Intel Core i5 661 Reviewccokeman - January 3, 2010
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When you launch a new processor, there needs to be a platform available its use. With the Core i5 661, there is the DH55TC (Tom Cove) motherboard that should hit the street with a price tag close to $100. This motherboard supports the latest 32nm Core i5 processors, as well as the already available socket 1156 Core i7, Core i5 and Core i3 processors and is built upon the Intel H55 chipset. Where the H55 differs from the P55 is that the H55 provides an additional connection to the processor via the FDI, or Flexible display interface, that allows the use of the Clarksdale processor's on chip 45nm graphics processor. The Tom Cove board is a micro-ATX form factor board for use with mainstream systems with or without a discrete graphics card.
The I/O panel contains the connections you would normally see on a motherboard that sported an onboard graphics chip - with the dual link DVI, a single VGA and a HDMI port. The HDMI supports HDMI 1.3 and is capable of bit streaming Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio. There is a single PS/2 combination port that can be used with either a mouse or keyboard, a total of six USB 2.0 ports, a single RJ45 10/100 LAN port and the HD audio connections. Even though the on-chip graphics solution is a capable piece of hardware, you have the option of using a discrete video card in the 16x PCIe 2.0 slot, with additional expansion slots available in the form of a single PCI and two PCIe 1x ports.
Along the bottom of the motherboard, you have, from the left to right, a 2-pin connector for a speaker, front panel audio, SPDIF, serial connection, and three additional USB headers for a total of twelve High Speed USB 2.0 connections available on the DH55TC.
Flipping around to the right hand side of the PCB, you have the front panel connections, CMOS jumper, six SATA 3.0 Gbps ports - two of which (the two red ones) are eSATA ports. Memory support for this board and processor combo is a total of two channels of DDR3 1333 memory, with a total of four slots available. The power connections for the DH55TC are located on the right and top edges and consist of a 24-pin and 4-pin connections.
The area around the socket is fairly clear and offers little obstruction if you choose to install something other than the stock cooling solution. Chances are most of these motherboards will end up in mainstream towers with the stock cooling solution, which should prove more than adequate with Intel's power saving technologies. The H55 chipset is covered with a small, aluminum-finned heatsink to provide cooling for this device.
The DH55TC looks to be a pretty capable board that would be right at home as an all-in-one HTPC solution, when coupled with Intel's new processors with on-chip graphics, to offer a stunning visual and audio experience.