Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 review

24 May 2010

Absolutely tiny, but ideal for anyone looking to squeeze a media-centre PC into a tight space

Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3
Price when reviewed: 
106(£105 inc VAT)
5

The early-adopter phase for USB 3 is beginning to pass, and prices are slowly falling on a diverse array of motherboards. Gigabyte’s GA-H55N-USB3, for instance, includes a pair of USB 3 ports into a tiny mini-ITX form factor.

It’s only 168mm wide but Gigabyte has done a remarkable job of cramming in the features. The backplate has a pair of USB 3 sockets and five USB 2 ports, plus eSATA, Gigabit Ethernet, six audio jacks, a PS/2 socket and even optical S/PDIF. Three display outputs are there too – HDMI, DVI-I and D-SUB – although you’ll need a processor with onboard graphics to take advantage.

There’s also a single PCI Express x16 slot for adding a graphics card – we’d assume low-end but there’s nothing stopping you pushing things – meaning the trade-offs are only really in the lack of future expandability.

A pair of 1,666MHz DDR3 DIMM sockets means you’re limited to 8GB of RAM, and with four SATA/300 sockets you can forget that new SATA/600 disk you had your eye on. We also found barely enough room to fit a stock Intel heatsink, so that rules out anything more elaborate.

Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3

Suffice it to say fiddling with components isn’t easy on such a small board. Enthusiasts will also find themselves hampered by a lack of the usual trinkets and onboard readings found on high-end boards.

Nevertheless, the presence of USB 3 ensures the board will prove useful in years to come, and the LGA 1156 processor socket supports an ever-expanding range of Intel processors. The rest of the board is well-stocked, and provides most of the mod-cons needed to put together a decent system.

Its size means the GA-H55N-USB3 will necessarily appeal to a niche audience, but Gigabyte’s sterling work makes it ideal as the base for a cutting-edge yet diminutive PC.

Details

Price ex VAT £90
Price inc VAT £106
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Motherboard form factor Mini ITX
Motherboard integrated graphics no

Compatability

Processor/platform brand (manufacturer) Intel
Processor socket LGA 1156
Motherboard form factor Mini ITX
Memory type DDR3
Multi-GPU support no

Controllers

Motherboard chipset Intel H55
Number of Ethernet adapters 1
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
Graphics chipset N/A

Onboard Connectors

Memory sockets total 2
Internal SATA connectors 4
PCI-E x16 slots total 1

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 5
eSATA ports 1