By now we should know that integrated
graphics is perfectly fine for everyday desktop work and even the
occasional game at light image quality settings and modest
screen resolutions. Integrated Graphics (IGP) can save you a ton of
money when building a workstation PC, it's for this very reason why your office
computer is probably running on IGP graphics right now.
The integrated graphics core at the heart of all Sandy
Bridge processors is good for modest DX10.1 gaming, at best. It's not a
realistic substitute for mainstream graphics cards, which is why the ECS
H67H2-M motherboard PCSTATS has on the test bench today features a PCI Express x16 2.0 videocard slot.
To be fair, Intel has squeezed consistent and incremental improvements
from it IGP stables, for the purposes of this review we'll be considering the
Intel HD 3000 graphics core contained in the hallowed silicon of the Intel Core
i5 2500K processor. This graphics core is clocked at 1000MHz and completes
3DMark Vantage about 4.3X faster than AMD's 990GX IGP, but roughly 2.5X
slower than AMD's purpose bred A8 Fusion APU. Further complicating
your decision process is how the AMD APU stacks up to an Intel
Sandy Bridge processor in office applications - Sandy Bridge comes out a good
20% ahead in many office-oriented benchmarks.
Media transcoding is a one region both Intel and AMD have
focused their collective processor powers on. Intel SmartSync gets the job done
significantly faster in this respect, but transcoding isn't a deciding factor to
most computer users PCSTATS has spoken to. In any event, on the review
bench today PCSTATS tests the ECS H67H2-M Black Edition microATX motherboard, built on the
Intel H67 B3-stepping chipset and supporting socket LGA1155 Intel 2nd
Generation Core i3/i5/i7 2xxx-series 32nm Sandy Bridge processors.
User's Manual, Driver
DVD, (4) SATA cables, eSATA bracket, I/O Shield.
Chipsets: Intel H67 Express
CPU Support: Intel Socket
Memory Type: Dual Channel
Videocard Support: (1) PCI Express
Estimated Price: $125 USD
/ £80 GBP / $125
H67 chipset makes it possible to output HD video content via
HDMI or Display Port to a big screen HDTV, or
hook up dual LCD displays over Analog VGA and DVI
monitor connections. The only aspect this board really can't handle
is overclocking - a limitation of the H67 chipset. Two of
the video outputs may be used at any one time, and in keeping
with its HTPC lineage, the H67H2-M platform supports 8-channel Intel High Definition Audio
care of the Realtek ALC892 PHY.
On the storage front, the ECS H67H2-M board has two
6Gb/s SATA III ports and three 3Gb/s SATA II ports. There are no IDE or FDD
connectors, but one eSATA II port and one eSATA bracket for hooking up external
storage devices at the rear I/O. Dual USB 3.0 ports are handled by a
discreet ETRON controller as USB 3.0 is not natively supported in the Intel H67
chipset. Unique to many Intel H67 boards PCSTATS has tested are the dual 1GbE
Ethernet ports the H67H2-M provides.
microATX ECS H67H2-M motherboard is equipped with one PCI Express 2.0 x16 videocard
slot that runs with 16-lanes of bandwidth. Rounding out the expansion slots are two PCI Express 2.0 x1
slots and one legacy PCI slot. The board has four dual channel DDR3-1066/1333
memory slots that can be installed with up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM.
H67H2-M Black Edition motherboard you have a fantastic choice of HDMI, Display Port,
DVI and Analog VGA video outputs to choose from! Any two of the four video
outputs can be used at the same time to take advantage of the Intel HD 3000
integrated graphic core made available by the Sandy Bridge
+ Intel H67 chipset combo. The HDMI
and Display Port video outputs support resolutions of 1920x1200. The DVI port
goes to 1920x1200 (WUXGA) while the Analog VGA supports 2560x1600.
ECS' H67H2-M motherboard retails for around $125 CDN, ($125 USD, £80
GBP), a good value considering all the options integrated into the platform and
the excellent assortment of video-outputs.
ECS has put serious efforts into improving the build quality of its
boards, the H67H2-M utilizes Japanese made solid-state capacitors, extra-thick
gold plating on the DRAM and CPU socket pins and heatpipe cooling for the
board's power MOSFETs.
Before we get to benchmarking though, let's take a closer look at what makes this motherboard tick.
Next up, a 360-degree
look at the H67H2-M Black Edition motherboard.