Over the past few months, many Intel motherboard vendors have been curiously observing market demand for the new mainstream chipset platform set to replace the aging legacy of socket LGA 775. When it launched in September 2009, the Intel P55 platform based on socket LGA 1156 was released prior to the introduction of Core i5 and Core i7 compatible processors, allowing partners some additional time to release their P55-based designs in time for the launch of these CPUs.
Many vendors were content with this timing structure, planning ahead of schedule and managing enough time for engineers to work on future device I/O technologies including USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps (although neither of them survived launch day releases). On the other hand, EVGA Corporation was a vendor that had remained isolationist from the rest of the enthusiast manufacturers in its own unique way. Within a few hours of the Lynnfield platform launch, it had released not two, not three, but seven P55-based motherboards catered to a variety of different users and markets respectively. In fact, the company had saturated its invitation to the launch party with new products so far as to say that some of them even overlapped for the same consumer groups at marginal price differences.
Today, the company hopes to reinvigorate its presence in the mainstream market by appealing to low-end, budget system builders with the launch of its P55-V micro-ATX motherboard (120-LF-E650). The board shares the same physical design as all of the previously released P55 models, but it is immediately noticeable that a large chunk of hardware is missing from the upper left corner of the PCB. As it turns out, the EVGA P55-V does not feature optical audio output, coaxial output, a BIOS reset button, or additional USB ports and Ethernet port. At the same time, it lacks the proper PWM layout and capacitors to even consider overclocking and sports a miniscule 4-pin ATX power connector, two PCI-Express x8 slots, two PCI-Express x1 slots, and maximum memory support for 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz. In other words, it would be proper to dub this motherboard the “barebones of all potential possibilities” for the Intel P55 platform.
We honestly have no idea why the company chose to market an additional P55 board in mATX form factor, considering the success rate of the P55 Micro (121-LF-E652) and its popularity among consumers of all market groups. Nevertheless, the P55-V is now available directly from EVGA at an MSRP of $119.99 compared to $179.99 for the Micro. In the end, it is the consumer’s decision to save for the additional benefits of more feature-packed motherboard hardware or to simply stick to the barebones and necessities for a new platform build.