First Look: Zotac H55-ITX WiFi
The layout is a little strange but our first impressions are very positive. Zotac has pushed the H55 PCH and SATA ports up above the CPU socket, allowing shorter, direct traces to the full x16 PCI-E slot below and the two DDR3 DIMM slots at the side.
The one downside is that the CPU 12V EPS power socket is squished into the inner edge, however Zotac kindly throws in an extension cable so you're not left short.
Like the DFI, we don't expect a world of overclocking options - the more recent Core i3/i5 Clarkdale CPUs should overclock better in this regard because of the simple 4+1 power phases, however he have booted this board with a Core i7-870 just fine: TurboBoost works as expected. We'll dive into the BIOS and overclock it properly once we come to review it in full.
Click to enlarge
The box comes full of kit too: adapters, SATA cables, antenna etc; more than the usual mini-ITX bundle, which leads us into our ultimate downside: price. We've found Zotac rarely hits the mark on price for its mini-ITX boards and tries to get ahead of itself. We all like the idea of features but only extreme overclockers pay for it in their Republic of Gamer, UD7 or Big Bang boards. Given what Zotac has crammed into this package - the Wireless-n and more expensive Intel Gigabit Ethernet chip for example - we certainly don't expect to be the right side of the DFI MI P55-T36's £120. This means you've got to really want 17x17cm and use all the extra bits, otherwise the £85 micro-ATX Gigabyte H55M-UD2 still looks extremely attractive.
Click to enlarge
We can't help but admire Zotac for this ambitious mini-ITX board. We hope this market will pick up as well and having an industry leading five
year warranty for boards like this (Gigabyte only trumps it on its UD6 and UD7 that have six and seven years respectively).
BUT - and it's a big but - potential buyers are still governed by the thought that small = cheap. However, we're ready to be re-educated if our readers change their minds - let us know your thoughts on this in the forums. Are you genuinely interested in this, or do you always consider mini-ITX boards as cheap-and-cheerful? How much would you reasonable pay for a fully-featured one such as this?