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

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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

LGA-1156 i5 / i7 Processors

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

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

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

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 )

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



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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