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Intel H55 Mobo Shootout - Integrated HD Graphics Showdown

Intel H55 Mobo Shootout - Integrated HD Graphics Showdown



Partnering the New Clarkdale

Partnering the New Clarkdale

A new year, a new wave of Intel processors. The chip giant recently unveiled its latest family of processors at CES 2010. Codenamed Clarkdale and consisting of six new desktop models, these dual-core processors (to be marketed as Core i5, Core i3 and the venerable Pentium) were manufactured on Intel's latest 32nm process and are targeted at the mainstream segment, albeit equipped with Intel Turbo Boost (all except i5-5xx series) and HyperThreading (all models).

You can read all about the Clarkdale processor in our review of the Core i5-661 and we highly recommend checking it out to know all about the Intel H55 Express chipset that goes along with the Clarkdale's integrated graphics. What's important is that these LGA1156 processors all come with an integrated graphics processor, which Intel dubs as HD Graphics. From what we have seen, it deserves that 'HD' tag, though its gaming performance won't be challenging the discrete solutions from ATI or NVIDIA anytime soon. However, that should not discourage consumers and businesses looking for an affordable system geared for office productivity, multimedia applications and because of its low power draw, media center PCs.

Currently, the integrated graphics on these new processors only work with two chipsets for consumers, the Intel H55 and H57 Express. They generally have similar features, with the H57 having Intel Rapid Storage Technology, 2 more USB 2.0 ports and 2 more PCI Express ports than the H55. Thanks to the latter's more economical pricing, the H55 is the more popular choice amongst motherboard vendors in terms of variety offered. Therefore today, we'll be looking at a handful of such motherboards based on the Intel H55 chipset:

  • ASRock H55M Pro
  • ASUS P7H55-M PRO
  • Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H
  • Intel DH55TC
  • MSI H55M-ED55

Since we have five motherboards, with some minor variations of features among them, we have compiled the main differences in specifications in the table below. For the full specifications, please refer to the links to the manufacturer's website at the end of the page.

Summary of Board Specifications
Product Specifications Standard Chipset Features Motherboard Observations
CPU Support
  • Intel Core i3/i5/i7/Pentium processors using LGA1156 package
Chipset
  • Intel H55 Express Chipset
  • Intel HD Graphics
  • Gigabyte: 1 x DisplayPort
Memory
  • Supports 4 DIMM DDR3 SDRAM
  • Up to 16GB memory size (max 4GB per DIMM)
  • 1333/1066MHz dual channel DDR3 memory architecture
  • ASRock: 2600+/2133/1866MHz
  • ASUS: 2133MHz
  • Gigabyte: 1666MHz
  • MSI: 2133/2000/1600MHz
Storage
  • Intel H55 Express
    • 6 x SATA 3.0Gbps ports
  • ASRock: 1 x eSATA/USB rear connector
  • ASUS: JMB368 PATA controller - 1 x IDE connector
  • Gigabyte: JMB368 PATA controller - 1 x IDE connector; iTE IT8720 chip - 1 x floppy drive connector; 1 x eSATA rear connector
  • MSI: 1 eSATA rear connector
Audio
  • Intel HD Audio
  • ASRock: VIA VT1718S
  • ASUS: Realtek ALC889
  • Gigabyte: Realtek ALC889
  • Intel: Realtek ALC888S
  • MSI: Realtek ALC889
Networking
  • Intel integrated Gigabit LAN controller
  • ASRock: Realtek RTL8111DL
  • ASUS: Realtek 8112L
  • Gigabyte: Realtek RTL8111D
  • MSI: Realtek 8111DL
IEEE 1394 (FireWire)
  • Not included in chipset
  • Gigabyte: T.I. TSB43AB23 chip - up to 2 FireWire ports (1 rear, 1 header)
  • ASRock: VIA VT6308S controller - up to 2 FireWire ports (1 rear, 1 header)
PCIe Interface
  • PCI Express 2.0 Graphics port (16 lanes)
    • Single PCIe 2.0 x16 slot
  • PCI Express 2.0 ports (6 lanes)
    • Up to Six PCIe 2.0 x1 slots/devices supported
  • ASRock: 1 extra PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode)
  • Gigabyte: 1 extra PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode)
  • MSI: 1 extra PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode)
PCB
  • 24.4 x 24.4cm, microATX form factor