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ASUS P8P67 PRO LGA1155 Sandy Bridge Motherboard Review

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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Location
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Synthetic Benchmarks

Synthetic Benchmarks: AIDA64 / MaxxMEM




AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.50 - CPU & FPU Benchmarks


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AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.50 - Cache Benchmark


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AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.50 - Memory Benchmarks


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MaxxMEM² - Memory Benchmarks


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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks




SuperPi Mod v1.5


When running the SuperPI 32MB benchmark, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. We are running one instance of SuperPi via the HyperPi 0.99b interface. This is therefore a single-thread workload.

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wPRIME 2.03


wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum. This is a highly multi-threaded workload.

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Cinebench R10


Cinebench R10 64-bit
Test1: Single CPU Image Render
Test2: Multi CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


Developed by MAXON, creators of Cinema 4D, Cinebench 10 is designed using the popular Cinema software and created to compare system performance in 3D Animation and Photo applications. There are two parts to the test; the first stresses only the primary CPU or Core, the second, makes use of up to 16 CPUs/Cores. Both are done rendering a realistic photo while utilizing various CPU-intensive features such as reflection, ambient occlusion, area lights and procedural shaders

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Cinebench R11.5


Cinebench R11.5 64-bit
Test1: CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


The latest benchmark from MAXON, Cinebench R11.5 makes use of all your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene using various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. This particular benchmarking can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The result is given in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.

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HDxPRT 2010


Intel High Definition Experience and Performance Ratings Test 2010

HDxPRT 2010, otherwise known as the Intel High Definition Experience and Performance Ratings Test 2010, is a new platform evaluation tool for measuring digital media experience. HDxPRT evaluates the capabilities of a media PC using real world usage scenarios and popular media applications. The benchmark's results are illustrated in the Create HD Score, which represents the overall digital media creation performance of a test system.

HDxPRT 2009 workloads are based on usages performed with popular programs, like Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0, Apple iTunes 9.x, Cyberlink PowerDVD 9, DivX Pro Codec 6.8.5, HDRsoft Photomatix 3, HDR PhotoStudio 2.x, and Windows Media Player 11.


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PCMark Vantage x64


PCMark Vantage Advanced 64-bit Edition (1.0.2.0)
PCMark Suite / Default Settings
Comparison: Generated Score

The main focus of our General Tasks category lies with the most recent installment of the PCMark series, Vantage. While still classified under the description of a Synthetic benchmark, PCMark Vantage uses many of Vista's (Note - Vantage is Vista-only) built-in programs and features along with its own tests, so it is "real-world" applicable in regards to CPU performance. The following is a general list of the tests in the PCMark suite, very much in line with tasks of an average user: Data encryption, Data compression, CPU image manipulation (compression/decompression/resize), Audio transcoding, Video transcoding, Text editing, Web page rendering, Windows Mail, Windows Contacts, and CPU game test.


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Lame Front End


Lame Front End v1.0 is a single-threaded application, which means that it only utilizes a single processor core. This will obviously limit performance but it will allow us to see the benefits of Lynnfield aggressive Turbo Boost with single-threaded loads. We will be encoding a WAV rip of Santana’s Supernatural album and converting it to MP3 using the highest fidelity VBR 0 quality preset.

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Photoshop CS4


For the image editing portion of this review, we will use Photoshop CS4 in coordination with Driver Heaven’s Photoshop Benchmark V3, which is an excellent test of CPU power and memory bandwidth. This is a scripted benchmark that individually applies 15 different filters to a 109MB JPEG, and uses Photoshop’s built-in timing feature to provide a result at each test stage. Then it’s simply a matter of adding up the 15 results to reach the final figure.

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x264 HD Benchmark


x264 HD Benchmark v1.0
Test: MPEG-2 HD 720P Video Clip Conversion to x264
DVD Video Length: 30 Seconds
Comparison: FPS of Second Pass

x264 is quickly becoming the new codec of choice for encoding a growing number of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC videos. Think of it as the new Divx of HD and you can understand why we felt it critical to include. Tech Arp's recent development of the x264 HD Benchmark takes a 30 second HD video clip and encodes it into the x264 codec with the intention of little to no quality loss. The test is measured using the average frames per second achieved during encoding, which scales with processor speed and efficiency. The benchmark also allows the use of multi-core processors so it gives a very accurate depiction of what to expect when using encoding application on a typical full length video.


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WinRAR


WinRAR 3.94 x64
Test: Compression of 1GB of Assorted Files
Comparison: Time to Finish

One of the most popular file compression/decompresion tools, we use WinRAR to compress a 1GB batch of files and archive them, timing the task until completion.


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7-Zip


9.20 x64
Test: Compression/Extraction of 1GB of Assorted Files, with AES-256 encryption
Comparison: Time to Finish


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Here we ran into an I/O limitation when extracting. Our hard drive simply wasn't fast enough to write the data being extracted by the highly clocked AES NI-capable chips (Sandy Bridge/Gulftown/Clarkdale).
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks




Futuremark 3DMark06


3DMark06 v1.2.0
Graphic Settings: Default
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

The Futuremark 3DMark series has been a part of the backbone in computer and hardware reviews since its conception. The trend continues today as 3DMark06 provides consumers with a solid synthetic benchmark geared for performance and comparison in the 3D gaming realm. This remains one of the most sought after statistics, as well as an excellent tool for accurate CPU comparison, and it will undoubtedly be used for years to come.


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Futuremark 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage v1.0.2
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3Dmarks
Comparison: Generated Score

3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses DirectX 10 exclusively so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about this benchmark. Along with being a very capable graphics card testing application, it also has very heavily multi-threaded CPU tests, such Physics Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which makes it a good all-around gaming benchmark.


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Crysis


Crysis v1.21
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: High
Global Settings: DX10 / 64-Bit

Test 1: Ice benchmark_CPU2 demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Still one of the most hardware intensive game on the market today, Crysis has been chosen for its obvious ability to be able to showcase the differences between platforms and to showcase just how far one will need to go in the quest for maximum performance. The game also features the renowned CryEngine, the power behind the incredible graphics, which is expected to be foundation of future titles.


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Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2 1.02
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti Aliasing: 0
Quality Settings: Very High
Global Settings: DX10 Enabled

Test 1: Ranch Long Demo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Far Cry 2 is the hot new new first-person shooter from Ubisoft's Montreal studio, and the first game to utilize the new visually stunning Dunia Engine, which will undoubtedly be used by numerous future games. Using the included Benchmarking Tool, we ran the Long Ranch demo in DX10 mode at 1680x1050 with all settings set to very high.


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X3: Terran Conflict


X3: Terran Conflict 1.2.0.0
Resolution: 1680x1050
Texture Quality: High
Shader Quality: High
Antialiasing 4X
Anisotropic Mode: None
Glow Enabled

Game Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)


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Left 4 Dead


Left 4 Dead (Latest Update)
Resolution: 1680x1050
Filtering: 4X MSAA / Anisotropic 8X
Graphic Settings: High
Shader Detail: Very High
Test 1: HWC Custom Timedemo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

Left 4 Dead is the latest disorienting, fast-paced zombie apocalypse mega-hit from Valve. L4D uses the latest version of the Source engine with enhancements such as multi-core processor support and physics-based animation. We test here at 1680x1050 with in-game details set to their highest levels, with MSAA 4X and AA 8X. For benching, we used a pre-recorded 20 minute timedemo taken on the No Mercy campaign during The Apartments mission.


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Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark


Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark
Default
Comparison: Particle Performance Metric

Originally intended to demonstrate new processing effects added to Half Life 2: Episode 2 and future projects, the particle benchmark condenses what can be found throughout HL2:EP2 and combines it all into one small but deadly package. This test does not symbolize the performance scale for just Episode Two exclusively, but also for many other games and applications that utilize multi-core processing and particle effects. As you will see the benchmark does not score in FPS but rather in its own "Particle Performance Metric", which is useful for direct CPU comparisons.


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Resident Evil 5


Resident Evil 5 1.0.0.129
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: Off
Motion Blur: Off
Shadow Detail: High
Texture Detail: High
Overall Quality: High
Test 1: Built-in Timedemo
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)


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World in Conflict


World in Conflict v1.010
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Anisotropic Filtering: 4X
Graphic Settings: Very High
Test 1: Built-in Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

One of the most visually stunning real-time strategy games in recent history, World in Conflict can really push systems to the brink, which is what we attempt by running the game in DirectX 10 mode at 1680x1050 with all settings maxed out. For this test we used the in-game benchmarking tool.


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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Voltage Regulation / Power Consumption

Voltage Regulation / Power Consumption



Our voltage regulation testing will focus on the various voltages and the differences encountered between what is selected in the BIOS, what is reported by AiSuite II (when available), and what is reported by a digital multi-meter (DMM). We have found six voltage read points on the motherboard so the vCore, CCPU PLL, VCCSA, VCCIO, PCH, and DRAM will be recorded with our DMM. The ground point used for all readings were the screw holes. Here are a few images showing the various read points used.

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Click on image to enlarge

Now that we have established where the read points are, let’s have a look at the results. These measurements were taken at stock system speeds, with Turbo Boost/EIST/C1E enabled in the BIOS. Here are our extensive findings:


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Frankly, this model has perfect voltage output across the board, nothing to complain about here. We tested the various Load-Line Calibration (LLC) modes, and they all seem appropriately set. By the ‘Ultra High’ level, all vDroop has been effectively been eliminated.

Power Consumption



For this section, every energy saving feature was enabled in the respective BIOSes and the Windows Vista power plan was changed from High Performance to Balanced.

For our idle test, we let the system idle for 15 minutes and measured the peak wattage through our UPM EM100 power meter.

For our CPU load test, we ran Prime 95 In-place large FFTs on all available threads for 15 minutes, measuring the peak wattage via the UPM EM100 power meter.

For our overall system load test, we ran Prime 95 In-place large FFTs on all available threads for 15 minutes, while simultaneously loading the GPU with OCCT v3.1.0 GPU:OCCT stress test at 1680x1050@60Hz in full screen mode.

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The P8P67 PRO has higher power consumption than the Intel DP67BG, but that is to be expected since the ASUS board has a much more complex VRM design, quite a few extra controllers, and a Bluetooth receiver.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


As we mentioned in our launch review, the P67-based motherboards are the only ones that can take advantage of the unlocked capabilities of the K-series processors. As such, they are the only Sandy Bridge chips from which you can actually hope to achieve an impressive overclock.

On this particular board, we set the more obscure BIOS settings as follows: EPU Power Saving Mode to disabled, Internal PLL Overvoltage to enabled, Load-Line Calibration (LLC) to Ultra High, VRM frequency to 350Hz, Phase Control to Extreme, Duty Control to Extreme, CPU Current Capability to 130%, and Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST) to disabled. With all that set, it was time to see how high we could push our Core i5-2500K on this P8P67 PRO model.


Max Bootable CPU Multiplier


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By now many of you are aware of the Internal PLL Overvoltage BIOS setting that was revealed post-launch, and that gave Sandy Bridge processors a real kick in the pants when it comes to overclocking. This one setting improved CPU multiplier headroom by 4-5-6X, so it is a big deal, and it is found on all the P8P67 series motherboards.

In order to take advantage of those higher multipliers you do have to increase the vCore to fairly unsafe levels though. We would never recommend trying to run a Sandy Bridge processors at 1.55V 24/7, and we wouldn’t dare try to run any heavy stress-testing programs with this much voltage either. However, since there are several factors that determine whether your CPU can even attain those highest multipliers, like the VRM design, we are going to be testing how high we can boot into Windows with all our LGA1155 motherboards.


Highest Stable Bus Speed Overclock



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As we were all warned about many months before they were launched, Sandy Bridge processors have virtually no BCLK headroom. Right now it appears that most chips have a reasonable chance of being stable up to about 104-107Mhz, with a few even being able to hit around 109Mhz, if not slightly above. It just depends on the quality of the silicon. There’s really not much you can do to improve the BCLK overclocking situation.

As was the case on the Intel DP67BG motherboard, we hit a BCLK limit of 105Mhz on our i5-2500K. More accurately, thanks to the new ASUS UEFI BIOS and its extreme tuning capabilities, we were able to achieve 105.1Mhz, but anything above that would cause the system to hard lock.


Highest Stable CPU Overclock



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Now ideally we feel that 1.35V is highest vCore that risk averse overclockers should use for their 24/7 configuration. However, since we don’t mind a bit of risk, we will decided to use 1.40V in order to determine our highest stable CPU overclock. As we demonstrated above, this particular chip can booth into windows at 5.2Ghz with 1.55V, but with that much voltage you will be damaging your chip, even if it’s not evident in the short-term.

As you can see, we were able to achieve 4.62Ghz at 1.40V, which is a solid result that falls within the Sandy Bridge overclocking range that we outlined in our launch article. However, as we have seen on various forums, there are definitely many better retail chips than our engineering sample. Nevertheless, this result will serve as the standard from which we will compare the other LGA1155 motherboards that we review in the coming weeks and months.


Highest Stable Memory Overclock



Click on image to enlarge

On the memory front, we were able to push our Corsair Dominator GT DDR3-2133 modules to DDR3-2218 9-10-9 at 1.65V with a relatively conservative 1.20V VCCIO. The P8P67 PRO is rated up to DDR3-2200, but we have no doubt that it could handle higher memory frequencies than that. In our case, we had actually reached our 2500K's memory controller limit at the specified voltage.


Auto Overclocking Results



OC Tuner on the left, Auto Tuning on the right - Click on images to enlarge

The BIOS-based OC Tuner only takes about 30 seconds to overclock the system, but it's a little more convervative since it is based on a preset. Effectively, as soon as you click on “OK” in the BIOS, the system reboots and your new overclock is set. It is not a 'smart' auto-overclocking feature, but it works well for those who don’t want to bother with the tiny bit of extra work and handful of reboots/BSODs associated with Auto Tuning. By the way, the motherboard detected our XMP-enabled Corsair Dominator GT DDR3-2133 memory modules and set them to a very respectable DDR3-1923, albeit with a 2T command rate.

The software-based Auto Tuning method takes quite a bit longer (5-10 minutes), but the end-result is a fair bit better. Within Windows, Auto Tuning slowly increases the system frequencies and does some stress testing at each level until it finds the limit, reboots, and voila! The overclock is set. It once again didn't even do too bad on the memory front, at least compared to every other automatic overclocking technology that we've encountered in the past.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


As we saw all the way back in November, ASUS has spent a considerable amount of time and effort developing these new P67-based motherboards. What this means for consumers are cool new features and capabilities that didn’t exist in previous generations, and most importantly, that actually work very well. Furthermore, if we discount the chipset recall, which we obviously cannot fault the motherboard manufacturers for, we really didn’t experience many of the teething issues usually associated with new platforms. And whatever little issues there are have been getting dealt with at an impressive rate via rapid-fire BIOS updates.

Speaking of which, the new UEFI BIOS is absolutely one of the best features of this PRO model, and of the P8P67 series in general. It is a pleasure to use, and frankly even a purist like myself has found some
instances where being able to use both the keyboard and mouse together has led to usability improvements. The purely graphical EZ Mode is a little too limited for our liking, but then again it is targeted towards novice users. The Advanced Mode has everything that we have come to expect in a modern BIOS, which is to say a user-friendly layout and every feature you could possibly want to tweak. By the way, by the time you read this, ASUS should have released a new BIOS that allows users to take screenshots from within the BIOS. Originally this feature was going to be exclusive to the enthusiast-oriented Maximus IV Extreme, but after our convincing arguments, they decided to add this capability to the entire P8P67 lineup. It is a novelty feature for most users, but it is a pretty cool little time-saver for overclockers that like sharing their BIOS settings.

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With regard to overclocking, it is pretty clear that ASUS have spent an inordinate amount of time
ensuring that P8P67 owners would have a flawless experience from the get-go, and they have done a very good job. Our extensive 2 month experience with this motherboard has been better than could have ever expected from a brand new platform. This model’s multiplier and BCLK overclocking capabilities are about as good as you can get, and we are quite confident that the PRO can easily max out any Sandy Bridge processor on air, water, or single stage phase-change cooling. The new DIGI+ VRM, UEFI BIOS, and TPU controller provide very handy options like 0.1Mhz BCLK increments, 0.005V voltage increments, 5 levels of Load-Line Calibration (LLC), and a user-adjustable VRM switching frequency, all of which really do help in the struggle for the best possible overclock. Now the one issue when it comes to overclocking is that if you enable the Internal PLL Voltage option in the BIOS, you likely will not be updating to resume successfully from sleep or hibernate. From what we have been told this is an issue with the Intel's firmware code and they are working on a solution. This is likely an issue that affects all the other motherboard manufacturers as well.

Also beneficial when overclocking is the revamped Ai Suite II software suite. ASUS have wisely chosen to concentrate all their utilities onto a user-friendly toolbar. You no longer have to go hunting for the utility you want, nor do you need to have desktop icons everywhere. The TurboV and DIGI+ VRM utilities were definitely our favourites, since they allowed us to tweak all the aforementioned overclocking settings from within the OS. However, the new and improved FAN Xpert utility deserves special mention since it really has excellent and easy-to-use fan management capabilities.

On the layout front we have no serious complaints, but definitely keep in mind that large CPU coolers and tall memory heatspreaders can potentially cause installation issues, as is the case on most LGA115x motherboards. Features-wise some may lament the lack of a debug LED, but with the Q-LED feature users will at least be able to quickly identify which component is causing an issue if there is a boot failure. Since this is an almost $200 motherboard, we would have liked to see onboard power and reset buttons, but ASUS is stubbornly using this feature to lure users towards the $20 pricier P8P67 EVO model. This latter model also features an improved cooling system and additional Gigabit LAN port, but we don’t see that as being worth the extra money, especially since the PRO is already so well well-equipped when it comes connectivity options and expansion slots.

In the end, this is a very high quality motherboard at a reasonable price, and although it might only be the second Intel P67-based LGA1155 motherboard that we have spent any considerable amount of time with, it definitely seems like a difficult one to beat.


Pros

- Solid Performance.
- Terrific layout.
- Three mechanical PCI-E x16 slots.
- 2-Way CrossFireX & 2-Way SLI capability.
- Excellent manual overclocking capabilities.
- Very capable automatic overclocking options.
- Flawless voltage regulation & output.
- Comprehensive SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 connectivity.
- Integrated Bluetooth receiver.
- Superior Intel Gigabit LAN controller.
- Great new software package
- Socketed BIOS chip.
- User-friendly and tweaker-friendly new UEFI BIOS.
- Reasonable price tag given the features list.


Cons

- Resuming from sleep/hibernate will fail when Internal PLL Voltage is enabled. Intel is working on a fix.
- Depending on configuration, boot up times can be a little long.
- Only one BIOS chip, no backup or fail-safe.
- Large CPU coolers + tall memory heatspreaders can cause installation issues.
- Not enough voltage readouts in Ai Suite II.
- No onboard power and reset buttons.


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Our thanks to ASUS for making this review possible!​

 
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