Author: Frank Stroupe
- A Closer Look
- The BIOS
- Overclocking & Special Features
- Testing - Benchmarks
- Testing- Futuremark / Photoshop
- Testing - Gaming
It really wasn’t that long ago, in 2002-2003, though in the computing world it encompasses a couple of lifetimes, that top end enthusiast motherboards cost between $100 and $150.
Fast forward to early 2009. Newly released enthusiast motherboards can still be had for around $100, but upper end motherboards have climbed to well over $300. Before the end of new LGA 775 motherboards, the top motherboards, sporting the nForce 790i Ultra SLI, cost between $400 and $450. The Intel X58 motherboards started at $250 and a handful of them cost around $500. A year later only a few cost under $200, and most are still priced over $250.
This summer Intel released the LGA 1156. The introduction wasn’t totally without fanfare, but I now feel it was a little lower keyed than it should have been. I suppose partly because they were still selling LGA 1366 processors and boards, whose prices had not dropped that much, and a huge marketing blitz pushing the LGA 1156 would not only have caused the LGA 1366 prices to plummet, but also would have made people think twice about the likelihood of Intel’s continued support of LGA 1366.
So I ended up with the feeling that LGA 1156 was merely a more affordable alternative to LGA 1366, and didn’t pay that much attention. The 1366 with dual channel memory. But that is so wrong. The LGA 1156 takes all of the architectural advances that LGA 1366 had over the venerable LGA 775 and adds some significant improvements of its own. The most significant one being the total elimination of the Northbridge. Yes, the P55 chipset does not have an NB, the memory controller is located on-processor, and the I/O hub is located on the Southbridge, linked to the processor by a modified PCI-E interface called DMI.
So what does that have to do with motherboard prices? LGA 1156 has eliminated a whole chip (and a very hot one at that), all of its associated PCB traces, and the need to cool that chip. That lowers the cost of building a motherboard. Obviously the motherboard manufacturers have passed those savings on to us, looking at LGA 1156 motherboard prices, I find that the average price is about $100 less than LGA 1366 motherboards at their release.
ASRock is definitely not a stranger here at ThinkComputers.org, this will be the 11th ASRock motherboard I’ve reviewed. ASRock is best known for their economy motherboards and their uncommon solutions to common motherboard issues. But the last few ASRock motherboards I’ve looked at, though priced less than the competition, were full featured, well built, and every bit as good as boards from those “household name” companies.
Today I will be looking at ASRock’s top P55 motherboard, the P55 Deluxe. It too is a full featured board and carries all of ASRock’s unique features. It is designed for the overclocker and priced for the beginning builder. Will it carry my new i7 860 to glory? Read on to see!
The P55 Deluxe is packaged in a white box with holographic design. I couldn’t believe it, I have been trying to capture holograms on photos for years and quit trying a long time ago, but it showed up on this photo. Both the front and rear of the box show numerous features and specs.
Inside, the motherboard is protected from the bundle by a cardboard divider. As always with ASRock boards, the motherboard is backed with a slab of pink foam and placed in a static free bag.