In the race to get a USB3 capable mini-ITX motherboard to market, Gigabyte has today announced the first entry into the arena - the GA-H55N-USB3.  Measuring a tiny 17cm x 17cm, this board is a stark contrast the the Gigabyte X58A-UD9 released last week.


USB3 connectivity is achieved via the onboard NEC uPD720200 host controller to two USB3 ports with a bandwidth of 5Gb/s.  The board also provides Gigabyte's 3x USB Power Boost, allowing USB devices a greater power range to work with and devices to charge quicker.  On the board is a full x16 PCI-E 2.0 slot, four SATA 3Gb/s ports, and two DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 8GB.  The back panel features the two USB3 ports, one eSATA 3Gb/s port, four USB2 ports (a further four available from internal headers), Realtek Gigabit Ethernet and 7.1 channel audio, a combined PS2 connection, an optical S/PDIF Out, and HDMI/D-Sub/DVI connectors


According to Tim Handley, Deputy Director of Motherboard Marketing at Gigabyte, "The GIGABYTE GA-H55N-USB3 was designed specifically for users wanting to build the ultimate home entertainment PC".  Usually, a mini-ITX board is just what the doctor orders for such an endeavour, however this also expands into the realm of LAN gaming, where portability and power like to go hand-in-hand.  The H55N-USB3 will support the latest LGA-1156 Core i3 and Core i5 processors with integrated graphics, as well as s1156 Core i7 processors.

Along with On/Off Charge to charge external devices and Gigabyte's DualBIOS providing a backup BIOS in case things go wrong, there are very few things to pick at on this board announcement.  One thing of note is the onboard SATA ports - should a HTPC also become a basic network storage hybrid, more SATA ports would have been a good selling point for the H55N-USB3.  Probably not a huge deal, but looking at the VRM layout we'd guess that HT enabled Lynnfield processor overclocking is going to be limitied - just like other mini-ITX offerings.  

To receive serious consideration we think Gigabyte need to price the H55N-USB3 at around $110 (we've heard predictions of $130). The ECS H55H-I we reviewed earlier this month sets the pace and offers an absurdly cheap, good stock running mini-ITX board for $65 (after $15 rebate).  The Zotac H55-ITX Wi-Fi with 6 SATA ports, 10 USB ports and (obviously) Wi-Fi is now available for $115 (after $15 rebate); and finally the Intel DH57JG has dropped in price from $125 to $110.

More news on the H55N-USB3 is expected to surface at Computex 2010, held in Taiwan on the 1st-5th June.



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  • DigitalRazor - Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - link

    This is the first mini ITX board that pretty much does it for me as a NAS/HTPC playback device. yes .. I need RAID but with that big 'ol 16x PCIe sticking out there .. a good 8x RAID 5 card ( expensive ... true and if I don't choose to use software raid ( icky-poo) ) I can serve as backup to my Audio Video and Software synthesis platform Mastering studio and about as many HD flat screens as I choose... and my girlfriend will be happy not to know about the redundancy of RAID-5 or RAID-6 --- but she does anyway cause she is a Nerd Like me ... Enjoy but if you cant .. there is something out there for you .. Reply
  • Ninjahedge - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    OK, yelling for RAID on a mini is a bit rediculous.


    You have only one computer in all of your house? You are using a mini for a LAN/Gamer/NAS and HTPC?

    I am not saying you need something for every application, but I would like to have a low power use system for my NAS, a TINY machine for my HTPC, and a small one for my main system that can still fit a decent vid card (And be able to fit it, the chip with its cooler fan and a power supply in a compact case).

    This looks like a good vid card might be difficult to fit next to the chip... I may be wrong.

    Anyway, back to RAID. As someone who upped his 5 disk 500G (each) raid to a 4 disk 1.5TB (each) array, I can see why RAID 5 is so desired. But to fit enough stuff on a NAS, you need at least 3 disks in RAID 5. Once you start getting to that many disks, "mini" is no longer a major concern.

    As for striping it in 0, what's the point? Load times? 1 2TB and an SSD should do the trick....

    As for backups while bringing your machine all around creation, you could just do it the old fashioned way and put it in two places (like I do, keeping them on the CF and putting them on the laptop, until I get home and transfer to the NAS).

    Question for all, suggestions on a full assembly on this sucker for a gaming machine? Would this be something that would give the Shuttle boxes a good run for the money?
  • lotuspad - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    I absolutely don't understand why all the fuss about the lack of RAID support with this mini-itx board.

    If you run RAID, don't you also need a case that's big enough to house at least two disk drives? How many ITX cases can you find that can house two HDDs (in addition to the usual ODD)???

    OK you may argument, you could put the system in a mATX or full size case. Then why in the world would you want to pay a premium for a mini-itx board when you can get more for less $$ by buying a mATX or full size board? The power savings between a mITX and mATX is not that much.

    To me, mITX is all about compact size. If that's not your primary objective when building a system then you're looking at the wrong product.

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