These little motherboards always offer heaps of fun and features don't they ? It's just good to see how much stuff you can chuck into something so small. The end results as such was impressive. Though the boards are not the cheapest at roughly 90 EUR / 105 USD you are building a platform that is small, easy to carry around yet you still get an excellent feature set. The inclusion of the full PCIe x16 slot, the USB 3.0 headers, the wide range of monitor connectivity and even the Optical SPDIF Toslink audio output it all makes the motherboard, as tiny as it is, very feature rich and up-top date on modern standards.
The Mini-ITX motherboard is a perfect example of getting the most out of your hardware. At 17x17 CM we see a PCB fully utilizing everything it can. Face it, this motherboard performs as well as any regular H55 based motherboard and comes is packed with 95% of the regular features as well.
So for a reasonable amount of money you get a proper baseline performing Core i3 and i5 ready motherboard. Pop in a Clarkdale based processor and et voilla, you'll have working 2D/3D graphics as well. It's pretty much all you need to get Windows Vista or 7 going properly. Should you want to game in a more serious fashion, then just make use of the PCIe slot and pop in a dedicated graphics card.
Though we did not cover it deeply, you can even overclock your processor in the BIOS. A somewhat decent selection of features is offered there including Multiplier control and the ability to over and undervolt the processor. Memory overclocking is also fairly good, all memory timings are available, and each timing has an AUTO parameter scales properly with frequency. How much overclock options you actually need on a motherboard like this remains trivial though, but the implementation certainly is very decent should you need it.
Overall the Gigabyte H55N-USB 3.0 is a really fair and good motherboard. Performance is as expected good thanks to H55, and for the money the features are plenty decent for any environment you can think of: automotive, HTPC, desktop, internet, work and even high-end gaming is a very possible alternative here.
Gigabyte stuffed the 17x17cm PCB full with all the features the H55 chipset has to offer and then some more. The one thing you might miss is say an extra PCI x1 slot for more high-end audio. But yeah, there's no room left on the PCB really. Ehm, two things we feel are missing, RAID support and an extra FAN header along with proper FAN RPM control from within the BIOS. But that's all I can think of really.
The H55N-USB 3.0 motherboard comes very recommended as a fair value product. Size apparently doesn't matter, as you can gain every foreseeable and modern option a regular sized mainstream ATX motherboard offers as well, and what makes this a great deal is that you can pair it with any socket 1156 processor. Fast, versatile, feature rich, petite and even USB 3.0 .... we like that.
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