The year 2011 has been really intense in terms of new hardware on the CPU and chipset side. Early 2011 Intel launched its 6-series platform with the P67 and H67, then followed by Z68 combining the best of both previously launched, by the end of the year the 7-series will be ready too. AMD struggling to follow with it’s APU and the 9-hundredish chipsets series with new CPU (Bulldozer).
Among the different readers here, the people I do meet around the public event or just friends looking for a new PC one question is usually coming back : should i take a P67 or Z68 mainboard ? (at least this question is like that when people know a bit of the technical side.).
As I wanted to get more in depth the uselessness of the P67 put me back to a performance comparison that will say it all…while on the H67 the argument are not the performances but… you will see in the end.
Let’s kick in with some small history, the Intel P67 and H67 appeared on January 2011 in their first commercial revision (B2), among with the new LGA 1155 CPU Socket. Theses chipsets and mainboard fits in the Intel 2nd Generation Core CPU we know as the Core i3/5/7 2xxx.
The first revision (B2) was killed just 3 weeks after the launch by Intel itself for an obscure reason involving degrading performances on the SATA2 ports, the second commercial (B3) version appears few weeks later and that’s the only one you could find nowdays.
With P67 and H67 on hold for almost 4 to 6 weeks, the successor of P67 with graphical output capabilities (aka H67 capabilities) arrived in early May 2010.
In the end, the life time of P67 was almost out as in term of prices there were small differenciations, while a huge advantage for the Z68 and some exclusives capabilities (Smart Response Technology for example.).
Before showing off the results we had to compare on our two very similar board : P67-UD5-B3 and Z68XP-UD5 both from GIGABYTE, here is a short summary of the major differences betwen the three concerned chipset we are talking in here :
In order to present both contestant and show-off that there is no “main” differences between the two here are the specs the GIGABYTE P67-UD5-B3 and the Z68XP-UD5 have in common :
Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/ Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1155 package (Go to GIGABYTE’s website for the latest CPU support list.)
L3 cache varies with CPU
Intel® P67 Express Chipset
4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
* Due to Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than 4 GB.
Dual channel memory architecture
Support for DDR3 2133/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz memory modules
Support for non-ECC memory modules
Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
(Go to GIGABYTE’s website for the latest supported memory speeds and memory modules.)
Realtek ALC889 codec
High Definition Audio
Support for Dolby® Home Theater
Support for S/PDIF Out
1 x Realtek RTL8111E chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
* For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.
1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
* The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated with a PCI Express graphics card, the PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.
1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
* The PCIEX4 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX1_1 and PCIEX1_2 slots. When the PCIEX1_1 slot or the PCIEX1_2 slot is populated with an expansion card, the PCIEX4 slot will operate at up to x1 mode.
2 x PCI Express x1 slots
(All PCI Express slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
2 x PCI slots
Support for 2-Way ATI CrossFireX™/NVIDIA SLI technology
(The PCIEX16 and PCIEX8 slots only.)
2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3_0, SATA3_1) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2_2~SATA2_5) supporting up to 4 SATA 3Gb/s devices
Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
* When a RAID set is built across the SATA 6Gb/s and SATA 3Gb/s channels, the system performance of the RAID set may vary depending on the devices being connected.
Marvell 88SE9128 chip:
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s connectors (eSATA/USB Combo) on the back panel supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
Support for SATA RAID 0 and RAID 1
Up to 10 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (6 on the back panel, including 2 eSATA/USB Combo, 4 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)
1 x Renesas D720200 chip and 2 x VLI VL810 hubs:
Up to 8 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (4 on the back panel, 4 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)
* The USB 2.0 signals of the 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports on the back panel are from the Chipset.
T.I. TSB43AB23 chip:
Up to 3 IEEE 1394a ports (2 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a header)
Let’s jump on the test results, we used the same hardware as follow on both configuration, just the mainboard was different :
Intel Core i7 2600K retail – default speed
2*2GB Exceleram DDR3-1800Mhz
SSD Kingston V+Now 64GB
Sparkle GTX 460
The operating system used was the same, that means only the board changed, here is the results :
The alternative of the H67
As we saw earlier, P67 and Z68 perform almost the same, H67, at default speed will be very similar too. As there is no overclocking option on the H67, you will run “as is” but the real decent use for such H67-powered mainboard is HTPC or lightweight PC.
As for personal project I used a H67N-USB3-B3 GIGABYTE Mainboard to build a HTPC used for storage, movies and casual gaming (to be honest mainly L4D2, Worms Armegeddon and Starcraft II…).
The good point on this H67N-USB3-B3 is the dual HDMI output allowing the use of two monitor with the integrated graphic on the CPU, this could fit light desktop use very easily and HTPC too. You also have a ton of USB port, an basically more than what you will ever us on a regular PC.
H67 board make sense in Mini-ITX format only, as you can put them in very small cases saving space and noises. Around a hundred buck plus taxes almost the H67N-USB3-B3 is nearly half the price of the Z68 boards. Have a look at our HTPC building album with the H67N-USB3-B3 Motherboard.
Forget about P67, even with the discounts here and there to finish the few sample left in stock, it’s been a while you saw less and less or the P67-boards and every manufacturer is only running Z68 and some small form factor H67.
Z68 is no different from the P67 in term of performances, and if so really small percentage better… it allow overclocking, support numerous features and all you need for a complete PC.
H67 is not dead as it remain very cheap compared to the Z68 and hopefully the H67 exist in Small form factor, such as the H67N-USB3-B3 from GIGABYTE, that is actually the only form factor that make sense on the market (personal opinion.).
For a powerfull HTPC the H67 is definitively the way to go as you won’t use more than a Core 2300 in it, and you will not need overclocking or discrete GPU features…
The GIGABYTE Z68XP-UD5 is a strong board that will suit regular power-users that want to either build a strong PC, overclock it or game with and extra GPU or two, while the GIGABYTE H67N-USB3-B3 will perfectly fit the need for a powerful HTPC.