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Written by Servando Silva   
Sunday, 11 July 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Gigabyte H55N-USB3 Mini-ITX Motherboard
Intel H55 Express Chipset
Gigabyte H55N-USB3 Features
Gigabyte H55N-USB3 Specifications
Closer Look: Gigabyte H55N-USB3
Gigabyte H55N-USB3 Detailed Features
Gigabyte H55N-USB3 BIOS
H55N-USB3 Overclocking
Motherboard Testing Methodology
EVEREST Benchmark Results
PCMark Vantage Test Results
CINEBENCH R11.5 Benchmark
Passmark Performance Test Benchmark
Street Fighter IV Results
Full HD playback Results
H55N-USB3 Power Consumption
Final Thoughts
Gigabyte H55N-USB3 Conclusion

Gigabyte H55N-USB3 Detailed Features

The heatsink that sits on the top of the Southbridge should be enough for most of the cases. If you're planning some overclocking adding QPI/VTT voltage, then I'd suggest having decent air flow in your case. In front of it, there's a 4-pin 12v CPU connector and behind we can see 4 S-ATA ports (unluckily, they are SATA 2) and the front panel connectors for you case. You'll also find a 4-pin header for a CPU fan and an additional 3-pin header for a case fan. Gigabyte only included 2 fan headers, so if you must power 3 or more fans, you'll need to attach them to some molex connectors.

Gigabyte_H55N_USB3_Heatsink.jpg

Let's have a detailed look at the back side of the PCB. Do you see those MOSFETs near the socket's mounting holes? That's a bad idea for those who want to install big heatsinks. While the H55N-USB3 was built for regular HTPC/small office users, those who want a small but powerful rig will probably think of getting an aftermarket heatsink. The deal is that some back plates won't fit on this motherboard because of these MOS-FETs. That or you might end with a pair of crushed MOS-FETs at the back of your board. So, if you're considering using this platform as your new gaming ring, consider using the stock heatsink or buying a push-pin (you don't have idea of how much I hate saying this) mounting mechanism heatsink.

Gigabyte_H55N_USB3_MOSFET.jpg

Talking about heatsinks, the socket is pretty close to RAM and PCI-e slots. If you install a full tower heatsink you might either end with 1 RAM slot un-usable or without the option of using a dedicated GPU. Again, this isn't much of a problem knowing that the board is targeted to an HTPC audience. GIGABYTE explains that the H55N-USB3 has 4+2 phase VRMs suitable for CPUs with a TDP of 73 watts which includes Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs. But if you read the specifications, GIGABYTE says they fully support Intel Core i7 processors too, and they claim you won't have problems even with the Core i7 880, which works at a 95 watts TDP. With Core i7 CPUs, there will be little room to overclock and over volt, but for Clarkdale CPUs this board should be more than enough. We'll check this out later on the Overclocking section.

Gigabyte_H55N_USB3_Socket.jpg

At the top, near the front panel pins, there's the ATX 24-pin connector. This whole layout might complicate the installation in many cases. For example, if you want to install this ITX motherboard in a Micro ATX/ATX chassis, the cables might not be long enough to reach the higher part of the motherboard since they're designed to reach the lower part of it in 99% of the cases.

Gigabyte_H55N_USB3_Ports.jpg

Here's a closer look at the NEC D720200F1 chip. This little IC hosts a pair of USB 3.0 ports which can be found at the I/O panel. GIGABYTE is the first company releasing a Mini-ITX motherboard with USB 3.0 support. Sure, there are USB 3.0 PCI-e cards but in this case, that would leave a discrete GPU out of the game. While this isn't a killer feature yet, it's a plus only GIGABYTE offers at the moment.

Gigabyte_H55N_USB3_NEC.jpg

Finally, have a look at the Realtek ALC892R Integrated Circuit, which includes bit-streaming Blu-Ray audio support over both HDMI and analogue ports up to 7.1 channels.

Gigabyte_H55N_USB3_Realtek.jpg

In the next section Benchmark Reviews gives a detailed look at the GIGABYTE H55N-USB3 Basic Input Output System (BIOS).



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Gigabyte H55N-USB3 Mini-ITX MotherboardSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2010-07-11 12:21
Wow so small yet so powerful. Big thumbs up here for Gigabyte and Intel for that i3 CPU and to you Servando for a great review.

PS

This would make a great car PC too :D
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# ThanksServando Silva 2010-07-11 21:30
Thanks Steven. It really surprised me with this kind of performance. I just tried the Core i7 860 and it's 4GHz stable. That's a lot more than the TDP stated by GIGABYTE!
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# UGH...Hsew 2010-07-15 14:56
You know what... this board would be PERFECT...if there was a P55 version of it without the stupid video outputs. I mean, knowing Gigabyte boards, they can and will cram a LOT of ports on the back if given the chance, but they cant if a big chunk of space is taken by those awkward video ports. Don't get me wrong, this is great for an ultra-low power build, but Small form factor gaming PCs are growing in popularity, as we realized from the Mini ITX P55 DFI LanParty board (which was unfortunately plagued with severe component issues). How do you expect me to stick a high end GPU on this thing and have those Onboard video ports staring at me? Ridiculous. Also, the CPU socket seems kinda choked (Duh?).
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# RE: UGH...Servando Silva 2010-07-15 17:27
This board is targeted for HTPCs. I don't know how many users would love to have a board like this and install a dedicated GPU. Unluckily for you... since P55 chipset is older than H55, I don't think we'll see the P55 version.
Which other ports would you like to see? More USB ports? A second ethernet? or maybe a firewire?
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# Power ?rodrigo 2011-02-09 17:37
Hola, tengo un viejo gabinete con fuente 160w , del modelo hp s3320la, se podrĂ­a usar para esta placa madre , junto a un i3-540 y 4 ddr3 1333.
Desde ya muchas gracias, excelente!!!

=====translate=====

Hi, I have an old cabinet with 160w power, s3320la hp model could be used for this motherboard, along with an i3-540 and 4 ddr3 1333.
From already thank you very much, excellent!
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# old cpurodrigo 2011-02-09 17:44
Este es el enlace de mi viejo cpu.
================================
This is a link to my old cpu.

#h10025.#.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01333454&tmp_task=prodinfoCategory&lc=en&dlc=en&cc=us&site=null&key=null&product=3663506&sw_lang=34
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