Foxconn H67S review
LGA1155, Mini-ITX, Intel H67 chipset, supports: Core i3, Core i5, Core i7
It isn’t terribly practical, but we have a big soft spot for the Mini-ITX form factor. Seeing all the key capabilities of a desktop PC squeezed onto a motherboard just 170x170mm never fails to impress us. That Foxconn has been so quick off the mark to produce such a board for Intel’s 2nd generation of Core i3/5/7 processors is admirable – and a very clever move given the processors’ enhanced integrated graphics and superior power efficiency.
As with all Mini-ITX boards, this one does suffer for its limited size. There’s only one expansion slot in the Mini-ITX form factor. On the H67S it’s a PCI-Express x16 slot – though this is more likely to hold a dual TV tuner or wireless card than a dedicated graphics card. Speaking of wireless, it’s the one obvious omission from the specification, with many ITX boards coming with it built-in. You could always use a USB wireless adaptor of course.
There’s a reasonable selection of ports on the back panel. Six USB ports are provided for attaching peripherals, though none of these support the latest USB3 standard. There’s an eSATA port for faster external drives, admittedly, but we feel that USB3 is now the way forward for such devices. There are six audio minijacks for 7.1 surround sound, but no optical S/PDIF – there’s an internal header for a S/PDIF but you’ll need a case with an appropriate connector to hook it up to, or buy a backplate if you’re not using the cases only expansion slot.
All of this may be academic though, as the HDMI output (with full HDMI 1.4a support from the processor) is more than capable of outputting digital audio if you have the right hardware to hook it up to. There’s also a DVI-I output, which can be connected to both DVI and VGA monitors. Using the processor’s onboard graphics you’ll get smooth HD playback with almost no processor overhead, plus full support for all the latest video standards, including 3D.
It may not have the flexibility of a larger board when it comes to adding additional hardware, but at stock speeds it’s comparable in speed to its larger brethren. We got a score of 172 overall in our benchmarks, with our reference chip, a Core i5-2500K, Turbo Boosting up to its maximum 3.7GHz as per usual. The standard low-profile cooler is a perfect fit for this kind of board, though if you’re looking for something even quieter, try the Scythe Shuriken
The latest Intel processors have great overclocking capabilities, though those aren’t of interest to us here. If you plan on building any PC utilising the processors’ integrated graphics chip, then you’ll need to use an H67-based motherboard – like this one. That chipset is prevented from overclocking the processor, so you’re stuck with the standard clock speed, plus whatever Turbo Boost Intel allows on your particular chip. It’s actually feels less of a limitation here than on budget microATX boards, as Mini-ITX cases don’t have space for a large tower heatsink anyway – which you’d want to get the most out an overclocked chip.
At present, there are only 2nd gen Core i5 and i7 chips available, but a lower cost 2nd gen Core i3 would probably be a more appropriate match for this board – and these should be available shortly for around £100. As for the board itself, it’s a good design at a very reasonable price. The lack of wireless networking and an optical S/PDIF output are disappointing, and prevent it from winning an award, but this is still a good choice if you’re hankering after a small but powerful PC.