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Asus P8H67-I Deluxe Mini-ITX Motherboard

The Asus P8H67-I Deluxe challenges the Zotac H67-ITX in a high-end premium Sandy Bridge mini-ITX motherboard duel. Sporting eSATA, USB 3.0, 802.11n with extended antennae, Bluetooth, and Asus’ well-implemented UEFI and second generation AI Suite utilities, it has all the right tools to be a winner.

May 18, 2011 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Asus P8H67-I Deluxe
LGA1155 mini-ITX Motherboard
Manufacturer
Asus
Street Price
US$150

Last month we reviewed the Zotac H67-ITX, a premium mini-ITX LGA1155 motherboard that offered DIY enthusiasts a huge array of features for a powerful Sandy Bridge SFF PC. Though it had an outstanding feature-set that few could complain about, it was a little rough around the edges. Its energy efficiency was poor on load, its BIOS and fan control were subpar, and it lacked any additional software that might have helped overcome these issues. It was in a technical sense, a high-end board, but with a barebone personality.


The box.

There is one other available mini-ITX board that can rival the H67-ITX in features, and it might just have that extra je ne sais quoi that the Zotac board seemed to be missing. Asus has a reputation for putting out well polished products, and the P8H67-I Deluxe is no exception. It features the same visually appealing UEFI and second generation AI Suite of utilities found on all their recent offerings. On the hardware side, the P8H67-I also delivers, sharing many features with the H67-ITX, including eSATA, USB 3.0, and 802.11n. The only differences are the Zotac board’s fifth and sixth SATA ports and DisplayPort connector, and Asus’ Bluetooth receiver, which is surprising to see as they are usually reserved for mid-to-high-end P67 motherboards.


The package.


WiFi antennae.

The package contents are minimal, just a manual, driver DVD, I/O shield, two SATA cables and a pair of antennae for the included WiFi adapter. These are not your typical dipole antennae though as they are fixed to magnetic rings with long cables, allowing users to potentially extend WiFi range and signal strength. By comparison, the Zotac H67-ITX offers standard black rabbit ears, and a few more accessories, two extra SATA cables, a USB 3.0 expansion bracket, and an AUX12V extension.

Asus P8H67-I Deluxe : Specifications
(from the product
web page
)
CPU Intel® Socket 1155 for Intel® 2nd Generation Core™ i7 Processor/Core™ i5 Processor/Core™ i3 Processor/
Support Intel® 32nm CPU
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
Chipset Intel® H67(B3) Express Chipset
Memory 2 x Small Outline DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR3 1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
* Please refer to www.asus.com or user manual for Memory QVL.
Expansion Slots 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16
Memory Size VGA Supports HDMI with Max. Resolution 1920 x 1200 @60Hz
Supports DVI with Max. Resolution 1920 x 1200 @60Hz
Supports D-Sub with Max. Resolution 2048 x 1530 @75Hz
Max. UMA Memory: 1748MB
Storage Intel® H67(B3) Express Chipset
2 xSATA 6.0 Gb/s ports (gray)
2 xSATA 3.0 Gb/s ports (blue)
Support RAID 0,1,5,10
1 xExternal SATA 3Gb/s port
LAN Realtek® RTL8111E Gigabit LAN Controller
Wireless LAN Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
Audio Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
– DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC
– BD Audio Layer Content Protection
– Supports Jack-Detection, Front Panel Jack-Retasking
– Optical S/PDIF out port at back I/O
USB Chipset built-in
– 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 ports at mid-board, 2 ports at pack panel)
Chipset built-in
– 6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 ports at mid-board, 4 ports at back panel)
ASUS Unique Features ASUS Power Solutions
– ASUS Anti-Surge Protection
– ASUS EPU
ASUS Exclusive Features
– GPU Boost
– MemOK!
– BT GO!
ASUS EZ DIY
– ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
– ASUS EZ Flash 2
– EFI BIOS (EZ Mode)
Back Panel I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Combo port
1 x DVI
1 x D-Sub
1 x HDMI
1 x External SATA
1 x LAN(RJ45) port(s)
2 x USB 3.0/2.0
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
6 -Channel Audio I/O
2 x WiFi antenna port
1 x Bluetooth
Internal I/O Connectors 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 connector(s) support additional 2 USB 3.0/2.0 ports
1 x USB 2.0/1.1 connector(s) support additional 2 USB 2.0/1/1 ports
1 x MemOK! Button
1 x GPU Boost Switch
2 x SATA 6.0Gb/s connectors
2 x SATA 3.0Gb/s connectors
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4-pin)
1 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4-pin)
1 x 24-pin ATX Power connector
1 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1 x Front panel audio connector
1 x System Panel connector
1 x Clear CMOS jumper
BIOS 32 Mb Flash ROM , AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI 2.0a
Manageability WOL by PME,PXE
Support Disc Drivers
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
ASUS Update
ASUS Utilities
Form Factor Mini ITX Form Factor
6.75 inch x 6.75 inch (17.1 cm x 17.1 cm)

PHYSICAL DETAILS

The P8H67-I Deluxe is laid out similarly to previous H67/H55 mini-ITX boards. Compared to most mATX/ATX boards, many components and connectors are located in completely opposite positions. Our only complaint is the 4-pin AUX12V connector which is placed very close to the socket; ideally it should be located somewhere on the edge for easy access.


The P8H67-I has two 4-pin fan headers, four SATA ports (two 6 Gbps), an internal USB 3.0 header, mini PCI-E slot (occupied by a half height Atheros WiFi adapter), a pair of DDR3 SO-DIMM slots, and a one-piece heatsink covering the VRMs and PCH.


With the CPU socket so close to the PCI-E slot, there are a limited number of performance heatsinks that are compatible with the board. We checked two models, the Prolimatech Samuel 17 and the Scythe Big Shuriken; the latter interfered with the PCI-E slot. Width is the main factor as height was not an issue.


Viewed from another angle.


Oddly, the tabs on the fan headers were a bit wider than standard requiring more force to plug in. We tried several different fan models and none of them fit the way they should.


The back panel is fully stocked with USB 3.0, eSATA, and S/PDIF ports as well as a Bluetooth receiver. Three video outputs are available: HDMI, DVI, and VGA.


The heatsink is held on with three spring-loaded screws on the trace side of the PCB.

UEFI

For enthusiasts, the options available within the BIOS/UEFI can turn
a good board into a great one. The ability to manipulate frequencies, voltages,
and fan control settings vary depending on the hardware and the amount of trust
placed in the users’ hands by the manufacturer.


“AI Tweaker” menu.

 


Manual Q-Fan options.

 

BIOS Summary: Asus P8H67-I Deluxe
Setting
Options
BCLK/PEG Frequency 80 to 300 MHz
CPU Voltage -0.315V to +0.635V in 0.005V increments
VCCIO Voltage 0.735V to 1.685V (1.05V default) in 0.005V increments
CPU PLL Voltage 1.80V (default), 1.90V
PCH Voltage
+0.735V to 1.685V (1.05V default) in 0.005V increments
Memory Frequency 800, 1066, 1033, 1600, 1866, 2133, 2400 MHz
Memory Voltage
1.185V to 2.135V in 0.005V increments
Memory Timing Control Intermediate
iGPU Max. Frequency 1100 to 3000 MHz in 50 MHz
iGPU Voltage -0.315V to +0.635V in 0.005V increments
Q-Fan: Manual Profile
CPU Fan Max Temp: 40°C to 75°C
Min Temp: 20°C to 75°C
Max Fan Speed: 0% to 100%
Min Fan Speed: 0% to 100%
Chassis Fan Max Temp: 40°C to 90°C
Min Temp: 40°C (locked)
Max Fan Speed: 60% to 100%
Min Fan Speed: 60% to 100%

As the multiplier cannot be changed on H67 boards, and the CPU frequency can only be increased by a few MHz without compromising the other system buses, most of the voltage/frequency options in the UEFI will go unused. There are plenty of memory options which might have been useful if the board supported desktop memory. It’s rather difficult to find high speed DDR3 SO-DIMMs.

The Q-Fan manual settings are fairly standard for an Asus board. Full control is allowed for the CPU fan while the Chassis fan won’t go lower than 60%. In addition, the Chassis fan begins to ramp up at 40°C and this cannot be changed as the setting is locked out.

TEST METHODOLOGY

Test Setup:


Test configuration device listing.

Measurement and Analysis Tools

Video Test Clip


1080p | 24fps | ~22mbps

H.264: Crash is a 1080p x264 clip encoded from the
Blu-ray version of an science fiction film. It features the aftermath
of a helicopter crash. It has an unusually high bitrate for video of this type.

 

Estimating DC Power

The following power efficiency figures were obtained for the
Seasonic SS-400ET used in our test system:

Seasonic SS-400ET Test Results
DC Output (W)
21.2
41.6
60.2
81.9
104.7
124.1
145.2
AC Input (W)
32.0
58.0
78.0
102.0
128.0
150.0
175.0
Efficiency
66.3%
71.7%
77.1%
80.3%
81.8%
82.8%
83.0%

This data is enough to give us a very good estimate of DC demand in our test
system. We extrapolate the DC power output from the measured AC power input
based on this data. We won’t go through the math; it’s easy enough to figure
out for yourself if you really want to.

Testing Procedures

If available, the latest motherboard BIOS is installed prior to testing. Certain services/features
like Indexing, Superfetch, System Restore, and Windows Defender are disabled
to prevent them from causing spikes in CPU/HDD usage. We also make note if energy
saving features like Cool’n’Quiet/SpeedStep or S3 suspend-to-RAM do not function
properly. If a WiFi adapter is present, it is enabled but left unconnected.

Our main test procedure is designed to determine the overall system power consumption
at various states (measured using a Seasonic Power Angel). To stress CPUs we
use either Prime95 (large FFTs setting) or CPUBurn depending on which produces higher system power consumption. To stress the IGP, we use FurMark, an OpenGL benchmarking and stability testing utility. Power consumption during playback of high definition video is also recorded.

Operating Voltage

Before we start, we present the operating voltages of our Core i5-2500K provided by some of the motherboards compared today. Higher voltages don’t necessarily equate to higher power consumption, but in many cases there is a correlation.

TEST RESULTS

Power Consumption

When idle or playing H.264 video, the P8H67-I used slightly more power than previously tested H67 boards, including its chief rival, the Zotac H67-ITX. However as the load increased, the Asus board began to pull away, using 1W less when two instances of Prime95 were running, and then a massive 12W less when all four instances were running.

Unfortunately it is difficult to ascertain exactly how much of the energy draw is generated by the processor alone, as the amount of power pulled from the AUX12V connector depends on how power regulation has been implemented by the manufacturer. In this case Asus has apparently gone with a 4+2 power phase design which pulls quite a bit of juice from the 4-pin connector, while the H67-ITX uses significantly less, drawing a substantial amount of power from other sources.

Cooling

To test the board’s cooling, we used a Core i5-2500K stressed for ~15 minutes with Prime95. Temperatures of the boards’ chipset and VRM heatsinks (if applicable) were recorded using a spot thermometer. The highest temperatures were taken for comparison.

On the P8H67-I, the external heatsink temperature was 30°C above ambient over the PCH portion while the area over the VRMs was 7°C warmer. The H67-ITX’s heatsinks are noticeably larger, and its PCH heatsink did run marginally cooler. However, the VRM heatsink was considerably hotter due to the inefficiency of the board. As we noted in our H67-ITX review, it applies an unusually high core voltage to the processor.

WiFi & USB 3.0 Performance

Our P8H67-I sample shipped with an Atheros AR9002WB-1NG wireless adapter. Compared to the H67-ITX, the signal strength was comparable even with the external antennae stretched to their limit. Both reported four bars with our 802.11n router 25~30 feet away with one wall in between, but the P8H67-I had a big speed advantage, 32.3 vs. 23.8 mbps when transferring a large file over the network. We encountered no disconnects during our limited testing period.

The P8H67-I’s Renasas USB 3.0 controller also appears to be quicker than the VIA controller used on the H67-ITX. A large file transfer from a USB 3.0-connected WD VelociRaptor 600GB to a SATA-connected WD Caviar Black 2TB was 14 MB/s faster on the Asus board.

Boot Time

With an optimized UEFI menu (hard drive and other delays set to minimum), the P8H67-I reached the Windows loading screen in 13.3 seconds with our Core i5-2500K processor. Our sample was snappier in this regard than previously reviewed P67 boards, though the use of the integrated graphics chip might have been a factor.

Fan Control

Fans connected to the CPU and Chassis fan headers were controlled precisely according to the settings entered in Q-Fan in the UEFI. However, the board seems to lack voltage control as it would only adjust the speed of PWM fans during testing.


Fan control via FanXpert.

For better customized control, Asus’ FanXpert utility allows you to add a third point to the fan speed/temperature graph to fine-tune the experience. This is a bit annoying as we would prefer to have everything in the UEFI rather than have to run extra software to get full functionality. We also found it strange that once again, the minimum fan speed was different depending on which method was used. In the UEFI the CPU and Chassis fans’ minimum speeds can be set to 0% and 60% respectively, while in FanXpert, it’s 20% and 40%. We’ve encountered this in the past and have always been puzzled at this disconnect.


SpeedFan screen with correlations inputted.

The latest beta version of SpeedFan works with the P8H67-I, offering similar functionality as FanXpert. We also stumbled upon a useful temperature sensor not displayed in Asus’ PC Probe utility. The sensor labeled SMIOVT4 (5 and 6 as well) correlated to the area over the memory slots. When a fan was placed over this section the sensor recorded a significant temperature drop.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Compared to the Zotac H67-ITX, the P8H67-I has a touch higher idle power consumption, but the difference is trivial compared to the >10W advantage the P8H67-I has on load. The UEFI even allows for undervolting which could potentially make the board even more energy efficient. The UEFI is essentially the same as those offered on Asus’ microATX/ATX variants, providing a fair degree of customization, at least as much as a H67 chipset board is capable of. Fan control, both in the UEFI and Asus’ FanXpert utility offers more versatile options and the fans adhere strictly to the settings entered.

The H67-ITX does have the small edge in features, sporting two more SATA ports, a DisplayPort connector, and a couple of extra accessories, while the P8H67-I can only boast the inclusion of a Bluetooth receiver. However, this doesn’t tell the entire story. Both boards offer 802.11n and USB 3.0, but surprisingly the performance of these peripherals were both substantially faster on the Asus board. The included WiFi antennae can also be placed a couple of feet away from the system, which could give it an advantage, particularly in areas that might have difficulty picking up a strong signal.

If you’re thinking about building a SFF Sandy Bridge PC, the Asus P8H67-I Deluxe is simply the better motherboard, whether you’re interested in energy efficiency, peripheral performance, or usability. A file server is the only type of system where we would recommend the Zotac H67-ITX instead, as its lower idle power consumption and six SATA ports are compelling. The P8H67-I is currently retailing for approximately US$150, about US$10 more than the H67-ITX. As the Asus board is superior in so many ways, we feel it is well worth the extra cost.

Our thanks to Asus
for the P8H67-I Deluxe motherboard sample.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest
Zotac H67-ITX: Sandy Bridge for Mini-ITX
Asus E35M1-M Pro: AMD Fusion Motherboard
Asus P8P67 and P8P67 Pro Motherboards
Gigabyte P67A-UD4 & Intel DP67BG P67 Motherboards
Intel DH67BL & Asus P8H67-M EVO H67 Motherboards
Intel GMA HD 3000/2000 Graphics

* * *

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