|Zotac H55ITX-C-E Mini-ITX WiFi Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Servando Silva|
|Wednesday, 13 October 2010|
Page 17 of 17
Zotac H55ITX-C-E Conclusion
The performance of the Zotac H55ITX-C-E was very good. The motherboard proved to have nothing to ask against the competition, performing similar (sometimes faster, sometimes slower) in every benchmark test. Not everything is that good though, I had some problems when overclocking the CPU; the motherboard wasn't able to recover after a failed POST, and I had to do a clear CMOS. That wouldn't be that bad if they included a profile manager in the BIOS, but they don't. Any other feature and port performed really well, and I had no troubles to make everything run under Windows 7 OS.
The appearance of a motherboard is very subjective. I think this motherboard has got the best appearance between all the H55 ITX motherboards available today, but for some others, the colors used might not fit with the rest of the components. I'd add that having a pair of cables between the WiFi module and the antennas isn't what I'd call "great" for cable management, but I can forgive them this time. What I can't forgive, is that Zotac includes no expansion for the dual antennas, so you're stuck to place them in the I/O area, just behind your PC case, which could cause them to have bad signal quality if you're trying to hide your HTPC somewhere behind a furniture or similar.
Construction quality is just good. I really understand Zotac is the only brand to include 6 SATA ports and a WiFi module inside a PCIe 1x slot, but the fact they added some ICs just behind the CPU socket makes very difficult to fit an aftermarket CPU cooler, which might be important for many users to keep sound levels low. Also, they didn't add a D-sub connector, but that's fine because they include a DVI-VGA adapter and the iGPU only supports 2 monitors at once. Everything else is well done and I can't complain about it.
Talking about functionality, I'd throw a perfect score if the BIOS still had some minor glitches. Not being able to raise CPU multiplier and the lack of BCLK overclocking (probably because of iGPU frequency) leads me to think there's still some space to improve. The whole functionality of being an ITX platform with several CPUs support and the fact that you can add a high-end GPU and fit everything a very small case is still there. Also, if you're not overclocking and you're using iGPU, your overall power consumption will be too low for a highly efficient system, which is why I gave a 9 out of 10 here.
As of 06 December 2010, the Zotac H55ITX-C-E can be found on sale for $139.99 at Amazon or NewEgg. This price dangerously approaches to many Micro-ATX motherboards out there, while you can get the GIGABYTE H55N-USB3 for $104.99 and the ECS H55H-I for $79.99 (almost half of the price). That's why I think Zotac is charging a premium price for this product, and even if they're the only ones to offer WiFi support and 6 S-ATA ports (no RAID support); the price is a little higher than expected. The H55ITX-A-E (same model without USB 3.0 support) can be found for $129.99, which is still high compared to the competition. Unless you have no other choice and you want those extra features, you might better get another model and add a USB WiFi adapter (can be found at $5). Let's wrap everything in the pros and cons section to end with this review.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Although the H55ITX-A-E model does not support the Intel Core i7 CPU series, Zotac model H55ITX-C-E officially does support Core i7 processors.
+ Mini-ITX design for small cases
+ HTPC capabilities thanks to the Intel GMA HD graphics unit
+ USB 3.0 support
+ Dual WiFi Antennas for excellent signal quality
+ Supports up to 8GB DDR3
+ Excellent performance against the competition
+ Fully supports the LGA 1156 CPU gamma
+ Low power consumption
+ Improved PCB design against the competition
+ Allows low voltage RAM kits
+ 6 S-ATA ports whereas other H55 ITX motherboards have 4 S-ATA ports
- No SATA 3 support yet
- No D-Sub (Analogic) output
- BIOS lacks of CPU/Memory support & overclocking capabilities
- No Dual BIOS or auto-recovery function when something fails
- CPU heatsinks with back plates won't be able to be installed in this product
- Issues supporting Unlocked CPUs, High frequency RAM and/or high DMI frequencies
- Higher price against similar products
Final Score: 8.75 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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