Getting USB 3.0 connectivity on one’s motherboard doesn’t have to mean turning one’s back on integrated graphics—at least, not with Intel’s new Clarkdale processors. Gigabyte has launched two motherboards that feature H55 and H57 Express chipsets, display outputs connected to the CPU socket, and shiny USB 3.0 ports driven by a NEC controller chip.
The GA-H55M-USB3 and GA-H57M-USB3 both have the same Micro-ATX form factor and a similar collection of slots and ports. On both offerings, we can see two 32-bit PCI slots flanked by two physical PCI Express x16 slots, eight 300MB/s Serial ATA ports (including one external), four DIMM slots, FireWire, and of course, two blue USB 3.0 ports. Gigabyte has implemented the full gamut of digital display outputs, too—VGA, DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort.
As far as we can tell from the spec sheet, the biggest difference is support for AMD’s CrossFire multi-GPU technology on the H57 mobo (that second PCIe x16 only has four lanes running through it, though). The H55 chipset doesn’t support RAID, either, but Gigabyte has connected a couple SATA ports to an auxiliary RAID-capable controller on both boards.
Otherwise, Gigabyte notes that both boards contain extra copper, feature dual BIOS chips, and offer custom power-management features as well as other little goodies. Overclockers should also be able to push the GPU core clock speed "for a performance gain of up to 13%," the company says.