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Zotac H55ITX-C-E Mini-ITX WiFi Motherboard E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards
Written by Servando Silva   
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Zotac H55ITX-C-E Mini-ITX WiFi Motherboard
Intel H55 Express Chipset
Zotac H55ITX-C-E Specifications
Closer Look: Zotac H55ITX-C-E
Zotac H55ITX-C-E Detailed Features
H55ITX-C-E 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
Zotac H55ITX-C-E Conclusion

Closer Look: Zotac H55ITX-C-E

OK, let's get started. When you open that little box, you'll see Zotac includes many accessories which aren't normally seen in other ITX products. They do include a driver's CD and a full user's manual with a quick installation guide. Zotac decided to include 3, instead of 2 S-ATA cables as they feature 6 S-ATA ports instead of 4 ports. They also include a 4-pin to 4-pin CPU connector extension which is great for those using bigger PC cases or just to help cable management and they also include a DVI-VGA adapter. As a "premium feature", they include a pair of Antennas and their proper cables to install them from the motherboard to the I/O panel. While they included two antennas, it's not a dual band capable wireless adapter. It just improves signal by allowing you to set different angles for proper reception.


As I've said before, the Zotac H55ITX-C-E comes with a slightly different PCB design compared to the H55N-USB3 and the ECS H55H-I. Zotac places their 24-pin connector next to the RAM slots, instead of putting it near the S-ATA connectors. This could make things easier as now you need a shorter cable to reach the ATX connector, or just to help you improve cable management. The rest practically remains the same, with some small differences that aren't so important to be mentioned. Zotac also added a MOS-FET heatsink which will help to improve temperatures and perhaps, increase the overclocking ratio.


Here's a closer look to the CPU socket. This kind of motherboards has their socket placed very near to the memory/PCIe slots. That means you'll have a hard time to fit (if possible) a bigger CPU heatsink as you might end with an un-usable slot. There are also some small solid-capacitors which could hinder CPU heatsink installation, so please have a look at them before buying your new heatsink for this motherboard.


The I/O panel has plenty of connections for a Mini-ITX motherboard. Zotac includes a PS/2 keyboard port for those who still prefer them against USB keyboards. Zotac also includes 6 USB 2.0 ports and 2 USB 3.0 (blue) ports hosted by the NEC's controller. Perhaps, something lacking here is the D-sub connector, but Zotac already includes a DVI-VGA adapter in case you need it. Additionally, there's also an optical SPDIF and 7.1 channel support plugs, and finally an eSATA (red) port. There's a small push-button to reset BIOS configurations (very useful for overclockers) and above it, you'll have your pair of WiFi antennas after you install them in the H55ITX-C-E.


This motherboard comes with a little heatsink above the Southbridge. While it does its work, it can get pretty hot if your case hasn't got the proper air-flow. At its left, you can find the 3v+ batter and between this and the heatsink, the CMOS jumper, which is pretty difficult to access. Luckily, Zotac added a push-button at the I/O area.


Since this motherboard bundles lots of circuits to support its features (WiFi for example), they had to make some arrangements on the PCB's design. Because of that, they added some little integrated circuits and MOS-FETs at the back of the board just near the CPU backplate. Look at the left/inferior corner. They also added some circuits and diodes there!


Here's a closer look of the small circuits I told you about. They're so close to the socket's backplate that they won't allow you to put heatsink retention's backplates. That leaves you with fewer options as you'll need to look for a push-pin heatsink unless you're using Intel's stock heatsink. I do understand that this board wasn't done for extreme overclockers, but anyone who wants a quiet system will try to install a bigger heatsink in their HTPC, just to discover they can't, at least, not with this motherboard.


Let's take an even closer look at some of the unique features on this motherboard...



# progressionRealNeil 2010-10-13 04:48
I think that it's nothing short of amazing. The amount of rapid changes incorporated into these tiny mainboards at such a pace is really something. I'm probably not going to build one for another year, but I wonder how advanced they'll be by then.
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# RE: progressionServando Silva 2010-10-13 19:19
Right now there are few options available (ECS, GIGABYTE and Zotac). Next year, I expect ASUS, ASRock, MSI and others to jump to the ITX wagon. Unluckily, since this is the most crowded H55 ITX motherboard, they had to use the back side of the PCB to fit some components, and that clearly limits CPU Coolers compatibility.
In an additional note, I just tested a pair of laptops just to check power consumption and they take the same amount of energy, but both of them are slower than this platform (4 years old Intel Core Duo CPUs). That makes me want to throw my laptop through the window!
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# Compatible CPU'sFranco 2010-10-14 04:26
What are you talking about? This motherboard supports Core i5-750 and Core i7's. Look at the supported CPU list for this board on the Zotac web site:

I've got a Core i5-750 running in mine. Works great.

What kind of a review is this?
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# RE: Compatible CPU'sServando Silva 2010-10-14 07:59
I received a document where they said they didn't recommend using i7 CPUs on this motherboard, but they don't say so in their page. As I wrote, this motherboard should be capable of taking any Lynnfield based CPU as long as you don't try to overclock it that much.

Actually, if you check their page and download their Product Details File you'll see a Processors Support List, where you'll find: Core i3, Core i5 and Core processors with Intel HD graphics only. Core i7 or Lynnfield CPUs are not mentioned. Some other sites (bit-tech) have also reported several problems with Lynnfield CPUs, so I think they're not recommended, but still work.
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# RE: RE: Compatible CPU'sFranco 2010-10-14 09:26
Thanks for the quick reply Servando.

If you go to this Zotac page: about halfway down is a file called "Tested CPU and memory list" last updated Sept 1st. It lists Core-i7's and all the i5's in there. That's what I went with when I built my Core i5-750 system 3 weeks ago. Everything's running stable, but I have not overclocked anything.
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# RE: RE: RE: Compatible CPU'sServando Silva 2010-10-14 13:11
I know! Zotac says they tested it, and they even say it's supported in their features page, but not in their specifications page.
As long as you don't overclock it, I don't think you'll have a problem. Even a light OC without adding voltage would be fine, I suppose.
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# Refresh!Carl 2010-10-18 18:15
Seriously?!?! You have a meta "Refresh" tag in a page with a comment field!?!

I had written a long post about the power consumption of this board, and then the page refresh comes along and clears everything I've written, right before I was to post it!!

Anyway, the short version of what I wrote is:
There is a contradiction with your statements about power consumption. In the Conclusion, low power consumption is listed as one of the Pros, but on the Power Consumption page, you say that the board draws up to 20% more power than its competitor (in the most important area: idle power. Power consumption during load is far less important).

Too bad, otherwise this would have been a good board!

I totally agree with your statement:
> would be nice to see an energy saving function/program
> to turn off some components when they're not being used
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# RE: Refresh!Servando Silva 2010-10-18 18:49
I know we have a refresh function here, but it has never erased me things like that. I think it takes a long time to refresh.
About your comment, I still think the whole platform consuming so small quantities of energy against its performance (overall efficiency) is a pro. I know, this isn't the best one, as the contenders consume less power, but still it's a great choice for low power consumption which micro-ATX/full-ATX motherboards can't reach.
Zotac still needs to improve their software apartment, as they offer no especial software for their motherboards yet.
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# 20 MinutesOlin Coles 2010-10-18 19:03
The page refreshes after 20 minutes, and the comment section is limited to 1000 characters.
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# 30 minutesCarl 2010-10-19 06:34
Actually, it's 1800 seconds or 30 minutes. Since I went away from the page (to look a few things up) the refresh happened before I submitted my text, and everything was erased.

Thank you for your replies!

Servando, aren't there any m-ATX boards that can reach these power consumption numbers? I wonder how come that is... - I know a bigger board has more features (and they consume energy), but can't these extra/unused features be turned off on some boards?
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# RE: 30 minutesServando Silva 2010-10-19 07:43
Probably, if you turn off some features and undervolt your CPU with a Micro ITX motherboard you could reach some real low levels. A BIOS which lets you undervolt the CPU is key to reach this, with a high-efficiency power supply. The PSU I'm using for my ITX tests is far from being super-efficient, but I've tried better PSUs and shaved 5-10 watts at idle mode. Low voltage memory also helps you save some watts.
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# MotherboardCarl 2010-10-19 10:20
OK, thanks!
I don't think undervolting is something I'll do for my HTPC, so I guess that means I should look at mini-ITX, to get a low power consumption?

I'm just surprised by what you said about the larger boards always drawing more power... - I thought the larger area for the circuitry was good for lowering power consumption and heat?

I thought you were referring to how the smaller size of this Zotac board made it draw more power when you wrote:
> But remember the H55ITX has got the most crowded PCB design because it included
> 6 S-ATA ports and a WiFi module with 2 antennas, which might explain.
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# RE: MotherboardServando Silva 2010-10-19 12:21
No, I was trying to excuse the relatively "high" power consumption of this ITX H55 board against the competition, making clear that this one has more chips to feed, and so it consumes more watts.
It's not a rule that larger motherboards consume more power, but it's very common as they have more ICs, traces, and especially considering they have more CPU phases for voltage regulation. The reason they are bigger is because they need more space to add components. That's why you see X58 motherboard on a E-ATX PCB. More components=more power needed.

Also, there's nothing bad on under-volting your HTPC CPU. You'll gain some extra watts, it might produce less heat and work as fast as it's working now. It's not like you're going to under-volt it a lot, just some milli-volts (depends on your CPU). You should give it a try!
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# RE: RE: MotherboardCarl 2010-10-19 13:54
OK. Thank you for clearing that up and for the undervolting tip - I'll take that into consideration, Servando!

If I may, I have one last hardware question:
Does this Zotac board support PUIS/PM2 ("Power-up in standby", that is: choosing to not spin up a non-OS drive at once during start-up)?

Or do you know of any other board you could suggest that supports this feature?

My case is going to be large enough (with enough airflow) to house a few extra drives (aside from the SDD for the OS), but if all drives spin up at the same time when the system is started, that will cause problems for the small external power supply (the power spike when everything starts at once will be a problem for the power brick). In fact, as long as the OS (probably Win 7 64 bits) can recognize the non-OS drives, they would not have to spin up at all - until I try to access a file there.
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# RE: RE: RE: MotherboardServando Silva 2010-10-20 08:58
I have not seen that feature in this motherboard, not even in the ECS or GIGABYTE's solutions. How many drives are you willing to use? are they 2.5" or 3.5"? You talk about about a power AC-DC adapter, which one is it?
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: MotherboardCarl 2010-10-20 12:02
OK. Thanks for the info. Too bad the feature isn't supported! :-(

I haven't bought anything yet (aside from the case), but to get the best possible power consumption I will probably buy a Winmate 130W DC-DC converter and power that with a high efficiency 150W AC-DC power brick. I haven't decided on the AC-DC adapter yet, but I'll try to find one with an efficiency of over 90%.

I would probably start out with having just two 2TB 5400rpm 3.5" drives (aside from the SSD and the Blu-Ray ODD), which the PSU/adapter can handle, but I have the space to add 4 more drives on top of that, to make the HTPC into a file server / HTPC combo. Of course, this could only happen if:
a) the drives don't spin up at once
b) there are enough S-ATA connectors (Zotac's has 6, as you said, so there's a limit)

Someone told me that the old Intel D945GCLF2 board supported staggered spin-up, but I don't know about any of the motherboards that are of interest today.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: MotherboardServando Silva 2010-10-20 16:58
As you say, 130 watts is a little bit tight for that configuration. Maybe you should try something around 180-220 watts. Now that you're saying you're buying a power brick, that means it's not going to be an H55 ITX motherboard? Or how do you plan to connect all other components to the power supply (24-pin ATX, S-ATA , etc.)?
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: MotherboardCarl 2010-10-21 04:52
It happened again: I was writing a reply and suddenly the page refreshed and everything was gone! :-(
(the page loaded earlier and I didn't start to write until 2 min ago)

Anyway, to answer your questions: I want to avoid going up too much in wattage (not over 200W) to keep the system as efficient as possible.

It's just in the start-up phase that there's a problem as each drive draws around 20W when it spins up. Normally, I won't need for any of the disc drives to be spinning since they'll mostly be used for occasional manual backup (and perhaps once a week playing a movie from one of them). The best thing would be if none of the disc drives spin up when the system i started, but still have them accessible for when that's needed.

The AC-DC power brick supplies 19-20V DC to the DC-DC card that have the cables needed for the motherboard connection:
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: MotherboardServando Silva 2010-10-21 06:02
OK, now I see where you're going. Just in case initial power becomes a problem, I'd also recommend getting a 200 watts PSU with high efficiency (Fortron FPS 200 watts is a good choice).
As you probably already read, high efficiency ranges between 20%-80% (sweet points are 20%, 50%, 80%)Load. If your ITX system takes 50 watts at idle mode, you'll be at 25% of your PSU, and let's say it takes around 100-130w at full load, you'll be at 50%-60% of your PSU, which is not bad at all.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: MotherboardCarl 2010-10-21 06:42
I know. I just don't want to get a bigger PSU (and get worse efficiency) just because of the power peak during 10 seconds at start-up. Since the technique to avoid this (through staggered spin-up of drives, or even not spinning up unneeded drives at all), I would like to use this technology. *too bad it seems extremely hard to find components that support it, though!*
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: MotherboardCarl 2010-10-21 06:44
forgot the word "exists" - "since the technique exists, I want to use it."
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: MotherboardRodrigo 2011-02-13 17:48
Muy interesante, yo tengo un gabinete HP s3320la con fuente de 160W, se podría usar para este placa madre?, porque viendo la fuente recomendada (, no esta muy lejos de la miá (
Very interesting, I have a HP s3320la cabinet with 160W power, you could use for this motherboard?, because seeing the recommended source (, not very far from mine (
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# CoolerSteven 2010-10-28 00:55
I've just bought this board and it looks great. Given that it is a small factor board- what CPU cooler & combined fan system would be recommended to ensure a good fit and that it doesent interfere with any components or memory sticks etc.
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# RE: CoolerServando Silva 2010-10-28 05:56
Remember you've got to install a CPU cooler without CPU backplate or you could damage some ICs at the back of the motherboard as I've said in the review.
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# RE: Zotac H55ITX-C-E Mini-ITX WiFi MotherboardSteven 2010-10-29 07:16
I realise that thanks- what would you recommend, I'll be running an i5 650
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# RE: RE: Zotac H55ITX-C-E Mini-ITX WiFi MotherboardServando Silva 2010-10-29 07:30
Which case will you use for your platform? Or what kind of heatsink are you planning to buy? (120mm,92mm,low profile, etc).
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# RE: RE: RE: Zotac H55ITX-C-E Mini-ITX WiFi MotherboardSteven 2010-11-02 09:07
Antec Fusion Case. Is the cooler/heatsink not the same thing?
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Zotac H55ITX-C-E Mini-ITX WiFi MotherboardOlin Coles 2010-11-02 09:09
Heatsink and CPU cooler are interchangeable words that describe the same component. Sometimes the cooler does not come with a fan, such as the Megahalems, at which point it?s referred to as a heatsink.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Zotac H55ITX-C-E Mini-ITX WiFi MotherboardServando Silva 2010-11-02 09:39
I'm asking for the case to see which size of cooler can you install inside of it. My second question was referring as for which size of CPU cooler/heatsink would you like to use. Obviously, the first choice depends on the second. Antec Fusion isn't a tall enough for a tower-designed cooler, so you should look for a low-profile cooler.
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