Great motherboard good price point ($155). Buy it if you need a 1155 socket and like to overclock. No real drawbacks, but a few manageable quirks.
I like to prefix a review with what I was looking for in a motherboard.
From rooting about the internet, the P67 or the Z68 are the motherboard types best suited to my processor (intel i7 2600k). That being said, the Z68 is a slight upgrade to the P67, supporting using a SSD as a cache for a hard-disk, along with other minor improvements that I wasn’t particularly dying to get. The core components are essentially the same, so I decided to save the $30 and go with the respected P67 variety of Intel motherboards. I’ve also heard good things about the overclocking capability of this motherboard, so it seemed like a good fit.
I decided to stick with ASRock as the brand. My old ASRock motherboard endured nearly 6 years of 24/7 use. It endured probably 30 moves, 2 years in a fraternity house with 200 year old shoddy wiring, a house with a chronically broken heater during Michigan winters, and stifling heat in no-AC rooms during the summer, as well as a long UPS journey from Detroit to San Diego. I figured with this track record, I’d give ASRock mobo’s another shot for a job well done on the board I was replacing.
Let’s get into the pro’s and con’s…
The things that stood out to me the most are:
- Works out-of the box with Ubuntu. Every feature I’ve tested seems to work well.
- The Dr Debug LED. There’s a 2 digit hex LED on the motherboard that displays various codes that can assist you in debugging the board if you need to. Very handy feature, I doubt I’d ever buy another motherboard with one.
- The graphical BIOS has pretty much every overclocking feature you can think of. Very configurable CPU configurations.
- Lots of CPU chasis fan hookup headers
- Support for DDR3 2100 RAM, USB 3.0, PCI Ex 3.0, all the latest bells and whistles
- Ton of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports. The included a front panel usb header that fits in most 3.5′ floppy bays and gives you 2 additional USB 3.0 ports.
There isn’t one glaringly bad thing about this motherboard. I struggled to even come up with this list, and named the section “Quirks” instead of “Cons”, because they’re all just minor things. That being said, there are a few minor things I wish were a bit quirky:
- The 8 SATA ports are forward-facing, and stacked on top of each other. This makes them a bit difficult to access, compared to a header on the board. This seems to be a common thing on motherboards these days though.
- I was a bit sad there was no serial port on the back, I’m still a user who uses that from time to time. Its not all bad though, the motherboard has a COM header I can hook up if I find the right parts.
- If you have PATA/IDE drives, this board does not have support for the old ribbon cables. This could arguably be in the highlights section.
- Still haven’t learned the ‘trick’ for getting the BIOS to boot the way i want it to every time. You only have a quick second to hit the escape keys to the boot device or the BIOS.
- PCI Express 3.0 is not supported by Sandy Bridge processors. This is a Sandy Bridge processor limitation, but be forewarned that you won’t be able to use PCI Express x16 3.0 if you don’t use an Ivy Bridge processor (which will come out next year)
- The eSATA port and one of the 8 onboard SATA ports conflict. (You can’t use both at once, and the eSATA takes precedence).
Features and Ports
Finally, I’ll lay out what the board has on board. Its quite a lot of things, and all of them seem to be linux-friendly (as far as I can tell so far….)
- Intel 1155 Socket Type
- 24 Pin motherboard power port / 8 pin CPU power port
- P67 Chipset (and the stickers on the board assure me the “SATA problem” is “fixed!”
- Crossfire/SLI support
- Dual-Channel DDR3 2133(OC) / 1866(OC) / 1600 / 1333 / 1066
- 2 PCI Express x16 3.0
- 1 PCI Express x16 2.0
- 2 PCI Express x1
- 2 PCI
- 4 SATA 6GB/s and 4 SATA 3GB/s
- Ethernet Realtek 8111E (up to 1000Mbps)
- 2 PS2 ports
- 2 USB 3.0
- 6 USB 2.0
- 8 Channel Audio Realtek ALC892
- 6 External Audio ports, Optical and coaxial SPDIF ports.
- 1 Firewire port
- 1 FDD connector (not sure why these are still around)
- 1 Dr. Debug and a Debug LED
- 1 Serial port header
- CPU/Chassis/Power fan connectors
- Front panel audio connector