Foxconn H67S review

Sandy Bridge in a tiny form factor with this mini-ITX motherboard

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Any mini-ITX motherboard comes with compromises. After all, with board dimensions of just 170mm by 170mm, it's simply not possible to squeeze in a full feature set. In terms of building a high performance PC, however, there's no denying the health of the Foxconn H67S's chops.

The LGA1155 socket and H67 chipset allow for Sandy Bridge processors up to and including the Core i7-2600K. That's a quad-core chip with a top Turbo frequency of 3.8GHz and performance to flatten anything this side of a £750 Intel six-core chip. Make no mistake, this board promises true enthusiast-class performance.

The same applies to 3D throughput. A full 16-lane PCI Express port makes this minuscule motherboard compatible with the most powerful pixel pumpers, including Nvidia's latest bad boy, the GeForce GTX 580.

OK, finding a mini-ITX case and power supply that can accommodate such a monster isn't easy. But a few solutions do exist. Just imagine the possibilities.

Of course, this is an H67-based board, and that means you also have the option of a more power-efficient platform using the integrated Intel HD Graphics core inside every Sandy Bridge-class processor.

As we discovered in our review of the Core i7-2600K, the HD Graphics 3000 core with 12 execution units is the fastest integrated chip ever. For the first time, playing relatively modern games such as Call of Duty 4 on an integrated GPU is genuinely feasible.

Just as important for a low-power system that might well serve as a home cinema system, the 2D video feature set is top notch, with hardware acceleration for all the key codecs, as well as Flash video. What's more, the HDMI 1.4 port forms part of a box-fresh feature set that includes support for Blu-ray 3D movies.

Thanks to the SATA 6Gbps interface that comes as standard with every H67 chipset, the Foxconn H67S also offers the quickest currently available storage interface. If all that sounds like a recipe for a flawless victory, the lack of USB 3.0 ports and a pretty threadbare EFI interface (that's the new firmware replacement for BIOS) are reminders that you're not quite getting the full desktop experience.