In the world of motherboards and manufacturer competition, the idea is to beat your competitor. To develop the product, with more features, more fancy gadgets, and perform better than your competitor at every price point. Today, we pit arguably the two most popular motherboard vendors at a price point that will see a significant number of sales from consumers and enthusiasts alike – the ASUS P8P67 Pro and the Gigabyte P67A-UD4, which were both released during the Sandy Bridge week for $190. Forget all the marketing fluff; this is a showdown!

When a new platform is released, a myriad of motherboards hit the shelves at the same time. Each vendor will usually come out with a few products, targeting their prospective markets. Big motherboard players, like ASUS and Gigabyte, will release motherboards ranging from the cheap low end, to that high-end halo product. They will bombard you with data, ideas, concepts, and reasons why their high-end products are better than their low end – in terms of numbers, features, or what is in the box. Whether you can really trust what each manufacturer says on the box depends on the interpretations of the benchmarks and analyses by review sites like AnandTech.

At the time of writing, Newegg has 56 Sandy Bridge motherboards available – 22 for H67 and 34 for P67. Of those in the P67 range, you can pick up an Intel motherboard for as little as $115, or an ASUS as expensive as $320. So what makes that expensive motherboard worth almost three times as much as the low-end board? What makes a $200 board better than a $150 board? Features? Warranty? Overclockability? Price? All of these points, while valid, carry different weight with every different consumer.

I reviewed the ASRock P67 Extreme4 at the Sandy Bridge release, and they offered a great product that is available online for $153. Today, we have two boards released at $190 by two of the biggest motherboard manufacturers – the ASUS P8P67 Pro, and the Gigabyte P67A-UD4. Firstly, the question is: if you had $190, which one would you buy? Then secondly, we have to ask: are these boards worth the ~$40 difference to the P67 Extreme4? Luckily, at least in my opinion, after using all three of the boards, the answers to both of these questions were self-evident.

Firstly, let us tackle the ASUS P8P67 Pro.

ASUS P8P67 Pro: Visual Inspection
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  • IanCutress - Thursday, January 20, 2011 - link

    Long term usability isn't something that's easily tested. Sleep and hibernate is simple to test, but leaving the board on for a week? We unfortunately a) do not have enough hardware to keep the mu;tiples of same test bed and test other products at the same time, and b) if something did go wrong after a long sleep state, how long it would take to get in a different BIOS and re-run the test, or if a new BIOS had been released during the test, the test would have to be restarted. It's not a case of this being ignored by review sites, it's just not an applicable use of time, effort, and sustainability. If this is a major concern to you, then I'd suggest holding back until the next revisions of these boards hit the shelves - by that point, issues would be worked out and there would be a plethora of threads on the vendor's website describing various long term usability issues. There are always niche situations which could be looked at in more detail, and if you're up to the task, join a review website or start your own to tackle these issues specifically.

  • strikeback03 - Friday, January 21, 2011 - link

    Not to say your experiences are isolated (as I have an ASUS board that doesn't like one peripheral when resuming from sleep) but Gigabyte boards can have problems as well. I built a system for work using a P45 Gigabyte board that cannot run for more than 4 days, it just locks up after that.
  • scott967a - Thursday, January 20, 2011 - link

    Could you throw an MSI board into the mix?
  • VahnTitrio - Thursday, January 20, 2011 - link

    I had to order that ASUS board with basically no reviews available. Looks like I made a solid choice, as I got it for $165. I'm hoping it's waiting for me when I get home from work.
  • landerf - Thursday, January 20, 2011 - link

    Does anyone have a break down of what usb/sata controllers each asus model uses?
  • ValueDriven - Thursday, January 20, 2011 - link

    Thank you for this article. For me very timely w.r.t. general sandy bridge and ASUS specifically.

    I recently grabbed an i5-2500K at Microcenter for $192 after-tax, and bundled with an ASUS P8P67 (not PRO, Crossfire only) for another $127 after-tax. For a total of $320. Now all I need is some DDR3 memory and I'll have the missing components for my new build (non-gamer). So for about $375-$400, I'll have for once the basis of a mid-level enthusiast build with the latest technology and over-clockable in the high 4-5GHz range. (I usually trail the technology, letting it "depreciate." Hence, ValueDriven.)

    I've had mixed results, but generally good, with ASUS boards. Long ago I had an ASUS P2B-F (i486 I think, PENTIUM III - 750MHz) which seemed pretty good and lasted a long long time.

    Next I had an ASUS A7N8X Deluxe (AMD Athlon) board which was OK, although it did finally fail. I only hated it relative to the ABIT NF-7S board I got for a 2nd setup which oc'd a lot better, taking my Athlon from a native 1460MHz up to about 2220MHz..

    Most recently I have an ASUS P5 Deluxe WiFi-AP (with a Core2 Quad 6600) which I got on clearance when CompUSA folded (to become kids 'puter). I really can't complain about this board. In fact, it has been great. The only thing it hasn't done is oc my Q6600 as high as I'd like, but I believe this is the fault of my TUNIQ Tower120 which has a crappy mount (press fit screw retainer heads popped off during installation - requiring torch & hammer repair). If I keep this Q6600 setup, I'll probably install a new heatsink...maybe a SCYTHE Mugen 2 w/ double fans which is sitting in the closet. But then I need to get a cooler for the i5-2500k! :(

    The only GIGABYTE board I have, a GA-EP45-UD3R, I have never used. I bought it and an INTEL Q9550 for a new build which I'm probably going to skip & resell the parts. But I did buy it b/c I had heard good things about this board. (Mugen was originally for this setup.)

    SO for me the real question is: Is it better to keep the Sandy Bridge setup & part out either my unused Q9550 setup or my used Q6600 setup, OR is it better to return the Sandy Bridge and just build my Q9950? The jury is still out!
  • darckhart - Thursday, January 20, 2011 - link

    It's not really value driven if you don't use the parts you buy... it's just a loss. that continues to depreciate.

    wrt your situation, move forward with the sandy bridge since you have it already. at 4.5+ GHz, and new board features like usb3 etc, it's already loads better than a q9550 oc and p45 chipset.
  • strikeback03 - Friday, January 21, 2011 - link

    I'd have to check, but I believe that is the same processor and motherboard I referenced above. In which case I couldn't recommend it unless you naturally shut the computer down daily or similar. We have it set up next to a stock-clock Q6600/P35 system and the student using them says the Q9550 feels faster, that said if overclocking you probably won't be able to tell much of a difference and the newer parts would probably get you more money back. the i5 is going to be a lot faster.
  • DaveSimmons - Thursday, January 20, 2011 - link

    Do any of the three support Dolby Digital Live real-time encoding of game audio as 5.1 for the optical digital port?

    I'm using analog outs for my socket775 system but may be switching to optical digital for my next build.
  • ajp_anton - Thursday, January 20, 2011 - link

    You should've benchmarked the LAN connection. Is there any difference between Intel and Realtek?

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