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
Sandy Bridge
Sandy Bridge
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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  • DominionSeraph - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    Did you know that the laptop that is a college student's constant campus accessory is.. get this.. a computer?

    This isn't 1980. A laptop's a given either way.
  • Wilberwind - Sunday, March 27, 2011 - link

    oh noes...that Console vs. PC debate again...Consoles are great for playing with friends. I have both, but If you're using a PC for work and internet, why not just spend a little more and make it into a cheap gaming rig?
  • dingetje - Sunday, March 27, 2011 - link

    consoles are great...for retarded kids
  • silverblue - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    Just because someone chooses to play games on a console, doesn't make them retarded. You spent more money for a machine that will be utilised far less than theirs and doesn't lend itself as well to communal entertainment, but I'm not going to judge you or anyone else for whatever gaming option they've opted for.
  • silverblue - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    "utilised" i.e. the developers will generally program consoles to their strengths, whereas you have to hope the developers pay even half the attention to even one component in yours, be it CPU or GPU. Nothing's perfect, however for all the downsides of having a locked system, the ability to develop for only one or two permutations of hardware allows a studio to work at ekeing out every last amount of power from a supposedly limited machine.
  • Voldenuit - Sunday, March 27, 2011 - link

    Intel's hare-brained chipset segmentation strategies = failsauce.
  • Taft12 - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    ... and don't forget -- preventing others from producing competing chipsets = monopolyabusesauce
  • mariush - Sunday, March 27, 2011 - link

    Page 8:

    Along the bottom are a plethora of USB headers, but no fan headers. In fact, this board is somewhat lacking USB headers – there is one for the CPU, which is oddly south of the CPU socket, and another next to the SATA ports. Trying to fit a Corsair H50 required some deft placing of the cooler or a fan extension lead, and the second fan required a 3-pin to molex connector.

    Surely you mean "this board is somewhat lacking FAN headers", or it doesn't really make sense
  • KaarlisK - Sunday, March 27, 2011 - link

    Does the power consumption at idle increase when overclocking the GPU?
    If the overclock affects the turbo frequency, it should not change. If the overclock changes the base frequency, I have no idea.
  • Concillian - Monday, March 28, 2011 - link

    I really do not understand Intel's target with the H67.

    H61 is for the budget person + single GPU
    P67 is for the overclocker with plenty of money to donate on a motherboard almost $!00 more expensive plus a CPU that has a price adder as well.

    H67 is for the IGP overclocker? Wha?

    The review is fine, but the products reviewed have no real target market in my mind. It's a marketing stunt that I'm surprised Anandtech didn't call them on by including an H61 motherboard here and pointing out that the real value, if there is one in this Intel generation, is H61.

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