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  • Gigabyte H55N Mini ITX Motherboard Review
  • Gigabyte H55N Mini ITX Motherboard Review



    Motherboards come in all shapes and sizes, some are big while others are extremely small yet they all share a common feature, the ATX form factor standard.  These standards were established early on to ensure compatibility with chassis design, expansion card placement, and even cooling demands.  While standards exist there are times when they cannot be used for some reason or another, HPTX or XL-ATX are two examples of "new" motherboard form factors found on some popular high performance motherboards.  The difference here is, HPTX, and XL-ATX technically don't exist except on paper but have become quite popular as a result.
    Another popular form factor originally developed by VIA is the Mini-ITX.  Mini-ITX is considerably smaller than MicroATX and is designed for extremely compact and low power consumption systems, which is something VIA specialized in. It was never intended to be a powerful platform, but nothing in the spec requires it either.

    In this review we will be looking at a new motherboard from Gigabyte based on the Mini-ITX form factor and Intel H55 chipset called the GA-H55N-USB3.  The Intel H55 is almost identical to the P55 in all ways except for the addition of an HD graphics hub.  The graphics isn't embedded into the chipset, like in previous IGP systems, but rather is part of the processor.  From an architecture standpoint this is a good move for Intel but does mean consumers will have to choose between 2 basic processor options depending on what they want to do.  The dual core processor features built in HD graphics while the quad core version does not.
    As you can imagine the overall layout is very compact but everything is in the standard location.  Memory is positioned to the right of the processor with a single PCI Express slot directly below.  The only major difference is the location of the front panel and drive connections.  Since there is no room under the expansion slots you'll find them at the top of the board next to the power connector. 

    The PCB is the standard Gigabyte blue and features a rather small, yet elegant, chipsink over the Intel H55 MCP.  An interesting fact about the Mini-ITX form factor, its overall dimensions are defined by the 4 primary mounting holes found on a standard ATX motherboard.