Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI Mini-ITX Motherboard

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Storage Subsystem Performance

To test storage subsystems I used CrystalDiskMark, the 1000 MB setting with 0x00 fill test data, and a Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB solid state drive (compressible data produces the best possible speeds out SandForce drives). The drive was connected using an Icy Dock external dock which supports eSATA and USB 3.0 (limited to 3 Gbps and 5 Gbps respectively).

SATA 6 Gbps

As with previous series 6 and series 7 motherboards, the H77N-WIFI's SATA controller outperformed AMD's solution by a modest amount. Most of the advantage was with the smaller 512K block size, which means mainly operations dealing with small files. It's also notable that the difference is above ~400 MB/s which is beyond the capability of most SSDs. The popular SandForce drives like the one I used can only achieve these numbers using highly compressible data. All things being equal, its unlikely any difference in performance would be noticed.

USB 3.0

USB 3.0 can purportedly produce data rates of up to 4 Gbps (512 MB/s) but in practice I've never seen anything come close. When connected internally, the test drive is capable of 500 MB/s when working with 512K block sizes. The H77N-WIFI's Intel controller was substantially slower across the board, like most USB 3.0 controllers I've encountered. Most of them are roughly the same in my experience when it comes to speed.

This lack of performance isn't a huge deal if you're working with external hard drives and flash drives, but SSDs and other high-throughput devices would probably be better off using Thunderbolt as an interface.

WiFi

For the WiFi test, I sent a large file transfer (1.4GB) to a GBLAN-connected machine via an Actiontec V1000H modem/router in the adjacent room. I should also note my router is not the greatest — it was provided by my ISP and the speed has never been an issue as I use WiFi for internet access only and no network video streaming.

For this comparison, I pit the H77N-WIFI's Intel NIC against a pair of add-on adapters from ASUS, one PCI Express, the other USB.

First a quick look at range and signal strength. Of the three, the Intel solution picked up the most SSIDs (eight), while the PCE-N13 only detected five, though the networks it did see reported excellent signal strength. The USB-N13 found seven but the signal strength was weak on all except the closest WLAN (mine).

The H77N-WIFI's adapter completed the test with an average transfer rate of 31.6 mbps, not terrific for wireless-N, but fast enough to stream most 1080p content except perhaps uncompressed Blu-ray rips. It outpaced the USB adapter but the PCI-E NIC was superior to both by a big margin.



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