H55 & H57 Motherboard Roundup Reviewjlqrb - June 18, 2010
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With very little separating the H55 and H57 chipsets it is hard to recommend one of these products over another. All come packed with good performance, plenty of features and a price that reflects their positioning in the market. So ultimately it comes down to your specific needs and budget. Below we are going to take an individual look at each board so you can better see which one might best fit your needs.
The Gigabyte H55M-USB3 was one of the motherboards that really impressed me during the roundup. It uses an mATX form factor and a very reasonable retail price. But still manages to include a high quality VRM that allowed me to overclock very well. In fact, this board was able to increase the Intel 661 processors core frequency up to 4.5GHz, which was only duplicated by one other motherboard in the roundup. It was also the only H55 motherboard to support memory beyond 1333MHz and come with an on-board chips for RAID and USB 3.0 support. These all made this board stand out, but perhaps best of all is that it retails for just over $100. This places the board nicely in the mainstream making it a strong option for any HTPC or budget gaming rig.
ASUS P7H57D-V EVO:
The ASUS P7H57D-V EVO is the most feature package motherboard in the roundup and as such it has the highest price point. However, when looking at all the features that this board offers it is hard to say that it's not worth it. This is the only board that comes with on-board SATA 3.0 ports for super faster transfer speeds of 6Gb/s. It also comes with amazing overclocking headroom and the ability to run both CrossFireX and SLI when using a Lynnfield processor. Additionally, this board has the best 3D performance out of all of the boards in the roundup. During the testing process it was this model that continuously achieved the highest frames per second and had the best results in 3D benchmarking programs. So really, there is very little to dislike about this board and all its high-end features should make it very appealing to gamers and enthusiasts.
For being such a small board the H55H-I packed quite a punch. This isn't to say that the board comes with all the bells and whistles of the more expensive models because it doesn't, but it has it where it counts, performance. This board was able to keep up with the more expensive motherboards at stock and even though it couldn't reach the same overclocking results as the Gigabyte and ASUS boards, it did clock the Intel 661 beyond 4GHz. Not too bad for a board that uses the Mini-ITX form factor. So not only do you get great performance but you get it in a board that can fit into virtually any SFF case. Also, since ECS has eliminated many of the high-end features, this board retails for a very affordable $79.99, making it an amazing choice for HTPC builders looking for a solid performer.
The ECS H55H-CM is an entry-level offering and in terms of performance and features it shows. This is not to say this is not a capable motherboard, but during our testing it did not perform at the same level as the others. This was due to a total lack of voltage options. Without the ability to change the DRAM voltage I couldn't get my DDR3 memory to run at stock settings and as such the performance suffered. This was again true when it came to overclocking. With no way to adjust the voltage level of the processor this board was only capable of a very weak overclock, allowing the other boards to leave it in the dust. Though all of this is to be expected as this board isn't a product that is geared toward the high-end market. It is a mainstream offering and it has features that reflect that. Also, with a retail price of $75.99 it might be easy to overlook the drawbacks and accept this product for what it is: a very capable board that will get you decent results at an affordable price.
The ECS H57H-MUS was a one of two motherboards in the roundup that uses that H57 chipset. Even though there is not a large difference between the H57 and H55, it does offer the end-user the ability to use RAID, which can increase the performance of your system. Additionally, this board offers expansion cards that add support for USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 technologies. So you get more feautres than most mainstream users will need, good performance and decent overclocking potential. All of this makes this a great overall package that is well worth the $149.99 retail price.