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Sapphire Pure Black P67 Hydra Motherboard Review

Having looked at the X58 Sapphire offering a few months back, we now see what's going on with the P67 one.
@ShawnBakerTW
Shawn Baker
Published Mon, May 9 2011 10:40 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:30 PM CDT
Rating: 83%Manufacturer: Sapphire

Introduction and Package

Introduction

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VIEW GALLERY - 41 IMAGES


Sapphire has really started to step outside its comfort zone in the last few months and so far has seen some good success with it. The mini PC that Sapphire label the Edge-HD was welcomed by us when we reviewed it here, and their step into the more enthusiast driven motherboards was also received well when we looked at their X58 offering at the start of the year here.

Outside of these little endeavors, though, we continue to see the company go strong in the video card market which has no doubt been their bread and butter for years. Every good video card needs a good motherboard, though, and Sapphire figure why not let it be their motherboard?

While Sapphire did a good job with the X58 chipset, we indeed wondered how they'd go when it came to the newer P67 one. While most will argue that the X58 is the much better platform with Triple Channel memory and proper x16 / x16 lane setups, the P67 platform brings a breath of fresh air into the computer rooms of budding overclockers and general enthusiasts everywhere thanks to its great overclocking ability on the Intel i7 2600k processor.

With some extremely strong options already available, the question is, should the Pure Black P67 Hydra from Sapphire be one we should look at? Well, there's only one way to find out, but before we look at the performance side of things let's first have a much closer look at what exactly the board has to offer.


The Package

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Checking out the box design, it's similar to that of the X58 we looked at earlier in the year. As for what's inside the box, there's not a whole lot going on. We've got a manual and driver CD along with our back I/O plate and five SATA cables.

The Motherboard

The Motherboard

Having a look at the board, the overall design is very similar to that of the X58 one we looked at. The overall color design is black and blue with the PCB itself being black. It's a pretty good looking board which is going to be important to someone who has a window on their case.

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Keeping with the "Pure Black" naming theme that we saw on the X58 board, this one is called the Pure Black P67 Hydra. It's worth noting that the "Hydra" name doesn't revolve around water of any kind; it instead refers to the Lucid Hydra chip which we'll come to later on.

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Starting to have a closer look around the board, we can see in the bottom corner we've got seven SATA ports. One sits on its own while another six are paired together. The black ones are SATA2, while the red ones are SATA3. The ones on the left paired with the black run on the south bridge, while the right two SATA3 ports run on the Marvell 9128 controller.

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Across the bottom of the board and starting from the right, we've got that extra SATA2 header we mentioned above and just above that we also have a little debug LED. Continuing to move left, we see two USB headers, fan header and a FireWire header. Moving further over, we've got a BIOS selector, power, reset and reset CMOS button, another fan header and an extra Molex in the event you have a beefier VGA setup going on.

The Motherboard - Continued

The Motherboard - Continued

When it comes to looking at the expansion setup available, we've got four PCI-E x16 slots and two PCI slots. While all the PCI-E slots are x16 in physical form, the only one to run at full speed is the top one. The two below that run at x8 and the very bottom one which is colored grey is wired as a x4 slot.

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Sapphire don't actually include "SLI" support which doesn't come as too much of a surprise being an AMD partner, but the inclusion of the Lucid Hydra Technology means that SLI is available, along with combining AMD and NVIDIA cards if you wanted.

Personally I'm not a big fan of the Lucid tech; it's another driver that needs to be installed and mixing and matching NVIDIA and AMD cards just doesn't seem like that great of an idea. I can understand why someone would want to run their new HD 6870 with their older HD 5870, but I'm still not set on it being the best option.

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Moving to the top half of the board, we've got our 8-Pin power connector behind the I/O ports. Getting to them isn't too bad, but those with slightly chubbier fingers might run into a little problem when pulling the connector out. It's not too bad, though, and we've indeed seen worse.

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Around the CPU socket is pretty clean and you're not really going to be seeing anything new here. Next to that we have our 24-Pin power connector at the back of the board and four DDR3 slots that support up to 16GB of 2133MHz memory.

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Having a look at the connectivity side of things, we've got a PS/2 KB/MS combo port, eight USB 2.0, two USB 3.0 in blue, 1394a, S/PDIF coaxial out, audio jacks and Bluetooth 2.1 support via Atheros AR3011. Overall, there's nothing too out of the ordinary with the Bluetooth connectivity being something we're beginning to see more and more of lately.

BIOS

BIOS & Overclocking

The first thing you'll notice when you fire up the BIOS on the Pure Black P67 is that it lacks the fancy UEFI setup and instead uses that well known American Megatrends blue design. For me UEFI continues to be a bit of a mixed bag, but I found after using the ASUS P8P67 Pro in our $599 PC I'm beginning to like it more.

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The overall layout of the BIOS is fairly simple, but there isn't the massive amount of options like we saw in the X58 Pure Black board. Hopefully we should still be able to yield a nice overclock.

Test System Setup and Overclocking

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

Today we'll be checking out the Sapphire Pure Black P67 Hydra with our i7 2600k CPU against two of our X58 boards that we've had up and running in recent times. The first is our ASRock X58 Extreme3 and the original Pure Black motherboard from Sapphire - the Pure Black X58. Both those boards will be using our high end i7 980X CPU and the Sapphire Pure Black X58 will also have results from when our 980X was running at 4.4GHz.

On the video card front we're using the Sapphire HD 6970 2GB video card which is different to what we used when we tested the above X58 boards. For that reason we've removed the above boards from our video card tests which are included along with both the power and CPU heat numbers.

Along with all that, we've got our overclocking results from the Sapphire Pure Black P67 Hydra. P67 overclocking is of course a little different to previous Intel chipset overclocking and instead the focus is more on the multiplier of the CPU instead of the BCLK which is limited to only 110 on the P67 platform.

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We pushed the multiplier up to 47 which meant out i7 2600k came in 4.7GHz. This is a good overclock, but not the strongest I've seen from the 2600k we have. We managed to push the BCLK up to 105 which is strong, but we would lose network. Because of that, we instead just chose to leave the BCLK at 100 and stick with 4.7GHz.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com
Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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The i7 2600k really is a strong CPU and you can see it offers some great performance at 4.7GHz.

CPU Benchmarks - Continued

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99
Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br
Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br
Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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Checking out Hyper PI, we can see that the X58 platform continues to reign superior here, but we do see a decent boost in performance when we overclock our 2600k.


AutoGK

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.55
Developer Homepage: http://www.autogk.me.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.autogk.me.uk/
Download It Here

AutoGK stands for Auto Gordian Knot; it is a suite of transcoding tools that are compiled into an easy to install and use utility. It allows you to transcode non-protected DVDs and other media to Xvid or Divx format. For our testing purposes we use a non-DRM restricted movie that is roughly 2 hours in length. This is transcoded to a single Xvid AVI at 100% quality.

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Looking at encoding, you can see that our P67 platform does extremely well thanks to the aggressive clock speed on offer.

Storage Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com
Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Storage performance on the P67 Pure Black is strong as we would expect when compared to our X58 offerings.

Memory Benchmarks

Sisoft Sandra

Version and / or Patch Used: 2011
Developer Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.net
Product Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.net
Buy It Here

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Memory performance under Sandra looks good considering we're dealing with only Dual Channel here and not Triple Channel like the X58 platform.


AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com
Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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While only Dual Channel, memory performance has become so strong on the P67 platform and you can see that here.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/
Buy It Here




3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Looking at 3DMark 11, we can see a slight boost as we move up in CPU MHz, but we're not CPU limited in any form which means an overclock on the video card would yield stronger gains.


Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/




Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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Just like 3DMark 11 we see that there's little difference between the two setups due to the CPU speed not being an issue.

Temperature and Power

Core Temperature

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Temperature is very good, but you can see the extra heat that's indeed generated when we start to push 1.5v through our CPU to achieve that much higher overclock. The Corsair H70 is a really great cooler, though.


Power Draw Tests

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Idle power draw was extremely low. I had to double check and then triple check it. Our load numbers are pretty good, but you can see when we pump 1.5v through our CPU to overclock we do get a healthy jump.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

I'm a huge fan of Sapphire and I really love what they're doing these days in thinking outside the box. Sometimes I feel they're spending a little bit too much time doing this and forgetting about some much loved series like the ATOMIC when it comes to the video card market, but none the less, they've shown us a great X58 motherboard and mini PC.

The P67 Pure Black, though? - I'm just not feeling it like I have many of their other products. Don't get me wrong, it's a good board, but the market is full of good boards. The problem is, the market is also full of great boards and at $229 US the P67 Pure Black doesn't seem as strong as its competitors.

You get this overall feeling that while Sapphire have really got a great grasp on what's happening with the X58 platform, they're still finding their feet with the P67 one. The issue of our network port falling over when we upped the BCLK was a pain and with the X58 Pure Black being such a good overclocking board this just seemed like a really random issue to be present.

A good chunk of the expense on the board would have to be the Lucid integration, but it seems like a lot of marketing jibber jabber, versus a feature that you would really make use of. If you wanted this feature then it's not a bad price at all, but the amount of people who will want it are going to be smaller than the people who don't want it.

We see plenty of great products from Sapphire and we see plenty of great motherboards from other companies. The P67 Pure Black while being a good motherboard, isn't a great one. The fact that Sapphire has shown us something so strong with the X58 Pure Black as well means that the company is more than capable of offering us something killer. They just really need to find their footing in this segment.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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