ASRock Fatal1ty P67 Professional review
The gamer’s Sandy Bridge companion, with a bevy of features for a fairly reasonable price
Ready for the Sandy Bridge influx, ASRock has roped in the gamers’ favourite Fatal1ty brand for its high-end P67 motherboard. The LGA 1155 socket sits centre-stage on the brash red and black board, ready for the new generation of Core i3, i5 and i7 processors that are slowly washing into retail.
The chips themselves are impressive, but Intel’s P67 chipset shouldn’t be brushed over. It brings native support for SATA 6Gb/s, so third-party chips don’t have to be soldered onto the PCB, and DMI 2, which doubles the bandwidth available for communication between the processor and the rest of the system. It also allows manufacturers to finally do away with the ancient BIOS interface – more on that later. There’s still no USB 3 controller, though, and PCI slots are now handled by a separate component on the board itself.
The Fatal1ty P67 Professional has four DIMM sockets supporting a massive 32GB of dual-channel DDR3, and its ten SATA sockets include six that support SATA 6Gb/s. You’re able to run only one PCI-Express x16 slot at its full speed; with two graphics cards, both will run at x8 speed. The third PCI-Express x16 slot, meanwhile, runs at just x4, although pairs of PCI Express x1 and PCI sockets mean that upgrade options are plentiful.
The bottom of the board is packed, with a USB 3 header, four USB 2 connectors and a floppy disk header as well as the usual power, FireWire, audio and speaker plugs. Enthusiasts will appreciate the power and reset buttons and the two-character POST display, and there are plenty of fan connectors, too: three at the top of the board, one behind the backplate and two at the bottom edge, with two headers including PWM.
It’s necessarily cramped, but ASRock has kept things usable: a clear CMOS button makes up for the fact that the CMOS battery is slotted between expansion slots, and ASRock has included LGA 775 mounting holes alongside its LGA 1155 moorings if you’d like to use an older cooler. There are brackets in the box for extra USB 3 ports and a 2.5in SSD.
The most notable improvement is the new UEFI software, which replaces the traditional BIOS and finally supports a mouse. Boot options are given their own category, and overclocking is divided into simple and advanced menus to suit your level of experience. There isn’t much genuinely new in there, but the modern interface eases a lot of the old BIOS frustration.
Given what’s on offer, we expected the P67 Professional to cost a similar amount to an existing top-end X58 board, but it’s actually a reasonable £155 exc VAT. That’s still a hefty amount for a motherboard but it’s the price you pay for early adoption, and the power on offer from the new processors shouldn’t be underestimated. It might pay to wait until more P67 motherboards arrive before plumping for one, but this ASRock is an impressive start.
|Price ex VAT||£187|
|Price inc VAT||£224|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||4|
|Motherboard form factor||ATX|
|Motherboard integrated graphics||no|
|Processor/platform brand (manufacturer)||Intel|
|Processor socket||LGA 1155|
|Motherboard form factor||ATX|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel P67|
|Number of Ethernet adapters||2|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|CPU power connector type||8-pin|
|Main power connector||ATX 24-pin|
|Memory sockets total||4|
|Internal SATA connectors||6|
|Internal PATA connectors||1|
|Internal floppy connectors||1|
|Conventional PCI slots total||2|
|PCI-E x16 slots total||3|
|PCI-E x8 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x4 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x1 slots total||2|
|USB ports (downstream)||4|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||1|
|3.5mm audio jacks||6|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Extra port backplane bracket ports||2 USB 3|
Diagnostics and tweaking
|Motherboard onboard power switch?||yes|
|Motherboard onboard reset switch?||yes|
|SATA cables supplied||2|
|Molex to SATA adaters supplied||1|
|IDE cables supplied||1|
|Floppy cables supplied||1|