Zotac's first Mini ITX spin on the H55 Express chipset won a TR Recommended award when we reviewed the board back in April. At the time, we lamented the lack of USB 3.0 connectivity—something that Gigabyte's H55-based Mini ITX board now includes. It seems Zotac has been paying attention, because the company has now come out with a version of the H55 ITX that adds a couple of SuperSpeed USB ports.
Offically known as the H55ITX-C-E (not to be confused with the original H55ITX-A-E), the new model retains all of the goodness of its forebear, including a PCI Express x16 slot, HDMI and DVI video outputs, and both Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi. Zotac's press release doesn't mention the use of a bridge chip, and I doubt there's room for one on the board, which means the USB 3.0 controller is likely connected directly to the H55 chipset. You know what that means: gen-one PCI Express bandwidth, which only amounts to 250MB/s in each direction. That should still be plenty quick for most SuperSpeed devices, though.
In addition to expanding the H55 ITX's connectivity options, Zotac has employed an "enhanced power delivery system" to support Core i7 800-series CPUs. The power upgrade includes passive heatsinks for the voltage regulation circuitry, but it's unclear whether the underlying hardware has changed.
We've confirmed with Zotac that the H55ITX-C-E has a suggested retail price of $140, which is only $10 more than the currently street price of the existing model. Boards should show up at Newegg by the end of the week.
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|10. Ryu Connor - $325|
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