ASRock P67 Pro3 Motherboard
By Gabriel Torres on January 20, 2011
The ASRock P67 Pro3 is one of the most inexpensive socket LGA1155 motherboards based on the P67 chipset available on the market today. Let’s see if it is a good option if you are building a PC based on the new “Sandy Bridge” processors and are trying to save money.
The ASRock P67 Pro3 uses the standard ATX form factor.
Because it is positioned at the lowest price range for P67-based motherboards, the manufacturer had to cut costs somewhere. The main disadvantage of the ASRock P67 Pro3 compared to other mainstream P67-based motherboards is the presence of only one PCI Express x16 slot. This should not be a problem if you are an average user, but if you plan to add a second video card in the future to improve gaming performance, you will need to pick a different (and more expensive) product.
If you install a dual-slot video card in the PCI Express x16 slot you will “kill” one of the PCI Express x1 slots.
The motherboard has three PCI Express x1 slots and three standard PCI slots.
It is important to understand that the P67 and H67 chipsets don’t support standard PCI slots anymore, and the PCI slot is provided by an ASMedia ASM1083 bridge chip.
Intel socket LGA1155 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor – and not the chipset – that defines what memory technologies and the maximum amount of memory you can have. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
The integrated memory controller from socket LGA1155 processors supports only DDR3 memories up to 1,333 MHz under dual-channel architecture, but ASRock says the P67 Pro3 supports memory up to 2,133 MHz through overclocking.
The ASRock P67 Pro3 has four memory sockets and, since DDR3 memory modules can now be found in capacities up to 8 GB, you can have up to 32 GB with this motherboard, if you use four 8 GB modules.
The first and third sockets are white, while the second and fourth are blue. In order to achieve the maximum performance you should install two or four memory modules in order to enable dual-channel architecture. When only two modules are used, install them in the white sockets, otherwise your computer won’t turn on.
The Intel P67 chipset is a single-chip solution, and is also known as PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip supports two SATA-600 ports and four SATA-300 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 5 and 10). The SATA ports are located on the motherboard edge, way from the PCI Express x16 slot, so a long video card won’t block them.
The motherboard has an eSATA-600 port, which is shared with the SATA3_1 connector, meaning that you cannot use this eSATA-600 port when you have a hard drive or SSD installed on the SATA3_1 connector.
Differently from all other P67-based motherboards we’ve seen so far, the P67 Pro3 comes with a floppy disk drive controller. It doesn’t come with an ATA-133 port.
This motherboard has 12 USB 2.0 ports, six soldered on the rear panel and six available though three headers located on the motherboard. It also has two USB 3.0 ports controlled by an EtronTech EJ168A chip.
No FireWire (IEEE1394) ports are available.
The P67 Pro3 comes with eight-channel audio, generated by the chipset using a Realtek ALC892 codec. Unfortunately Realtek doesn’t publish technical data about this chip, so we can’t comment on the quality of the on-board audio.
The portrayed motherboard comes with on-board optical and coaxial SPDIF connectors, and you can route digital audio to your video card to have digital audio in the HDMI connector using the available “HDMI_SPDIF1” header.
The analog audio jacks are completely independent, so you won’t “kill” the mic in or the line in jack when installing a set of 7.1 analog speakers.
The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by a Realtek RTL8111E chip.
In Figure 5, you can see the motherboard rear panel, with PS/2 keyboard and mouse connectors, external clear CMOS button, coaxial and optical SPDIF outputs, six USB 2.0 ports, eSATA-600 port, two USB 3.0 ports (blue ones), one Gigabit Ethernet port, and independent analog 7.1 audio outputs.
The ASRock P67 Pro3 has a few additional features. It has a POST diagnostics display that allows you, through a two-digit code, identify what is wrong with your computer if it doesn’t turn on. It also has on-board power and reset buttons. These features were already shown in Figure 4.
The motherboard has a legacy serial port, available through a header labeled “COM1” (you will need to buy the necessary adapter to use this port), and also an infrared interface (you will also need to buy the optical components to use this interface).
The portrayed motherboard supports socket LGA775 CPU coolers, so if you have an “old” CPU cooler that you’d like to use, you can.
In Figure 7, you can see all accessories that come with this motherboard.
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the P67 Pro3 has 10 phases, eight for the CPU main voltage (Vcc a.k.a. Vcore), and two for the CPU VTT voltage (integrated memory controller and L3 memory cache). Therefore it uses an “8+2” configuration.
This motherboard uses solid ferrite-core coils, which present less energy loss than iron-core coils (i.e., they improve efficiency), and solid capacitors. If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
The ASRock P67 Pro3 offers some overclocking options, listed below (1.50 BIOS):
The ASRock P67 Pro3 uses a graphical interface in its setup program, as you can see below.
The main specifications for the ASRock P67 Pro3 include:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this First Look article.
Even though the ASRock P67 Pro3 is the most inexpensive socket LGA1155 motherboards based on the Intel P67 chipset, it brings a good array of features that will please most users: two USB 3.0 ports, two SATA-600 ports, eSATA-600 port, on-board SPDIF optical and coaxial connectors, POST diagnostics display, a decent voltage regulator circuit, compatibility with socket LGA775 CPU coolers, and more.
Of course the manufacturer had to cut costs somewhere, and the P67 Pro3 comes with only one PCI Express x16 slot and its eSATA-600 port cannot be used if the second SATA-600 internal connector is already being used.
Therefore, if you are an average user that won’t be installing a second video card in the future, the ASRock P67 Pro3 provides a good cost/benefit ratio, especially if you want to save the maximum you can.
If, however, you want to have the possibility of adding a second video card in the future to improve your gaming performance or adding more video monitors, you will need to pick a different product. Unfortunately for ASRock, there is a competing product from Gigabyte (GA-P67A-UD3) with similar features and two PCI Express x16 slots that cost only USD 5 more than the P67 Pro3, but this second slot works at x4; motherboards with at least two PCI Express slots running at x8 when two video cards are installed (such as the ASRock P67 Extreme4) cost at least USD 25 more.