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

5 thumbs up

We're big fans of distincly colored PCBs around here. Its more modern than the legacy, green PCB that majority of components used to offer. EVGA obviously likes the look as well. Their P55 SLI motherboard not only sports a black PCB, but the majority of the sockets, ports, and heatsinks are blacked out as well. For a touch of color, the emblem between the CPU socket and expansion slots lights up with a red "E" when the system is powered on. In all, the board's design looks very sleek and would make any system modder proud.



EVGA P55 SLI Motherboard

 Model 132-LF-E655-KR
 Layout and Features

Processor
LGA-1156 i5 / i7 Processors

Memory
Four 240-pin DDR3 SDRAM DIMM sockets
Up to DDR3 2600MHz
Up to 16 GB max
   
Expansion Slots
3 x PCIe 2.0 (x4 / x8 / x16 slots)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slot
2 x PCI slots

RAID
SATA 1-6 support Intel Matrix Storage Technology
AHCI / RAID 0/1/5/10
  
Audio
Realtek® HD audio codec
8-channel audio with jack sensing

Networking
Dual LAN (10/100/1000)
Back Panel I/O
6 x USB 2.0 ports
2 x RJ45 LAN jacks
1 x IEEE1394a port
2 x eSATA ports
1 x Coaxial S/PDIF out port
1 x Optical S/PDIF out port
1 x PS/2 keyboard port
6 audio ports

Accessories
Rear I/O panel shield
SLI bridge
2 x SATA data cables
USB / 1394a expansion bracket
SATA power adapter cables
Visual installation guide
Drivers and utilities disk


Form Factor
ATX 12 x 9.6 inches ( 30.5 cm x 24.5 cm )

Warranty
3 years limited (requires registration within 30 days)
90 day Step-Up program eligible

Price
$180


 

Even more important than appearance, EVGA provides a fantastic layout that gives us little to complain about. Right angled SATA ports remove any worry of videocard interference while all data and power ports are lined up along the edge of the board. The P55 SLI leaves you with ample space around the CPU socket area, with plenty of room for today's increasingly monstrous cooling options. But a closer look reveals a unique feature of this board. It provides mounting holes for both Socket 1156 and 775 coolers, which may come in handy for some enthusiasts. The P55 SLI also features onboard reset and power buttons, a clear CMOS switch, POST code LED, dual BIOS, and dual clock generators for the CPU and PCIe interfaces to enhance overclocking.

In line with the P55 SLI's relatively high price, the bundle goes just a bit beyond the bare minimum while falling short of being completely robust. Contents include an installation manual, visual installation guide, drivers and utilities disk, two SATA 3.0Gbs cables, a SATA power adapter, USB/Firewire expansion bracket, SLI bridge, and obligatory I/O shield. We definitely could use more SATA cables, especially considering there are six ports available with two of them most likely utilized immediately.

The rear I/O panel features a PS/2 keyboard port, optical and coaxial S/PDIF out, a Firewire port, two eSATA ports, a clear CMOS switch, six audio ports, and six USB 2.0 connections. We find the choice of offering two eSATA ports interesting as the vast majority of motherboards include only one. One or two more USB ports would probably prove to be more useful here. However, we don't mind the omission of the PS/2 mouse port and hope to see more boards follow that trend.

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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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