Even though the Intel Z68 chipset is out there, motherboards based on the Intel P67 continue to be attractive options for systems based on Intel socket LGA1155 CPUs. In fact, according to ASUS, the sales of P67-based motherboards are still outperforming those of Z68-based products. The Sabertooth P67 is a top mid-range (or entry high-end, depending on your point of view) motherboard that focuses on quality. Let’s see what is so special about this model.
On the Sabertooth P67, quality is everywhere. The product is tested for reliability by an independent testing lab (Integrated Service Technology), and the individual tests conducted include vibration, thermal, shock, moisture resistance, salt spray, and more. Second, the capacitors, coils, and transistors available on this motherboard are military-grade, meaning that they can withstand a higher temperature range and have a lower tolerance. Third, this is one of the few motherboards with a five-year warranty.
One of the unique features of this motherboard is the presence of a plastic sheet covering its components. See Figure 1. It works as a thermal cover to prevent the hot air blown by the CPU cooler and video cards from heating the motherboard components. You can install a 50 mm fan to cool down the motherboard components by removing the 2 x 2 inch (50 x 50 mm) part available between the first PCI Express x16 slot and the CPU socket.
The ASUS Sabertooth P67 comes with two PCI Express x16 slots, three PCI Express x1 slots, and one standard PCI slot.
The PCI Express x16 slots are connected directly to the CPU integrated PCI Express controller. When only one video card is installed, the slot works at x16 speed, but when you install two video cards, each slot works at x8 speed. These slots support both SLI and CrossFireX technologies.
If you install a dual-slot video card in the first PCI Express x16 slot, you will “kill” one of the PCI Express x1 slots. If you install a dual-slot video card in the second PCI Express x16 slot, you will “kill” the standard PCI slot.
It is important to understand that Intel chipsets no longer support standard PCI slots, and the PCI slots are provided by an ASMedia ASM1083 bridge chip.
[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]
Intel socket LGA1155 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, that defines what memory technologies and the maximum amount of memory you can have. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
The integrated memory controller from socket LGA1155 processors supports DDR3 memories up to 1,333 MHz under dual-channel architecture, but ASUS says the Sabertooth P67 supports memory up to 1,866 MHz through overclocking.
The ASUS Sabertooth P67 has four memory sockets, and since DDR3 memory modules can now be found in capacities up to 8 GB, you can have up to 32 GB with this motherboard if you use four 8 GB modules.
The first and third sockets are olive green, while the second and fourth are brown. In order to achieve the maximum performance, you should install two or four memory modules in order to enable dual-channel architecture. When only two modules are used, install them in the olive green sockets. Otherwise, your computer won’t turn on.
As with other motherboards from ASUS, the Sabertooth P67 comes with the “MemOK!” button, which allows you to test the compatibility of the memory modules that are installed.
[nextpage title=”On-Board Peripherals”]
The Intel P67 chipset is a single-chip solution and is also known as PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip supports two SATA-600 ports and four SATA-300 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 5 and 10). The manufacturer added two additional SATA-600 ports, controlled by a Marvell 88SE9120 chip, with no RAID support. The SATA ports are located on the motherboard edge rotated 90°, so video cards won’t block them.
Additionally, there are two eSATA-300 ports on the motherboard rear panel, controlled by a JMicron JMB362 chip. One of them (the red one) is a regular eSATA port, but the other (the green one) is a “power eSATA” port, which has extra pins for power.
There is no support for a floppy disk drive controller or an ATA-133 port.
This motherboard has 12 USB 2.0 ports, six soldered on the rear panel and six available through three headers located on the motherboard. It also has four USB 3.0 ports, two available on the motherboard rear panel and two available through a front panel connector, controlled by two NEC (Renesas) µPD720200 chips.
This motherboard has two FireWire ports, one soldered on the rear panel and one available through a header on the motherboard. These ports are controlled by a VIA VT6308P chip.
This motherboard supports 7.1+2 audio format, i.e., eight channels plus two independent channels for audio streaming. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using a Realtek ALC892 codec. Finally, Realtek is disclosing the specifications of this chip, which include a 97 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, a 90 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs. These specs are good for the mainstream user, but if you are looking into working professionally with audio editing, you should look for a motherboard that provides an SNR of at least 97 dB for the analog input.
The portrayed motherboard comes with independent analog audio outputs, meaning that you won’t need to use the line in or mic in jacks when connecting an eight-channel analog speaker set, and an optical SPDIF output. You also can add a coaxial SPDIF output or route digital audio to your video card to have digital audio in its HDMI connector using the available “SPDIF_OUT” header.
This motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by the chipset, using an Intel WG82579V chip to make the interface
with the physical layer.
In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel, with a shared PS/2 mouse and keyboard connector, six USB 2.0 ports, two eSATA-300 ports, optical SPDIF output, one FireWire port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports (blue ones), and independent analog 7.1 audio outputs.
[nextpage title=”Other Features”]
The motherboard has a legacy serial port on a header labeled “COM1.” You will need to buy an adapter if you want to use this port. It also has an infrared interface, making it inexpensive for you to add an infrared sensor to be able to use a remote control or to connect devices using infrared technology (IrDA).
The motherboard has thermal sensors attached to key components on the motherboard, allowing you to adjust the speed of the fans connected to the motherboard based on their temperature.
If your computer doesn’t turn on, the product has four LEDs that tell you which device (CPU, memory, first video card or boot device) failed to initialize. Unfortunately, these LEDs are spread on the motherboard instead of being placed together at the same location.
In Figure 7, you can see all the accessories that come with this motherboard.
[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the ASUS Sabertooth P67 has eight phases for the CPU main voltage (Vcc a.k.a. Vcore) and two for the CPU VTT voltage (integrated memory controller and L3 memory cache). Therefore, it uses a “8+2” configuration, using a digital design.
As mentioned before, this motherboard uses military-grade components, including solid ferrite-core coils, which present less energy loss than iron-core coils (i.e., they improve efficiency), solid capacitors, and low RDS(on) transistors (i.e., higher efficiency).
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.[nextpage title=”Overclocking Options”]
The ASUS Sabertooth P67 offers some overclocking options, listed below (1801 BIOS):
- CPU ratio: From x16 to x59 in x1 increments (for unlocked CPUs)
- CPU base clock: From 80 MHz to 300 MHz in increments of 0.1 MHz
- CPU core voltage: From 0.800 V to 1.990 V in increments of 0.005 V
- CPU VTT (VCCIO) voltage: From 0.80000 V to 1.70000 V in increments of 0.00625 V
- CPU system agent (VCCSA) voltage: From 0.80000 V to 1.70000 V in increments of 0.00625 V
- CPU PLL voltage: From 1.20000 V to 2.20000 V in increments of 0.00625 V
- Chipset (PCH) voltage: From 1.05 V to 1.40 V in increments of 0.05 V
- Memory voltage: From 1.20000 V to 2.20000 V in increments of 0.00625 V
- Voltage regulator (VRM) clock: From 300 kHz to 500 kHz in increments of 10 kHz
For a better understanding of what these options do, please read our Understanding All Voltage Configurations from the Motherboard tutorial.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the ASUS Sabertooth P67 motherboard include:
- Socket: 1155
- Chipset: Intel P67 Express
- Super I/O: Nuvoton NCT6776F
- Parallel ATA: None
- Serial ATA: Four SATA-300 and two SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10), and two SATA-600 ports controlled by a Marvell 88SE9120 chip
- External SATA: Two eSATA-300 ports controlled by a JMicron JMB362 chip
- USB 2.0: 12 USB 2.0 ports, six soldered on the motherboard rear panel and six available through three headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: Four ports, two soldered on the motherboard rear panel and two available through one header on the motherboard, controlled by two NEC (Renesas) µPD720200 chips
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): Two ports, one available on the rear panel and available through a header on the motherboard, controlled by a VIA VT6308P chip
- On-board video: No
- On-board audio: Produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC892 codec (eight channels, 24-bit resolution, up to 192 KHz sampling rate for both the inputs and outputs, 90 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the inputs and 97 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the outputs), on-board optical SPDIF connector
- On-board LAN: One Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by the chipset and using an Intel WG82579V chip for the physical layer interface
- Buzzer: No
- Infrared interface: Yes
- Power supply required: EPS12V
- Slots: Two PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (x16/x0 or x8/x8, supporting SLI and CrossFireX), three PCI Express x1 slots, and one standard PCI slots (ASMedia ASM1083 bridge chip)
- Memory: Four DDR3-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-1866, 32 G
- Fan connectors: One four-pin connector for the CPU cooler, one four-pin connector for an auxiliary fan, and three three-pin connectors for auxiliary fans
- Extra Features: POST diagnostics LEDs, “MemOk!” button, legacy serial port, thermal cover
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: One
- Programs included: Motherboard utilities
- More Information: https://usa.asus.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 200.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this First Look article.[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
The ASUS Sabertooth P67 is clearly targeted to the user concerned with quality and reliability. If you want to build a system that will last years without giving you trouble, this is a motherboard to consider.
Additionally, if you are concerned with heat, the Sabertooth P67 provides a thermal cover that avoids hot air coming from the CPU cooler and the video cards to heat the motherboard components, you can add a small 50 mm fan to cool them down, and the motherboard can adjust the speed of the fans connected to the board depending on the temperature of key components.
The features available, such as four SATA-600 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, two PCI Express x16 slots, two eSATA-300 ports, two FireWire ports, and on-board SPDIF output, will satisfy the demanding user. It is important, however, to understand that the Sabertooth P67 is not a “true” high-end model. Extreme enthusiasts will require more overclocking options, more PCI Express x16 slots, and a better audio codec, just to name a few of the features that are “missing.”