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Appeared on: Monday, September 05, 2011
Asus SaberTooth P67 B3 review


1. Features

Today we are testing a product that has been available on the market for quite some time now. Asus' Sabertooth P67 B3 motherboard is based on the Intel P67 chipset and promises to offer higher performance than competitive offerings as well as some unique features.

Sabertooth is part of Asus' TUF series of products, which deliver a "tough" image. The motherboard has a unique design and it is based on military-standard components designed to offer stability durability and, all-round compatibility.

A quick glance is enough to understand why that this Sabertooth stands out: the TUF Thermal Armor. This is an air duct covering all of the most important components of the board which provides air circulation while blocking external heat from video cards. In addition to thermal armor, the Sabertooth has what ASUS calls “TUF Thermal Radar”. This feature uses a total of 12 onboard sensors to give users a clear picture of the entire board’s thermal status.

"TUF Engine" DIGI+VRM 8+2 power design, ESP technology and military-standard components are some of the key components of this motherboard.

Based on the latest Intel P67 Express Chipset, this motherboard is ready to host the second generation Intel Core i7/Core i5/Core i3 processors.

- Features

The features of the Asus Sabertooth P67 B3 model are explained in detail at Asus' homepage. Below we have listed the most important of them:

TUF Thermal Armor

Total Airflow-Boosting Heat Dissipation

The TUF Thermal Armor is a thermal design for the entire motherboard, not just for select critical areas. Asus has designed it in order to safeguard the system against hot air generated by connected cards and components, keeping temps down. With its sophisticated and agile integrated shunt design, the Thermal Armor improves cool air circulation, directing it towards every important part for a complete motherboard cool down. It conducts hot air away and out of the case through special airflow channels, contributing to enhanced system stability and extending component lifespan.

 

TUF Thermal Radar

Real Time Temp Detection and Heat Removal

The TUF Thermal Radar monitors temps in critical parts of the motherboard in real time, automatically adjusting fan speeds to make sure the system maintains high stability without overheating. It consists of multiple sensors for various components on the motherboard, giving users the ability to monitor each one individually. The Thermal Radar automatically calculates ideal fan speeds based on different parameters selected by users for each component, keeping everything cooler and longer lasting.

 

DIGI+ VRM

Herald the Arrival of a New Digital Power Design Era

The new ASUS DIGI+ VRM design upgrades motherboard power delivery to a digital standard. The 8+2 digital architecture provides the highest power efficiency, generating less heat to enhance longer component lifespan and ensure minimal power loss. With ASUS DIGI+ VRM, users can adjust power phase performance, enabling new PWM voltage and frequency modulation controls. Digital 8+2 power phase design also expands the modulation spectrum for improved stability and lower VRM switching noise by dynamically detecting system load, empowering users with flexibility and precision to ensure optimized performance, system stability, and greater power efficiency.

- Full Specifications

CPU
- Intel Socket 1155 for Intel 2nd Generation Core i7 Processor/Core i5 Processor/Core i3 Processor/
- Support Intel 32nm CPU
- Supports Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0

Chipset
- Intel P67 Express Chipset

Memory
- 4 x DIMM, Max. 32 GB, DDR3 1866/1800/1600/1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
- Dual Channel memory architecture
- Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)

Expansion Slots
- 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (single at x16 or dual at x8/x8 mode)
- 3 x PCIe 2.0 x1
- 1 x PCI

Multi-GPU Support
- Supports NVIDIA Quad-GPU SLI Technology
- Supports ATI Quad-GPU CrossFireX Technology

Storage
- Intel P67 Express Chipset
- 2 xSATA 6.0 Gb/s ports (brown)
- 4 xSATA 3Gb/s ports (black)
- Intel Rapid Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
- Marvell PCIe SATA 6Gb/s controller
- 2 xSATA 6Gb/s ports (gray)
- JMicron JMB362 SATA controller
- 1 xPower eSATA 3Gb/s port (green)
- 1 xExternal SATA 3Gb/s port (red)

LAN
- Intel 82579 Gigabit LAN- Dual interconnect between the Integrated LAN controller and Physical Layer (PHY)
Audio
- Realtek ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Absolute Pitch 192khz/24bit True BD Lossless Sound
- BD Audio Layer Content Protection
- Supports Jack-Detection, Multi-streaming, and Front Panel Jack-Retasking
- Optical S/PDIF out port at back I/O

IEEE 1394
- VIA VT6308P controller supports 2 x 1394a port(s) (one at mid-board; one at back panel)

USB
- NEC USB 3.0 controllers
- 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 ports at mid-board for front panel support; 2 ports at back panel [blue])
- Intel® P67 Express Chipset
- 14 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 8 ports at back panel)

TUF Features

"Ultimate COOL!" Thermal Solution
- TUF Thermal Armor
- TUF Thermal Radar

"TUF ENGINE!" Power Design
- 8+2 Digital Phase Power Design
- TUF Components (Alloy choke, Cap. & MOSFET; certified by military-standard)
- ASUS DIGI+ VRM Utility
- E.S.P. : Efficient Switching Power Design

"Safe & Stable!" Guardian Angel
- ESD Guards
- MemOK!
- Anti Surge

Other Special Features
- Front Panel USB 3.0 Support
- ASUS EFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
- AI Suite II
- ASUS Q-Connector
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS MyLogo 2
- Multi-language BIOS

Internal I/O Connectors
- 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 connector(s) supports additional 2 USB ports (19-pin; moss green)
- 3 x USB 2.0/1.1 connector(s) support additional 6 USB ports
- 1 x MemOK! button
- 4 x SATA 6.0Gb/s connectors ( 2 x gray; 2 x brown)
- 4 x SATA 3.0Gb/s (black)
- 1 x IEEE 1394a connector
- 1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4-pin)
- 2 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (1 x 4-pin; 1 x 3-pin)
- 1 x Power Fan connector(s) (3-pin)
- 1 x Assistant Fan connector (3-pin)
- 1 x S/PDIF Out connector
- 24-pin EATX Power connector
- 8-pin EATX 12V Power connector
- 1 x Front panel audio connector
- 1 x COM connector
- 1 x System Panel (Q-Connector)
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper


2. A closer look

The Asus Sabertooth retails for €170~190 (including VAT), which is a very good price for a ne motherboard packed with so many features.

The retail package should be e familiar to anyone who has seen an Asus X58 motherboard. It really very classy with the gun-metal cover and gold lettering. Basic information such as the model and new P67 revision B3 chipset onboard is also provided:

Into the box there are the following accessories:

- User's manual
- 2 x SATA 3.0Gb/s cables
- 2 x SATA 6.0Gb/s cables
- 1 x Q-Shield
- 1 x Q-Connecor (2 in 1)
- 1 x ASUS SLI bridge cable
- 1 x TUF Certification card
- 1 x TUF 5 Year Warranty manual (by region)
- 4 x screws for Assistant Fan
- 1x CD with drivers

The Sabertooth P67 includes the basic accessories. Although there is an SLI bridge, there is not any CrossFireX bridge - possibly because this generally comes with an AMD video card. In addition, although the motherboard has a spot to attach a 50mm fan, ASUS doesn't include this fan into the bundle although there are the screws necessary to hold one in place. One other item that seems to be missing from the accessory bundle is a USB 3.0 bracket.

Looking at the motherboard, you'll immediately notice the TUF Thermal Armor, which according to Asus, improves cool air overall circulation and therefore overall temperatures. The TUF thermal armor is made out of hard plastic. The only openings are at the CPU socket, memory slots, chipset cooler, PCI/PCIE slots, and connectors such as power and SATA.We are not sure whether large CPU coolers would easily fit into the uncovered CPU area with the TUF Thermal Armor installed. In case you are facing such an issue, you may completely remove the TUF Thermal Armor. It is mounted on the motherboard with screws accessible at the opposite side of it.

The components surrounding the CPU socket are covered on the ASUS Sabertooth P67 by aluminum heatsinks. Under the heatsinks, the Sabertooth P67 settles for eight (vCore) DIGI+ VRM phases plus two (vDRAM/QPI). ASUS uses solid state capacitors with a solid organic polymer.

A heatsink covers the chokes and MOSFETS and the heatsink on the right sits behind the chokes and covers the DIGI+ VRM area. The two heatsinks are connected via heatpipe. Below you see the military-grade mosfets with the 8+2 phase power design:

The Sabertooth supports adding an extra 50x50mm fan in order to keep temperature even lower, but it's too bad no fan is included to the package.for even lower temperatures, too bad its not included.

Moving down to the bottom right corner we come to the four memory slots, which support of up to 2133MHz DDR3 with XMP profile. There is also the MemOK! Button, which allows you to test the installed memory and in case of excessive memory OC or wrong settings, you may easily reset it for an easy boot process.

Moving left we pass the 24 pin power connector and come to a USB 3.0 header. If you have a case that has USB 3.0 support for the front panel you can use this connector or you can purchase a panel to fit in the rear of the case. ASUS did not provide this with the Sabertooth. The NEC D720200F1 chip nearby is the USB 3.0 extended host controller for the USB 3.0 header.

Round the back we have all the connections we'd expect with a dual-purpose PS2 port, USB headers, firewire, e-SATA:

- 1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Combo port
- 1 x External SATA 3Gb/s port (red)
- 1 x Power eSATA 3Gb/s port (green)
- 1 x IEEE 1394a
- 1 x LAN(RJ45) port(s)
- 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (blue)
- 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
- 1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
- 8 -Channel Audio I/O

The Sabertooth P67 supports 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (single at x16 or dual at x8/x8 mode), 3 x PCIe 2.0 x1 and 1x PCI port. Although these ports are closely positioned to each other, but we don't see any problems with either SLI or Crossfire setups:

There also many SATA ports driven by the the Intel P67 Express Chipset (2 xSATA 6.0 Gb/s ports (brown), 4 xSATA 3Gb/s ports (black) and the Marvell PCIe SATA 6Gb/s controller (2 xSATA 6Gb/s ports (gray). There is also an JMicron JMB362 SATA controller that powers the Power eSATA 3Gb/s port (green) and the External SATA 3Gb/s port (red):

In addition there are several other internal I/O ports such as an connectors and USB2.0/3.0 headers:

- 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 connector(s) supports additional 2 USB ports (19-pin; moss green)
- 3 x USB 2.0/1.1 connector(s) support additional 6 USB ports
- 1 x MemOK! button
- 4 x SATA 6.0Gb/s connectors ( 2 x gray; 2 x brown)
- 4 x SATA 3.0Gb/s (black)
- 1 x IEEE 1394a connector
- 1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4-pin)
- 2 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (1 x 4-pin; 1 x 3-pin)
- 1 x Power Fan connector(s) (3-pin)
- 1 x Assistant Fan connector (3-pin)
- 1 x S/PDIF Out connector
- 24-pin EATX Power connector
- 8-pin EATX 12V Power connector
- 1 x Front panel audio connector
- 1 x COM connector
- 1 x System Panel (Q-Connector)
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper

 

What we missed here were the power and reset switch on the board, found on other Asus boards.


3. The uEFI BIOS

The Asus Sabertooth P67 supports the latest in BIOS technology: the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) interface. UEFI is a user-friendly interface that goes beyond traditional keyboard-only BIOS controls to enable mouse input. UEFI also features capabilities such as support for boot drives above 2.2TB and the potential for faster boot times.

uEFI is an interface. It can be implemented on top of a traditional BIOS or on top of non-BIOS implementations.

The UEFI BIOS can be used under the EZ Mode and Advanced Mode. You can change modes from the Exit menu or from the Exit/Advanced Mode button in the EZ Mode/Advanced Mode screen. By default, the EZ Mode screen appears when you enter the BIOS setup program and provides an overview of the basic system information, and allows you to select the display language, system performance mode and boot device priority.

The Advanced Mode provides more advanced options for experienced end-users to configure the BIOS settings.

The Ai Tweaker page is the interesting one in case you plan on overclocking your system. Here you can configure overclocking-related items such as clock speeds and voltages. Other items like DRAM configurations, Load Line Calibration, VRM Frequency and Phase Control are also found within the first part of Ai Tweaker.

Further down the page, you will find voltages such as CPU voltage, memory voltage, VCCIO voltage, PLL voltage and PCH voltage. CPU voltage has two modes, manual mode in which you set an exact vCore and offset mode in which you set a CPU offset voltage. VCCIO voltage helps to improve the overclocking capability of the IMC / DRAM. The other voltages can be left on auto.

The last submenu page of the Ai Tweaker is DRAM Timing Control. Here is where you set main and subtimings for your memory.

The first submenu of the Advanced menu is CPU Configuration. The items in this menu show the CPU-related information that the BIOS automatically detects as well as several adjustable items. CPU Ratio allows you to set the ratio between the CPU Core Clock and the BCLK Frequency. Intel Adaptive Thermal Monitor allows an overheated CPU to throttle its clock speed to cool down.

Active Processor Cores allows you to choose the number of CPU cores to activate. In most cases this will be kept to the All setting. Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology allows you to enable or disable the Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST). Disable this to stop your multiplier from dropping when the CPU is idle. The Turbo Mode setting appears only when you set the EIST item to Enabled and allows you to enable or disable the Intel Turbo Mode Technology.

The SATA Configuration page allows you to set up SATA devices. SATA Mode allows you to set the SATA configuration and has IDE, AHCI, and RAID modes. S.M.A.R.T. Status Check (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a monitoring system that allows the hard disk to report warning messages during the POST if any read/write errors occur.

The Monitor section contains the system temperature/power status, and adjustable fan settings.

The Tools menu contains EZ Flash 2, OC Profiles, and SPD Information for your memory. The Sabertooth BIOS OC Profiles page allows you to save various BIOS profiles which save a ton of time when overclocking.

The following video gives a quick overview of the uEFI bios options/features for the Asus Sabertooth P67 board. Asus has done a great job here and most of the features/options on the new BIOS interface are easy to understand and use:

 

- ASUS AI Suite II & Thermal Radar

The Asus AI Suite II bundled with the board is an interesting utility that monitors the condition of the motherboard in real time. Using 12 sensors situated around the motherboard in strategic places, the utility monitors crucial component temperatures and it provides fan speed and voltage information:

Another utility is the Asus DIGI+VRM, which gives you the management over the Phase Control above other elements. It allows you to play with the motherboard's settings and experiment with operation profiles based on energy efficiency or performance.

Of course the same options can be also set through the pages of the Asus uEFI bios .

The ASUS DIGI+ VRM design upgrades motherboard power delivery. The 8+2 digital architecture provides power efficiency, generating less heat to enhance longer component lifespan. With ASUS DIGI+ VRM, you can adjust power phase performance, enabling new PWM voltage and frequency modulation controls.

Generally, these settings are great to spend some time playing with them. However, advanced users and overclockers will prefer having greater control over their board by changing critical parameters such as voltages through the uEFI BIOS.


4. Tests

Test setup:

- Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth P67 with 1850 motherboard
- CPU: Intel i5-2500K retail
- CPU Cooler: Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Extreme
- Memory: Crucial Ballistix DDR3 PC3-17000 (BL2KIT25664FN2139)
- VGA: Gigabyte GT-430
- HDD: WD 5001ALLS (500GB, 7200rpm Black Scorpio series)
- OS: Windows 7 x64 SP1 with all the latest updates installed
- VGA driver: Nvidia 275.33 x64 drivers

Our Asus Sabertooth motherboard had the 1850 BIOS installed. After installing the Intel i5-2500K processor under the Auto mode (BIOS), the Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST) kicked in, ready to offer CPU cores running from from 1.60GHz up to 3.51GHz, by controlling multiplier:

The memory was locked at DDR3-1333 and some manual configuration was needed in order to get the DDR3-2133 speed:

In order to do this, go to the uEFI's Advanced area and select the XMP mode to the "Overclock" page. The motherboard will read - provided that your memory supports it - the XMP settings and adjust memory's timing accordingly. In our case, the memory was set to 2133MHz and the CPU at 3.70GHz (automatically):

We ran a series of tests with the CPU core set to 1.6 ~3.5GHZ, 3.7GHz and finally after overclocking the CPU (see next page) at 4.8GHz. Here are the results:

 
PCMark 7
CineBench R11.5
Sandra Memory
Intel i5-2500k @ 1.6~3.5GHz with DDR3-1333
Intel i5-2500k @ 3.7GHz with DDR3-2133
Intel i5-2500K @ 4.8GHz with DDR3-2133

Without messing up with the Bios settings, we got 3272 points from PC Mark 7 at 3.7GHz, a significant improvement over the results we got with the CPU running at default speeds (3128 points). At the same time, we got an impressive memory boost from 16.80MB/sec to 27.72MB/sec.

Overclocking the processor at 4,8GHz further boosted the PC Mark 7 performance to 3621 points while the CineBench R11.5 result was also increased to 7.59pts over the previous 5.90pts. At the same time, the memory performance was not dramatically affected.


5. Overclocking

In order overclock an advanced motherboard such as the Asus SaberTooth P67 B3, you should boost the clocks of both the memory and CPU cores. The OC Tuner utility is found in the UEFI BIOS and all you have to do is click ‘ok’ and the system reboots with an auto overclock applied. The Asus Sabertooth is able to automatically overclock an Intel i5-2500K CPU under the "Auto" mode to 3.7GHz.

However, advanced can get even higher speeds from their motherboard. This can be achieved through the appropriate adjustments to the BIOS settings. Before starting, it is advised to read this page, in which a member of ASUS technical marketing team explains the various BIOS options and how you can easily and safely perform some serious overclock.

Getting to the point and with the Intel i5-2500K processor, overclocking is highly depended on many different variables and it is not always 100% guaranteed for all the processors currently sold at the market. This means that you should not expect exactly the same overclocking figures with all the CPUs. For sure, we can safely say that an Intel i5-2500K processor will easily reach the 4.5GHz without any problems.

So below you see the settings for getting an Intel i5-2500K CPU overclocked on an Asus SaberTooth P67 B3 board:

- 4.7GHz and below

- 4.8GHz and above


(Click to expand)

Note that with at such high CPU speeds, you may need to install a big heatsink on the CPU.


6. Final words

The Asus Sabertooth P67 B3 is a great example of what engineers can do when pairing a very good chipset, high-quality components and the new uEFI bios.

First of all, its appearance is quite unique. The idea behind the completely shrouded motherboard is that it will keep heat coming off the components from heating up the rest of the motherboard. Although it seems like it might have some actual value, in reality, it's more about and for looks. In addition, you may find it hard to fit a large heatsink on your CPU since the uncovered nearby area may be limiting.

But besides looks the Sabertooth P67 is also using military-grade components such as alloy chokes, solid capacitors, and MOSFETs, ensuring smooth operation and longevity.

The UEFI. interpretation of on the BIOS is so much easier to use than a BIOS that it's. It's so easy to tune your hardware and profile settings and even to overclock.

The ASUS MemOK! button is another functional feature ASUS adds to the Sabertooth P67, helping to minimize the memory incompatibility boot problems. The DIGI+ VRM made overvolting a charm by eliminating the +/- error factor and thereby increasing component lifespan. Also, the control given to the user within Windows through the AI Suite II software is great.

Overclocking on the Sabertooth was easy . Clicking OC Tuner in the BIOS gave a great overclock and even allowed for a significant memory speed increase as well. For manual overclocking, achieving stability at 4.8GHz was painless and the system was rock solid over many hours of testing.

During our tests, the Asus Sabertooth P67 performed very well the overall feeling was great. When paired with a fast memory and an SSD and you got yourself a great PC platform.

Listing some welcome additions for the Sabertooth P67, we could say that there is not a Bluetooth 2.1 receiver, we would like to see some additional PCI-Express lanes for CrossfireX or SLI modes, since some lanes available on the P67Express chipset are taken up by the USB 3.0 ports and the third-party controllers. In addition, we would like to see Power and reset buttons on the board as well as a 50mm fan for even better cooling as well as a USB 3.0 bracket bundled with the board.

The Sabertooth is priced around €170~190 which makes it a few dollars more than several P67 boards. Considering the many extras, the Sabertooth may have the advantage in power delivery due to the TUF VRM components so it worth's the extra cash.

 

Positive

Negative



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