GIGABYTE GA-H55N-USB3 (rev 1.0) Review :: Board Layout

08-18-2010 · Category: Motherboards

By Benjamin Sun

To say that the H55N-USB3 is a tiny board is an understatement. I have in fact seen Ion bards on similar form factors. The board is designed to fit into a Home Theater PC designed to fit inside the smallest cases the board is fully featured as we shall see. Starting on the upper right hand corner of the board we find that GIGABYTE has located the 4-pin CPU Fan header here.

The CPU area is a bit cramped for installation of after-market CPU coolers with memory installation. With the size of the board there really was no getting around it. I was able to install a Thermaltake cooler with no issue and was able to install the reference cooler without issue but installing the wider cooler may cause interference.

The top of the board is where the SATA ports are located on this board. The board has four SATA ports which is sufficient for most users as the H55 Express chipset does not support RAID, requiring the motherboard manufacturer to add a separate RAID controller to support it. The 4-pin power connector is above the CPU area with the 24-pin power connector below the FP I/O which is below the SATA ports. The FP I/O is color coded and labeled with two USB headers next to them.

The bottom of the board is where GIGABYTE has decided to place the DIMM slots. The LGA-1156 CPUs support dual channel memory at up to 8GB of DDR memory supported by this board. Memory speeds of up to DDR3 1333 are natively supported by the Intel Core i3/i5 CPUs and the board supports Intelís Extreme Memory Profiles. DDR3 1600MHz is also supported via overclocking as the memory controller is on the CPU for both Intel and AMD on their platforms. The next item of note is the video card slot which is located directly next to the CPU Socket hence the cramped nature of the CPU Socket area.

The board has a single PCI Express x16 slot for an external graphics card. Note that the Radeon HD 4870 we use for testing overlaps both the PCI Express slot but also the motherboard in terms of length. The card also overlaps the board on the side so if you buy a case designed for this sized board you might run into a small issue. As this board is meant for the HTPC and small server crowd, these people will not likely install a dual-slot video card, or a long one like a HD 5870 or HD 5970. The board design is perfect for the target markets as the I/O is a fully featured one.

GIGABYTE uses a Realtek ALC892 sound card on their H55N-USB3 motherboard. This is the latest iteration of sound card from the makers of quality onboard sound. The ALC892 supports Intelís High Definition Audio standard with support for 2/4/5.1/7.1 speaker systems and supports S/PDIF Out. The rear I/O has a combination PS/2 Mouse or Keyboard port in case you have one of those legacy devices, 4 USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an external SATA port, a S/PDIF Out port, a LAN jack, and six audio jacks for the onboard audio. There are also the video connections for an HDMI port, A DVI port and a VGA port. This should allow you to connect your new motherboard to the most popular monitors or HDTV connections.