Foxconn H67S review

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

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The Foxconn H76S delivers a surprisingly full feature set for such a small board. But does it also pack a similarly hefty punch in terms of performance? That all depends on your reference point. With an Intel Core i7-2600K processor on board, this thing will absolutely hose anything based on Intel's outgoing LGA1156 socket. It beats the likes of a high end, full-ATX PC powered by the old Core i7-870 chip with an extremely large stick.

To take just one example, you'll get 90 frames per second in the historically CPU-crushing RTS game World in Conflict with the H76S and i7-2600K combo with a decent graphics card. The Core i7-870 manages just 78 frames per second.

It's a similar scenario in other benchmarks, including video encoding. Few existing PCs can match the performance this motherboard is a capable of courtesy of Intel's awesome new Sandy Bridge chips.

However, switch your frame of reference to a full sized ATX board running the same 2600K processor and the picture isn't quite so rosy. The P67-based Asus Maximus IV Extreme is measurably quicker across the board. The gap isn't huge, but given the highly integrated nature of the Sandy Bridge architecture – almost everything important housed in the CPU die itself – it is a little surprising.

The explanation is actually quite simple. The Foxconn H67S is not making full use of the Turbo Boost feature. At first we thought it was merely faulty default Turbo settings in the EFI menu.

However, even with the correct Turbo ratios manually dialled in, the board refuses to clock the i7-2600K higher than 3.5GHz. It should Turbo up to 3.8GHz. Adding to the impression of a board not quite ready for retail is memory stubbornly refusing to run faster than 1,066MHz.

These problems inevitably have a knock-on effect regarding overclocking. Foxconn has populated the EFI menu with few overclocking features. There are no voltage or memory options, for instance, and no global multiplier setting.

Only the per-core Turbo ratios are adjustable. In theory, anyway. In practice, 3.5GHz is as good as it gets. In truth, we're not too worried about overclocking headroom with this sort of board. But we would like to see the CPU delivering nearer its full potential at stock settings.

We liked

With CPUs edging ever closer to system-on-a-chip status, it makes sense for motherboards to get smaller and smaller. The Foxconn H67S delivers fully on this concept with puny mini-ITX proportions combined with a very solid overall feature and performance that thoroughly spanks previous-generation platforms.

We disliked

We can forgive the H67S for lacking huge overclocking headroom. It's not awfully relevant to small form factor computing. However, this board's current inability to fully leverage Intel's Turbo Boost is disappointing. A firmware upgrade is surely on the cards. An upgrade to USB 3.0 would be nice, too.

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