Mini-ITX is the new Micro-ATX, and Micro-ATX is the new ATX. At least that’s where we see the trends going in the next few years. With the heavy amount of integration that Intel is working on, motherboard real estate just isn’t as important as it used to be.

While we won’t be able to buy an LGA-1156 mini-ITX motherboard until early 2010, there are good micro-ATX options for Lynnfield owners today with more coming.

The price points are nice and you don’t give up any features to go with a micro-ATX P55 motherboard. Gigabyte’s GA-P55M-UD2 is selling for $110 and ASRock’s P55M Pro lists for $99. We will take a look at the performance oriented Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD4 and ASUS Maximus III GENE motherboards shortly. While both those boards are targeted to gamers/overclockers with dual x16 PCIe slots (x8 dual in CF/SLI) along with additional features, better performance is not necessarily a given unless you are running multi-GPU or high-end cooling options.

You also don’t give up much in the way of features with either of these boards. Both offer a single PCIe x16 slot for graphics support along with an x4 PCIe 2.0 slot. ASRock gives you a single PCIe x1 and a 32-bit PCI slot, while Gigabyte insists on a pair of 32-bit PCI slots. Both boards also feature IEEE 1394a, eSATA, Gigabit LAN, 8-channel audio, and a penchant for overclocking. The Gigabyte UD2 board ups the stakes with two additional 3Gbps SATA ports and a BIOS that just about any enthusiast will love in an entry-level board.

Performance is indistinguishable from other P55 motherboards - these things all perform about the same at stock speeds:

Application Performance - MultiTask Test - Total Time

Networking and storage performance are about equal between the two boards as well:

Networking Performance - HD Video - Play/Record

Storage Performance - HD to SSD

The biggest difference between the boards, from a stock performance standpoint, actually surfaces in power consumption:

Idle Power Consumption

About the only real performance difference between these two motherboards is in overclocking.

Core i7/860 8GB Results -

Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2


ASRock P55M Pro


If you’re going to buy just one, we’d recommend the Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2, especially if top flight overclocking is important to you. If you are not concerned solely with overclocking, then the ASRock P55M Pro is a great choice, especially if you are on a strict budget and it comes with our full recommendation. If you want more details on both boards, continue on.

P55 Refresher
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  • yacoub - Tuesday, October 06, 2009 - link

    785G is just onboard graphics halfbreed between 780 and 790 or whatever. until AMD releases a new line of high-end boards worth reviewing, why bother? Reply
  • haplo602 - Wednesday, October 07, 2009 - link

    P55 is just half a chipset, i5 took over some of the functionality anyway ... why bother ? Reply
  • tommy101 - Wednesday, September 08, 2010 - link

    beastyhacks79.smfnew.com the best psp hacking site Reply
  • bollux78 - Tuesday, October 06, 2009 - link

    Why do we need PCI anymore? I´ll tel you why: The PCI bus is more than enough for a hell bunch of applications, that´s it. If you have a damn good sound card or video capture, or whatever the card you have, and it´s PCI, you´d love to have the slot in there, because you don need to ditch that card and bet a "fantastic" PCIE x1 new card.
    C´mon people, let´s use the computer for the right purpose, not just to give money to the manufacturers buying new parts that you don´t
    necessarily need.

    I know, I´m being inflexible and oldschool, but, please, evolution is one thing, marketing is a completely different animal.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, October 06, 2009 - link

    IMO it is more a board real estate problem than a case of buying the latest and greatest. On these P55 uATX boards you have 4 slots, one of which has to be devoted to graphics unless it is a headless server. If you use a dual slot graphics card (which a substantial portion of the readers on this site) you lose a second slot, and ideally you would have an open slot beneath that to ease airflow. So that leaves you with one or in a pinch two slots, therefore what interface they are is quite important. PCIe has been out on boards for what, 5-6 years now? I'd say its time to stop selling PCI cards and leave the PCI slots only on full ATX boards (plus maybe a few HTPC-oriented uATX boards) and let the interface finally die off.

    Though I'd say IDE has even less of a place now, SATA hard drives have been the norm for years and even optical drives for a few years. Time to upgrade if you are still carting one of those around.
    Reply
  • sonicdeth - Monday, October 05, 2009 - link

    Thanks Gary for the detailed review. Can't wait for the p55 roundup, and I'm also very interested now in your audo codec review. Reply
  • mindless1 - Monday, October 05, 2009 - link

    ... but I don't see the sense in SLI on mATX. Using the typical long video cards means you can't have a shorter depth case, just shorter height and since when is the area above your computer case a vital piece of real-estate?

    With 2, 8 or 16X slots onboard it only makes sense to me to go full ATX, is someone with the system budget to build a powerhouse gaming machine really poor enough, indescriminating enough, or young enough (to not have desirable cards from past systems) they don't want to add some other cards?

    I hate to say it but this is getting to be a madness, the idea that we need to focus centrally on gaming ability of a board. Most people are not hard core gamers, but factually speaking, most hard core gamers don't do SLI either. Granted you can use a 16x slot for cards with fewer lanes, that seems the only saving grace for the two boards.

    It's getting to the point I want a cTX case design where the drive racks are not in front of the mainboard and PSU, they are above them, so the case is even taller than std. ATX but not as deep.

    Might tip over a little easier but earthquakes are rare here and plenty of other household items are more tip-happy than that would be.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, October 05, 2009 - link

    There are cases made to hold a uATX board lying on the bottom, making it kinda a wider Shuttle. I'm personally looking for full ATX as well though, as the height doesn't matter too much to me (pretty sure anything short of a ABS Canyon or some of the bizarre decorative cases would fit under my desk) and don't want to limit my slot selection. Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Monday, October 05, 2009 - link

    Hey Anand,
    Gigabyte boards have on issue that drives me nuts. As soon as you start overclocking them, you lose the ability to S3 sleep. When you do your maximal overclocks for various board reviews, would you mind testing if S3 sleep was maintained at those maximal overclocks?
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, October 05, 2009 - link

    This board resumes from S3 (USB keyboard) at up to 215 Bclk (mentioned in the thoughts section, make that more visible next time) with our setup and that includes an external hard drive on the Firewire port which is properly instructed to shut down and restart. Reply

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