While mini-ITX enthusiast are eagerly awaiting the re-release of motherboards with the revised H67 chipset, many readers have pointed out that a new mini-ITX board has been spotted in the Intel stable. It is not, however, a revised DH67CF as expected, or even a much anticipated P67-based motherboard. Instead, it’s an entirely new mini-ITX motherboard based on the new Q67 chipset. It’s called the DQ67EP, and it has left some of our readers wondering; just what is Q67?
In short, it’s another variation of the Formerly Cougar Point (that is actually the codename) platform. Intel actually has many variations of their series 6 chipset, including the consumer-orientated H67, the overclockable P67 and the new Q67, which Intel says is targeted solely to the commercial market. Although the Q67 appears very similar to its H67 counterpart, there are a few key differences that should be noted.
The spec sheet for the DQ67EP shows a mini-ITX motherboard that shares many of the same features as its H67-based stable mate, the DH67CF. The DQ67EP is classified by Intel as an ‘Executive Series’ motherboard. It supports the new line of Sandy Bridge processors and up to 16 GB of DDR3-1333 RAM in two 240-pin sockets.
Display options are one of the points where the DQ67EP varies from the DH67CF by not offering an HDMI connection. Instead, the Q67 board provides DisplayPort, DVI-D and DVI-I connections. Gigabit LAN is included via an Intel 82579LM controller. Peripheral interfaces are also slightly different with the DQ67EP offering two USB 3.0 ports, up to eight USB 2.0 ports, two SATA III 6.0 Gb/s ports, two SATA II 3.0 Gb/s ports and a pair of eSATA 3.0 Gb/s on the rear panel. An IEEE 1394a header is also provided.
Expansion slots include a PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot and a mini-PCI Express connector that supports half length cards.
The major difference between Q67 and H67/P67 boards is the inclusion of Intel’s Trusted Platform Module (TPM) which is, according to the Intel product brief:
The Trusted Platform Module is a component on the desktop board that is specifically designed to enhance platform security above-and-beyond the capabilities of today’s software by providing a protected space for key operations and other security critical tasks. Using both hardware and software, the TPM protects encryption and signature keys at their most vulnerable stages – operations when the keys are being used unencrypted in plain-text form.
The enhanced security features of the TPM contribute to the price premium that the DQ67EP carries over the already pricey DH67CF.
The DQ67EP should have performance capabilities similar to other H67-based motherboards and considering that the TPM can be disabled via a BIOS setting, it would make a viable substitute for the DH67CF in most mini-ITX systems.
If your set on an Intel mini-ITX board, and do not want to wait for the B3 revision of the DH67CF, and you’re okay with spending a few extra dollars, and you’re aware that most consumer retailers won’t stock this board, or if you simply have a need for a gaming system with enterprise level security features, then the DQ67EP is your board.