 3.0

The Gigabyte P55A-UD6 boasts TWO USB 3.0 slots that none of the other board models currently offer. 

Obviously, the USB 3.0 ports will become more valuable when external devices are able to utilize the massive bandwidth that is now available to them.

I'm glad you guys agree. The 2 USB 3.0 slots are definitely future-proofing material for the computer. Unless you are willing to wait until 3.0 hits mainstream, this Mobo is definitely the one to get, and I would definitely consider it the best bang for your buck. 

Excellent review guys. 

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@animatortom Not sure if you want to do Crossfire on these boards. If you got the money for Crossfire, I would suggest increasing your budget a little more to the X58 motherboards because those support dual PCI-e x16. They won't be limited to an x8 configuration on the P55.

 

@Marius Malek Nothing wrong with waiting until USB 3.0 hits mainstream. Asus makes a PCI-e x4 card that adds USB 3.0 and SATA 6GB/s for around $30. Also not a bad thing to wait until a more refined controller comes out or when it is supported on the chipset itself. I think someone mentioned (or in that Asus Rampage III news post) that most current controllers share the bandwidth which means a decrease in performance when multiple devices are connected. So waiting isn't so bad.

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@animatortom Not sure if you want to do Crossfire on these boards. If you got the money for Crossfire, I would suggest increasing your budget a little more to the X58 motherboards because those support dual PCI-e x16. They won't be limited to an x8 configuration on the P55.

 

This is more of a comment on the first part, but running current ultra-high end cards at 8x has a ~2% performance loss. An X58 board is typically at least ~100 more; the P55 is capable and cheaper.

Of course what's to stop next-gen cards from being absolutely crippled by 8x :(

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sp12:

@animatortom Not sure if you want to do Crossfire on these boards. If you got the money for Crossfire, I would suggest increasing your budget a little more to the X58 motherboards because those support dual PCI-e x16. They won't be limited to an x8 configuration on the P55.

 

This is more of a comment on the first part, but running current ultra-high end cards at 8x has a ~2% performance loss. An X58 board is typically at least ~100 more; the P55 is capable and cheaper.

Of course what's to stop next-gen cards from being absolutely crippled by 8x :(

 

Do you have a link to those benchmarks? I know it isn't anything big, but I thought it was bigger than 2%.

 

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http://www.overclockers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=571156

http://www.anandtech.com/show/2847/7

It's often less than 1%, but I've seen some reviews with up to 7% on dual-GPU cards in crossfire.

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sp12:

http://www.overclockers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=571156

http://www.anandtech.com/show/2847/7

It's often less than 1%, but I've seen some reviews with up to 7% on dual-GPU cards in crossfire.

 

Thanks for the links! So there is just a tiny gap. I guess it just comes down to the individual's budget and what they are looking for in a pc.

 

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RyuGTX:
it just comes down to the individual's budget and what they are looking for

Exactly,.............My latest P55 board wasn't tested here and I wonder how it would have stacked up to the others. I know it works well for me, and it's friendly with many types and brands of memory sticks. (not all P55 boards are)

It's just $109.00 and has a good feature set. It also will accommodate an LGA-775 CPU Cooler as well as the LGA-1156 CPU Coolers. I was able to utilize an extremely efficient older style LGA-775 Asetek VapoChill Micro cooler with my i5-750 CPU and it's working wonderfully.

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You could do some benchmarks and upload them here. The test setup should be pretty similar because you got the same cpu that they used. The RAM they used wasn't anything special. They did have a Velociraptor though. It would at least give us a ballpark figure to compare between higher-end motherboards and an ASRock for just a little over $100.

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I looked up that Vapochil cooler and it's outright impressive, I"m glad you were able to keep your old cooler.

What board was it exactly?


On another note, the i7-870 actually outperforms the 920 for less, which surprises me, but makes this system look even more attractive. I definitely feel that this is the best value bar AMD's upcoming Thubans.

Even then, Intel's new setup will be out early next year, but it's still an attractive platform.

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sp12:
What board was it exactly?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157171

It's an ASRock P55 Pro and yes, the Vapochill cooler is impressive.

 

 

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Dang Realneil,
 
looks like you have a pretty impressive setup there.
About the only thing different from the current contest computer would be the SSD and ATI's!

Did you win this one from HH?

Both make my pitiful Stock HP Core2duo/FProv3700, Look like a Yugo racing with Ferrari's :(

I was thinking about that board, I just haven't heard to much about ASRock? I was leaning towards Gigabite, EVGA or ASUS. Although I was leaning towards an AM3 MoBo. Because the first thing on the list is an Fire8700 or 8800. I just wish the I7's weren't so darn expensive, I do hear their turbo is good for rendering.

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animatortom:
Did you win this one from HH?

Yes, I won it here about three or four contests ago. (thanks again Hot-Hardware!) They keep giving away faster and better computers every time they have a contest on this site. Imagine what will be available in a years time!

___________________________________________________________________

animatortom:
I just haven't heard to much about ASRock?

Owned and operated by ASUS, they incorporate many of the same features.

___________________________________________________________________

animatortom:
I do hear their turbo is good for rendering

It's good for any and everything so far. A seriously pissed-off computer.

I always gravitated towards AMD based computers because that's what I could afford to buy. (I'm on a retirement income) But winning this, and then winning another Intel computer a few months later really changed everything for me here at home. Both machines are quite capable of playing all of my games without ANY problems at all. One of my sons is due back from the middle east next month and he says that he misses playing UT3 with me in the computer room since he's been gone. Now we'll both have better computers to play on.

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realneil:

 

Owned and operated by ASUS, they incorporate many of the same features.

 

I did not know that! I always thought ASRock was some small company putting out odd motherboards like the ones that support both DDR2 and DDR3.

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They advertise it pretty heavily online, but I feel that it'd be better if they just went by 'ASUS' to consolidate brand awareness.

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sp12:
it'd be better if they just went by 'ASUS' to consolidate brand awareness

They are a knock-off brand (2002) and originally were making boards for the low end market. They became interested in the enthusiasts market before it was in vogue and everybody else started catering to them. They've had allot of original ideas over the time that they have been making boards, and have a loyal following among many home builders. So far, they seem to be holding their own and have their own brand awareness to brag about. Other than that, I don't know anything about them.

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As a matter of fact, I haven't tried either brand. But just hearing stuff around the web, I think it is safe to generalize that Asus is better than ASRock. Whether Asus is better is not the point I'm trying to make. The point is peoples' impressions and opinions that may or may not be based on solid facts. For this reason, if they just went by Asus, Asus could have received a worse reputation that what they currently have. Asus might be thought of as lower quality.

The beauty of forming another brand like ASRock that people usually don't know of being owned by a parent company (Asus) is that they can target certain markets and even take risks that usually don't affect the parent company. So like coming out with original ideas like one motherboard that has DIMM slots for both DDR2 and DDR3, which I believe  had some stability problems, won't hurt the current brand image of Asus.

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RyuGTX:
I think it is safe to generalize that Asus is better than ASRock

That's a safe generalization, I guess.

Here is a site to look at.

It seems as though the enthusiast crowd (worldwide) like their products. (56 'Editor's Choice', or 'Best Of' awards so far, this year)

The same site, if you take the time to look around has plenty of information concerning their 'ASRock-Only' features.

I know I'm starting to sound like a fan-boi here so let me say that I like Gigabyte boards allot too. Both manufacturers offer the latest tech for less money and less money is a language that speaks loudly to me.

I like my P55-Pro.

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ASRock products shouldn't be bad, especially  since it was like a spin-off from Asus. They probably share a lot of information and manufacturing. The quality should be passed over to ASRock.So it should be popular with enthusiasts because this is like a bargain deal.

 

By the way, I like how they got the power and reset buttons that we all know and love that are featured on the high-end Asus boards.

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What's weird is that a lot of Asus products have a cheaper Asrock knockoff with about the same specs.

Which in my opinion seems outright bizarre, as the Asrock are basically cheaper versions of the Asus ones... not much else.

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