The layout is a little strange, but our first impressions were very positive. Zotac has pushed the H55 PCH and SATA ports up above the CPU socket, allowing shorter, direct traces from the CPU socket to the full 16x PCI-E slot below and the two DDR3 DIMM slots at the side.
The one downside is that the CPU EPS12V 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, the overclocking options are limited because of the moderate 4+1-phase power hardware. The H55 chipset is designed to work best with Core i3/i5 Clarkdale CPUs too, rather than Lynnfield i5/i7, but any LGA1156 CPU will work in this board.
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The box comes full of kit too: adapters, SATA cables, the pair of antenna spill from it once it's opened. This is more than the usual mini-ITX bundle, which initially made us worry that maybe this board wouldn't be competitive on price. We've previous found Zotac mini-ITX board to be a touch pricey, but given what Zotac has crammed into this package - the wireless-n and more expensive Intel Gigabit Ethernet chip, for example - we were surprised Zotac has managed to get this the price it has done. While it's no £85 micro-ATX Gigabyte H55M-UD2H
, it still looks extremely attractive at £110-120
. Play.com has a pre-order of price of just £109.99 (inc VAT)
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We can't help but admire Zotac for this ambitious mini-ITX board. We hope this market will pick up as well, and Zotac wind further kudos for having a lengthy five
year warranty for boards like this (Gigabyte only trumps it on its UD6 and UD7 that have six and seven years respectively).