Thursday, April 21, 2011

Asus P8H67-M EVO Sandy Bridge Mother Board

It was time to retire my old PC and move it on down the line to become my Linux server.  I have been converting more videos lately and was tired at staring at Handbrake wondering why it takes so long.  I usually buy a new PC every 3-4 years.  And when I do it’s a learning curve because as most know Intel loves to change things so nothing is compatible forcing you to pretty much buy everything new.

My goal was a motherboard with onboard video.  I don’t game much anymore and I didn’t feel it was necessary to buy a P67 M/B where you provide your own video card from Nvidia or ATI.  The H67 M/B’s have the new onboard 3D video using the latest Intel graphics which is more than acceptable for a non-hardcore gamer.  A Sandy Bridge system uses a socket 1155 which is the 2nd generation iCore chips from Intel.  My 2nd goal was a M/B with USB 3.0.  I feel this will be the standard sooner or later.  I doubt the Thunderbolt tech that Intel and Apple announced a few weeks ago is going to become main stream.  It’s incompatible with everything which is an Apple trademark!

I also wanted the usual ports like eSata, Firewire, onboard audio with SP/Dif (TOS Link).  This board will have a complete set of onboard interfaces so you don’t need any cards.  The M/B also came with a total of 6 SATA ports where two have the 6GB transfer rates.  Standard SATA uses 3GB transfer rates.  Asus includes two 6GB SATA cables.  The M/B has 4 USB 2.0 ports out the back and with the included dongle you get an additional 2 ports and 1 eSata port. There are 8 internal USB ports.  I opted to use the additional USB headers inside the M/B and bought a dongle that has 4 USB 2.0 ports.  This way I can avoid using a USB hub.  The dongle was not cheap, $14. 

For video Intel gives you all the choices, VGA, DVI, HDMI and Display Port.  That’s some nice options there.  The amazing part is they fit all of this on a MicroATX size M/B.  A MicroATX M/B will fit in a standard case/midtower or many other ATX cases.  So don’t be worried that you must use a micro case. 

Many of the newer motherboards now include EFI BIOS.  The new BIOS have a Windows look and feel interface.  The ASUS manual states you can update the BIOS without booting into an OS like Windows or DOS.  They also claim you can recover from a bad BIOS update using a USB Flash drive.  What I did discover is the BIOS can see your hard drives and it includes a basic file manager to locate the BIOS firmware.   WOW!

Asus did something very small but long overdue.  Anyone who has built systems in the past knows it’s a bit of a hassle hooking up the power switch, speaker, reset and LED lights to the M/B.  Asus includes a header (Q-Connector) where all the wires go on the header.  And then the header simply plugs into the M/B.  Finally!

This M/B has tons of features which I will cover down the road after I get more experience with the board.  

Q Connector
A nice selection of interfaces
EFI Bios screen

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