Let us have another look at our Sandy Bridge chipset comparison table.  If you bounced straight into this page of the article and missed the blurb on the front page, I mentioned the two main differences between the P67 and the H67.  On H67, we can use the integrated graphics on the processor at the expense of CPU overclocking opportunities, and if we do use a discrete GPU, we are limited to one only.  Considering that a large portion of the pre-built PC sales worldwide feature no-overclocking and limited graphics, the H67 offerings, in micro-ATX form factors, offer a path into a highly contested market between PC builders.

Chipset Comparison
  P67 H67 H61 P55 H57 H55
CPU Support Sandy Bridge
LGA-1155
Sandy Bridge
LGA-1155
Sandy Bridge
LGA-1155
Lynnfield / Clarkdale LGA-1156 Lynnfield / Clarkdale LGA-1156 Lynnfield / Clarkdale LGA-1156
CPU PCIe Config 1 x 16 or 2 x 8 PCIe 2.0 1 x 16
PCIe 2.0
1 x 16
PCIe 2.0
1 x 16 or 2 x 8 PCIe 2.0 1 x 16
PCIe 2.0
1 x 16
PCIe 2.0
RAID Support Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
USB 2.0 Ports 14 14 10 14 14 12
SATA Total (Max Number of 6Gbps Ports) 6 (2) 6 (2) 4 (0) 6 (0) 6 (0) 6 (0)
PCIe Lanes 8 (5GT/s) 8 (5GT/s) 6 (5GT/s) 8 (2.5GT/s) 8 (2.5GT/s) 6 (2.5GT/s)

As with the discussion surrounding the Sandy Bridge processors, many people have questioned Intel’s decision to have most of the processors locked, and only a few overclockable.  The same question ultimately applies to the Sandy Bridge chipsets – why only allow CPU overclocking on P67 (and Z68 in the future)?  The answer here is simple enough – to help bring costs down.

Imagine the scenario that you are designing a motherboard.  You understand the market, and want to add many bells and whistles, but the company you work for obviously wants to lower costs.  If you are told that the chipset supports 95W CPUs, you have to add the power infrastructure on the board to match.  Add in a few phases to support that, and it is done.  Now take the same design to a chipset that supports overclocking.  Somehow, that 95-110W window goes out the door, and you have to cater for any manner of overclocker and power draw.  Then the onus is on you, and the company, to be the best and get the best results – within budget of course.  With H67 and its no overclocking rule, the market that wants a cheaper board can get that cheaper board.

That scenario is, of course, just one facet of what is a large industry to consider.  There is also another argument, that the CPU overclockable K series SKUs also have the best integrated HD 3000 (12 EU) graphics compared to their non-K counterparts, that only have HD 2000 (6 EU).  So in order to get the best integrated, there is an extra cost in getting that K series SKU and not getting to overclock the CPU in a H67 board.  In that respect, I would have to offer this proposal: Intel have engineered H67 to be in the position where people do not need GPU power or overclocked CPU power – enough to help accelerate encoding, run two monitors, play flash, but not much more.  If you cast your mind back to Anand’s comparison of the HD3000/2000, the 3000 is usually better than an AMD HD 5450 for gaming, but the 2000 is usually competing with the higher end Clarkdale 1156 CPUs.  If you are on a budget or a single GPU gamer where CPU power is not all too important, then H67 is aimed squarely at you as well.

I will be honest with you – I am a sucker for a fast machine.  I get weak knees when reading record-breaking benchmarks.  Thus, the H67 results did not exactly set my eyes ablaze.  However, I remember the time when I was a scrimping student.  I wanted high gaming performance at the lowest cost – if Sandy Bridge was out then, and I was specifically after the Sandy Bridge platform over anything AMD, then a H67 with an i3-2100 and the biggest graphics card I could afford would be a viable option.

The three boards we are looking at today are of slightly different price ranges – the ASRock H67M-GE/HT comes in at $120, the Gigabyte H67MA-UD2H for $125, and the ECS H67H2-M aims at the high end with $145.  Technically, all our media samples are the B2 stepping, which Intel has recalled regarding the potential failure of the SATA 3Gb/s ports.  If you remember, the predicted failure rate was up to 5% over three years.  We have double-checked with all the manufacturers regarding their B3 versions of these products. All have responded that the boards will be the same as the B2s, and thus performance should be the same when the B3s come on sale.

So, without further ado, let us jump into the first board of the trio.  ASRock, what have you got?

ASRock H67M-GE/HT: Visual Inspection
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  • trogthefirst - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    Actually i was torn between H67/61 and one of those 785G/880G platforms for my aunt recently - non gaming build In the end she needed multi display scalable to possibly 3-4 displays so i went with a cheapo 880G and an $70ish AthlonII X3 With the Surround View feature you could run, with a Radeon GPU up to 4 displays (2 from integrated graphics) and 2 off something like a passively cooled HD 4350/5450 Sounds like a lot of expansion, features, etc for such a cheap platform if u ask me! Reply
  • loimlo - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    Dear Ian

    Would you like to share us with Power cumsumption measurement detail?
    1. Is it DC or AC draws?
    2. How do you measure the watts? From the wall plug by using Kill-a-watt?
    3. Did you give not so useful MB's energy-efficiency software like ASRock IES, Gigabyte Energy Saver?
    That said, I never had good experience with these softwares, especially Gigabyte one.
    Reply
  • ShadowVlican - Thursday, April 07, 2011 - link

    did you guys measure total system power consumption, or is that just motherboard? looking to build a HTPC, would love something modern and doesn't eat power Reply
  • tpk911 - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - link

    Intel to release Z68 chipsets in first half of May
    Monica Chen, Taipei; Steve Shen, DIGITIMES [Wednesday 20 April 2011]

    http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20110419PD212.html

    Intel will release its Z68 chipsets in the first half of May, with Gigabyte Technology likely to be the first major motherboard maker to launch Z68-based products as soon as its embargo expires. Gigabyte's offerings will include its top-end GA-Z68X-UD7-B3 model.

    Motherboard makers have also reportedly been informed that Intel will focus more on its Z- and H-series chipsets.

    The share of P67-series motherboards will begin dropping once the Z68 is launched and the segment will gradually be phased out, with the P-series not being included in Intel's next generation chipsets.

    ...just a quick update, if I may :)
    Reply
  • gsuburban - Sunday, February 12, 2012 - link

    I wanted to upgrade from an Asus P5 series board and found most of the P8 boards had no floppy or ide (pata) interface on them. Since I still have 2 great BenQ 1655 DVD recorders, they wouldn't be usable without buying a PCI PATA card. After looking matters over I didn't see much benefit in using up 2 of 6 SATA ports since I have at least 4 hard drives and would be limited on SATA ports etc.

    I thought it over and discovered the P8H67-V and P8H67-M Pro by Asus still had the ide interface on board. No floppy but at least the IDE was there which would yield 6 SATA ports available without using them for the DVD-Optical.

    I use XP Pro still since it does have it's advantages in some areas and not having the floppy drive is the pits as you can't load AHCI drivers via the F6 prompt in setup. I tried all sorts of ideas such as a custom image that included the AHCI drivers etc without success.

    The P67 boards are totally fine and they run fast with the right CPU and memory but they are best used with Windows 7. The H67 boards save you about $250 since you don't need a video card, the boards are less than the P67's and with the select models, you get an IDE port which also frees up 2 SATA ports for those who still have IDE devices.

    H67 would be my choice for high performance every day computing since the graphics are much improved from the days of G series and price is low, around $105.

    I think it's too soon to eliminate the floppy and IDE interface at any rate.
    Reply

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