The second portion of our Sandy Bridge examination focuses on the budget H67 chipset which enables use of the Sand Bridge CPU’s internal HD 2000/3000 graphics, and more specifically, the Intel DH67BL and Asus P8H67-M EVO motherboards.
January 9, 2010 by Lawrence Lee
LGA1155 microATX Motherboard
|Asus P8H67-M EVO LGA1155 microATX Motherboard|
A few eyebrows were raised when ASRock recently announced their P67 Transformer motherboard, which uses the P67 chipset for Sandy Bridge but on the older LGA1156 platform. Putting the question aside of who would actually want such a thing, its mere existence and how quickly it took them to engineer this hybrid suggests that the two sockets and the supported chipsets aren’t that fundamentally different. Similarly, the two consumer Sandy Bridge chipsets, H67 and P67, are technically similar in countless ways, yet offer two very different experiences. This is the first time in recent memory that two desktop chipsets for the same socket from the same company have been separated in such a distinct way.
The main differences between H67 and P67 can be boiled down into three parts:
Enthusiasts, power users, and gamers will gravitate twoward P67, paying a premium for its extra potential. Everyone else who wants to build a Sandy Bridge system are left with the more limited H67 chipset. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we don’t appreciate these purely artificial divisions, fabricated to segregate the market. There doesn’t appear to be a technical reason why display outputs cannot be added to P67 or why multiplier overclocking capability cannot be added to H67. For the dregs relegated to H67, we have a pair of contenders to look at today. One is a budget board from Intel, the other is a more upscale model from Asus.
The Intel DH67BL has a street price of about US$100, making it one of the more affordable H67 boards on the market. It is not however the prototypical minimalist Intel motherboard. Despite the budget price, it has a few optional features not native to the chipset. It has an add-on USB 3.0 controller, RAID support, and an eSATA port.
Our sample did not ship in a retail box, but given our past experience we would expect minimum accessories, just a few SATA cables, a driver disc and an I/O shield.
Intel DH67BL: Specifications
(from the product
|AA# (Altered Assembly)||G10189-XXX|
|BIOS ID string||BLH6710H.86A|
|Processor|| At product launch, this desktop board supports:|
* Intel® Core™ i7 processor series in an LGA1155 socket
* Intel® Core™ i5 processor series in an LGA1155 socket
|Memory|| * Four 240-pin DDR3 SDRAM Dual Inline Memory Module (DIMM) sockets|
* Support for DDR3 1333/1066 MHz DIMMs
* Support up to 32 GB? of system memory
|Chipset||* Intel® H67 Express ChipsetIntel® Rapid Storage Technology (Intel® RST) for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10|
|Graphics||DVI-I and HDMI* connectors for processors with Intel® HD Graphics|
|Audio|| Intel® High Definition Audio subsystem in the following configuration: * 10-channel (7.1+ 2 independent multi-streaming) audio subsystem using the Realtek ALC892 audio codec|
* Five analog audio ports and one optical S/PDIF out port
* Internal S/PDIF header and front panel audio header
|LAN support||Gigabit (10/100/1000 Mb/s) LAN subsystem using the Intel® 82579V Gigabit Ethernet Controller|
|Peripheral interfaces|| * Two Serial ATA 6.0 Gb/s ports|
* Three Serial ATA 3.0 Gb/s ports, with one port compatible with eSATA extension
* One eSATA 3.0 Gb/s port
* Two USB 3.0 ports
* Fourteen USB 2.0 ports, six back panel ports and eight additional ports via four internal headers
|Expansion capabilities|| * One PCI Express 2.0 x 16 discrete graphics card connector|
* Two PCI Express 2.0 x 1 connectors
* One PCI Conventional bus connector
Asus P8H67-M EVO
Asus has seven boards in its P8H67 line, with the P8H67-M EVO being one of the more high-end variants. Compared to the Intel DH67BL, it has one more SATA port, FireWire, and CrossFireX support (though the second slot operates at 4x rather than 16x or 8x). It also has overclocking friendly features both in their new EFI BIOS (which has a GUI) and in their desktop AI Suite utility, but much of its capability is held back by the limitations of the H67 chipset.
The package is fairly complete with front panel and USB Q-Connectors as well as snazzy-looking SATA cables for all six ports in the box. It even has a USB/eSATA combination breakout panel, a rarity for a sub-$150 Intel-based motherboard.
Asus P8H67-M EVO: Specifications
(from the product
|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 Express Chipset|
|Memory|| 4 x DIMM, Max. 32 GB, DDR3 1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory|
Dual Channel memory architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
|Expansion Slots|| 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 [Blue] (at x16 mode)|
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 [Black] (at x4 mode, compatible with PCIe x1, x2 and x4 devices)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x1
1 x PCI
|VGA|| Multi-VGA output support: DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-D, RGB port|
Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 2560×1600@60Hz
Supports HDMI with max. resolution 1920 x 1200@60Hz
Supports DVI with max. resolution 1920 x 1200@60Hz
Supports RGB with max. resolution 2048 x 1536@75Hz
Maximum shared memory of 1748 MB
|Multi-GPU||Support Supports ATI® Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology|
|Storage|| Intel® H67 Express Chipset|
2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports (gray)
4 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports (blue)
Intel Rapid Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
1 x External SATA 3Gb/s port (Power eSATA on-the-go)
|LAN||Realtek® 8111E Gigabit LAN controller|
|Audio|| Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC|
– BD Audio Layer Content Protection
– Supports Jack-Detection, Multi-streaming and Front Panel Jack-Retasking
– Optical S/PDIF out port at back I/O
|IEEE 1394||VIA® 6315N controller supports 2 x 1394a port(s) (one at mid-board; one at back panel)|
|USB|| ASMedia USB 3.0 controller|
– 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports at back panel (blue)
Intel® H67 Express Chipset
– 12 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 ports at mid-board, 4 ports at back panel)
|ASUS Unique Features|| ASUS TurboV EVO|
ASUS Power Design
ASUS Exclusive Features
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution
ASUS EZ DIY
|Overclocking Features|| Precision Tweaker 2|
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
|Back Panel|| I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Combo port|
1 x DVI
1 x D-Sub
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x Power eSATA
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x LAN(RJ45) port(s)
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (blue)
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
8 -Channel Audio I/O
|Internal I/O Connectors|| 4 x USB connectors support additional 8 USB ports|
1 x MemOK! Button
1 x GPU Boost switch
1 x IDE connector
1 x TPM connector
2 x SATA 6.0Gb/s connectors (gray)
4 x SATA 3.0Gb/s connectors (blue)
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
1 x CPU Fan connector(s)
1 x Chassis Fan connector(s)
1 x Power Fan connector(s)
1 x EPU switch
1 x S/PDIF Out connector
24-pin ATX Power connector
8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1 x COM port connector
Front panel audio connector
System Panel (Q-Connector)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper
|BIOS||32 Mb Flash ROM , EFI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3|
|Manageability||WfM 2.0,DMI 2.0,WOL by PME,WOR by PME,PXE|
|Accessories|| User’s manual|
1 x I/O Shield
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
2 x SATA 3.0Gb/s cables
2 x SATA 6.0Gb/s cables
2 in 1 Q-connector
1 x 2-port USB and eSATA module
|Support Disc|| Drivers|
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
|Form Factor|| uATX Form Factor|
9.6 inch x 9.6 inch ( 24.4 cm x 24.4 cm )
Intel DH67BL: Physical Details
Our Intel DH67BL came to us sans box, accessories, and portions of the PCB were covered with small strips of white tape, probably a pre-production board. The layout is fairly basic, bearing a close resemblance to the Intel DH55TC for LGA1156.
Intel DH67BL: BIOS
BIOS Summary: Intel DH67BL
|1.20V to 1.80V in 0.05V increments|
Memory Timing Control
|Graphics Max Multiplier||0 to 255|
|1.00V to 1.52V in 0.02V increments|
Given the limitations imposed by Intel on the chipset and the board itself, the DH67BL’s BIOS has little to offer an enthusiast. To our surprise we found a non-turbo multiplier setting, but it didn’t do anything. We’re puzzled as to why it was even there. To overclock the CPU, one must tweak the base clock frequency which is limiting as all the system buses are linked.
H67 does allow plenty of overclocking potential for the onboard graphics though, with a maximum graphics multiplier of up to 255. The IGP clock is defined as the base clock frequency (100 MHz) x 0.5 x the multiplier. Using this formula, the maximum allowable GPU clock speed is an astonishing (12.75 GHz).
As for fan control, the board has it, but there were no customizable settings in the BIOS. Intel doesn’t provide any utility to adjust it from the operating system either.
Asus P8H67-M EVO: Physical Details
The Asus P8H67-M EVO is a more professional-looking board, with all its capacitors being solid-state and the presence of VRM heatsinks around the socket. It also has an 8-pin EPS12V power connector which is a bit overkill seeing as the initial LGA1155 processors have TDPs of 95W or less and overclocking is a non-factor on H67 boards. The same goes for the board’s 8+2 phase power design.
Asus P8H67-M EVO: BIOS
The P8H67-M EVO is the first Asus board we’ve used featuring their new EFI BIOS with a graphical user interface, a welcome addition if only because it’s less of an eyesore and allows the use of a mouse. It has two modes, Basic, which provides a similar experience to using Asus’ desktop tweaking utilities, and Advanced, which is more or less the same as gray/blue screen we’ve gotten used to over the decades, only a lot easier to look at.
BIOS Summary: Asus P8H67-M EVO
|BLCK Frequency||80.0 to 300.0 MHz|
|+/- 0.635V in 0.005V increments|
|0.80V to 1.70V in 0.01V increments|
|CPU PLL Voltage||1.20V to 2.20V in 0.01V increments (1.80V default)|
|PCH Voltage||0.80V to 1.145V in 0.01V increments (1.05V default)|
iGPU Max. Frequency
|1100 to 3000 MHz in 50 MHz increments|
|+/- 0.635V in 0.005V increments|
|800, 1066, 1333, 1600, 1866, 2133, 2400 MHz|
|DRAM Voltage||1.20 to 2.20V in 0.01V increments|
|Memory Timing Control||Intermediate|
|Fan Control||Q-Fan options: Upper/Lower Temperature, Fan Max./Min. Duty Cycle ( both CPU & Chassis Fan)|
The P8H67 BIOS offers more extensive voltage control, though it isn’t really useful due to the aforementioned inherent overclocking limitations of the H67 chipset. Its only real advantages are a wider range of memory controls and fully customizable control of two of the board’s three fan headers.
Measurement and Analysis Tools
Video Test Clip
H.264: Crash is a 1080p x264 clip encoded from the
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)
AC Input (W)
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.
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
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.
Before we start, a note about operating voltages. On some LGA1156 H55 motherboards, we noticed a wide variation in operating voltage that had a big effect on overall power consumption. On these pair of H67 boards, the voltages reported by CPU-Z were much closer together, so this likely is not the cause of any significant differences in energy efficiency.
Avg. CPU Voltage (according to CPU-Z)
Asus P8H67-M EVO
Asus P8H67-M EVO (EPU on Auto)
The Intel DH67BL and Asus P8H67-M EVO were pitted against each other at stock settings and with two of the Asus board’s most touted features turned on, GPU Boost (which overclocks the BLCK to 103 MHz and the GPU to 1450 MHz) and EPU, a power saving feature. For information regarding the second generation integrated GMA HD graphics’ video playback capability, please see our GMA HD 2000 / 3000 article.
Core i3-2100 Test Results
The DH67BL has the same main strength as its predecessor, the DH55TC. Its power consumption is excellent, lower than the P8H67-M EVO by about three watts across the board. Enabling EPU helped the Asus board sneak past the Intel board on load, but did not improve its idle and video playback energy usage.
The power draw measured at the AUX12V connector was rather unusual. The Intel board pulled about 2~4 watts more, despite having better overall system power consumption. The P8H67-M EVO has a 2 phase power design just for the CPU’s integrated memory controller. This could easily account for the difference. Either way, our i3-2100 used much less than its 65W TDP rating. (Editor’s Note: We cannot be 100% certain at this time that the CPU draws power only from the AUX12V line. Some of you may already be aware that the i7-1366 socket CPUs can draw as much as ~40W for its memory management portion from the main 24-pin ATX power connector. We will confirm later whether the Sandy Bridge draws power only from the AUX12V line.)
Overclocking the i3-2100’s GMA HD 2000 graphics with the GPU Boost feature gave it a very nice boost in performance, though it wasn’t enough to catch up to the HD 3000 found on the i5-2500K. The difference was more substantial in 3DMark, but not in standalone benchmarks for the games H.A.W.X. 2 and Lost Planet 2. It should be noted that GPU overclocking is not a special feature — it is standard on all H67 boards, the DH67BL included.
Core i5-2500K Test Results
The tests were repeated with a Core i5-2500K, to see how the boards handle a more powerful processor. Often energy efficiency varies between boards depending on how high a load is pressed upon them.
As before, the DH67BL was more frugal when idle and under low load, but under heavy load, the P8H67-M EVO pulled ahead slightly. Enabling EPU saved the Asus board about 10W on load, while GPU Boost added 12W when the GPU was stressed.
Our i5-2500K didn’t come close to its 95W rating either, even with the integrated graphics overclocked and stressed to the limit.
GPU Boost had a smaller effect on 3D performance with GMA HD 3000 graphics than HD 2000. Still, being more or less equivalent to an entry level discrete card, we’ll take any improvement we can get, even just 2~3 extra frames per second at a low resolution. Unfortunately, using this feature is terribly inefficient, doubling the amount of power the GPU used on load.
Asus’ AI Suite
The P8H67-M EVO marks the debut of a revamped version of their AI Suite system utility which allows for sensor monitoring, fan control, and frequency/voltage adjustment from the desktop. Like the new EFI BIOS, it has a much improved look and feel, though the functionality is more or less the same. The biggest advantage is that all the various functions of the old AI Suite are integrated into a single unified interface.
The PC Probe utility tracks voltage, temperature, and fan speed but its biggest drawback is that the readings are located on different tabs. There is no option to put them all on the same page which limits its value, making it pale in comparison to applications like SpeedFan.
Fan Control: Asus P8H67-M EVO
The P8H67-M EVO’s CPU Fan header is controllable with PWM fans only, while its Chassis Fan header can control both PWM and DC fans. Fan speed behavior can be manipulated with presets or complete manual control both in the BIOS and through the FanXpert utility built into AI Suite. FanXpert gives you three duty cycle/CPU temperature points which allow you to adjust the fan speed curve to your liking and in our testing it worked exactly as prescribed. Our only complaint is the Chassis Fan header has a limited minimum fan speed of 40% and SpeedFan, our favorite fan control and monitor application does not yet support this board yet.
Fan Control: Intel DH67BL
The fan control experience on the DH67BL is almost the complete opposite. It has zero options in the BIOS but is fully supported by SpeedFan, which can adjust the speed of all of the board’s three fan headers, though one of them can cut the fan’s power to a minimum of only approximately 6V. For Windows users this is a much better option than putting trust in the board’s automated system. The minimum fan speed is too high, running the fans at 60~70% speed. In addition, the speed increases too quickly; the fans reached their maximum speeds less than a minute after activating Prime95.
To test the board cooling, we used a Core i5-2500K stressed for ~15 minutes with Prime95. Temperatures of the boards’ chipset and VRM heatsinks (if applicable) were recording using a spot thermometer. The highest temperatures were taken for comparison.
Asus P8H67-M EVO
Core i5-2500K running Prime95, Scythe Kabuto with stock fan @ ~800 RPM.
Ambient temperature: 20°C.
The DH67BL with its bare VRMs measured almost 30°C higher than the heatsinks covering the P8H67-M EVO’s VRMs. The Intel board has a better chipset heatsink though with far more surface area than the stylized cooler used by Asus, operating about 12°C cooler.
H67 is a budget chipset lacking in many of the great capabilities found in the more expensive P67 chipset. Enthusiasts will snub their noses at it, but there is a large portion of the DIY system building community that has no interest in overclocking or unrestrained multi-GPU performance. Given the price difference between comparable H67 and P67 motherboards, many users are probably willing to give up these extra features. After all, these new Sandy Bridge processors are pretty darn fast and efficient even at stock speeds. H67 is also the only consumer option if you wish to use Intel’s second generation integrated GMA HD graphics.
The Asus P8H67-M EVO is a more polished board than the Intel DH67BL. It is built with better components, has a few more features, and has a friendlier EFI BIOS with a good level of customization. This last advantage is of little value due to the overclocking difficulties inherent to H67. It has many of the voltage options you’d find in a typical liberal BIOS, but much of it will go unused as the CPU’s multiplier cannot be adjusted. The board’s EFI BIOS GUI looks great, but again, many of its functions are for naught. The only thing that really stands out for the user who wants to use the CPU-embedded GPU is the customizable fan control.
While a less sophisticated product, the Intel DH67BL has superb energy efficiency. The difference is particularly noticeable when idle or during low load like video playback. The P8H67-M EVO couldn’t touch its power consumption in this regard, even with the Asus board’s EPU feature undervolting the CPU by a healthy margin. Its BIOS is much more restrictive, but given the nature of H67 we don’t have any objections with that. Our biggest concern is its terrible automated fan control that runs the CPU fan way faster than necessary. Things brighten considerably if you are a Windows user, as SpeedFan gives you control of all three of the board’s fan headers.
Choosing between these boards is tough. The Intel power consumption advantage isn’t huge in the grand scheme of things but the extras provided by Asus aren’t terribly compelling. Ultimately we give a slight nod to the DH67BL, simply because it has slightly better fan control (when using Windows at least) and it is a more realistic implementation of the chipset. Many of features on the P8H67-M EVO are wasted on H67. The 8+2 power phase design doesn’t seem to shine with CPUs running at stock settings. We also don’t expect many gamers to buy the board with its limited CrossFireX capability (only 4x on the second PCI-E slot). In addition, high performance multi-GPU systems tend to require CPU overclocking to prevent the processor from becoming a bottleneck. We appreciate the effort in making the P8H67-M EVO a high-end H67 board, but it is a difficult challenge due to the limitations of the chipset.
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Articles of Related Interest
Sandy Bridge, Part 1: Intel GMA HD 3000/2000 Graphics [Updated: 05 January]
Gigabyte H55N-USB3: De Facto LGA1156 Mini-ITX Board?
Zotac H55-ITX-C-E: Stacked LGA1156 Mini-ITX Motherboard
AMD’s 890GX Chipset in Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H
Asus P7H55D-M EVO LGA1156 microATX Motherboard
Intel Core i5-661: A 32nm CPU with
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