|Intel DH67BL H67-Express Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Monday, 03 January 2011|
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Intel DH67BL Power Consumption
Life is not as affordable as it used to be, and items such as fuel and electrical energy top the list of resources that have exploded in price over the past few years. The Intel Sandy Bridge platform has promised strong gains in this area. Intel boasts that the new Sandy Bridge CPUs can draw as little as 3W of power at idle.
The results here certainly show us that quite a bit of effort has been put into tuning the power consumption of the Sandy Bridge platform. The total power usage in Watts was measured using a P3 Kill-A-Watt EZ meter. For the power tests, the GTS 450 GPU was removed and the Intel HD Graphics were used. The first measurement was taken after the system was booted up and sitting idle at the Windows login screen for a few minutes. The total system consumption at idle of just 27.2 is a very small amount of power draw for a complete system. To push the system to a load that is unlikely to occur in any real use environment, I ran Prime95 on all four cores of the Intel Core i5-2500K and I ran the Furmark stability test using 8xAA at 1920x1080. This put a great deal of stress on the system and allowed me to take the load power measurement. Even at full load, the entire test system uses less power than many GPUs.
Overclocking the DH67BL
With the release of the Sandy Bridge platform, Intel has severely limited, even crippled, the ability for most entry- or mid-level users to overclock. In their press documents, Intel announced that "performance tuning" would be limited to only the P67 and Z68 chipsets. The Z68 chipset isn't set to release until the 2nd quarter of 2011, so for now, users are stuck with getting the enthusiast level P67 motherboard if they want to try their hand at overclocking.
The funny part about all this is that the Intel DH67BL motherboard that I received for testing came with the Core i5-2500K processor. The K series of processors come with an unlocked multiplier specifically for overclocking. The i5-2500 is the same processor with a "limited" unlocked multiplier. Even so, only the P67 motherboards can be used to overclock either of these CPUs, so getting a K series processor with an H67 motherboard is a waste of time.
Now, the term unlocked multiplier may sound like it means you can tune to the multiplier up as high as you want (I think the K series CPUs go up to x54). Well, that's not exactly true either. The Intel Core i5-2500K starts with a multiplier of 33 and Turbo Boost 2.0 allows for one core at a time to be overclocked automatically to a multiplier of 37. In the DH67BL BIOS I can set the base multiplier of the i5-2500K to whatever I want, but it doesn't do anything at all. I can also change the Turbo Boost multiplier, but as soon as I do, the system becomes unresponsive. In the P67 motherboards, apparently only modifying the Turbo Boost multiplier has any effect on overclocking, and that's still regulated by Intel Turbo Boost 2.0, meaning you'll only see gains if and when Turbo Boost decides to allow it.
So after trying to overclock the DH67BL, I found that if I changed any RAM or CPU settings that would actually cause a change in the system (since modifying the base multiplier of my K series CPU did nothing), the entire system would become unresponsive. I could change GPU settings, and I'll take about that in a second.
When I say the system became unresponsive, I mean it just wouldn't work. The system fans would start up, run for about a second, then quit, then try again three or four times before the system shut off and I had to remove power from it to start it up again. The only way to recover from this is to reset the CMOS. Before you try that, however, beware that Intel has changed the age-old method of resetting the CMOS. Rather than moving the CMOS jumper from the 1,2 pins to the 2,3 pins the putting it back to reset the CMOS, you have to move the jumper to the 2,3 pins and leave it there while you boot the system. This will allow you to reset the BIOS to default settings and start the computer again.
As far as the GPU is concerned, H67 chipset users are allowed to play with the GPU core multiplier. On the Core i5-2500K, the GPU core is the 3000 version, giving us an 850MHz base clock with a Turbo Boost up to 1100MHz. Just like the CPUs on the P67 chipset, though, you can't mess with the base clock for the GPU. You can only adjust the maximum Turbo Boost multiplier. The GPU Turbo Boost multiplier starts at 22 and the formula is multiplier X 0.5 X bus speed, for a total of 1100MHz. I was able to increase this multiplier up to 30 before the system became unstable. This would give me a supposed Turbo Boost max clock speed of 1500MHz for the GPU. That would be quite impressive, but it's still controlled by the Turbo Boost function. None of my aftermarket programs were able to measure the clock speed (even idle) of the Intel HD Graphics, so I couldn't tell if they ever hit that 1500MHz mark. It's pretty unlikely, however, since I never got more than a 1% increase in performance out of my overclocking endeavors.
The end result of all this frustration is that I am severely disappointed with the lack of tinkering Intel is allowing the end-user with the Sandy Bridge platform. Only enthusiasts purchasing the P67 or Z68 chipsets will be able to overclock the CPU at all, and even then it will be regulated by Turbo Boost. The same is true with the ability to overclock the GPU with the H67 platform. I feel like we have gone back in time.