Among the manufacturers that have released Sandy Bridge motherboards so far, ASUS is probably one of the more enthusiastic ones. We counted eight models in its P8P67 series, ranging from mATX to full ATX. And we haven't even started on its Republic of Gamers or TUF series yet. Or its H67 motherboards. The board we were recommended for this mainstream roundup, the ASUS P8P67 (without any suffixes) is the basic P67 ATX model from the vendor.
Even then, it's not exactly short of features, as besides the standard ones inherited from the P67 chipset, we found extra controllers that give more USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps ports. There are also the numerous ASUS proprietary features like its MemOK, EPU, TPU and a host of other acronyms that may or may not be useful. There's also support for a CrossFireX setup, though not for NVIDIA's SLI. However, with the minimal four PCIe lanes of bandwidth (and it's shared among other onboard devices like the second USB controller) for that second PCIe x16 slot, we don't think ASUS is expecting its buyers to have dual graphics cards.
As you can expect from a top tier vendor like ASUS, the components are among the best quality and with the new P8P67 series, ASUS is going with a digital power delivery design. With 12 power phases, it's more than most users will ever need, though the best part is that most of the work is done automatically if you're not the overclocking type. The new feature for this series is the integration of a Bluetooth wireless module, so that users can connect to the PC using a Bluetooth device. You'll need to install the application before it can be used as intended, though personally, we aren't big fans of this extra.
Layout-wise, we encountered nothing that flagged our attention. There's plenty of PCB space and the PCIe graphics slots are spaced accordingly to support dual-slot graphics cards. The SATA ports too are aligned properly and located at the edge of the board and are unlikely to conflict with any cables or other expansion cards. The same can be said of board headers e.g. the USB headers or the front panel headers. There are no onboard power and reset buttons if you're wondering.
With a listed price of around US$155 (online retailers), the ASUS P8P67 is actually very competitively priced. The local retail price of S$279 unfortunately is less attractive, but given the prices quoted for its direct competitors, we weren't surprised that ASUS is able to get away with that price tag. For the features that we have seen so far, this ASUS P8P67 board is not a bad deal.
ASUS has an EFI BIOS for its new P67 boards and from what we have seen, it's setting a high standard. The addition of mouse support has made it more convenient and user-friendly, but we were more pleased with how responsive the interface was. A reason could be that ASUS did not go overboard with the fancy icons and animations. There's also an auto-overclocking tool included, besides the usual BIOS flashing utility and of course, it was rather straightforward to increase the multipliers with our unlocked Core i7-2600K processor. One feature that didn't make the cut is ASUS' Linux-based, quick boot interface, ExpressGate. Perhaps ASUS feels the new generation hardware should boot systems fast enough to not warrant including this facility any longer.