Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 mini-ITX motherboard review

Manufacturer: Gigabyte
UK Price (as Reviewed): £96.35 (inc. VAT) MSRP (available from Scan soon)
US Price (as Reviewed): TBA

Mini-ITX is becoming a hot trend, with more and more companies committing to having a teeny-tiny option or two in their product lineups. Until now though, we've not had a motherboard big-hitter take the plunge with a modern mini-ITX motherboard, with smaller companies such as Zotac and DFI blazing the tiny-board trail.

As with those previous mini-ITX offerings, Gigabyte's GA-H55N-USB3 is another H55 motherboard, and for the same reasons. For a start, space is limited around the socket, so there's little room for fancy, high-end power hardware. Secondly, the kinds of case that these motherboard will typically find themselves in are more suited to the on-board graphics of the Clarkdale Core i3 and Core i5 (and their lower TDPs) than the Lynnfield Core i5 and Core i7 range.

Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 mini-ITX Motherboard Review Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 Specifications
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Gigabyte explained that the H55N's 4+2-phase VRMs are suitable for all CPUs up to a TDP of 73W, which encompasses nearly all of the Clarkdale Core i3 and Core i5 processors. The Core i5-661 has a TDP of 87W, but that's still fine, according to Gigabyte, as the H55N will accept even the top-end, 95W TDP Core i7-880. However, when using the more power-hungry LGA1156 CPUs, there will be little room to overvolt, and Gigabyte doesn't recommend overvolting the board for long-term use with one of these higher TDP processors (as we'll explain on the overclocking page).

The LGA1156 socket supports standard desktop CPUs and heatsinks, although again the size of your case will limit which coolers you can use. Also bear in mind that even modest coolers overlap the two memory sockets and the PCI-E slot so a standard-height memory is required, and you'll need a small cooler if you plan to use the expansion slot.

Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 Specifications

  • Chipset: Intel H55
  • CPU support: LGA1156 Core i3, i5 and i7, Pentium G6950
  • Memory support: 2 slots: max 8GB DDR3 (1,333MHz)
  • Expansion slots: One 16x PCI-E 2.0 slot
  • Sound: Intel HD Audio via Realtek ALC892R with 8-channel and PAP support
  • Networking: 2 x Realtek RTL8111DL Gigabit Ethernet
  • Ports: 4 x SATA 3Gbps, eSATA 3Gbps, 8 x USB 2, 2 x USB 3, 1 x LAN, 4 x surround audio out, line in, mic, optical S/PDIF out, 2 x eSATA 3Gbps, D-Sub, DVI, HDMI
  • Dimensions (mm): 170 x 170 (mini-ITX)

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