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Asus Sabertooth 55i TUF Motherboard - Asus Sabertooth 55i TUF Motherboard

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

The CPU socket has plenty of room around it for larger coolers, with 5cm between it and the primary graphics slot. The eight-pin ATX power socket at the board's right edge has a plastic placeholder covering four holes, so that when using a newer power supply no dust or dirt will get into the unused part.

To its side sit four RAM slots, which can handle DDR3 memory up to 4GB per DIMM and have a feature unique to Asus which it calls QDIMM: they only latch on one side, ensuring that installing or swapping modules is easier than ever. It's a simple touch typical of a manufacturer with years of experience in making motherboards.

Beside the memory slots is a three-pin fan header, which leads us to another of the Sabertooth 55i TUF's headline features. This header, together with two screw mounting holes, can hold Asus' CoolMEM! Fan Frame (because everything's better with random CAPitals and exc!amation marks!). Essentially this is an optional mount that can hold a 40 or 50mm fan solely to cool your RAM.

However, except for extreme enthusiasts CoolMEM! is a bad idea for several reasons. First of all, generally even overclocked RAM doesn't require it, especially since most decent kits come with their own heatspreaders and will never get hot enough to need additional cooling. Secondly, though the mount is included, the fan itself is an optional extra (something we feel the box doesn't make very clear). Lastly, even where it would provide a benefit this will be outstripped by the downside of extra noise.

A more practical feature is the small physical switch to activate DRAM overvoltage, something enthusiasts are far more likely to use. We're not quite finished with the memory features yet either, as there's a small memOK! button that will automatically tune any memory for optimum compatibility with this motherboard and notify you with a small LED if incompatibilities or errors are found.

To the left of the 24-pin ATX header we have a 'legacy' IDE connector, but thankfully there's no sign of a floppy drive one. Below this are four angled SATA ports, with a further four facing upwards. Two of these (coloured black) are controlled by the P55 chipset, while the other two (orange and white) come courtesy of a JMicron controller that - unlike the main controller - supports Asus' Drive Xpert, offering 'easy' RAID and backup options. To be honest there doesn't seem to be much reason to use Drive Xpert's RAID 0 over that of the Intel controller and its backup features are of limited use (compared to specialised software), but it's never a bad thing to have more SATA ports. Asus generously provides six black SATA cables in the box, three of which have angled connectors.

To either side of these four SATA ports are pin-outs for the system (power, reset, activity LEDs, etc) and three for USB. Asus has yet another nice touch here in providing a module it calls Q-Connector: essentially a pin extension that you can easily hook your case's cables up to without the hassle of fiddling about with each one individually when the motherboard's installed. Once hooked up simply slot the whole module onto the pins and presto, you're done. There's a similar module for one of the USB pin-outs too.

Beside these connections you'll find two physical LED-backlit buttons for 'power' and 'reset'. They're easy to spot (even in the dark, with 'power' lit in red and 'reset' in green) and are well-located, as they'll remain freely accessible unless you install a PCI card in the furthest slot. However, we do miss a Clear-CMOS button here - nor is there one to be found on the backplate as on some previous Asus boards. Instead you're back to full power-off reboots or using a jumper if your system hangs due to overenthusiastic overclocking settings. It's a minor annoyance but it seems counterintuitive for Asus to be taking steps back in terms of enthusiast features on what is, after all, a high-end motherboard.

b166er

October 15, 2009, 4:27 pm

It would help if you actually mentioned the warranty in these articles. That's the one thing missing from your otherwise enjoyable site.


...motherboards tend to last to survive far beyond their useful lifespan. Not in my experience with Asus they don't. I had 2 same boards fail on me with the same fault and because you can't RMA direct to Asus, I was stuck with the retailers refusal to do anything about it. I haven't bought Scan or Asus since. Get an EVGA board, 10 year warranty and direct RMA. You know it's worth it :)

SpiderJacek

October 15, 2009, 6:30 pm

I've been working in a big electronics store for the last 7 years and I've seen faulty Asus motherboards only couple of times. And there was absolutely no problem to get a replacement from the distributor. And you can get direct RMA here in Poland - all you need is to fill in the form on the Asus website. My current PC is based on an Asus MB, as 2 previous PC's before it.

TechVegan

October 15, 2009, 9:41 pm

@b166er:


Indeed, kind of forgot to mention that, apologies. Unfortunately it's just the standard 3years as far as I'm aware.





I must admit that I've used an Asus board in one of my previous PCs and like with S_p_i_d_e_r it lasted as long as the rest of the machine did.


BTW, we usually mention warranties on, for example, laptops in the feature table.

ASUS UK

October 16, 2009, 2:18 pm

@b166er:





Our current warranty is 3 years, with an estimated 5 days turnaround time if you purchase from an ASUS authorised reseller.





I'm sorry for the problems you've experienced in the past. Our RMA service has been changed quite radically in the last 3 months to help improve the consumers experience of ASUS.

Jay4d0

October 16, 2009, 8:43 pm

well intel has managed to confuse me, so you can use the i7 and i5 in the P55 but only the i7 in the X58? I thought the i7 and i5 were going to be seperate lines that you choose one and if you wanted the other you had to buy a new motherboard aswell

b166er

October 17, 2009, 9:08 pm

That's nice to read ASUS UK, but it's once bitten twice shy for me. Unless you're saying there IS now a direct RMA procedure? I bought Asus for at least 10 years prior to this experience. (back when the pcchips website had a wooden veneer background image and you had to try your best to find drivers for various chipsets using FCC codes and Acer was still ALi :D)


I felt at the time, that had I been able to convince the retailer to ask Asus on my behalf, that Asus would have seen straight away that it was a legitimate claim. The retailer refused to do that. As I had no direct recourse with Asus, I decided to take my money elsewhere.

b166er

October 17, 2009, 9:11 pm

PS: thanks Ardjuna; warranty details are right up there on my list when looking for new hardware.

stranded

October 19, 2009, 7:16 am

I am not an Asus fan but it makes decent products. I give a big thumbs up for this motherboard and Asus. Good and different kind of effort.

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