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Sapphire Pure Black P67 Hydra Motherboard (PB-CI7S42P67) Review

The Sapphire Pure Black P67 Motherboard is a rather unique product, combining the Lucid Hydra chip within a high quality board design to cater to all possible demands of gaming enthusiast user. Sapphire have used quality Japanese solid capacitors and high performance MOFSET’s throughout, which helps ensure stability when pushed hard.

Sadly, the Lucid Hydra implementation proved less than stable throughout a week of testing for us, and while we managed to get some configurations working, we would still experience random crashing and overall performance problems. Mixing several makes of GTX460 gave hard locks and blue screens of death.

We did manage to get two matched gigabyte GTX460 overclocked cards working with 3DMark titles, but we still had to deal with random crashes in many of the major gaming titles.

Mixing and matching AMD and Nvidia cards proved even less successful. We feel there is a lot of work still to be done before this is a viable platform and I honestly can say that this has proved one of the most painstakingly arduous reviews I have ever undertaken.

The last Lucid Driver driver release was made on the 17th of January (V 1.7.104a) and while it states support for ‘all‘ Nvidia and AMD drivers, the ‘what’s new’ list shows ‘ATI WHQL support for 10.12’ (December 2010) and ‘Nvidia WHQL Driver 263.09 issues fixed’ (November 2010). We aren’t sure if Lucid still need to work on the newest drivers, but we didn’t have much luck with the brand new Nvidia or AMD sets.

Gaming enthusiast users won’t want to be using 4 month old drivers for complete support and stability. Lucid need to be updating these drivers fortnightly especially as the latest games need profiles to work correctly. Looking through their driver history, there is a release in January, one in November of last year, and then two in October. I don’t think this is good enough, not for this immensely demanding gaming audience.

If we omit the Lucid Hydra from the equation then the board proves to be a great choice. We overclocked our 2600k processor to 4.8ghz with a modest air cooler and 8GB of performance 2,000mhz gaming memory was rock solid throughout our testing, even though the board specifications list 1,600mhz as a limitation. The bios seems spartan on first glance, but it actually works really well and didn’t fall over once during testing.

Sapphire haven’t cut any corners with the board design, there is handy access to a CMOS reset button, as well as dual bios switches for emergency situations. Thankfully, we never had to use the dual bios switch and even after some overclocking failures, a simple press of the reset CMOS button got the board back into a bootable situation.

The Pure Black P67 Gaming capabilities are strong with four slots offering a wide variety of multi GPU options, although the last slot is 4x bandwidth when all are occupied. CrossfireX performance was equally good, two and three HD6970’s from Sapphire proved to scale very well.

Overall, this board has impressed me, but if you are contemplating buying the Pure Black P67 Hydra with multi card Nvidia demands at heart, then look elsewhere, you really want to avoid the Lucid Hydra chip at all costs.

Unfortunately, Sapphire’s Pure Black P67 is a costly product, retailing at £199.99 in the UK. They have to charge a premium for the Lucid Hydra technology. This is the only aspect of the board we don’t like, and while it is easily omitted when using the product, the price point is a little harder to ignore. Sapphire really would have been better just forgetting about SLI support and ditching the Lucid Hydra technology completely, much like they did with their excellent Pure Black X58.

Pros:

  • solid as a rock
  • great overclocking product
  • good crossfireX scaling
  • well designed
  • Sata 6GBps and USB 3.0 performance is great

Cons:

  • Lucid Hydra is less than impressive

KitGuru says: We can still recommend this product, as a solid, high performing enthusiast grade motherboard. The price premium due to the inclusion of Lucid technology really is tough to swallow however.


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Rating: 8.0.

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