It's difficult to really innovate in desktop motherboards - standardise form factors mean everything is the same shape and size - but Gigabyte's giving it a good go with its newest range of ultra-thin mini-ITX boards.
The H77TN and B75TN motherboards are constructed on the principle that if you can't alter the length or width of a mini-ITX board, you can make it stand out by - ironically enough - changing the height. Designed for DIY all-in-one (AIO) systems or ultra-compact desktops, the boards are claimed to be around 43 per cent thinner than the average mini-ITX board using special low-profile connectors.
The result is a pair of boards measuring 17cm on a side and just 2.5cm high, despite being fully-featured boards with numerous connectivity options. As standard, the H77TN includes one mini-PCI Express x1, one full-size PCI Express x4, and an mSATA port, along with two SATA 6Gb/s and two SATA 3Gb/s connectors, four USB 3.0 ports on the back panel, integrated DisplayPort and HDMI port outputs, a gigabit Ethernet port and two audio jacks. As befits a board designed for all-in-one systems, the H77TN also includes an internal LVDS (Low-Voltage Differential Signalling) connector for direct connection of a flat-panel display with selectable 5V or 3.3V power output and 12V and 19V outputs for the back light. The board is also powered by a DC jack capable of accepting anything between 12V and 19V, offering increased flexibility when trying to upgrade an existing AIO chassis.
The H77TN, powered by an Intel H77 chipset as its name suggests, is joined by the B75-based B75TN. Most of the features are the same between both models: both include two 1.5V DDR3 SODIMM slots for up to 8GB of system memory and all the aforementioned ports, slots and features, but the B75TN drops the number of SATA 6Gb/s ports to just one, shifting the remaining port down to SATA 3Gb/s. Both also feature the same restrictions: the PCI Express x4 slot is capable of delivering just 25W, meaning high-performance graphics cards aren't going to be an option, although the Intel Socket LGA 1155 CPU options go right the way up to the company's top-end 77W chips - but just one Core i7 processor, the 65W Core i7-3770S, is listed by the company as being officially supported, with the 77W Core i7-3770K nowhere to be seen.
Despite these restrictions, and a distinct lack of barebones AIO chassis in the market, the thinner design may be of interest to modders and system builders looking to make a compact yet powerful system - and to give potential buyers an idea, Gigabyte has handily provided a demonstration video below.