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.

Another Look at Hydra
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  • anandtech pirate - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    that last photo on the first page makes the board look crooked.

    also, where's the evo3d review?
    Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    Agreed - some board flexing is to be expected, especially after mounting a massive aftermarket hsf and installation into the case, but that looks a bit ominous for a brand new board straight outta the box! I know it's not terribly reasonable to think less of a board for such a thing, but I can't help but raise an eyebrow as to why a premium board looks like that.

    ...Otherwise, thanks for the very thorough review, thanks Ian!
    Reply
  • connor4312 - Monday, October 17, 2011 - link

    Likely (hopefully) just some lens distortion that wasn't fixed in PS. Reply
  • Hargak - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    The word ECS still gives me nightmares. I'm sure things have changed.. I still twitch from flashbacks of early MSI boards.. Reply
  • randinspace - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    I can't believe you actually ran that many combinations in that many programs for Hydra! It made for quite the fascinating read so great job. Reply
  • ckryan - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    are very hit and miss lately.

    First, if you're a in the business of designing, building, and selling mainbords, why would you try to kick your customers in the [insert place to kick here] with such a prickly, useless UEFI? Further, some of the engineers presumably have sight, so that it left the facory with that kind of graphical uefi is unbelivable. Just looking at the color pictures of the uefi made my eyes hurt with it's yellowish-green and greenish-yellow text on a schizophrenic background. Asus clearly has the (far and away) best graphical UEFI, but the graphical part isn't neccessary if you design the text part is a half way decent fashion. The BIOS and UEFI make or break a board. For instance, Zotac has some good boards with not so great BIOSs, either with dubious or broken or missing functions. Biostar has improved in this area, but was using a text UEFI, then released a grapical upgrade for their 1155's (I have not tried it yet, but have seen some pictures) company that makes boards that should have no excuse for bad BIOS/UEFI designs is Intel (though you could make the case that everything they do should be better). To their credit, they've improved over the last decade substantially. Their DP67BG mainboard had a less than savory UEFI back in January, but has since improved to an almost excellent system. But not graphical, which is okay. I'd rather have a decent text system than graphical one any day of the week, or in ECS's case, never. I just don't get a lot of the decisions mainboard manufacturers are using, especially when this seems like the one area where Taiwanese firms AREN"T "copy and pasting" and just plain stealing from one another.
    Reply
  • philosofool - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    I honestly don't see the point of GUI BIOS, but I've never used one. The only advantage I can see is building in mouse roll-over stuff so that when I mouse over the menu option, it shows me what's nested in there, but you can do that with arrow key selection too. Reply
  • ckryan - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    I think, when done well, a graphical UEFI can provide more information and options. It doesn't actually do anything better per se. In my opinion, no bios provides nearly enough information on settings and options anyway, but some are just abysmal. Even in the mobo's manual you will find vague descriptions which border on absurd. If you do a lot of digging (and you own an Intel extreme series board) you can find Intel's BIOS/UEFI manual which and a performance tuning guide which provides some good guidance about which settings do what and why you would need to use them. If you had only been using AMD, and then switched to a Z/P Sandy Bridge board, you'd probably be a little confused about the options due to the new OC paradigm. I believe that the best motherboard can be ruined with a terrible BIOS or UEFI. UEFI is pretty cool, but if you can't make a good text only implementation, how the hell are you going to make a passable GUI? I'm perfectly happy with a well designed text based UEFI, but I will admit that as much time as I spend with BIOSs and UEFIs, Asus' slick GUI system is clearly in a class by itself. If I were new to the game, I would want something like that on my first build. There just isn't an excuse for terrible BIOS/UEFIs in the year 2011. Reply
  • wifiwolf - Thursday, July 21, 2011 - link

    I for instance have been surprised my Asus board gui enables instantly booting from whatever device by clicking in that device in boot section of the bios. Was a nice surprise. Reply
  • Nataku - Friday, July 22, 2011 - link

    honestly speaking, for beginner/intermediate users that didn't have to deal with dos, the mouse option does help

    besides, we gotta move forward at some point :P
    Reply

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