Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 mini-ITX Motherboard Review

June 15, 2010 | 08:21

Tags: #benchmarks #bios #h55 #lga1156 #mini-itx #motherboard #oc #overclocking #pap #pci-express #result #review #sff #small #tiny #usb-3

Companies: #gigabyte

Board Layout

Gigabyte uses a modest heatsink for the H55 chipset, which we found gets quite hot during testing, even on an open test-bench. Our test CPU only hit temperatures of 30-40°C, but the H55 chipset was consistently at temperatures of 50-60°C, so if your tiny case does act like an oven, you should consider adding some additional airflow.

*Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 mini-ITX Motherboard Review GA-H55N-USB3 Layout *Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 mini-ITX Motherboard Review GA-H55N-USB3 Layout
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On the plus side, this H55N has the benefit of Gigabyte's usual investment in long life (Sanyo SEPC) capacitors and the same MOSFETs, drivers and chokes you find on Gigabyte's full-ATX motherboards. Cunningly, Gigabyte even manages to squeeze in its dual-BIOS under the end of the 16x PCI Express slot.

Generally the sockets are easy to get to, as they're placed around the edges of the board. The SATA, ATX power connector and the pair of USB pin-outs are at the opposite end to the graphics slot and memory, which means even with everything plugged in you shouldn't need tweezers to get to them. The 4-pin CPU power socket is buried in the middle of the board though, so if you are using a large CPU cooler, connecting it could be a bit awkward.

*Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 mini-ITX Motherboard Review GA-H55N-USB3 Layout *Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 mini-ITX Motherboard Review GA-H55N-USB3 Layout
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Gigabyte manages to integrate USB 3 support on this small motherboard: there are two ports on the rear I/O, with the NEC controller chip buried just behind it. The H55N is the only mini-ITX motherboard we know of with USB 3, and its inclusion could be particularly useful since most mini-ITX cases are limited in size: if more hard disks are required later down the, it'll be easy to connect them via USB 3. While some of us in the office think eSATA will whither away over the next couple of years, there is an eSATA port to expand the storage of your mini-ITX build too.

*Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 mini-ITX Motherboard Review GA-H55N-USB3 Layout *Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 mini-ITX Motherboard Review GA-H55N-USB3 Layout
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There's no WiFi included, however, unlike the Zotac H55-ITX board we previously reviewed, but you can add WiFi via tiny USB dongles if this is a requirement of yours.

*Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 mini-ITX Motherboard Review GA-H55N-USB3 Layout
Click to enlarge

The rear I/O does offer PS2 keyboard or mouse, six USB ports (two of which are USB 3) DVI, D-Sub, HDMI, S/PDIF out, eSATA, a single Gigabit Ethernet port and six 3.5mm audio jacks providing the full 7.1 High-Definition surround sound experience. That's quite a list for such a small board. The audio is provided via the latest Realtek ALC892R codec, which includes bit-streaming Blu-ray audio support audio over both HDMI and the analogue ports.
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