Final Words & Conclusion
Final Words & Conclusion
With the release of the GA-H57M-USB3 Gigabyte brings one of the first USB 3.0 ready products to the market. Now unfortunately I do not have even one USB 3.0 device here in my office to check out the luxurious speed the new updated USB port brings along. A bit of a shame as we'd really like to test that out and a double shame since we have the first USB 3.0 SSD arriving in our lab actually this week.
On the topic of USB 3.0 we have one remark, Gigabyte is not adding an extra PLX chip for additional bandwidth to their motherboards while implementing that USB3.0 controller. If Gigabyte in the near future adds say a SATA 6GBPs controller to their motherboards then these motherboards in their current design can run into bandwidth issues.
Devices like SATA 6GBPs and USB 30.0 are all connected directly to the PCI-Express 2.0 controller and with it's 16 available lanes divided over several devices that can pose a dilemma, you run out of bandwidth. If you pop in a high-end graphics cards that might matter in overall performance a little as your graphics card jumps into PCIe x8 mode due to the lack of available PCIe lanes. In short, the available 16x PCIe lanes are not sufficient enough in terms of available bandwidth. ASUS for example adds an extra PLX chip to the circuitry adding an extra 4 lanes, so .. this definitely is something that Gigabyte lookout for, especially on the high-end gear. Let me also state that I do undeerstand Gigabyte here, that adding that PLX chip also increases pricing, the PLX costs 20~25 USD a piece and that's a dillema.
That said, for this motherboard it's not really a big issue and sure, overall we are really impressed what this nice little H57 motherboard offers for the money. The baseline performance is on par with all H55/H57 motherboards, but where it really shines is overclockability and it's feature set. You get to play around with heaps of SATA ports, USB ports, and then the monitor I/O wowzers, you get VGA, DVI, HDMI and Display port, that's quite a bunch of connectivity and options alright. Anyway the motherboard is chucked full and loaded with everything you could desire.
The stability was perfect, and that's of course testimony to the quality build that Gigabyte offers. The Ultra Durable design is something a lot of other manufacturers picked up on, as it works ... quality components offer not only a longer lifespan, but also increases system stability and prevents it from oddities. Who doesn't remember motherboards making noises due to cheap components or leaking caps?
What impressed me was not just the featureset but also the BIOS features and tweaking. The options are wide, extensive and will allow you to pull a trick or two overclocking wise. As shown in this article, we had a Core i5 661 processor running at nearly 4.2 GHz by merely a minute of tweaking in the BIOS -- all that on a stock Intel air-cooler (btw we do strongly recommend you to look into way better cooling if you are planning to overclock).
The Gigabyte GA-H57M-USB3 will soon be available for roughly 120 EUR and though not cheap, it certainly is worth that money. By all means do not forget that for the display outputs to work you will need an Intel Clarkdale processor (Core i3 500 and Core i5 600 series). A processor like the Core i5 750, will work just fine, but does not have an embedded graphics unit inside the processor. A nice benefit is of course the USB 3.0 controller onboard this motherboard. We do feel that Gigabyte will need to address the concern we mentioned earlier on, but also realize that for a board of this stature it's not really an issue. As such the Gigabyte GA-H57M-USB3 comes very much recommended and we certainly had a great time testing it.