Everyone awaited Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors early this year just before the Cougar Point chipset issue. ECS, like all other motherboard manufacturers launched their product based on the chipset. They later rehashed the product and launched three different motherboards – P667H2A-2 (1.0), P67H2-A3 and P67H2-A4. Before these three came out, ECS unleashed a stylish looking motherboard from their Black Extreme series called the P67H2-A (1.1). This high-end P67 board is designed for Sandy Bridge and comes built with the Lucid Hydra support. Let’s take a look at this new ECS P67H2-A and see how it compares to the top boards from other motherboard manufacturers.
ECS' first offering of Sandy Bridge
The ECS P67H2-A is an ATX form factor motherboard that is built around Intel’s LGA 1155 socket. The LGA 1155 socket has been designed specifically for Intel’s 2nd generation of Intel Core Sandy Bridge processors. This board has supports Lucid’s Hydra Core Technology that’ll allow users to install three graphics under in A/N/X modes, which basically means multiple cards can be coupled together using CrossFire or SLI and between NVIDIA and AMD cards. The board has a pair of heatsinks running between three heatsinks at the top of the board.
Like all other P67 boards these days, SATA3 and USB3 connectivity support is present. We reviewed the somewhat cheaper Gigabyte GA-P67A-UDR3 and we noticed a few features missing on it. One of them was the lack of eSATA ports, which is something present on this board. Besides the eSATA port, there are other features available on this mainboard which we missed on the Gigabyte board. There are dedicated Power and Reset buttons on the board. There’s also an status code indicator that should help in troubleshooting any problems with the board. It also displays system temperatures. There are also two Gigabit Ethernet adapters integrated into the board. Most motherboards offer a single Ethernet port, but the ECS P67H2-A allows can help you achieve twice the bandwidth by teaming up the two adapters.
Stylishly designed chipset
The P67 also sports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 configurations. ECS has implemented an EZ Charger feature which allows charging of Apple devices such as the iPad. Overall, this mother board has a vast variety of features that can compete with most other motherboards where features are concerned.
While most of the features on the board are impressive, the BIOS is extremely limited. There are very few options to play with and overclocking is a nightmare. Apart from the CPU multiplier (which is only handy if you have an unlocked processor) and a few other options, there’s little provision for overclocking.
Design and Layout
The P67H2-A falls in the Black Extreme series of boards from ECS and is stylishly designed. The PCB is black in color, the heatsinks, northbridge and chipsets are silvery grey and have fancy artwork on them. It’s clear from the design that the P67H2-A is targeted at enthusiasts. The ECS P67H2-A comes with three PCI Express x16 slots, two PCI Express x1 slots and two PCI slots. There are five USB 3.0 ports (one front panel) and can support upto 10 USB 2.0 ports (four front panel).
The layout of the ports, slots and connectors are well spaced out however the heatsinks next to the processor mount are a bit too large and mounting on the processor heatsink can get a little difficult. As with the Gigabyte motherboard, when we placed the humongous ASUS GeForce GTX 580 DirectCU II card on the PCIe x16 slot it blocked out the other two slots. In this case, the PCIe x1 and the adjoining PCI slot got blocked in the process. SATA ports are lined along the sides of the board, so large graphics cards won’t block any cables.
LGA 1155 socket
Test Rig Specifications
- Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K CPU @ 3.40 GHz
- Motherboard: ECS P67H2-A
- Memory: Corsair Dominator GT 6 GB DDR3 (3 x 2 GB)
- Hard drive: WD Velociraptor 300 GB
- GPU: ASUS GeForce GTX 580 DirectCU II
- PSU: Cooler Master Silent Pro 1000W
PCIe slots with crossfire capabilities
As with most other boards based on a similar chipset, there’s little difference in performance. We saw some difference in some CPU intensive benchmarks such as Cinebench. Frame rates in OpenGL tests were lower, but only by a minuscule three per cent. However, graphics benchmarks such as Unigine and Just Cause 2 showed a slight improvement in frame rates. File copy tests also showed close to identical scores to the last Gigabyte P67 board.
Single CPU - 4534 CB-CPU
Multiple CPU - 18405 CB-CPU
OpenGL - 8759 CB-GFX
CPU - 6.27 pts
Open GL - 58.16fps
File Copy Test
4GB Single File- 39.427seconds
Glasschess.pov settings 1600x1200, AA 0.3 - ,
1024x768 AA0.3 - 2mins 59seconds
Benchmark Score: 3175 KB/s
File Compression - 24.8seconds
File Extraction - 3.5seconds
3DMark score - P28898
GPU Score - 24588
CPU Score - 60954
PCMark Score - 10827
Memories Score - 8547
TV and Movies Score - 6230
Gaming Score - 9133
Music Score - 9237
Communications Score - 12755
Productivity Score - 7965
HDD Score - 5967
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
FPS - 46.2
Scores - 1164
Min - 22.4
Max - 90.5
Just Cause 2
Average frame rate - 46.72
4 RAM slots for memory up to 32 GB
The ECS P67H2-A is priced at Rs. 15,700, which makes it more expensive than the Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3R. Obviously, for the price, you get more such as the additional USB 3.0, eSATA ports as well as the additional NIC. The Lucid Hydra features means more flexibility if you want to go with multiple graphics cards from separate vendors. There are also smaller features like the quick access switches as well as the large cooling solutions. We’re not at all impressed by the overclocking features made available to the user. If you have any plans of overclocking your rig, you should skip this board. If you specifically need the features we’ve mentioned above, you should consider this.
Published Date: May 09, 2011 04:45 pm | Updated Date: May 09, 2011 04:45 pm