|Gigabyte H55N-USB3 Mini-ITX Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Servando Silva|
|Sunday, 11 July 2010|
Page 6 of 18
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the next section Benchmark Reviews gives a detailed look at the GIGABYTE H55N-USB3 Basic Input Output System (BIOS).