ECS P67H2-A Review: A visit back to Lucid's Hydraby Ian Cutress on July 21, 2011 9:00 AM EST
When the ECS P67H2-A was released, it retailed at $290. Now, it's available at Newegg.com for $240, or $190 with the current mail-in rebate (expires 7/31), putting it in the path of the majority of the P67 boards we've reviewed this year.
The board itself performs as you would expect out of the box, but there's nothing special in that. Feature wise, excluding the Hydra for a moment, this board could come in as a good tri-AMD GPU board. The internal SATA port count is a bit low compared to the other boards around in this price range (two rather than four), however that is at the expense of supplying two eSATA 6 Gbps on the I/O panel. The distinct lack of fan headers is also worrying. In contrast, there is an abundance of USB ports on the back (6 USB 2.0, 4 USB 3.0) and headers on board - though unfortunately the USB 3.0 header is obscured by any board length GPUs in the second PCIe x16 slot.
The BIOS needs work, this much is certain. It's not really user friendly - the color scheme could use a nudge, and trying to find overclocking options can be a hassle. There's no easy front screen with all the important information, but it does offer the boot override feature. Inside the box includes a bunch of SATA 6 Gbps locking cables and a USB 3.0 front panel, which is what we'd expect in a product like this.
In terms of performance, this is technically the best Sandy Bridge overclock we've had to test in this year. But the main issue in that regard is that under multi-threaded load, this board slows down to the 43x/44x multipliers. This has been seen on other ECS boards this year, and there hasn't been a BIOS update recently (the last one was in April) to fix it, which is highly unfortunate.
At $190, it's a contender against the ASUS, ASRock, Gigabyte and MSI boards we've had in. The main issue for a lot of people will be the potential lack of support updates, as shown from the ECS website. No proper SLI certification rules out NVIDIA users, as Hydra isn't really up to the job yet. At $240, going for this board may be a stretch, especially as other products can offer more, from both the P67 and Z68 range.