Sandy Bridge, Part 2: Intel DH67BL & Asus P8H67-M EVO H67 Motherboards

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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.

Our thanks to Intel for the DH67BL and Asus for the P8H67-M EVO motherboard samples.

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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 Integrated Graphics

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