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Like many of Zotac's previous offerings, the H55-ITX-C-E distinguishes itself
with a great feature set, being outfitted with 6 SATA ports, a USB 3.0 controller,
and a 802.11n mini PCI-E card with dual antennae. When it comes to LGA1156 mini-ITX
boards, nothing delivers as many features.
This beast of a mini-board unfortunately has a dark side: Power consumption.
Compared to the Asus P7H55D-M EVO,
a microATX board with a similar feature-set, the H55-ITX applied much higher
CPU voltage to our i5-661 test processor, resulting in a 20% increase in full
load power consumption. On a typical microATX/ATX board, we would simply go
into the BIOS and set the voltage manually, but being a mini-ITX mainboard,
its range of voltages is very slim. Even after undervolting it to the limit,
we were still about 0.75V shy of what we felt the Vcore should have been.
In addition, when we stressed the integrated Intel GMA HD graphics chip on
our our i5, the increase in power draw was 5 times that of a typical H55 board.
While few purchasers of this board will experience this confounding problem
(few users are likely to game heavily with GMA HD), it's still distressing that
such a big power leak can exist. Thankfully, the board's energy efficiency when
idle and watching HD video is in-line with the P7H55D-M. (Editor's Note:
Whether a BIOS fix will solve this power issue in the near future is something
we'll monitor. Zotac has been informed of our findings; so far, their techs
have no response.)
Those who see the H55-ITX and its 6 SATA ports as the potential cornerstone
of a file server may overlook these problems depending on how often the system
will sit idle. Generally we would recommend a lower cost microATX board for
this function , like the ultra energy efficient Intel
DH55TC. For a home theater PC, simpler and more cost effective solutions
abound, though a Clarkdale/H55 combination does offer audio bitstreaming capabilities
similar to that of the HD 5000 series of graphics cards. Still, we can only
recommend the H55-ITX-C-E if you intend to use it as a compact but powerful
gaming PC. After all, what's an extra 15W when you've got an i7 processor drawing
95W and a graphics card pulling down 150W?
Pricing is not yet available for the H55-ITX-C-E, but the A-E version without
USB 3.0 has a street price of about US$130, so expect the updated version to
go for about US$150 which is pricey but okay value-wise, due to its strong set
of features. If you're willing to give up 2 SATA connectors, WiFi, and the mini
PCI-E slot, the Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB is more affordable at only US$105. But
for many, that's too much too give up.
* Core i5/i7 support
* Feature-rich (6 x SATA, 802.11n, USB 3.0)
* High Vcore = high CPU load power consumption
* Unusually high IGP load power consumption
Our thanks to Zotac
for the H55-ITX-C-E sample.
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Articles of Related Interest
Asus P7H55D-M EVO LGA1156 microATX Motherboard
Intel Core i5-661: A 32nm CPU with
Gigabyte MA785GPMT-UD2H 785G Motherboard
Intel's LGA1156 and Lynnfield
AMD's 785G Chipset Boards: 780G Evolved
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this article in the SPCR forums.
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