ECS P67H2-A2 - Features
Back in 2009 when we included the P55H-A Black Series in our P55 roundup it was one of just two ECS P55 motherboards available at the time and at $120 it was the cheapest board featured in the roundup.
Despite its price tag, it didn't deliver much value because the Asrock P55 Extreme provided considerably more features and better overclocking performance for just a fraction more money. This time round ECS has been a little more prudent when naming their Black Series boards as the P67H2-A2 looks to be a proper high-end motherboard that should hold its own.
While the ECS P55H-A Black Edition provided little more than a CPU socket and chipset, the P67H2-A2 Black Edition has quite an extensive list of features including six SATA 6Gb/s ports, USB 3.0, dual Gigabit LAN and 8-channel audio.
ECS is also pushing a few other interesting features with the P67H2-A2 such as the 15u gold contact socket design which they say provides 3x extra protection, temperature resistant and scrape protection to ensure motherboards longest lifespan, better reliability and excellent contact.
The idea behind this is that overclockers and even some gamers frequently mess around with their hardware, meaning they remove and re-install components such as the CPU numerous times. Doing so can wear down the 1155 pins that connect to the CPU which inevitably causes problems. While this is an interesting feature, we can't say we've ever had this problem and few people would install CPUs on the same boards more than we do.
Apart from the standard P67 chipset features, Asrock has added quite a lot to the P67 Extreme6. Whereas all P67 motherboards will feature six SATA 3Gb/s ports (two can work at 6Gb/s speeds) ECS has expanded the storage capabilities of their P67H2-A2 by including two Marvell 88SE9128 controllers.
These controllers support a pair of 6Gb/s SATA ports each using a PCI Express 2.0 x1 (5.0Gb/s) lane. The Marvell controllers support NCQ (Native Command Queuing) and hardware RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10. However just two of the four ports are accessible to internal drives while the other two provide eSATA support at the rear. Still the inclusion of these Marvell controllers means that the ECS P67H2-A2 features a grand total of eight SATA ports, six onboard and two at the rear.
ECS has also expanded the networking capabilities of the P67H2-A2 by including two Gigabit Ethernet controllers. The dual Realtek RTL8111E controllers each utilize a PCI Express 1.1 x1 (2.0Gb/s) lane and support a wide range of features such as Wake-On-LAN, LAN Cable Detection, Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az and Teaming.
Also requiring a PCI Express lane or in this case lanes are two Etron EJ168A controllers providing two USB 3.0 ports. Each controller uses a PCI Express 2.0 x1 (5.0Gb/s) lane and supports two USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 devices. While one of these controllers is used to provide four rear USB 3.0 ports the other supports a pair of front mounted ports using an onboard header which is included in the package.
We found that the 8-channel audio is delivered by a rather traditional choice in the Realtek ALC892 codec which supports THX TruStudio Pro. Again this is the same audio codec used by the Asrock P67 Extreme6 and while there is little information available we know it to be a popular codec amongst motherboard manufacturers.