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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  • goinginstyle - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    I loved the review also and it showed a lot of work went into testing these boards. I just wonder when TA152H is going to ruin this thread but until then it nice to see constructive posts. I also wish the mobo guys would just drop the floppy and IDE ports when possible. It would free up board real estate and hopefully drop the cost a little more.
  • papapapapapapapababy - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    not touching any of this at least it has Socket 775 mounting holes
    usb3 @ pci3 @sata6 and im there.
  • Docket - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    It is a shame that there are no Linux versions of the Gigabyte software reviewed here... oh well maybe some day in a distant future.
  • mitt - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    Hallelujah! DPC latency benchmark in AnandTech reviews!
  • mathew7 - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    When MB manufacturers are going to let go of PCI?
    I recently switched to Micro-ATX, and found I have a real problem of choosing a motherboard.
    I'm looking at buying a PCIe X-Fi, but would like to use a dual-slotted video card. But I would like to keep my options open for a second card (I'm htinking about physics, not SLI/CF, so dual-slot cooling is not required). While the Gigabyte does not pass my requirements, the Asrock also has a problem: usage of a dual-slot-cooled card inhibits the usage of the PCIex1 slot.

    I intend to switch to i5/P55 at the start of next year, so I'm watching closely.
  • Jaybus - Thursday, October 8, 2009 - link

    That will be a slow transition. There are still a lot of PCI adapters being sold out there, especially for some specialty markets like scientific instrumentation that take time to transition to new interfaces due to cost and low volume. Nevertheless, the demise of PCI is starting to happen. For most people it's not a big deal, because they only need 1 or 2 PCIe x16 slots for graphics cards and will never use the rest of the slots anyway.
  • MadMan007 - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    Kind of funny but Intel is leading the pack in that specific area, their $200 (ugh) 'Extreme' DP55SB mATX P55 mobo has no PCI slots, also no PS/2, IDE or floppy. Maybe it's consistent since they ditched PS/2 and other legacy connectors on some boards a while back. No telling on the overclocking front but it is an 'extreme' board so it may have at elast some overclocking features. It has a couple of neat features actually, Bluetooth and Intel NIC.
  • Jaybus - Thursday, October 8, 2009 - link

    And uATX is a good platform to remove PCI from. Why not drop it from uATX? They can always leave it on ATX boards for a while for those who absolutely need PCI slots. I think other manufacturers will follow that path very soon.
  • MadMan007 - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    *bzzt* The only PCIe 2.0 lanes on a P55 platform are from the CPU. So look carefully at specs and double check with companies when they say their secondary slots, especially ones that aren't even 16x mechanical, are PCIe 2.0. The UD2's 4x electrical slot in particular is clearly not according to Gigabyte, the ASRock claims to be but I'm not sure how if all 16 CPU PCIe 2.0 lanes are used for the graphics slot. If they used a lane splitter to provide PCIe 2.0 lanes to the other slots it kind of defeats the purpose, and if so it would be good to check performance with those slots populated.
  • MadMan007 - Monday, October 5, 2009 - link

    To follow up on this, the comment was based on the first few paragraphs. I looked over Intel's manual for their 'extreme' mATX board for my post about it and Intel actually states their mobo has PCIe 2.0 lanes to the additional PCIe slots. Not surprising for the 8x slot I guess but it is for the 1x slots and it seems unlikely Intel would misquote specs.

    On a related note there is one thing I've not seen yet from any review and that is how PCIe lanes get assigned, mainly to the primary 16x slot, when populating a secondary PCIe slot with a 1x or 4x card. Do the lane splitter chips assign 8x lanes to a secondary slot which has a 1x or 4x card or what? Not a huge deal but it's a little thing that would be nice to know.

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