ECS is one of those mainboard makers who offer consumers mostly a wide range of affordable products. It is this particular aspect that allows ECS to sell millions of mainboards and compete in sales volumes against the market leaders – Asus and Gigabyte. The consequence of ECS’ products low price is their not very rich functionality, and in particular, limited overclocking potential. However, these are hardly serious drawbacks for miniature Mini-ITX mainboards that is why the Elitegroup mainboard provided for this roundup seemed quite promising right from the start.
In the meanwhile, you shouldn’t regard ECS H67H2-I mainboard as an example of absolute minimalism. In fact, it is totally up-to-date. It supports all LGA1155 processors including CPUs with 95 W TDP. It is equipped with a PCI Express x16 graphics card slot. It has two 240-pin DIMM slots for DDR3 SDRAM. It features two SATA-600 and two SATA-300 ports, supports Gigabit network and latest USB 3.0 interface. In other words, ECS H67H2-I has everything necessary for a contemporary high-performance compact computer. But it does also offer more than just minimal requirements. ECS H67H2-I has a unique feature – integrated Bluetooth V2.1+EDR adapter.
Moreover, ECS ensured that the functionality of their H67H2-I could be easily expanded. That is why the main board has an additional empty mini-PCIe x1 slot. It is good that the location of this slot allows using not only half-size cards but also full-size ones. Moreover, it is compatible not only with mini-PCIe cards, but also with some mSATA SSDs, primarily from Intel. In other words, ECS H67H2-I is a very flexible platform.
The developers used the back panel space very efficiently, too. There are six USB 2.0 ports and two more USB 3.0 ports implemented via EtronTech controller. Besides, there is an eSATA port, different monitor outs (D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI), RJ45 network connector, an optical S/PDIF out and five analogue audio-jacks. The components responsible for network and sound support are pretty standard: Realtek RTL8111E Gigabit network controller and eight-channel Realtek ALC892 codec.
In addition to everything we already mentioned, there are two pin-connectors for a COM-port and four USB 2.0 on the system case front panel. Note that internal USB ports also support EZ Charger technology, which delivers three times higher power for charging all sorts of gadgets. These connectors are always powered, even when the mainboard is off.
ECS H67H2-I PCB layout is overall pretty typical, and in this case it is not an advantage. Just like on many other LGA1155 mainboards, the processor socket has been shifted towards one of the corners, which sets certain limitations to CPU cooler size and configuration. If you are not planning to give up your external graphics accelerator, then you should go with a CPU cooler that fits Intel’s standard 104x104 mm square spot.
ECS engineers didn’t introduce any sophisticated cooling systems. The chipset is topped with a pretty common heatsink of average size fastened using push-pins with springs. The processor voltage regulator circuitry doesn’t have any cooling, even though it has three phases and heats up quite substantially during work.
The mainboard allows connecting two fans. The processor fan uses a four-pin connector, and a case fan that uses a three-pin connector. The mainboard can interactively adjust the rotation speed of both fans.
ECS H67H2-I accessories bundle includes a pretty typical list of items: a disk with the drivers, a user manual. I/O Shield for the back panel and four (!) SATA cables. Besides, there are two additional case brackets, which can be used to take antenna outs outside the case, if necessary.
The BIOS of Elitegroup mainboards is often one of their weak spots. And this time is no exception, either. Setup uses archaic text interface and has been significantly limited in a number of popular functions.
In particular, ECS H67H2-I only allows overclocking the graphics core that is why it features special options for frequency adjustment as well as for increasing the voltage of the corresponding processor unit.
As for the processor frequency, there is no way to change it even slightly. The mainboard provides no access to the multiplier or BCLK frequency. However, for some reason it does have options for adjusting the processor Vcore, though, unfortunately, it can only be increased. Memory sub-system configuring is even more severely limited. The mainboard doesn’t allow setting memory frequency manually as well as changing any of its timings. All parameters are read from the modules SPD. The only consolation here is the support of lower-voltage DIMM modules.
To be fair I have to say that ECS H67H2-I does support 3 TB hard drives. So, in this respect, the BIOS doesn’t have any unexpected surprises for us.