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First Look: Asus P67 ‘Sandy Bridge’ line-up

Having completed its worldwide series of Technical Seminars of which I was privileged to be a part of, Asus has lifted its NDA so we can share some of its new technologies that it has implemented in its upcoming P67 series motherboards with you guys. The new motherboards will only be available next year once Intel officially announces its next generation chipset, but till then, we can take a close look at the new features Asus have been working on for the P67 chipset.

Asus had its full line-up of motherboard from different segments like HTPC, mainstream and high-end based on Intel’s next generation chipset, right from full-ATX motherboards to m-ATX to even a mini-ITX board which was very interesting to see. Before we get to the motherboards themselves, let’s take a look at some of the new features that Asus has implemented on all these boards and will be standard on the new chipset.

Dual Intelligent Processors 2

The new P67 based motherboards will feature second generation Dual Intelligent Processors 2 which include two physical microprocessors each dedicated for system stability and low energy conservation while the other handles the overclocking aspect.
Unlike previous offerings, Asus is ditching the analog power regulation design and switching over to digital. The DIGI+ VRM or Digital VRM is a basically a programmable micro-processor that can match multiple PWM signals without  more accurately than before thereby giving you lower power loss. This, in turn, should give the system a lot more stability, higher power efficiency and a better O.C capability. The new DIGI+ VRM also packs in a temperature sensor to give you real time VRM temperature. The EPU makes its return with an easy-to-use U.I that lets you choose which components should be underclocked depending on the different states of the system. 

The second micro-processor is the TPU which gives you a complete control on overclocking or if you want, it can do everything automatically provided you program it correctly. All of this is achieved from a very easy-to-use U.I. There’s now an onboard switch on the motherboard itself which will come in handy for enthusiasts and overclockers as well as a very simple U.I that can boot the system performance with a single click through TurboV Evo. 

Other Asus Exclusive Features

BT GO!

The first new feature is an integrated Bluetooth module on the motherboard itself which means there’s no need for any external dongle. Some of the things you can do with this include sharing files and syncing folders between your desktop and laptop or even from your smartphone. There will be an app for all smartphones like iPhone, Android, Symbian and Windows for remotely controlling the PC, overclocking, etc.

EFI BIOS 
 

The new P67 based motherboards will have a new EFI BIOS with a spruced up graphical interface so say goodbye to those bright blue screens we are so used to seeing. The BIOS will also have support for mouse gestures, a long lost feature which had surfaced few years back and then vanished without a trace. 

USB 3.0 Front Panel

In certain motherboard models, Asus will be bundling along a front USB 3.0 panel for added convenience. The motherboard will feature a special connector into which this panel will be plugged into so I doubt it would be usable on any other board.

AI SUITE II

Finally, we have the AI SUITE II which gives you a central access point to all the Asus utilities through a single unified interface. Just like the others, the AI SUITE will also come with a redesigned skin and newer user interface.

To see if all these features actually do what they say, we’ll have to test them out ourselves and for that, we’ll have to be a little patient till Intel rolls out SandyBridge early next year. Next, let’s have a look at the goods themselves.

Asus Maximus IV Extreme

Starting off with the most attractive looking motherboard from the bunch we have the Maximus IV Extreme. It packs in all the new features we talked about before along with some ROG exclusive features like ROG Connect, ROG iDirect, etc. The new Maximus also features an entirely new heatsink design for the VRM area. Asus have maintained the visual appeal of the heatsink which created quite a buzz in the previous offerings as well.

P8P67/Deluxe and P8P67-M Evo

 

Next on the list was the mainstream motherboards v.i.z the P8P67 and the P8P67-M Evo. These budget boards pack in the same features stated above and what’s interesting to see is the P8P67-M Evo which is a m-ATX board but still manages to include CrossFire support. Along with that, we have a wealth of rear ports. The H67 series signifies video out ports like VGA, DVI HDMI and DP.


P8H67-I Deluxe 

This was probably the most interesting motherboard out of the lot as it packs in almost everything you could want for a HTPC. It’s got a dual Wi-Fi antennae ports, x16 PCIE slot, four SATA ports, etc. We aren’t sure if this will make its way to our shores so it was really nice to see it first hand.

SABERTOOTH P67

Finally, towards the end of the seminar, Asus unveiled their next generation SABERTOOTH P67 motherboard with a radically new design compared to the previous generations. This belongs to the new “TUF” series which signifies the ultimate durability and stability in the most extreme conditions. Targeted towards small companies, home servers, graphic designers, etc, it features Alloy chokes, solid capacitors and MOSFETs. Along with that, you get DIGI+ VRM, extra SATA 6Gb/s ports, CrossFireX and SLI support and the most unique feature that defines this board, a TUF Tactical vest which is a plastic shell over the entire motherboard with grooves on the inside to channel airflow across all the components soldered onto the board. The SABERTOOTH P67 is dressed in military attire to go with the whole military grade theme. This is certainly an interesting concept but we would like to test it out for ourselves before we give out any conclusions.

All these boards won’t see the light of store shelves till early next year whenever Intel plans on making SandBridge official. Till then, manufacturers will start flaunting their new motherboards and many unique features to help them stand out from the crowd. Asus seems to have its entire line-up already taped out with some interesting features tucked in and you can check back here for a detailed analysis on these boards come 2011. 

Source: techtree.com

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