Sapphire PURE Black P67 Hydra Socket 1155 Motherboard

Closer look

To begin with, from here on we will be referring to the to the PURE Black P67 Hydra as simply the PURE P67, since that is just a mouthful to try and repeat.  Sapphire has given the PURE P67 a model number of PB-CI7S42P67, which is a nice sum of alphanumerics and more of a reason for us to stick with PURE P67. That being said, PURE P67 is laid out very nicely on an entirely black PCB. What we liked a lot about the board is that it is free of multiple large heat sinks. There are three heat sinks total on the motherboard: a single one covering the MOSFETs next to the CPU socket, one between the top two PCIe slots to cool the Hydra, and the final one covering the P67 PCH (or south bridge, if you rather).

Below the tall MOSFET’s sink near the CPU socket are 8 power phases used to keep the CPU stable. All caps and MOFETs are Japanese made to ensure the highest level of quality. The phase power configuration here is ideal to delivery clean and ample power to the motherboard components, but we will see how well it will handle an overclock. Just behind the double row of capacitors you can see Sapphire’s patented Diamond Black ferrite chokes, with integrated fins to help keep them cool when the system is under load. 

The territory surrounding the CPU socket is clear and free of any obstructions, which should make the selection of compatible heat sinks painless. The motherboard supports all the second generation Core series processors, from the Core i3, to the unlocked Core i5 2500K, as well as the Core i7 2600K which is the current creme of the crop. The socket itself is a quality Lotes made product

Sitting below the CPU socket are three bright blue colored 2nd Generation PCIe x16 length slots. The top slot is the only one which operates at the full x16, but unlike some other models of boards we have reviewed, both slots two and three operate in an x8/x8 mode. The last slot, in a lighter gray, is even x16 in length, but only has a max bandwidth of x4, and is marketed as Generation 1. There is no second generation x4 or x1 on this motherboard allowing all the lanes to be configured as listed above, leaving any non-graphics oriented PCIe card delegated to the last slot. Which for something like an audio card would be ideal anyways, and just as well with being a slower 1st Gen slot would not impact audio performance any. Sapphire has included two legacy PCI slots however, which are controlled from the Asmedia ASM1083 PCIe to PCI Bridge.

Unlike many of the other higher end P67 motherboards we have reviewed, Sapphire’s PURE P67 does not support SLI but does support Crossfire natively. Being an AMD graphics partner naturally eliminated the need to have NVIDIA’s SLI certification on this board. Little does that matter of course as the board is quipped with the LUCID Hydra technology, allowing for the combination of AMD and NVIDIA to function together, side by side.

Underneath the last PCIe slot are the Clr CMOS, Reset button, and Power button and BIOS selection switch. This was something we were missing on the Gigabyte P67A UD4 motherboard we recently tested. Something interesting to note is the Power and Reset buttons actually double as the Power On LED and HDD Indicator LED, which is a very convenient feature. Next to the buttons are a 1394A FireWire header, 3-pin fan, two USB 2.0 headers. There is also one of the four PCH driven SATA-II ports in the corner, which the other is tied into the eSATA that is on the back I/O panel. A LED post display is also present, and can also double as a CPU temperature readout. On the opposite side we see a loan 4-pin Molex connector which is used in order to provide those extra PCIe lanes with a little more power, just to make sure everything stays running smoothly when put under a load. There is also another 3-pin fan header positioned between it, and the red Clr CMOS switch, but the more the merrier as you can never have too many fan headers.

Here you can see the rest PCH’s SATA-II ports on the left in black, with the two red ports directly next to it are SATA-II. The remaining two red ports are SATA-III flavored as well and controlled by a Marvel 9128 chip (which you can see in the next photo below the DIMM slots). All ports on the board support RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10. Missing from the motherboard are any signs of an IDE or floppy controller, but is no doubt a result of keeping as many PCIe lanes free for graphics cards. Off to the right you have another 3-pin fan header.

[Editor’s Note: As everyone has likely become aware of by now, the B2 revision of the P67’s PCH has been found to contain a flaw, which affects every motherboard manufacturer equally. Yet what some of you may not be aware of is what the flaw is in regards to; the SATA ports, more specifically the SATA II ports. Over time their performance can degrade, which would be quite a pain for anyone utilizing them for hard drives! Aside from the obvious exchange that is being offered with the new revision (which should start shipping to manufacturers very soon), there is a work around that the user can utilize in the interim. Simply put, as only the SATA II ports are afflicted by this that means you still have the SATA III ports, which is one thing that makes the Fatal1ty a great board. With the two offered by the Intel PCH, and the addition four from the Marvel controller, that gives a lot of expansion room for folks. The other recommendation is to use the SATA II ports for just the optical drives, as that will get very little use and even then not be affected by the eventual degraded performance (save for maybe Blu-Ray with it’s 3.5x higher transfer rate).

For RAM support we did not find anything different than what we have seen on any other P67 motherboard. DDR3 up to 16GB is supported with speeds up to 1600MHz officially. Also present are our familiar friend the 24-pin ATX connector, as well as another 3-pin fan header tucked in the corner. Along the edge of the board is where you find the voltage pads for taking readouts with a digital multimeter, just like the high end MSI and ASUS ROG models. Reference points are: GND (Ground, or Common), CPU_PLL (Phase-Locked Loop), ME (we were unable to find any manual or online reference to this), PCH (Platform Controller Hub), CPU_VTT (Vcore Termination Voltage Reference), DIMM (DDR3 Voltage) and CPU (Vcore). [Editor’s Note: If anyone happens to know what the ME voltage point stands for, or the chip it references to, please drop me a line!]

The 8-channel surround sound from the onboard Realtek ALC892 can be piped through a number of  choices: a digital coax, S/PDIF or standard analog 3.5mm audio jacks. chip. Input options are a single PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port, eight USB 2.0 and with two USB 3.0 ports. There is solitary FireWire on the back I/O panel, but should the slim chance arise where you need additional FireWire then there is the 6-pin onboard header we mentioned above, which is operated by a TI TSB43AB22A controller. There is a single Gigabit LAN jack via the Realtek 88E8057 controller, and lastly that funky looking bulged is the Bluetooth port and is provided by and Atheros AR3011 chip.

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