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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  • Sunburn74 - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    Which board? I searched the thoughts section and don't see any mention of sleep :(

    I just know its a huge problem with gigabyte boards, pretty much every p45- and a good number of the x58 boards mysteriosly can't s3 sleep with significant overclocks in place and its something I'm seriously going to explore before my next mobo purchase.
  • Ryun - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    I purchased and Asrock 760g, which is a great little motherboard, yet it does not support S3 state (standby mode). I have an email from Asrock's (surprisingly quick-response) tech support saying that none of their boards officially support S3 state and to use their Instant Boot technology instead.

    Did the Asrock motherboard you tested allow you to go into S3 state/standby mode? I really like Asrock's boards but the lack of standby is a deal breaker for me.
  • Gary Key - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    S3 is fully supported on the ASRock board. In the power consumption section I did note what needed to be enabled for it work. Also, this was probably in the wrong spot, but in the OC section I briefly mentioned that the board had no problems resuming from S3 with the Bclk set to 215. I can understand why ASRock wants you to use Instant Boot, but S3 operation is just fine, even when overclocked.
  • Ryun - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    Ah, looks like I missed that part. Many thanks for pointing that out. Sadly though, I don't have those BIOS options on the 760g board I have but perhaps I can tinker a bit more.
  • n7 - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    Just wanted to say a massively huge thank you for testing with 8 GB!

    It's extremely encouraging to see, as the large majority of reviewers do not bother testing with all slots populated.

    Thanx again.
  • vlado08 - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    Which board has the quickest Power On Self Test?

    With fast CPU's and SSD I expect fast booting!

    Now I have a Gigabyte board (P965 DS4) and when the Sata is in AHCI mode POST is quite long.

    I hope that in future articles you will include this information.
  • MadMan007 - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    S3 is your friend. Really, who boots their computer every time any more?
  • strikeback03 - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    I usually do, since I dual boot and won't necessarily know which OS I need the day before.
  • Gary Key - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    Cold Boot - Quick Boot turned off in BIOS - AHCI enabled, External Hard Drive attached via IEEE 1394a, LAN attached to our Promise NAS via a Gigabit Switch.

    Time reported is from the time we turn on the board until Win7 has correctly installed the network stack. So this is the full POST and OS is usable process that is being timed.

    ASRock - 44.7 seconds
    Gigabyte - 53.2 seconds

    I have the information since we run this for every board, just did not know if anyone would care to see it. ;)
  • vlado08 - Tuesday, October 6, 2009 - link

    Thanks Gary

    But I was interested in time from pushing the power on switch until the begining of the OS loading. I think that there might be difference between boards depending on their BIOS.
    Time from begining of the OS loading until fully functional OS depends on the computing power ot the CPU and the speed of the HDD (SSD) and not on the design of the board.
    And because you (we) want to distinguish between the boards I thought that this might be one of the criterion.

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