Workstation. It’s not a word typically synonymous with overclocking. It seems like ASUS wants to turn that assumption on its head with their P8P67 WS Revolution motherboard we’re looking at today.
Packaging and First Look
This is the first board ASUS sent that is complete with the new B3 stepping P67 PCH. You can’t miss it either, it’s all over the box. There is an outer sleeve with the specifications plastered on the back and numerous features highlighted on a flap attached to the sleeve. When you pull the box out of the sleeve, it looks just like the sleeve did but with no flap.
Of course, most of the fun with a part’s box comes when you actually pull the hardware out!
In case you missed it all over the box, there’s a sticker affixed to the PCH heatsink telling you it’s the B3 revision PCH. After pulling that off, we see a very nice looking motherboard. It shows its industrial strength with dark tones in black, gunmetal grey and blue.
I like it. A lot, actually. While the RoG series red is pretty, this reminds me a bit of abit boards of old (see, I can say that in the middle of an ASUS review because they don’t exist any more; RIP abit), and that’s a very good thing.
Specifications and Features
As usual, ASUS has some of the most detailed specification lists in the industry.
CPU Intel® Socket 1155 Core™ i5 Processor/Core™ i3 Processor/Core™ i7 Processor/Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
Support Intel® 32nm CPU
LGA1155 socket for Intel® next generation server processor
* Refer to www.asus.com for Intel CPU support list
Chipset Intel® P67 Express Chipset ; Nvidia NF200*1 Memory * Due to CPU behavior, DDR3 2200/2000/1800 MHz memory module will run at DDR3 2133/1866/1600 MHz frequency as default.
4 x DIMM, Max. 32 GB, DDR3 1866(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)*/1600/1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
Please refer to www.asus.com or user manual for Memory QVL.
Expansion Slots (@ x16 or x8)
x PCIe 2.0 x16 2 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (@ x8)
3 x PCIe 2.0 x 1 (@ x1)
VGA CUDA support:
Up to 4 NVIDIA Tesla GPUs
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA® Geforce 3-Way/2-Way SLI™ techonology
Supports ATI® CrossFireX™ technology, up to Quad CrossFireX™
Storage Intel® P67 Express Chipset
2 xSATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
4 xSATA 3.0 Gb/s ports (blue)
Intel® Rapid Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10Marvell® 9128 PCIe SATA6Gb/s controller
2 xSATA Gb/s ports(navy blue) Support SATA RAID 0 and 1
LAN 1 x Intel® 82574L GbE LAN 1 x Intel® 82579 Gigabit LAN- Dual interconnect between the Integrated LAN controller and Physical Layer (PHY)
– Support teaming function
Audio ALC889 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
– Front Panel Jack-Retasking
– Optical/Coxial S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
– ASUS Noise-Filer
IEEE 1394 VIA VT6315N controller supports 2 x 1394a ports USB NEC USB 3.0 controller
– x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (Blue, at back panel)
2 Intel® P67 Express Chipset
– x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 8 ports at back panel)
ASUS Unique Features - ASUS Digi+ VRM Utility
ASUS Exclusive Features
– AI Suite II
– ASUS EFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution
– ASUS Fanless Design: Heat-pipe solution
– ASUS Fan Xpert
ASUS EZ DIY
– ASUS Q-Shield
– ASUS Q-Connector
– ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
– ASUS EZ Flash 2
– ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
– ASUS Q-Slot
– ASUS Q-DIMM
ASUS Workstation Special Features 4 PCIe x 16 slots
G.P. Diagnosis Card bundled
Quick Gate:2 vertical USB 2.0 on board
ASUS SASsaby series Cards support
ASUS WS Diag. LED
ASUS WS Heartbeat
Back Panel I/O Ports 2 x USB 3.0/2.0
1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Combo port
1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical and Coxial)
1 x IEEE 1394a
x LAN(RJ45) port 8
x USB 2.0/1.1 8 -Channel Audio I/O
Internal I/O Connectors 1 x Mem OK! Button
8-pin ATX +12V Power connector
2 x USB 2.0/1.1 connector(s) support additional 4 USB ports
1 x COM port connector
1 x TPM connector
1 with PWM control
x CPU Fan connector 3 with Q-fan control
x Chassis Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector 1 x S/PDIF Out connector
24-pin ATX Power connector
4-pin EZ_PLUG Power connector
2 x USB 2.0/1.1 vertical ports
20-pinfront panel connector
BIOS 32 Mb Flash ROM , EFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.6, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3 Manageability WfM 2.0,DMI 2.0,WOL by PME,WOR by PME,PXE O/S Compatibility Win7 32/64 bit,Vista 32/64 bit and WinXP 32/64bit Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.5 cm )
Whew, that is a long list. Some of them are obvious – I mean really; how important is it to tell the user that a motherboard in this generation has a 24-pin ATX power connector? – but it’s nice to have it the non-obvious items in an easy reference list.
Reiterating and explaining some things in the specifications, there is a lengthy feature list to go with them. Again, straight from ASUS, we have the features.
Ultimate Graphics Power with 3-Way/2-Way Geforce SLI™ and Quad Quadro cards on demand
The Best Graphic Performance you Ever have
Designed for true power users, the P8P67 WS Revolution uses a built-in NF200 controller that enhances bandwidth availability between the board and the four graphics card expansion slots. This is ideal for NVIDIA GeForce SLI™ and AMD CrossFireX™, as the new motherboard can easily handle 2-Way SLI in dual PCI Express X16, while 3-Way SLI works in dual PCI Express X8 and one X16 link. This translates into a 26.4% performance increase compared to regular P67 motherboards with similar SLI configurations, as measured by 3DMark06. For CrossFireX, the P8P67 WS Revolution supports up to quad GPUs builds in PCI Express X8 links, unlike standard motherboards, which lack the bandwidth to do so.
True to its workstation design, the motherboard empowers commercial users with up to four NVIDIA Quadro GPUs at once. These graphics accelerators focus on professional uses, including computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided engineering (CAE), digital content creation (DCC) and geographic information systems (GIS). Having up to four Quadro GPUs on one board provides the flexibility and resources needed to run various professional applications.
Platinum-level 92% power efficiency
High quality materials and components include all Japan-made ultra long life solid state capacitors and very low resistance (Rds) MOSFETS. These go far beyond the standards employed by mainstream P67-based motherboards. As a result, users benefit from improved heat dissipation, lower capacitance (and thus greatly improved efficiency), optimized gate charge and extremely long component life cycles.
To further help achieve its 92% power efficiency, the P8P67 WS Revolution uses a 2oz copper inner layer board design. In addition, it includes ASUS’ exclusive DIGI+ VRM. The high power efficiency is maintained to help users reduce their ultimate energy expenditure as well as peerless stability and reliability.
Built in Dual Intel® Gigabit LAN
Commercial users who wish to enhance their network reliability and throughput should look forward to the new P8P67 WS Revolution. It offers dual hardware-accelerated Intel Gigabit LAN ports that lower CPU utilization by up to 71% , reduced packet loss and better support for diverse operating systems. Featuring teaming and fault-tolerance functions, these two augmented LAN ports provide double the bandwidth and network redundancy of standard Gigabit LAN.
Heart-touching design-Quick Gate
Quick Gate is a vertical USB connector on the motherboard, allowing you to install USB devices directly with no messy cables. This stops important data storage devices from breaking off unexpectedly. P8P67 WS Revolution with this unique design provides a convenient and safe way to install data and applications on your PC.
Easy to Find System Error with G.P. Diagnosis Card
Bundled with the P8P67 WS Revolution, the G.P. Diagnosis card double checks the system by effortlessly and quickly providing precise info every time you switch on your PC.
LGA1155 socket for Intel® Second Generation Core™ i7/ Core™ i5/ Core™ i3 Processors
This motherboard supports the latest Intel® second generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3 processors in the LGA1155 package, with memory and PCI Express controllers integrated to support 2-channel (4 DIMM) DDR3 memory and 16 PCI Express 2.0 lanes. This provides great graphics performance. Intel® second generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3 processors are among the most powerful and energy efficient CPUs in the world.
Intel® P67 Express Chipset
The Intel® P67 Express Chipset is the latest single-chipset design to support new socket 1155 Intel® second generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3 processors. It provides improved performance by utilizing serial point-to-point links, allowing increased bandwidth and stability. Additionally, the P67 provides 2 SATA 6Gb/s and 4 SATA 3Gb/s ports for faster data retrieval at double the bandwidth of current bus systems.
Quad-GPU SLI and Quad-GPU CrossFireX Support!
Flexible Multi-GPU solutions, Your Weapon of Choice!
P8P67 Deluxe brings multi-GPU configurations through both SLI™ and CrossFireX. This motherboard features the powerful Intel® P67 platform, optimizing PCIe allocation in multiple GPU setups. Expect a brand new gaming sensation like you’ve never experienced before!
Herald the Arrival of a New Digital Power Design Era
The new ASUS DIGI+ VRM design upgrades motherboard power delivery to a digital standard. The 16+2 digital architecture delivers twice the precision power, intelligently adjusting PWM voltage and frequency modulation with minimal power loss through BIOS tuning and exclusive user interface to increase over-clocking range while performance reaches its full potential. It also adjusts frequencies dynamically, cutting radiation interference by half to enhance system stability through enabling spread spectrum. The DIGI+ VRM digital power design empowers users with superior flexibility and perfect precision to ensure optimized performance. extreme system stability, and greater power efficiency.
EFI BIOS (EZ Mode)
Flexible & Easy BIOS Interface
The new ASUS EFI BIOS is an Extensible Firmware Interface that complies with uEFI architecture, offering a user-friendly interface that goes beyond traditional keyboard-only BIOS controls to enable more flexible and convenient mouse input. Users can easily navigate the new EFI BIOS with the same smoothness as their operating system. The exclusive EZ Mode displays frequently-accessed setup info, while the Advanced Mode is for experienced performance enthusiasts that demand far more intricate system settings.Supports Hard Drives over 2.2TB
ASUS EFI BIOS natively supports hard drives larger than 2.2TB in 64-bit, with full storage space utilization, helping deliver far more exciting computing than traditional BIOS versions!
Exclusive ASUS Interface
- EZ Mode - easy to learn, use, and manage
- Advanced Mode – for experienced performance enthusiasts that demand intricate system settings
AI Suite II
One-stop Access to Innovative ASUS Features
With its user-friendly interface, ASUS AI Suite II consolidates all exclusive ASUS features into one simple-to-use package. It allows users to supervise overclocking, energy management, fan speed, voltage and sensor readings, even interact with mobile devices via Bluetooth. This all-in-one software offers diverse and easy to use functions, with no need to switch back and forth between different utilities.
The Ultimate Turbo Processor
Unleash your performance with ASUS’ simple onboard switch or AI Suite II utility. The TPU chip offers precise voltage control and advanced monitoring through Auto Tuning and TurboV functions. Auto Tuning offers a user friendly way to automatically optimize the system for fast, yet stable clock speeds, while TurboV enables unlimited freedom to adjust CPU frequencies and ratios for optimized performance in diverse situations.
This one I’ll interject a quick comment about its functionality. This is for the quick-and-dirty overclock. It takes zero effort, you just flip the TPU switch on the motherboard and let it fly. It gives users of a 2500K a 4.3 GHZ overclock and those with a 2600K a 4.4 GHz overclock. This is generally designed for those that may be wary of entering the UEFI or using TurboV in Windows to manually overclock. The majority of our audience will do their clocking manually, but it’s nice for newcomers that want a speed boost without any hassle.
Energy Efficiency All Around
Tap into the world’s first real-time PC power saving chip through a simple onboard switch or AI Suite II utility. Get total system-wide energy optimization by automatically detecting current PC loadings and intelligently moderating power consumption. This also reduces fan noise and extends component longevity!
Another item I’ll comment on is the EPU. Overclockers will not want to mess with this switch, but it could be useful for those that prefer to run at stock. ASUS’ comments on the EPU switch are “EPU is a special undervolt option that is purely hardware based but will not adjust system frequency just the core voltage to the CPU. It is reduced to help maximize efficiency, reduce power consumption and lower idle and load temperatures. It is generally advised for stock users.”
Extra SATA 6Gb/s Supports
Extra Ports, Extra Speed and Accessibility
The Intel® P67 Express chipset natively supports the next-generation Serial ATA (SATA) interface, delivering up to 6Gb/s data transfer. ASUS provides extra SATA 6Gb/s ports with enhanced scalability, faster data retrieval, and double the bandwidth of current bus systems.
DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC
DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC delivers exceptional 5.1 surround experience through the most common PC audio setups – your existing stereo speakers or headphones. In addition to virtual surround, “Bass enhancement” provides stronger low frequency bass sound, and “Voice clarification” provides clear human dialogue even with loud background sound. With these technologies, you may experience a better home-theater audio with ease.
No one can accuse them of an incomplete listing! Lots of things separate this board from the competition. The multi-graphics capability comes courtesy of an NVIDIA NF200 chip, giving plenty of PCIe lanes for those with GPU power to spare.
A lot of overclockers aren’t too concerned with power efficiency. While it’s not something they’ll argue with, it’s not highest on their priority list either. Happily, the DIGI+ VRM does a lot more than save power. This board has the most extensive power control sections I’ve seen. Mostly a blessing, and small part curse, we’ll get into more detail on that later.
This board comes with a strong accessory pack. There are the usual back plate and instruction manual. They include two SATA II cables and two SATA 6.0 G/s cables for your data needs. Speaking of data, there is even a MOLEX -to- dual SATA power adapter.
In the PCI slot adapter department, they have a dual-USB + eSATA plug and even a COM port adapter. The latter actually makes sense to include with a workstation board because lots of people that need workstation-level stability also have legacy equipment that would make use of such an item.
To compliment the multi-GPU capability, they include two SLI bridges, one flexible extension for two cards in SLI and one rigid tri-SLI connector. Those that want to run Crossfire will need to supply their own crossfire bridge.
They also include the interface for front panel connections. This is quite handy for anyone operating in a case. You can connect all of the wires, making them into an easy to use single plug rather than fooling with plugging directly into the board after installing it. From a wire management perspective it’s both good and bad. It allows you to button up your connections before hooking them to the board, but it sticks out a bit with the extra plastic. It would just depend on your personal preference which is more important.
Lastly, and most importantly for benchmarkers, there is the G.P. Diagnosis card. While the board itself is missing onboard power and reset switches as well as a POST code indicator, this device adds them back. It saves space on the board itself, but gives benchmarkers the tools they need to power the board up without using a case (heh, or a screwdriver).
All in all, it’s a solid package with all the essentials. With the board’s penchant for multiple GPUs, I would have preferred the inclusion of a crossfire bridge as well. Had I not possessed one already, that would have been a show stopper for CrossfireX testing. Other than that it’s tough to complain about the package.
Under the Hood
What’s the first thing you think to do after pulling a board out of the box? Take it apart of course!
The heatsink assembly on here is passive, like most heatsinks now-a-days. Connected with a single heatpipe (also like most heatsinks), this is a very solid-feeling, heavy asssembly and can dissipate some serious heat. The thermal pads on the MOSFETs has good contact throughout and is sufficient to cool the power section well.
The TIM on the NF200 (middle block) and the P67 (lower block) was the standard excessively hard-to-remove (and hard in general) TIM ASUS uses. Contact was good though, so it should cool effectively even if you don’t remove it. If you do remove the heatsink assembly though, you will want to replace it with some TIM. As hard as it is, it would be difficult to get it to sit perfectly on re-installation. This is where the hard-to-remove part comes in. I took a screwdriver and gently scraped it off, then cleaned residue with 90% isopropyl.
Regardless, this is a solid heatsink that removes heat quite effectly (as evidenced by how hot it gets when really pushing voltage). It would be nice if the P67’s heatsink was a little more…heatsink-like, but with its positioning (possibly under a GPU), the fact it puts out little heat relative to the rest of the components and considering it’s connected to the better heat-dissipating heatsinks by a heatpipe, it should suffice.
To the left below you can get a good look at the B3 stepping P67 PCH. To the right is the NVIDIA NF200 that gives you the multi-GPU power lacking on Sandy Bridge’s native on-die PCIe controller.
The power section on this board is very solid, with 16+2 digital phases of CPU powering goodness. It could be considered overkill for such a low-TDP CPU, but overkill is what overclockers need when reaching for the highest frequencies. You want that power as solid as a rock at the top end and the WS Revolution’s power section delivers.
While we’re looking at the power section, have a look at the top left and bottom right of this photo. There are dual 4-pin PWM fan headers, which is a big plus for anyone running a CPU cooler with two fans in a push-pull configuration. Speaking of fan headers, ASUS built in independent manual UEFI control of the CPU and chassis motherboard fan headers.
There is a lot of connectivity on this board. There are headers for Firewire, USB, the included COM port and the TPM module, among others. Visible in the photos above and underneath the watermark in this photo are two on-board USB ports. No headers – ports. This is the Quick Gate referenced above and does come in handy when you’re using the board on a benching station or horizontal case. No need to reach around to the rear I/O headers, just use the two right there on the board.
Moving north a little bit you see the available expansion slots. With the graphics features on this board, there just isn’t room for any legacy PCI slots (which is fine by most people). There are four PCIe x16 slots with three PCIe x1 slots in between them. If you run two graphics cards, you’ll want to put them in the blue slots so they can breathe a bit. If you’re running three or four cards, they will be quite close together, so you’ll have to work to get air in between them (or water cool them).
To the right, you can see the SATA connectivity – and there is plenty of it. Native to the P67 chipset, you have two SATA 6G/s ports and four SATA II ports. To add even more storage capability, ASUS has added a Marvell controller to give you two more SATA 6G/s ports.
To their right in this photo, you can see an item that overclockers welcome – a removable UEFI chip. Bork the UEFI? Order and install another chip and you’re back in business!
Moving up the board a little bit, we have some interesting features here. To the right of the 24-pin connector is the “MemOK” button. If you tighten your timings too far, or push the memory MHz too far when overclocking, just hold this button down while booting and it will automatically step down the frequency and/or loosen the timings until it lets you into the UEFI. The memory settings are the only ones the MemOK button changes in the UEFI and all other overclocked settings remain the same. This is VERY handy for anyone that likes to tweak their memory to its max. I’ve used it quite a few times and it is a godsend for memory tweaking.
In addition to people who like to push their memory hard, the MemOK button is good for those that run into potential compatibility issues or mix and match RAM. Per ASUS, “If the board cannot correctly initialize the memory the MemOK! Ic will work to make adjustments to the frequency, timings and voltage of the memory to allow for it to post successfully. This is not a performance oriented optimization tool but more so one to allow for minimal downtime or eliminate compatibility issues until they can be patched.”
You can also see the four DIMM slots in this photo as well as two interesting connectivity options. There is a MOLEX header (white) to give the board a little extra power if you need it and also a very oddly placed USB header. I suppose that could be useful if your case’s USB cable didn’t reach the one at the bottom of the board. Other than that, I’m not quite sure of the point here. It doesn’t hurt anything though.
Also in the picture above, you can see two of the board’s four QLED lights (CPU, DRAM, VGA and Boot Device). To the left of center at the very top is the CPU indicator (“DIAG_CPU”). Just below and to the right of the the 24-pin ATX connector is the memory indicator (“DIAG_DRAM”). These light up through the various POST stages and if POST sticks at any one point, that LED will remain lit and you can quickly tell what you need to fix. This does help make up for the lack of an on-board POST code indicator. It’s actually a bit easier, in that you don’t have to look up the POST code error that comes up.
Now we get to our last close inspection – the rear I/O. This is an I/O panel chock full of, well, I/O! Let’s see what ports we have back here. Six USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, dual Intel LAN, audio (digital & analogue) and PS/2 and Firewire ports thrown in for good measure. ASUS claims their “hardware-accelerated Intel Gigabit LAN ports lower CPU utilization by up to 71%.” Any addition to CPU time for other tasks is a good addition for sure.
The only thing I see missing is a clear CMOS button, which is on their higher-end models. That said, you rarely, if ever, have to clear CMOS on a sandy bridge platform. The only time I’ve had to was when pushing memory too far, and not on this board. The WS Revolution fixes that problem with the MemOK! button. Thanks to that I have literally never had to clear CMOS with this board except when flashing the UEFI. So the loss of a rear clear CMOS button in favor of two USB ports is actually a good trade in this case.
ASUS has outfitted their P67 boards with a solid UEFI. The first thing you’ll notice is that mouse response time is very close to what you’d see in Windows. With the ASRock board I reviewed, the mouse was noticeably laggy. Not so with ASUS. It zips right along happily. In addition to that, the scroll wheel actually works, which was a pleasant surprise.
When you first power on, you’re met with the EZ Mode screen. It is a nice one-stop-shop for your monitoring, booting and rudimentary overclocking needs. While it looks nice and is surely ok for the average person, I doubt many of our regular readers will spend much time here. Like me, they’ll head straight for the advanced mode; the main screen for which is on the right.
Once you’re in advanced mode, you get into the nitty gritty of this board’s inner workings. It’s quite an extensive UEFI, with so many options it might actually send novice overclockers right back to EZ Mode! I kid, I kid.
There are many things here that you can just leave on AUTO and never have to touch. But the options that are there are far more extensive than either the Intel or ASRock boards I previously reviewed. The AI Tweaker menu is where you’ll do everything but change CPU power options (i.e. C-states). There are the standard Bclk, memory multiplier & voltage settings, but for those of you that light to dial everything in, it’s all there.
One big deal with this board is the DIGI+ VRM section. You can fine tune this board for efficiency to hard core power and most everything in between. Those of you that are pushing every last MHz out of your setup will want to change most of this to “Extreme” and manually set the PWM frequency to about 450 MHz. That’s what let me get the most out of this 2600K.
ASUS really loves their customers that like to tweak RAM. Sure, you can set the main four timings and leave everything else on AUTO. But, if you like to tweak RAM, there are so many timings and subtimings that you can tweak for days and still not be done – 25 of them to be exact. Where’s chew*? Somebody get him one of these boards!
In Advanced CPU configuration, you can do just that. Most of what overclockers will do here is disable auto frequency adjusting.
The Tool Menu is where some trademark ASUS items lie. There is EZ Flash 2 utility; the best BIOS flashing interface I’ve toyed with has been updated to UEFI. In the bottom right, you’ll see an SPD Information window for seeing how your RAM is programmed to go along with their RAM tweaking ability. In the bottom left is their OC Profile, which lets you store up to eight different profiles. That tool is a boon for benchmarkers. You can get your max overclocks for certain benchmarks dialed in and switch between them with ease.
The rest of the UEFI houses your standard options – boot order, storage type, monitoring & fan control, etc. You can click through the remaining ten windows below.
This UEFI definitely beats the ASRock & Intel offerings (the latter of which was a BIOS and hasn’t made it to UEFI) hands down. Tweakers will just love all of the options at their finger tips and benchmarkers can squeeze every drop out of their hardware.
You’ve seen the AISuite before in our review of the Crosshair IV Extreme. The suites are similar, but with some key differences; not the least of which is that this one is for Intel instead of AMD. You can pick and choose as many or as few AISuite applications when installing it as you want. For our purposes, I just installed the entire suite.
The one overclockers will get the most use out of is TurboV EVO. It allows seamless changes of voltage and bclk from inside windows. Like their EZ Flash 2 utility, TurboV EVO is another thing ASUS has done right. Working without fail, it will let you boot at the clocks you must boot at and push from there to the bleeding edge of stability with ease.
Power is a big deal with this board, and you have DIGI+ VRM and EPU controls right inside the AISuite. For those of you looking to maximize efficiency, these are the way to do it. EPU even tells you how much you are reducing your CO2 emissions by changing your settings.
The DIGI+VRM section is impressive in that you have complete power section control from inside the OS. ASUS calls this “an unprecedented first that you have full UEFI hardware level controls available in the OS that can be adjusted on the fly.” and says “…being able to adjust LLC, OCP, Switching Frequency, Phase Management is pretty amazing.” I’d have to agree.
Fan Xpert, Probe II and Sensor recorder are excellent at what they do. There are a lot of overclockers that enjoy silence to go along with their powerful systems and this will allow you to do keep your fans quiet when they need to be and ramp them up when you’re giving the system a workout. Sensor recorder is great for people heavily into monitoring their system sensors to achieve the proper noise/temperature balance.F
That’s it for AISuite – a powerful interface between your OS and your motherboard. If there are better options out there, I have yet to see them.
This board will be compared with the two we looked at previously – Intel’s DP67BG from our initial Sandy Bridge review and ASRock’s P67 Extreme 6.
|Processor||i7 2600K||i7 2600K||i7 2600K|
|Stock / Overclocked Speeds (GHz)||3.4 / 4.3||3.4 / 4.6||3.5 / 4.6|
|Motherboard||Intel DP67BG||ASRock P67 Extreme 6||ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution|
|RAM||Patriot DDR3-2400||G.Skill DDR3-2133||G.Skill DDR3-2133|
|GPU (for total 3DMark Score)||ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum||ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum||ASUS Matrix 5870 Platinum|
|Operating System||Windows 7 x64||Windows 7 x64||Windows 7 x64|
Overclocking this board to 24/7 stable clocks was a breeze, as was the previously reviewed ASRock board. Sandy is really just an easy platform to overclock for daily use. Voltage for 4.6 GHz was very slightly above where it was before at 1.272 V loaded.
Vcore was a little higher than the ASRock, which probably has a lot to do with extended testing of this chip at > 1.6 V. It’s still in line with all but one (unreleased) UEFI on the ASRock board. The other UEFIs had voltage hovering right where this board does.
There was no clock speed increase since I have a self-imposed limit of 1.3 V max for 24/7 clocks on a 32 nm chip. Board variations can account for only so much when you’re looking at clocks-per-voltage on the same CPU. The WS Revolution does a great job of attaining and sticking to 24/7 clocks.
As usual we’ll get started with ‘real world’ comparisons, then move on to benchmarks. All stock benchmarks were run three times with their results averaged and overclocked benchmarks were run once.
Note all the graphs are presented as percentages relative to this board. The P8P67 WS Revolution results always = 100%, with the results from the competing motherboards expressed as a percentage of how well this board performs. The actual scores are in parenthesis below the percentage numbers.
Rendering and Compression
Cinebench are our rendering tests of choice, at least until PoV Ray completes their beta testing where the betas stop working when a new one is released.
Starting off with a bang, the WS Revolution lives up to its workstation name and beats out the competition both at stock and overclocked.
Compression isn’t any different, with ASUS coming out on top all around.
Moving on to 3D, we’ll go with two of the more CPU-bound 3DMarks – 06 and Vantage.
While the CPU scores out performed both competing boards, it seems that the PCIe bus is ever so slightly slower than the ASRock’s.
Vantage tells much the same story – CPU portion on top, overall scores in the middle. The difference in overall scores, while there, is merely between half of a percent and two percent.
Starting off the 2D benchmarks are our single-threaded friends SuperPi and PiFast.
SuperPi 1M is a dead heat between ASRock and ASUS. They literally tied for the overclocked times. SuperPi 32M was very close as well, though the ASRock managed to shave a second and a half off under the ASUS time when overclocked. The Intel board isn’t really competing at this point, mostly do to its inability to run DDR3-2133 RAM.
PiFast goes to the ASUS board both stock and overclocked.
WPrime belongs to the workstation. It’s made to be a multiple-threaded work horse and that’s what it does best, taking out both the ASRock and Intel boards handily.
Pushing the Envelope
It’s always fun to push a CPU to its limits. These are definitely the CPU’s limits, not the board’s. It was easier to reach the absolute maximum with this board than the ASRock, mostly thanks to ASUS’ superior TurboV.
Both of these were personal bests, tearing up SuperPi 1M and 32M north of 5.5 GHz. Not too bad for a 55x max multi chip on water. This board combined with the sandy bridge IMC is a killer combo for RAM clocking. I used a G.Skill Pi DDR3-2400 set rated at 9-11-9-28 and it ran SuperPi 32M at DDR3-2147 / 6-9-8-24. Impressive clocks with very little effort.
Showing its dominance in harder multi-threaded benches, the ASUS board beat up on the ASRock’s best efforts.
There is one more mostly CPU benchmark I wanted to share – Aquamark 3. It’s one of my favorite benchmarks because it thrives on pushing everything to the limit and can often complete at clock speeds no other bench would think of operating at, so you’re at the bleeding edge of stability on your CPU and GPU. Anyway, it came up with quite an impressive score when pairing this board with an AMD HD6970.
It doesn’t set any records to speak of, but is still the 181st place Aquamark3 result in the world on HWBot (11th out of all 6970s).
A Little Multi-GPU Fun
One of the biggest selling points to this board is the greater PCIe bandwidth that comes with the NF200 chip. That means you won’t saturate the native 8x PCIe available when you run two GPUs on the Sandy Bridge integrated controller. Most of the time that doesn’t matter that much; most GPUs can’t oversaturate an 8x PCIe bus, at least not to show a massive performance difference.
If there is one that can, it’s the AMD HD6990. Thankfully, we have one of those to throw in, along with its single-GPU cousin, the HD6970. So, what sort of scores can you manage with full PCIe capability and that combo?
Not too shabby at all really. The crossfire scaling is quite impressive. It’s not quite 50% addition from the single HD6990 to the tri-fire results – but it’s close. Unfortunately I can’t explore how much these scores would have been hampered with 8x PCIe bandwidth; that board has gone one to another person’s testbed. I have no doubt at all the scores would suffer somewhat, but how much I’m afraid I can’t say.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
This board has impressed me quite a bit. Everything is top notch. The only (minor) gripe I have is that the POST code indicator and the power & reset buttons aren’t onboard. That’s obviously a very minor gripe because they include that handy plug-in board that fixes that problem. Other than that, I literally have no complaints.
The UEFI and software are by far superior to the Intel & ASRock boards I’ve looked at. The cooling solution is solid and did not sacrifice cooling ability for looks (i.e. the covers ASRock puts on their heatsinks).
The P8P67 WS Revolution retails for $259.99 at Newegg right now is approaching the higher-end of P67 board prices, but is definitely worth it if you are considering a multi-GPU setup. The closest competition is Gigabyte’s GA-P67-UD5-B3 at $259.99 and the UD5 doesn’t have the extra graphics capability of the WS Revolution.
Even if you’re not considering a multi-GPU setup right now, the features on this board and its extremely solid overclocking abilities still make it worth the price. The P8P67 WS Revolution is, without a doubt, Overclockers Approved!
– Jeremy Vaughan (hokiealumnus)