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.