iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS P8P67 Deluxe Motherboard

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The backpanel offers 8 x USB 2.0 and 2 x USB 3.0 that should please owners of various USB peripherals. An expensive motherboard like this should probably offer at least 4 x USB 3.0 ports, but this isn't much of a drawback, really. Especially considering 2 ports you can connect to the front panel. Besides, the motherboard has enough means to output audio, has two Ethernet ports, a FireWire port, a combined PS/2, if you still have such a keyboard or mouse, the Bluetooth unit and the clear CMOS button.

In addition, there are 2 eSATA ports (up to 300MB/s), one of those powered. But it's not a popular eSATA/USB combo. ASUS hasn't adopted this modification (easily recognizable by unusual connector width), instead, the company has recently adopted a semi-standard connector that's only compatible with eSATA cables, USB plugs being too thick, but powered by the similar 4 pins on the bottom side. Despite the difference, it's still called "Power eSATA" in ASUS documentation, so make sure you don't confuse it with a regular eSATA/USB combo.

The P8P67 Deluxe is based on the Intel P67 chipset (P67 PCH). It has an 8-lane PCI Express 2.0 switch as well as the following auxillary controllers.

  • 2 x USB 3.0 based on NEC µPD720200 (PCIe x1). Each controller supports 2 devices.
  • SATA 6Gbps based on Marvell 88SE9128 (PCIe x1). Supports 2 devices.
  • Audio based on 7.1+2-channel Realtek ALC889 HDA codec. Optical (Toslink) and coaxial S/PDIF-Out on the backpanel, an S/PDIF-Out connector on the PCB.
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet based on chipset's MAC and Intel WG82579V PHY controller, as well as based on Realtek RTL8111E (PCIe x1).
  • SATA 3Gbps based on JMicron JMB362 (PCIe x1). 2 eSATA-300 ports on the backpanel.
  • FireWire based on VIA VT6315N (PCI). Supports 2 ports (one on the backpanel).
  • PCI based on the ASMedia ASM1083 PCIe-PCI bridge. Supports 3 devices (2 expansion slots and a header).

Let's now untangle the mishmash of interfaces ASUS is offering. Unfortunately, ASUS doesn't offer a detailed switching diagram. They, as well as other motherboard makers, should follow Gigabyte's example. Gigabyte's user guides may be useful even to experienced system builders. Anyway, having no documentation, we can but guess. First, let's count the needed PCIe lanes, excluding the PLX PEX8608 switch for now. Obviously, the 8 chipset lanes are not enough: 6 are needed by the aforementioned controllers, 1 is multiplexed with the Ethernet controller's GLCI+ interface. Then add the 2 PCIe x1 slots, the third PCIe x16 slot (the black one) connected with either 4 (as documented) or 8 (seemingly) lanes.

Now let's add the PLX PEX8608 switch to the equation. It's designed for 8 ports and 8 lanes and allows any combination of inputs and outputs as well as any allocation of PCIe lanes: from 4 input lanes converted into the same 4 output lanes for some unclear reason (1, 2 or 4 ports) to 1 input lane branched out to 7 output ports with 1 lane each. Obviously, in the latter case all the 7 outputs will have the total bandwidth of a single PCI Express 2.0 lane, because that's what we have at the input. Let's add this latter variant into our equation and, surprisingly, we get just one lane more than we need: 7 "fair" chipset lanes, 1 lane used to connect the PEX8608, 7 lanes provided by the switch.

What a sad solution. But that's only our assumption based on what we see and on the peripheral controller documentation available in the Internet. We'd like to believe we are wrong, because the current variant means that a half of peripheral devices is connected at 1/7 of the interface throughput. (Although the second half gets a fair PCIe 2.0 lane at the input.) The use of the PLX PEX8608 switch was very reasonable in the previous generation of ASUS motherboard. It provided extended capabilities to the P7H57D-V EVO, for example. But in today's case the performance of some controllers greatly affects the performance of other.

On the other hand, not every controller actually needs the complete PCI Express 2.0 bandwidth. For example, the ASMedia ASM1083 bridge forms an "almost real" PCI bus that only needs a total of 133MB/s according to the 32-bit/33MHz standard. With symmetrical data transfer, one PCIe 2.0 port can manage up to 8 PCI controllers at once.

The P8P67 Deluxe supports DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC technologies, i.e. it can provide realistic sound via stereo speakers and can also split regular stereo signal to 4-8 channels. We traditionally tested it in the 16-bit/44kHz and 16-bit/48kHz modes with RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0 and Terratec DMX 6fire.

Test 16-bit/44kHz 16-bit/48kHz
Frequency response (40Hz to 15kHz), dB: +0.02, -0.15 +0.03, -0.20
Noise level, dB(A) -93.2 -93.5
Dynamic range, dB(A) 93.3 93.4
THD, % 0.0070 0.0069
THD + noise, dB(A) -79.7 -79.9
IMD + noise, % 0.0089 0.0088
Channel crosstalk, dB -91.2 -92.5
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.0088 0.0083
Overall grade Very good Very good

We've had our doubts regarding the PCIe-PCI bridge, but both this particular ASMedia ASM1083 (also used by MSI) and other solutions do a good job and are completely transparent. PCI devices are recognizable even at the BIOS level (we used a sound card and even a drive controller).


Concluding the review, we can state we like the P8P67 Deluxe, also in comparison with other P67-based boards. Although this expensive solution could've offered more features of higher quality.

What we liked: quite rich (even sometimes excessive) functionality, compact and efficient (but also excessive) cooling system, convenient layout, high-quality CPU VRM, useful proprietary technologies and tools, good accessory bundle. We are glad to see EFI BIOS in mainstream solutions and we congratulate ASUS for being one of the first to offer it. Although we believe that, of all EFI BIOS advantages, the GUI and mouse controls are of the least importance, we must give credit to ASUS for offering one of the best implementations of such a user interface today.

Speaking of drawbacks, the dubious scheme of connecting numerous peripherals is the most serious. Does this board even need the third PCIe x16 slot? Surely, the high-end status obliges to offer more, but if those 4 lanes were free, other controllers could've benefit from nearly peak performance. The motherboard offers a lot of additional features anyway: eSATA, FireWire, USB 3.0, the questionable auxillary SATA600, Bluetooth and two Ethernet controllers. For now we have doubts whether the P8P67 Deluxe can provide the maximum performance for all its high-speed interfaces at once, and this kind of lowers our impression of it.

The motherboard was provided by its manufacturer.

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Page 3: Bundle and software

Page 4: Features, conclusions

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