Lab Update: Many-a-P55 Motherboard

September 23, 2009 | 10:56

Tags: #lynnfield #mobo #motherboard #p55

Companies: #intel

I wouldn't be understating the situation when I say we've got a lot of P55 boards to get through: three Asus (P7P55D Deluxe, Vanilla and Maximus III Formula), two Gigabyte (UD5 and mATX UD4), three MSI (GD80, GD65 and CD53), ECS (something-or-other) and requests for more.

As it stands we've already reviewed the P7P55D Deluxe and found it just too expensive to justify a purchase. That's not Asus' fault, but Intel and Foxconn for making the platform cost just prohibitively expensive. To be honest, in the time we've already spent with the Gigabyte UD5 we highly suspect it to end up the same way.

In fact, we'd have had a full UD5 review already but someone got cake in the CPU socket. I kid you not.

Despite suffering assault via a Victoria sponge (we suspect, on evaluating the evidence), the board still worked and overclocked very well, even though six socket pins were damaged. The memory capacity constantly flicked between single 2GB and dual channel 4GB, so it took us all day to pin-point the problem with inconsistent results.

The plus side of all this is that we can conclude Intel's Lynnfield CPU and socket design is remarkably resilient to damage. And dessert. The downside is that it makes our job harder to work out what the hell is going on!
[break]
Anyway.

The MSI GD65, at £130, isn't that cheap and it's got some glaring oversights but overall we found it pretty good. Can't really complain about that, although the GD80, at P7P55D Deluxe prices, is certainly a niche market.

The Gigabyte UD4 micro ATX surprised us by actually being the most overclockable so far! We achieved a benchmarkable 202MHz base clock and 4.24GHz, with a memory clock at 2.02GHz CL8. I've yet to push the boundaries of base clock and memory separately though, so we'll see how that goes in the next week or so. Unfortunately, instead of retailing at the palatable £110 we were advised of before P55 launched, it appears closer to £130 in the stops.

Half a board for £120? When an MSI X58 micro ATX retails for £125 that's a difficult argument, and one MSI and a Core i7 920 will probably win. The Gigabyte needs to be closer to £100 to make it far more compelling, however, Gigabyte does have UD3 and UD2 P55s so there are budget options out there. The problem is, it's often not huge differences between the "4", "3" or "2" to justify the price.

The most promising boards for partnering with a Core i5-750 we currently have in are the MSI P55 CD53 and Asus P7P55D; both of which retail for around £100-£110. My money is on the Asus at this point because it has more powerful hardware (the MSI has a basic 4+1 phase), SLI and CrossFire support (the MSI only has a single x16 slot) and a BIOS similar to it's Deluxe brother. Oh, and I've just nailed 200MHz base clock on it this afternoon - we'll see if that's benchmark stable later.

Obviously, until they've been through our battery of tests, final conclusions are pending.

In the future we'll have DFI boards (who have already approached us) and hopefully other partners like EVGA too, because we know you've been asking for one. We won't be covering ECS any time soon though, as they still don't retail in the UK.

Typically, we're seeing our retail Core i5-750 capable of 4GHz easily, with a 200MHz base clock on the right board. The i7-870 will reach 4.4GHz at a push and with more recent BIOS'. It's still an overpriced bag of arse though. We think across the board the BIOS' will mature a little to improve stability at higher clocks, but we'll not see much more than this in terms of MHz. Personally, I'm waiting for waterblocks (and TECs) to arrive to really push the i5s.

If you're not an Intel or P55 fan, we've got a couple new AMD 785Gs in, and even an Nvidia chipset for AMD with DDR3! Oh, and there are some new graphics cards too, apparently.

Who cares about those though?
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