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Motherboard peripheral performance
Our last stop on the testing front is the wonderful world of onboard peripherals. Here's how the boards' most important ports perform:

HD Tach USB 3.0 performance
Read burst
speed (MB/s)
Average read
speed (MB/s)
Average write
speed (MB/s)
CPU utilization
(%)
Asus 890GX 153.2 125.8 48.3 12
Gigabyte P55 163.4 153.7 55.2 1
Asus P67 182.2 169.5 55.6 2
Gigabyte P67 224.5 179.3 61.2 2
Intel P67 195.8 170.1 53.0 2
MSI P67 215.8 175.8 60.0 2

For the average consumer and probably most enthusiasts, USB 3.0 is the most compelling peripheral upgrade to come along in recent memory. Each and every one of the motherboards we've looked at today uses the same NEC USB 3.0 controller. Still, there are notable performance differences between the various implementations. The Gigabyte P67 board offers the highest transfer rates, for example. The other P67 models aren't far behind, and they definitely have an edge over the 890GX and P55 boards.

HD Tach USB 2.0 performance
Read burst
speed (MB/s)
Average read
speed (MB/s)
Average write
speed (MB/s)
CPU utilization
(%)
Asus 890GX 33.2 30.7 25.2 7
Gigabyte P55 34.3 32.5 22.5 3
Asus P67 36.6 34.6 24.6 4
Gigabyte P67 37.6 36.8 26.2 2
Intel P67 34.9 32.4 22.9 2
MSI P67 36.4 34.3 23.9 2

Gigabyte's P67 reigns supreme in our USB 2.0 testing by a couple of megabytes per second. Of course, if you're worried about maximizing transfer rates, you're better off using one of the SuperSpeed ports.

HD Tune Serial ATA performance - VelociRaptor
Read Write
Burst (MB/s) Average (MB/s) Random 4KB (ms) Burst (MB/s) Average (MB/s) Random 4KB (ms)
Asus 890GX 199.6 125.5 7.3 199.8 124.0 2.4
Gigabyte P55 213.9 129.9 7.0 213.8 128.1 2.7
Gigabyte P55 (Marvell) 240.9 129.9 7.2 240.8 127.7 2.7
Asus P67 283.4 129.7 7.3 252.4 123.4 2.7
Asus P67 (Marvell) 201.8 129.7 7.2 203.0 92.3 2.6
Gigabyte P67 292.6 129.9 7.0 295.1 126.1 2.7
Intel P67 260.3 129.8 7.3 256.2 123.0 2.6
MSI P67 235.2 129.4 7.2 232.8 124.8 2.6
MSI P67 (Marvell) 189.8 128.5 7.3 187.0 87.0 2.6

This is why you want to use the P67's storage controller over the auxiliary Marvell chips offered by most of the other boards. With our VelociRaptor hard drive, the P67's 6Gbps SATA ports are simply faster than those stemming from the Marvell controllers. Note, too, that some of the P67 boards have higher burst speeds than others. The MSI looks particularly sluggish on that front.

HD Tune Serial ATA performance - RealSSD
Read Write
Burst (MB/s) Average (MB/s) Random 4KB (ms) Burst (MB/s) Average (MB/s) Random 4KB (ms)
Asus 890GX 165.2 225.9 0.22 165.0 201.6 0.34
Gigabyte P55 181.4 236.8 0.13 180.7 200.2 0.43
Gigabyte P55 (Marvell) 196.2 258.6 0.17 190.8 177.7 0.38
Asus P67 198.0 292.8 0.15 194.5 210.6 0.36
Asus P67 (Marvell) 172.2 258.5 0.18 172.6 116.0 0.39
Gigabyte P67 242.2 317.2 0.13 245.8 215.8 0.40
Intel P67 243.2 307.3 0.14 222.4 215.2 0.40
MSI P67 183.3 287.0 0.17 186.5 206.6 0.38
MSI P67 (Marvell) 165.9 215.4 0.20 165.6 109.7 0.36

Moving over to the RealSSD further highlights the performance disparities between different storage controllers and motherboards. Once again, the auxiliary Marvell chips are slower than the P67's 6Gbps SATA controller. The P67 landscape looks similar to what we saw with the VelociRaptor. This time around, the Asus model loses a little luster thanks to a comparatively poor showing in the burst speed tests. It's still faster than the MSI board, though.

NTttcp Ethernet performance
Throughput (Mbps) CPU utilization (%)
Asus 890GX 940.3 11
Gigabyte P55 (1) 936.8 2.7
Gigabyte P55 (2) 945.4 2.1
Asus P67 924.9 1.9
Gigabyte P67 935.0 3.2
Intel P67 941.4 2.0
MSI P67 935.9 3.8

For reference, the Asus and Intel P67 boards use the chipset's embedded GigE controller, while the Gigabyte and MSI models rely on Realtek silicon. Throughput is pretty even between those implementations. So is CPU utilization. Move along.

RightMark Audio Analyzer audio quality
Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD THD + Noise IMD + Noise Stereo Crosstalk IMD at 10kHz Overall score
Asus 890GX 5 4 4 5 3 5 5 5 5
Gigabyte P55 5 5 5 5 4 5 4 5 5
Asus P67 5 4 4 5 3 5 5 5 5
Gigabyte P67 5 4 4 5 3 5 5 5 5
Intel P67 5 4 4 5 3 5 5 5 5
MSI P67 5 4 4 5 3 5 5 5 5

RMAA's 24-bit/192kHz loopback test gives us a quick impression of the analog signal quality of each motherboard's audio implementation. The P67 boards score identically, which is really no surprise given that they're all using the same Realtek codec chip and associated drivers.