P67 $190 Part 2: MSI, ASRock and ECS

Our first look at $190 P67 boards started with ASUS and Gigabyte. Within hours of posting the review, I was commandeered by several other companies to look at their $190 motherboards. This is still one of the best selling P67 price points, even with Z68 around the corner. Here, we look at the MSI P67A-GD65, the ASRock P67 Extreme6 and the ECS P67H2-A2, and come up with some interesting results.

Does P67 Have A Future?

P67 has received a lot of criticism since its inception. With all the Sandy Bridge CPUs containing an integrated GPU in the form of Intel’s HD graphics, we’d expect each chipset to have some form of graphical output. But for some reason, it wasn’t included in P67—this may be part of Intel’s divine strategy of separating different features in different chipsets, or that Z68, the successor to P67 which will include video outputs, just wasn’t ready. With the lack of access to the iGPU, we also lose access to QuickSync, and end up with silicon real-estate we can’t use. One other sticking point was that Cougar Point does not natively support USB 3.0, whereas it seems that AMD will for their next generation of chipsets.

We expect Z68 to command a premium, this much is certain. With the recent news regarding NVIDIA bringing Optimus to desktops, and we’ve known Virtu will also be available for a little while now, we can expect lower 2D power usage, as well as use of QuickSync. Both the CPU and iGPU can be overclocked, which will also mean that manufacturers will have to put more testing into CPU power delivery, leading to higher board cost. So where does this leave P67, exactly? A lower priced alternative to overclocker the CPU while using discrete GPUs?

Let’s not forget the Intel recall of all Cougar Point chipsets with the mild manufacturing issue. P67 is painted with the stigma of this issue, and the only way to ensure a B3 stepping of the PCH is to buy a board with B3 in the name, or from a reputable retailer that would have replaced all their stock. Z68 isn’t scarred with this issue, adding more credence to P67 potentially disappearing.

So here I am, ranting about P67 and Z68. Why should we review these P67 boards if they might disappear? The importance of future sales of P67 will depend exactly on the price premium over Z68. It could be argued that P67 is to be squeezed out of the market, and the rest of the P67 product will be sold with discounts, but it’s currently here, and people are still buying, wanting the best deal, and it may still stay with us for a long while yet.

With that in mind, today we’re looking at three P67 boards, all initially released around the $190 price point (though some have changed since). First is the MSI P67A-GD65 ($180) offering more bells and whistles than a county fair. Then the ASRock P67 Extreme6 ($210), which is the model above the P67 Extreme4, which we liked very much in terms of price/performance/add-ons—it will be interesting to see what has changed between the two models. Finally we test the ECS P67H2-A2 ($195), offering simplicity and functionality. Let the games begin!

MSI P67A-GD65: Overview and Visual Inspection
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  • Etern205 - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    Didn't read the article yet, but IMO most P67 based boards within the same price range are similar to one another and in the past if I was looking for a board, I'll read every damn review on the product I want. Now, it's just pick a damn board with the features you like to have and be happy with it.
  • fic2 - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    Still can't get rid of the legacy PS/2 port.... Just makes me laugh.
  • Etern205 - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    What is there to laugh about?
    Some still have a good PS/2 devices which is a waste just to junk it out and PS/2 has a faster detection over USB. This benefits users who wants to access the bios where USB keyboards sometimes fails miserably.
    The most expensive SNB board from Asus still has a PS/2 port (combo PS/2).
  • Hrel - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    Can someone please explain to me why despite the fact that more and more chips are moving off the motherboard and onto the CPU motherboards seem to keep getting more and more expensive. Ok, increased power delivery testing; I get that. But the motherboard manufacturers are literally buying fewer chips to make their board. These things should be getting cheaper!

    The northbridge is on the CPU, the iGPU is on the CPU and that right there is the majority of the cost of a motherboard. Seriously, WTF! $190 is the sweetspot? WTF! $130 bought a hell of a board 3-5 years ago. Now they're cheaper to make but cost more? WTF! I shouldn't be spending anymore than 100 bucks on a brand new Asus P5NE-SLI class motherboard. I'm an enthusiast, we should be seeing tons of these things for 50 bucks. WTFFFFFFFFFFF!
  • ggathagan - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    You're paying $100 for a brand new P5NE-SLI because it's obsolete technology which translates into higher support costs for the manufacturer.
    The same can be said for SDRAM, the original DDR RAM and Socket 478 CPU's.

    As to why a *modern* motherboard costs so much with more of the chipset being integrated into the CPU: They don't.

    You can get a LGA1155 motherboard for under $50 and $130 still gets you "a hell of a board ".

    P67-based motherboards are not at the low end of the market, so any decently featured mid-tier motherboard remains in the $150-$200 range.

    Regardless of what Intel or AMD incorporate into the CPU, the support chipsets *still* need to be purchased.
    AMD and Intel set the price for that, not Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, etc...

    Sound and LAN support remain seperate from the core chipset.

    Lastly, in the case of Intel systems, there is the desire for USB 3.0 support that has to be added via additonal chips.

    Upper tier boards have never been about the chipset/CPU; they've always been about the "bells & whistles" factor.
    As such, the buyer's perception of what is valuable is more of a factor than logic centering around what a specific chipset or CPU brings to the table.
  • TheJian - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    I don't think a decently featured board costs $150-200. My current GByte board had all the bells and whistles for $129. The only thing missing from the top boards was more vid slots, and a few more Sata's (mine has 8 so plenty for me).

    $70, has everything but Btooth/Firewire (who cares)/SLI (who cares). Includes both USB3 and 2 SATA 6 ports.

    What features are there that cost another $130? I get that P67 adds another $30 (which is where P67 boards start on newegg), and we get overclocking for that (but we got screwed out of a vid card on that deal so hmmm).

    $110 for P67 Gigabyte D3 B3, USB3, Sata6. Missing Btooth/1394/SLI(xfire-either). We now know you can put USB3 on a $70 board (jetway has a $70 USB3 board too). They have an ECS for $100, and it has USB3 and even 2 vids.

    So are these worth $100? A few more USB's and Btooth is all I'd ask for (and there's already plenty of USB). USB3 chip probably costs a few bucks at best (likely $1). They throw on audio for $1. I don't call the boards in this review mid tier. I'd say more like upper class. SLI/Xfire used to be all that was needed to put your board into upper class. It should still be that way. Unless it's a server board, anything over $200 is probably just a pretty box. Maybe someone else can point to a reason why prices shot up on the top end and the mid is considered by some as $150-200 (I thought it was $100-150, with the low being $60-100, but that's just me).

    You can't say the dollar is dropping or bring up gold - I shouldn't be able to post a $70 full featured H67 or $100 full featured P67. The guy on the $100/P67 is overclocked at 4.8ghz (i7-2600K) and folding 24x7...ROFL. I think this board's a winner. Probably should be in your next review :) Might be a little low, but you get the point. Then again, this is probably what most will buy (or lower in the H67 range most likely).
  • Rookie Monster - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    Two reasons come to mind.
    1. Gold is $1500oz
    2. U.S. dollar is falling like a rock.
  • knedle - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    I even found a movie on youtube showing MSI Games:


    I think it may be usefull if your HDD with important data just died and you want to commit suicide. ;)
  • wifiwolf - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    I'm with Hrel on this. It's just ridiculous that we're buying boards with less parts needed even more expensive then they were before moving northbridge and int-graphics.

    PS: Unfinished chipsets should be for beta testing and not for sale.
  • Patrick Wolf - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    I agree, these boards should be cheaper (which could be said for most components really), but to be fair these aren't all $190 boards, they were at 1st but new tech is always more. Lowest current price I could find for each board is as follows:
    P67A-GD65 - $170 (newegg, could be even cheaper at superbiiz depending on promo)
    P67 Extreme6 - $200 (superbiiz, again promo)
    P67H2-A2 - $173 after MIR (newegg)
    GA-P67A-UD4 - $175 after MIR (superbiiz, again promo)
    P8P67 PRO - $180 (newegg/superbiiz, again promo)

    Compare that to 775. The ever popular GA-EP45-UD3P was about $130 and now the GA-P67A-UD3 which has similar features is $125. Or better yet the MSI P67A-G43 for $125.

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