At the tail end of last year we received the ASUS Sabertooth X58 motherboard and it quickly wowed us with its combination of great looks, insane performance and cheap price. We consider it the best choice for an X58 motherboard once you take into account pricing and features. High praise indeed. So when the P67 version arrived on our doorstep you can imagine how excited we were.
Following the much publicised problem with the early P67 boards this is a B3 variant which includes the fixed SATA issue.
There is some stiff competition in the P67 sector of the marketplace with a plentiful supply of boards at the high-end and the middle ground, where this particular board slots in pricing terms, is awash with boards.
Does the P67A B3 Sabertooth live up to the incredible standards of its predecessor? There is only one way to find out.
A quick sojourn over to the ASUS website reveals the specifications for the Sabertooth.
|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(B3) 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(B3) 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(B3) Express Chipset
- 14 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 8 ports at back panel)
|Back Panel I/O Ports||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
|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
|BIOS||32 Mb Flash ROM , EFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3 |
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
A very fulsome specification indeed. The Sabertooth contains everything we'd expect to see from a modern motherboard and ASUS' normal additional feature-set.
Time to take a closer look.
The Sabertooth packaging will be familiar to anyone who read our X58 review. It really looks very classy with the gun-metal cover and gold lettering. As much as we are used to the red ROG style from ASUS it is lovely to see something different.
The front lifts up to give further information about the Sabertooth. Normally this would reveal a clear panel with the motherboard on view, but for the Sabertooth it's just more features.
Accessories are the fiarly standard set of SATA cables, front panel header etc. One thing that does stand out is the Certificate of Reliability that comes with the manuals. Just like the X58 version this P67 Sabertooth is all about longevity of components to make it 'TUF'.
And here it is. Covered with what ASUS call Thermal Armor. This is supposed to be designed to help move air to the important parts of the motherboard to ensure everything stays cool. One thing it absolutely does is look awesome. Normal motherboards, despite colour differences, are fairly identical to look at but the Sabertooth really is striking. Covering the board obviously gives us some thermal issues to overcome, but conversely it's moving the motherboard from something with various bits of plastic and silicon soldered on, into something that really cleans up the look of your rig.
We've all spent a long time in making our computers look as amazing as possible with lights, braided cabling and everything else that is part of modifying your PC, yet the motherboard sits there as a naked and jarring un-hidable thing as possible.
No longer. Now it's either well hidden with the black or you could take it off and change the colour to suit. ASUS, should they desire, could even go a little further and anodize the three green parts in a range of popular colours to match the various mods people make. Even an average performing board can be purchased if the colour scheme matches, so imagine a great looking one in the colour you desire. It would stand astride the marketplace like a Colossus. Send 10% royalties to...
Up Close Part 2
Looking closer at the Sabertooth you can see both how much better things look when covered, although without losing any functionality, but also how airflow is now more important because you haven't got the natural case throughflow to keep everything frosty.
If you use a tower cooler rather than a face-down one then ASUS recommend additional cooling to push air beneath the Thermal Armor or to fit a 40mm fan for the purpose which fits beneath the cover just below the CPU socket.
There is no doubt that the heatsinks are a work of art. They're so gorgeous and it's great to see ASUS have continued to use brown power connectors that match so well. Although the fan headers and COM port are still white as we pointed out in the X58 review. Perhaps the costings are too great. It's just a tiny issue as the Thermal Armor covers most sins and once you've stuck a fan in they match the fan connector just fine.
Everything is laid out in an easy-to-get-to fashion. So often we've found the 8pin CPU connector tucked away in a place you need fingers like pipe-cleaners to reach. A lot of thought has clearly gone into this.
Connectivity is covered by 4 SATA II ports and 4 SATA 3 ones. Alongside that is a USB3.0 header.
Round the back we have all the connections we'd expect with a dual-purpose PS2 port, plentiful USB headers, firewire, e-SATA and the rest.
One small thing is the placement of the sticker over the RAM slots. We've always disliked companies continuing to sell you a product after you've brought it, and this sticker here can be put in that category. Ordinarily this would be a minor issue, but it's vital if manufacturers do want to put sticky things in places you need that the sticker is of the very finest quality, otherwise you have the problem we had. Gently pulling it off it decided to leave bits of it behind. A real pain to clean up. If we've brought the item we know how great it is. Even if we're perusing it the box is clear enough about what the various bits are. Stop placing stickers on our stuff!
Today's test setup is slightly different to the norm. Usually we use the twin-tower Noctua NH-D14 but because of the need for downward airflow on the Sabertooth we're using the Noctua C12P as our cooler to make sure everything stays chilled.
ASUS Sabertooth P67A B3 Motherboard
Intel Core i5-2500K
4GB Kingston Genesis DDR3 2133MHz
Cougar CM1000 PSU
Windows 7 64-Bit
Having recently reviewed the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme and MSI Marshal we were excited to put the Sabertooth on the bench. The X58 Sabertooth made a mockery of its price-tag by keeping up with the very best and both of those are the cream of the P67 lot. So hopes were high.
Whilst the MSI Marshal could get our i5-2500K to 5GHz at 1.464v, and the Maximus IV needed 1.48v, the Sabertooth needed the push into 1.5v to get a reasonably stable 5 GHz overclock. When you consider that this is around half the price of those two we're not too sad. After all, hitting 5 GHz itself is quite an achievement.
Of course we wouldn't want to use that as our 24/7 overclock, and backing off just a small amount down to 4.8 GHz allowed us to drop a whole tenth of a volt on vCore and be fully stable.
Impressive enough for any board, let alone a £150 one, I think you'll agree.
Time to get testing.
Starting off with the CPU testing we have the Sabertooth pretty much on a par with its more expensive competitors. It loses a bit in zLib and AES testing but is right on a par in the CPU Queen and PhotoWorxx tests.
Unsurprisingly, given the fact all three boards were tested with the same RAM and roughly the same processor speed, the Sabertooth makes easy work of the Memory tests with the Kingston Genesis kit flying along.
Sandra gives us quite a surprise with the Processor Arithmetic test giving the Sabertooth a lead in both the Dhrystone and Whetstone tests.
Into the Processor MultiMedia and it's just edged out by the Maximus and the Marshal. Considering the price differential between the three the Sabertooth seems to be following its X58 brother in being incredible value for money.
In CineBench testing the Sabertooth is identical to the Maximus IV in the CPU test and just a shade behind when it comes to the OpenGL testing. Of course the OpenGL test also takes into account drivers and as the GTX570 is running on updated drivers it might be due to that. Either way it's as close as makes no difference.
PC Mark Vantage
Finally PC Mark from Futuremark replicates daily usage without needing to sit for hours loading webpages and the like and the ASUS P67 Sabertooth once again makes a mockery of its place in the pricing tier by being only a couple of hundred points off of the vastly more expensive offerings it's competing against in our graph.
Incredibly enough in wPrime 95, a test of calculating a formula similar to a more strenuous version of SuperPi, the Sabertooth actually takes the crown for a Core i5-2500K. Again it's only a smidge here and there, but it's enough.
3D Mark Vantage
Lastly we always test both 3D Mark Vantage and 3D Mark 11 to make sure there aren't any unexpected performance hold-ups in the PCIe lanes, and sure enough the Sabertooth gives exactly what we expect from our GTX570. The 3D Mark 11 chart shows the same so let's go on to our rather inevitable conclusion.
As we said at the start, the X58 Sabertooth is, in our opinion, the best X58 board around. Amazing feature-set and blistering performance at a fraction of the price of high-end offerings.
The P67A B3 Revision Sabertooth is just as impressive.
It has all the accoutrements you'd hope to see from a modern motherboard. A lack of the obsolete Floppy and IDE sockets, plenty of fan headers and USB3.0 ports, along with SATA3 and the link. It truly is bristling with all the features that 95% of us require.
Performance is right up there with the very best. We got 5 GHz out of our Core i5-2500K without too much effort and although we needed to drop the voltage for reliabilities sake it was bombproof at 4.8 GHz and quite happily ran everything we threw at it without breaking a sweat.
The looks are something we particularly like. We fell in love with the subtle hues of the original Sabertooth and they are replicated here, but with the addition of the Thermal Armor which covers most of the untidy looks of a standard motherboard. Once all the hardware is installed it really looks an integral part of your system and the room for customisation is obviously something we like very much indeed.
It's worth mentioning that despite some slight concerns about how well the Thermal Armor would channel airflow, and the airflow itself after it's come across the CPU heatsink, at no point did the temperatures stray from anything other than the norm. So although the motherboard temperatures did NOT drop as you would be lead to believe by Asus, they certainly did not increase through insulation as we had suspected when we first saw the design. Looks and performance in one package. In fact our only tiny blemish is the need to either have a downward facing cooler to aid the motherboard cooling, which takes away some of the best CPU cooler options, or to mount a tiny fan which wont be kind to your ears.
To be honest if this was priced at £250 we'd still consider it a worthy purchase, so to find it available for £150 makes every other motherboard look either overpriced or under-featured. Unless you have a specific need for more than two graphics cards, or whatever tiny differences a higher-priced board is furnished with, then your list of potential purchases should only contain one board, the ASUS P67A B3 Sabertooth.
Awesome looks and equally stunning performance at a price so low we'd expect it to be shouted at us in a late night advert; "Come to Crazy ASUS where we're practically giving away epic performance at a tiny price".
One of the easiest OC3D Gold Award winners there is, an absolute must purchase, and at this price we have to give it our OC3D Value Award too.
Thanks to ASUS for providing the Sabertooth for review. Discuss in our forums.