Of course you already know that we received the H55N-USB3 a couple of days ago, but until today we have not had the chance to dig into it. Our first thought about the new product was, “Wow! It’s small!”. Even the box is small and only measures 9 x 7.5 x 3.25 inches.
Being such a small size the front and back a littered with information about the H55N. There was even a rather large sticker explaining about the “3-Years” warranty available in the US and Canada. Opposite that on the front of the box is a much more interesting claim. The tiny little H55N-USB3 supports the GIGABYTE On/Off charging system. I wonder if this means that it can also charge the iPad, I will be sure to test that out when I get to the performance review part of this.
Flipping the box over to the back we find even more information squashed onto the little 67.5 square inch surface. We see information about USB3; lots of information about USB 3.0. In fact it might be a little too much information as there are not that many consumer level USB 3.0 products on the market yet. Right now it is all early adopters and professional grade gear. So I am not sure if this would appeal to the average consumer. But then again, the H55N-USB3 seems to be aimed at a much higher level buyer than other H55 boards. Other features that GIGABYTE wants us to know about are the Dynamic Energy saving module, the Smart 6 software and of course the 2 full ounces of copper that go into every Gigabyte motherboard.
After reading (and re-reading) the outer hard sell, we cracked open the box. On top of everything was a manual and a warning… This warning says (in 25 different languages) that to use the onboard video out options you have to have a CPU with a GPU on it. Nice touch for the average consumer.
Under all this we find the actual board wrapped safely in a static bag. Under the board we find a very light helping of accessories. We get two SATA 2.0 cables, an IDE cable (although why I am not sure as there is no IDE port), plus a couple of more print manuals for the Smart 6 software and quick installation. Hidden inside the manual we found the drivers and utilities DVD for this product. Not a terrible haul.
Of course we have to talk a little about the layout and the installation now. It is worth repeating that this thing is small! As you have seen it is only about 6.5 Inches on the long side. It is based off of the Mini-ITX form factor, but it has been twisted. When I first looked at it I thought it was flipped. But now that I look at it again, I can see that it has been almost completely rearranged. The 24-pin ATX power connector is at the top of the board, right next to a cluster of four SATA 2.0 ports. The H55 chipset is right below these (the front panel header is also up here) with a four pin aux ATX power connector right under it. Strangely the CPU is where the chipset normally is, it is very odd…
We did find something out that concerns us a little. Our normal cooler, the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus will not work on this board. The bottom mounting plate touches components including a couple of resistors and a chip. This is not a good thing, nor is the way that some oversized coolers will block the single PCIe port and the RAM slots.
I guess we will have to see what we will be able to get out of the GIGABYTE H55N-USB3 with the limitations we have found above, once we get everything settled and installed. Keep checking back to see what our performance results are and what cooling system we finally went with.