KitGuru spent a day in London learning about Asus’ next range of motherboards which are based on the next generation Intel platform. There are a number of new features that excite us and we look forward to testing the motherboards fully when they’re released.
Asus had four motherboards on show to give us an idea of what’s to come. At the bottom end of the range there is the P8P67 and P8P67 Deluxe which should be more than adequate for the majority of users. But for those who want a more durable product, Asus have also created the Sabertooth P67 which is the latest in their ‘TUF’ series. Finally, for extreme overclockers and the extremely rich, the Maximus IV Extreme will be the board of choice.
Asus P8P67 and P8P67 Deluxe
We expect that these two motherboards will be the best sellers of the four motherboards on show as they boast all the features that the majority of users will require without being too expensive.
Asus Sabertooth P67
The third motherboard that Asus showcased was the Sabertooth P67 which is part of their ultra-durable ‘TUF’ series. For those who are wondering, ‘TUF’ stands for ‘The Ultimate Force’. These motherboards are built using the most durable components and are certified by military standards.
One feature that really makes this stand out from the crowd is the TUF Tactical Vest. This is essentially a sheet of plastic which sites over the majority of the board, enhancing airflow and protecting the board from the heat produced by the graphics card. There are no official figures yet but it is said to reduce the temperature of key motherboard components by around 5c.
Keeping on the theme of heat, Asus have also integrated nine thermal sensors (in addition to those which would usually be included as standard) into the motherboard in key locations. These are monitored using a software utility dubbed ‘TUF Thermal Radar’.
Asus Maximus IV Extreme
The Maxmus IV Extreme comes in at the top of the range as a PC enthusiasts wet dream. Many of its features are similar to the Rampage III Extreme motherboard which we reviewed a few months back with a few improvements and additions.
ROG Connect is Asus’ remote management system for overclocking and adjusting settings. It has been revamped to allow you to overclock the graphics card although, at the moment, only Asus’ own cards are officially supported. It lets you adjust the core clock, memory clock and the shader clock but doesn’t currently allow you to set the fan speed.
Additionally, you can overclock your system, via Bluetooth, from a whole range of mobile platforms including iPhone, iPad and Andriod. This is done independently of the CPU for most devices but restrictions on the Bluetooth of Apple’s devices results in a very small CPU load of around 1%.
Asus have tried to remove all those unnecessary legacy connections that crowd the I/O plate of most motherboards, including USB2.0. Yes, that’s right; Asus have ditched USB2.0 and have crammed eight USB3.0 ports onto the backplate. They haven’t been entirely successful, though, as they’ve left a lone USB2.0 port for ROG connect. They’ve also included two eSATA ports which may be useful but will ultimately be replaced by USB3.0. Those, like myself, who use a SteelSeries 7G keyboard don’t need to worry as Asus have retained a single PS2 connector for this purpose.
We were also given a sneak peak of ROG ThunderBolt which should improve the gaming performance of ROG motherboards. The first part of this is a Network Processing Unit (NPU) which reduces latency, offloads CPU resources, prioritises gaming packets and controls bandwidth. The second part is an inbuilt headphone amplifier which enhances detail and powers up sound when gaming.
Dual Intelligent Processors 2
Building on the success of their DIP (Dual Intelligent Processors) feature from their current range of motherboards, Asus are introducing DIP2 with their next generation of products. For those who aren’t aware, the dual intelligent processors consist of the DIGI+ VRM / EPU and the TPU.
The DIGI+ VRM is a micro-processor which aims to improve power efficiency and system stability. With Spread Spectrum, it’s able to dynamically change the VRM frequency to improve stability and a fixed frequency can be set to increase the system’s OC potential. It can either be controlled from the BIOS or through a software interface.
The TPU or ‘TurboV Processing Unit’ is a processor which is designed to overclock the system automatically. It is activated either through the software utility or via on onboard switch on the motherboard.
All of the boards also features Asus’ BT GO! Bluetooth functionality which has a number of interesting applications. This can be used for file sharing, remote controlling and ‘life entertainment’.
The remote control function can be used for controlling media playback (although exclusively through Windows Media Player) from a mobile phone. This also contains the ‘BT Turbo Remote’ which allows you to overclock from your phone. Applications will be made available for all the current major mobile platforms when the motherboards are released.
A New Generation of BIOS
All the new boards feature an EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS which replaces the BIOS of old with a simple intuitive interface for changing the basic settings. The more advanced settings can be found by clicking (yes mouse input is supported) the ‘advanced’ tab.
KitGuru says: We’re very excited to see what Asus has in store for their next generation of Intel motherboards and are even more excited to see what other manufacturers come out with in the following weeks.