ECS H67H2-I Motherboard
By Gabriel Torres on February 2, 2011
The ECS H67H2-I is a very small mini-ITX motherboard for socket LGA1155 processors, thus being targeted to the new “Sandy Bridge” CPUs. It is based on the Intel H67 chipset and comes with one PCI Express x16 slot, allowing you to build a powerful gaming system using a very small case, and tons of extra features such as Bluetooth connectivity and USB 3.0 ports. Let’s take a look at this new release.
The ECS H67H2-I comes with two slots, a PCI Express x16 and a mini PCI Express. The advantage of coming with a PCI Express x16 slot is obvious: you can disable the integrated video and install a “real” video card, allowing you to build a powerful PC in a tiny form factor.
The mini PCI Express slot was originally designed for laptops and allows you to install tiny SSDs based on this format (also known as mSATA) and other devices as well, such as wireless network cards.
Intel socket LGA1155 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor – and not the chipset – that defines what memory technologies and the maximum amount of memory you can have. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
The integrated memory controller from socket LGA1155 processors supports only DDR3 memories up to 1,333 MHz under dual-channel architecture.
The ECS H67H2-I has two memory sockets, supporting up to 4 GB each, for 8 GB total.
You must install two identical memory modules in order to enable the dual-channel architecture and achieve the maximum performance you system is capable of.
The Intel H67 chipset is a single-chip solution, and is also known as PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip supports two SATA-600 ports and four SATA-300 ports, but it doesn’t support RAID. One of the SATA-300 ports was routed to the rear panel, using the eSATA format. The manufacturer decided to offer only two SATA-300 ports to the user.
You have to pay close attention, because on the H67H2-I the SATA-300 ports are white, and all other manufacturers use white to identify the SATA-600 ports. On this motherboard the SATA-600 ports are gray.
The motherboard has an eSATA-300 port, as mentioned above.
This motherboard has 10 USB 2.0 ports, six soldered on the rear panel and four available though two headers located on the motherboard. It also has two USB 3.0 ports controlled by an EtronTech EJ168A chip.
No FireWire (IEEE1394) ports are available.
The H67H2-I comes with eight-channel audio, generated by the chipset using a Realtek ALC892 codec. Unfortunately Realtek doesn’t publish technical data about this chip, so we can’t comment on the quality of the on-board audio. The board comes with an optical SPDIF connector, but it doesn’t come with an SPDIF header, so there is no way to have a coaxial SPDIF connector with this motherboard.
The analog audio jacks are independent only if you use a 5.1 analog speaker system. If you use a set of 7.1 analog speakers you will have to “kill” either the “mic in” or the “line in” jack.
The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by a Realtek RTL8111E chip.
One of the highlights of the H67H2-I is the presence of a Bluetooth controller and antenna.
In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel, with six USB 2.0 ports, HDMI output, VGA output, DVI-D output, eSATA-300 port, Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports (blue ones), Bluetooth controller and antenna, optical SPDIF output and shared analog 7.1 audio outputs.
This motherboard has a legacy serial port available through a header, but you will need to buy an adapter to use it.
In Figure 7, you can see all the accessories that come with this motherboard.
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the H67H2-I has five phases, three for the CPU main voltage (Vcc a.k.a. Vcore), one for the CPU VTT voltage (integrated memory controller and L3 memory cache), and one for the CPU integrated video controller (VAXG). Therefore it uses a “3+1+1” configuration.
Even though the H67H2-I carries a reduced number of phases, it uses ferrite-core coils, which present less energy loss than iron-core coils (i.e., they improve efficiency), low RDS(on) transistors (i.e., higher efficiency), and solid capacitors. If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
The ECS H67H2-I allows you to only change the CPU clock multiplier (if you have an unlocked CPU) and a few voltage adjustments, listed below:
The main specifications for the ECS H67H2-I include:
The ECS H67H2-I is a really nice option if you want to build a tiny computer based on the new generation of Intel processors, codenamed “Sandy Bridge.” This tiny computer can be either a home theater PC (HTPC) or a gaming system, thanks to the presence of a PCI Express x16 slot.
The highlights of this motherboard include the presence of a Bluetooth interface and a mini PCI Express slot, which can be used to install a small SSD (mSATA form factor) or a wireless network card. Other features include two USB 3.0 ports, two SATA-600 ports, optical SPDIF output, and HDMI, DVI-D and VGA outputs.