The ASUS SaberTooth P67 is a motherboard that's going to be worth every penny. Not only does it look good, it performs really good as well.
Now on the topic of looks and aesthetics, well ... we stated it a couple of time already, you either love or hate that plastic shield. Admittedly I really had to get used to it and I still doubt its functionality. Rather than creating proper airflow I really think it could potentially trap heat coming from motherboards components. The results however show very little difference and if you have decent airflow in your PC, like anyone should have anno 2011, then I don't see a problem there. So the tactical shield is subject to your aesthetic preference and nothing more than that. Try to imagine it in a nice clean cable managed PC with black innards, it really could make the PC stand out.
Features wise you're nothing short of anything, well maybe that one Ethernet jack might be a hinder and placing a USB 3.0 frontpanel header connector on the motherboard, yet not delivering the actual USB 3.0 frontpanel solution, we feel its a bit of a shame.
It is all about cost control though as the SaberTooth was never intended as a very expensive product series. Luckily at the back IO you still have access to two USB 3.0 ports of course. SATA wise you can't complain about anything, four SATA2 and four SATA3 (6G) connectors, add to that the two eSATA ports at the back IO panel and suffice to say, that is just plentiful. The one thing we did miss where micro-buttons for Power ON/OFF, Reset and CMOS CLEAR. Motherboards like the one shown today are targeted at a somewhat performance/enthusiast kind of end users, and they definitely would like these buttons on the PCB.
Component usage is done TUF style, quality primary components that you'll spot throughout the board, new of course is the Dual Intelligent Processors 2 technology with all-digital DIGI+ VRM power controls, now standard for all mid-range ASUS motherboards by the way. You'll also get the traditional ASUS features like MemOK and the dandy software suite to monitor and overclock the PC. But overclocking wise we just rather stick to the BIOS for some reason.
Speaking about the BIOS, how about that EZ BIOS aka the new uEFI BIOS overlay huh? That my friends is what we feel a BIOS should look like. The uEFI "EZ-BIOS" is downright good. For novice users you can simply select a preset, e.g. operate green, normal or performance. Based on that preference it will apply mild tweaks. But once you selected the advanced mode you'll enter a Walhalla of features within a Windows Style graphics user interface. It is massively impressive to tweak and monitor values in. Also Flashing your BIOS in that same environment just seems to be a much more convenient thing to do. We absolutely adore the new uEFI mode based EZ BIOS, it does everything your 'OLD' BIOS does but now in a superb looking jacket.
In the end you can apply all three key factors to performance segment motherboards, the looks, the features and the performance. The first two we have dealt with and sure performance wise you are good to go. The baseline performance is pretty much on par with the reference Intel motherboard, give or take a few random occurrences. However this reader base will all get the K model processors and start to overclock, and that did not disappoint. With the reference Intel CPU cooler, 4.5~4.6 GHz is quite manageable without forfeiting on too much CPU voltage. We did have a weird anomaly though, CPU-Z (latest version) simply refused to display the overclocked settings. After tweaking that EZ-BIOS we quickly enough reached a grand overclock while remaining within an acceptable power envelope. And guys make very sure you get a K model (unlocked multiplier) processor if you like to overclock.
Anyway enough said, the SaberTooth is a very impressive motherboard. The style and functionality of the Thermal Armor shield, well that remains a topic of discussion, but we certainly do not dislike it. Features wise ASUS did it's job well, it's not out there loaded with forfeitures, but what is there it is plentiful. Stability wise we had no issues, and tweaking wise you can go really far. Add to that a very user friendly environment and a cool looking motherboard, then that equals "success". A job well done we think, beyond doubt, a top pick.
Pricing wise expect this motherboard to hover at 175 EUR.
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