Midget H55 motherboard showdown

For many years, ATX motherboards have dominated the enthusiast space. Back in the day, ATX was really the only rational choice. MicroATX boards weren’t as amenable to overclocking as their full-grown counterparts, if they allowed the black art to be practiced at all. The limited expansion capacity offered by microATX models was also a detriment at a time when most systems featured discrete cards for audio, networking, and sometimes even storage controllers.

Today’s microATX boards are considerably more evolved than the basic budget fare of yesteryear. Decent ones can offer plenty of overclocking headroom and tweaking options galore. Many are just as loaded with integrated peripherals as their larger ATX counterparts, as well. They still have fewer expansion slots than full-grown ATX models, but most folks seem happy enough with today’s onboard audio, networking, and storage options. Even my own desktop is decidedly short on expansion cards. I’m running one video card and one sound card—that’s it.

Jettisoning unused expansion capacity is hardly a compelling reason to switch from an ATX board to a smaller form factor. However, the ability to move to an enclosure with a smaller footprint certainly has its appeal, particularly for PCs that will live in cramped dorm rooms, shoebox apartments, and even the living room. MicroATX mobos also tend to draw less power than their ATX equivalents, which is a bonus for anyone looking to conserve energy or reduce the amount of heat that must be expelled from an enclosure.

The latest batch of midget motherboards has hit the market equipped with a new chipset from Intel, the H55 Express. With LGA 1156-style sockets, these boards are capable of running not only quad-core Core i5-700- and i7-800-series processors, but also the latest dual-core models in the Core i3-500 and Core i5-600 families. And unlike microATX boards based on Intel’s P55 chipset, H55-derived models have all the display output circuitry necessary to enable the Graphics Media Accelerator HD integrated into those new duallies.

There are numerous interesting specimens in this first wave of bantam H55 boards, and we’ve rounded up four examples to get a taste of the market. From firmly entrenched enthusiast territory, we have Asus’ P7H55D-M EVO and Gigabyte’s GA-H55M-USB3. Also included is Intel’s DH55TC, which will give us a glimpse of how the other half lives. Finally, there’s Zotac’s H55 ITX, which snubs its nose at microATX and diets down to the even smaller Mini-ITX form factor.

The H55 PCH

Although quite different from one another on numerous fronts, all four of these boards share a common denominator in Intel’s H55 Express chipset. This single-chip I/O hub is very similar to the P55 and H57 PCH chips. In fact, I suspect all three use the very same silicon.

The H55 slots in at the bottom of Intel’s 5-series PCH lineup. To be fair, though, it loses little ground to the H57 and P55. Instead of 14 USB 2.0 ports, the H55 has a dozen. Rather than eight PCI Express lanes, it has six. RAID support is missing, too, but that’s about it.

These minor cuts still leave the H55 with an integrated Gigabit Ethernet controller, six 300Gbps SATA ports, an HD audio interface, and the Flexible Display Interface (FDI) necessary to connect a Clarkdale CPU’s embedded Graphics Media Accelerator HD to a DisplayPort, HDMI, or DVI output. Unfortunately, the H55 is also saddled with the same half-speed PCIe 2.0 lanes as the rest of Intel’s current generation of Platform Controller Hub chips. The lower-bandwidth lanes are still adequate for most integrated peripherals and expansion cards, but they might starve future SATA 6Gbps or USB 3.0 controllers paired with sufficiently fast devices. At least the PCIe lanes built into Intel’s Lynnfield- and Clarkdale-based CPUs are full-bandwidth PCI Express 2.0 implementations.

A block diagram of the H55 Express. Source: Intel.

So ends our brief primer on the H55 Express. If you’d like to learn more about this PCH and how it complements the latest Clarkdale desktop CPUs, check out our review of Intel’s Core i3 and i5 CPUs.

With the chipset out of the way, we can focus our attention on the motherboards at hand. The first thing that jumps out at me when I look at the quartet we’ve assembled today is difference between the two form factors represented: microATX, which measures 244 x 244 mm (9.6″ x 9.6″), and Mini-ITX, whose dimensions are 170 x 170 mm (6.7″ x 6.7″). For reference, ATX motherboards can occupy a footprint of up to 305 x 244 mm (12″ x 9.6″).

Asus P7H55D-M EVO Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3 Intel DH55TC Zotac H55 ITX
Form factor microATX microATX microATX Mini-ITX
Expansion slots 1 PCIe x16
2 PCIe x1

1 PCI

2 PCIe x16
2 PCI
1 PCIe x16
2 PCIe x1

1 PCI

1 PCIe x16
Gigabit Ethernet Realtek RTL8112L Realtek RTL8111D Intel H55 Intel H55
Wi-Fi NA NA NA Atheros AR928X
Auxiliary SATA Marvell 88SE6111 Gigabyte GSATA2 NA NA
USB 3.0 NEC D720200F1 NEC D720200F1 NA NA
Audio codec Realtek ALC889 Realtek ALC889 Realtek ALC888S Realtek ALC888
FireWire VIA VT6315N T.I. TSB43AB23 NA NA
Street price


$97.99


$144.99

As one might expect, the larger microATX boards serve up more expansion slots than the lone Mini-ITX offering. The bigger boards also tend to sport more onboard peripherals, although none match the Zotac’s Wi-Fi component.

Of the four boards, only the Asus and Gigabyte models offer USB 3.0 and FireWire support. They’re also the only two to employ separate networking controllers; the Intel and Zotac boards use the Gigabit Ethernet controller built into the H55 chip. Realtek predictably sweeps the audio codec category, although none of the implementations supports real-time Dolby Digital Live or DTS encoding. That particular capability is an optional component of Realtek’s ALC889A codec, which isn’t represented in this group.

About $47 separate the most expensive board from the cheapest. Obviously, you’re paying a premium for the H55 ITX’s smaller stature—and likely its built-in Wi-Fi. Intel just slips under the $100 mark with the DH55TC, which is a good $12 and $37 cheaper than the Gigabyte and Asus boards, respectively.

Of course, there’s more to each board’s personality than its price tag and a rundown of slots and peripherals. Let’s take a closer look to see what makes each board unique—or not.

Asus’ P7H55-M EVO motherboard
Lancer not included

Manufacturer Asus
Model P7H55-M EVO
Price (Street)
Availability Now

As one of the biggest names in the business, one might expect Asus to have a whole slew of different motherboards available based on the H55 Express. Indeed, Asus is offering four different H55 boards at the moment, including the range-topping P7H55-M EVO we snagged for today’s round-up.

With a street price hovering around $138, the EVO resides at the high end of the microATX motherboard spectrum. But then this isn’t your average microATX board; the EVO has ornate VRM heatsinks, tastefully colored slots and ports, a generous assortment of connectivity options, and a lot of the little touches you’d expect from one of Asus’ full-sized ATX boards.

Despite the microATX form factor’s shorter dimensions, the EVO doesn’t look overly cramped or crowded. Asus has Intel to thank for moving traditional north-bridge functionality onto the CPU package with its latest processors. Without a north-bridge component, all that’s left of the chipset is a single-chip PCH that’s easier to implement than a two-chip set.

Looking down on the board as a whole, it’s apparent Asus has used solid-state capacitors throughout. The EVO also falls under Asus’ Xtreme Design brand, which denotes the use of higher-quality electrical components and two-ounce copper layers. Such things are extremely important in the always-competitive world of motherboard manufacturer one-upmanship.

The area surrounding the EVO’s socket looks positively bare compared to some high-end mobos we’ve seen lately. Still, the board features an 8×3-phase power solution and very similar voltage circuitry heatsinks to some of Asus’ mid-range enthusiast models. The heatsinks are relatively low-profile designs, so you should have no problem slapping a massive aftermarket CPU cooler onto the board.

South of the socket, we find the EVO’s storage cluster, which neatly encircles the Marvell controller chip responsible for the board’s IDE port and eSATA connector. The internal SATA ports are well placed, ensuring that longer double-wide graphics cards won’t block access to any of the six ports on offer.

Remember when five expansion slots were standard for ATX motherboards? The EVO nearly matches that mark with four, including two PCIe x1 slots, a single x16, and one standard PCI slot. The x16 slot is driven by the PCIe controller integrated into Intel’s LGA1156 CPUs, so it’s a full-speed PCI Express 2.0 affair. However, because the x1s are connected to the PCH, they’re more like second-gen 0.5x slots.

Asus generously endows the EVO’s port cluster with a range of connectors, including three flavors of video output, analog and digital audio jacks, FireWire, and USB ports of the 2.0 and 3.0 variety. The blue USB ports are backed by NEC’s SuperSpeed controller, while the others, along with onboard headers for an additional six ports, are tied to the H55’s USB controller.

An external Serial ATA port provides an added measure of expansion capacity, although Asus hasn’t gone with one of the new hybrid eSATA ports that incorporates USB plugs for power. I can see making an argument for dropping eSATA in favor of USB 3.0 connectivity, but if you’re going to go with an external Serial ATA port at all, it might as well be of the USB-powered hybrid variety. Sadly, none of the eSATA-equipped boards we’re looking at today feature hybrid connectors.

Drop into the BIOS of one of Asus’ motherboards, and you’ll be greeted with an interface that’s been incrementally improved, massaged, and otherwise tweaked for many years. The refinement shows, not only in a wealth of overclocking and performance tuning options but also in the time Asus has spent recently on improving its automatic fan speed controls. This fresh batch of fan speed controls lets users set a temperature trigger point in addition to high and low fan speed limits. However, only the CPU fan is affected at the moment. The system fan can only be toggled between three preset profiles.

Gigabyte’s GA-H55M-USB3 motherboard
Set for SuperSpeed

Manufacturer Gigabyte
Model GA-H55M-USB3
Price (Street)
Availability Now

Gigabyte has scaled the motherboard market in recent years and is now on relatively equal footing with long-time industry leader Asus. Like Asus, Gigabyte has spun up four flavors of the H55 Express. The one we’re looking at today is the GA-H55M-USB3, which rings in at a good $27 cheaper than the P7H55D-M EVO. That’s no accident—Gigabyte has been undercutting Asus motherboard prices for quite some time now in a bid to improve its North American market share.

So the H55M-USB3 gets a gold star in the price column, but what about the board itself? Things look good at first glance, with the H55M-USB3 wearing the same blue-and-white color scheme as high-end Gigabyte offerings. The layout is nice and clean, too, although this board is a little more densely populated than the EVO.

Among the onboard components are solid-state capacitors, low RDS(On) MOSFETs, and ferrite-core chokes—the same sort of upgraded electrical components that you’ll find on the Asus board. The H55M-USB3 also features two-ounce copper layers which, along with the fancy components, make this board part of the Ultra Durable 3 family.

Gigabyte spreads a total of seven power phases across the board, four of which flank the CPU socket. You won’t find the voltage circuitry heatsinks usually expected from enthusiast-oriented boards, but the USB3 seems to get by just fine without them, at least at stock speeds. The lack of taller hardware around the socket ensures that the board should have plenty of clearance for just about any aftermarket cooler, including those that fan out radically from the base.

Somewhat surprisingly, the H55M-USB3 hosts this round-up’s lone floppy port. It’s also the only board to use an auxiliary storage controller—in this case a GSATA-branded 3Gbps chip—to feed internal Serial ATA ports. The GSATA chip adds a measure of RAID support, but because it only has two ports, you’re limited to RAID 0, 1, and JBOD arrays.

The internal SATA ports are nicely clustered in the bottom right-hand corner of the board, so they won’t interfere with larger graphics cards installed in either x16 slot. That’s right; the board has not one but two PCI Express x16 slots.

To be fair, only the top slot is connected to 16 lanes of PCIe 2.0 from the CPU. The second one is driven by a half-speed PCIe x1 link to the PCH, which isn’t quick enough to allow the board to run a pair of graphics cards in CrossFire. AMD requires at least four lanes of PCIe connectivity for the second card in a CrossFire tandem.

While its utility for graphics cards may be limited, the x16 slot will also accept expansion cards with x8, x4, and x1 connectors. Those cards will still be limited to a single lane of what amounts to gen-one PCIe bandwidth, though.

The H55M-USB3’s port cluster plays out much like the EVO’s, but with a couple of additional perks. You can plug either a keyboard or a mouse into the solitary PS/2 port, although I can’t imagine anyone actually busting out an old ball-driven PS/2 mouse. The DisplayPort connector could prove considerably more useful for folks relying on Clarkdale’s integrated Graphics Media Accelerator.

True to its name, the H55M-USB3 has a couple of blue USB 3.0 ports. The new USB standard supports transfer rates up to 600MB/s, although the NEC chip’s single-lane PCIe 2.0 interface tops out at 500MB/s. Still, that’s double what one of the H55’s PCIe lanes can handle, so PCIe bandwidth is potentially a major bottleneck. The H55M-USB3 and EVO solve this dilemma in the same manner: by linking the SuperSpeed controller to a true PCIe 2.0 lane from the CPU. This approach requires that the boards’ primary x16 slots are empty, so you’ll have to make do with integrated graphics to get more than 250MB/s out of next-gen USB devices. Kudos to Asus and Gigabyte for at least giving users the option.

Like Asus, Gigabyte has done a good job of ensuring that the BIOSes on its less expensive motherboards measure up to enthusiast scrutiny. Indeed, the H55M-USB3’s BIOS offers a diverse range of overclocking and tweaking options, including even more voltage controls than the EVO. A profile configuration manager and flashing utility are built right into the BIOS, as well. Despite these modern conveniences, however, the H55M-USB3’s BIOS-level fan speed controls are sorely lacking. Users can toggle between three- and four-pin modes for the CPU fan, but there’s no way to further tune the CPU fan’s profile and no automatic speed control at all for the system fan.

Intel’s DH55TC motherboard
Something short of extreme

Manufacturer Intel
Model DH55TC
Price (Street) $97.99
Availability Now

For a very long time, Intel motherboards were dull, drab, and frankly, boring. Well, they were to PC enthusiasts, anyway. But dull, drab, and boring tend goes over well with system builders and corporate customers, especially when tied to Intel’s reputation for stability and reliability. Besides, we didn’t really expect Intel to cater to enthusiasts seeking to overclock their CPUs beyond the officially endorsed speeds.

And then Intel changed its tune. The company started producing “Extreme” motherboards amenable to overclocking and aggressive performance tuning, and it even cranked out a series of Mountain-Dew-inspired CPUs with unlocked upper multipliers. That progress gave us high hopes for the DH55TC, but it’s unfortunately not a part of Intel’s Extreme lineup.

This is as plain-Jane an H55 motherboard as we’ve seen thus far. Part of me appreciates the stark simplicity of the uncluttered design. In a sense, this is the H55 Express as Intel intended to implement it, without distractions like auxiliary peripherals and, er, additional features.

Sometimes, less really is more. With the DH55TC, though, you’re getting quite a lot less. This board might slip in at just under $100 online, but it’s missing many of the comforts that enthusiasts have come to expect from even relatively cheap mobos.

Unlike the Asus and Gigabyte boards, the Intel isn’t littered with fancy electrical components or sandwiching heavier copper layers. There are five power phases feeding the CPU, and you won’t find any heatsinks on the voltage regulation circuitry.

Intel dropped IDE support from its chipsets years ago, and predictably, the DH55TC is completely devoid of “parallel” ATA connectivity. I don’t mind the omission given the wide availability of SATA optical drives. However, there’s no excuse for the position of the top two SATA ports, which can easily be blocked by larger graphics cards. The DH55TC certainly has enough available board real estate to keep those top two ports out of the way.

A lack of auxiliary peripherals leaves the DH55TC with plenty of available PCIe lanes, but Intel only taps a couple of them for the board’s pair of x1 slots. Including an x4 slot would’ve been nice, especially given the limited bandwidth available to each of the H55’s PCIe lanes.

“Barren” is perhaps the best term to use when describing the DH55TC’s port cluster. Intel provides the essentials, including an HDMI output that can combine audio and video streams, but this is really the bare minimum for what I’d consider acceptable on a modern motherboard. I can understand Intel not springing for FireWire or USB 3.0, but it could have at least thrown in a few more USB ports or added some eSATA connectivity. The lack of an S/PDIF digital audio output and a full suite of analog audio outputs is disappointing, as well.

If you want to fiddle around in the BIOS, stay away from the DH55TC. The BIOS does expose control over the base clock speed, but that’s where the overclocking and tweaking options end. There are no voltage controls to speak of, no bus speed controls beyond the base clock, and not even a functional set of memory timing options.

The lack of memory clock control proved particularly frustrating when our OCZ DDR3-1600 DIMMs were forced to run at 1066MHz. On the other boards, these DIMMs were comfortable at 1333MHz, albeit with a voltage bump up to 1.65V. What’s worse, the knobs we wanted to twirl were right there in the DH55TC’s BIOS, just greyed out and not subject to change. Intel tells us that memory clock, timing, and voltage controls will be exposed in a future BIOS update.

To Intel’s credit, the DH55TC’s BIOS at least has some decent fan speed options. The CPU and system fans can be configured separately, and it’s possible to set maximum and minimum speeds for each fan. Users can also adjust response and damping controls, toggling them between aggressive, normal, and slow presets.

Zotac’s H55 ITX motherboard
Set for SuperSpeed

Manufacturer Zotac
Model H55 ITX
Price (Street) $144.99
Availability Now

Zotac looks to be carving out a nice little niche for itself in the motherboard market. “Little” is the operative term, because Zotac has made its mark with Mini-ITX designs are dwarfed by even microATX midgets.

Originally introduced by Via way back in 2001, the Mini-ITX form factor was for years dominated by EPIA boards with feeble Via CPUs. Even today, most Mini-ITX boards seem to be equipped with anemic Atom processors. But not all of them, because Zotac’s H55 ITX will accept anything you can plug into an LGA1156 socket, including quad-core, eight-thread Lynnfield CPUs.

Sacrifice is the name of the game when you’re dealing with constrained proportions, and the H55 ITX maintains a delicate balance between what users really need and what can actually be squeezed onto the board. With a footprint measuring less than 10 inches square and a CPU socket that occupies the lion’s share of that area, real estate is understandably hard to come by.

DIMM slots take up a lot of room, and Zotac found space for two of them on the H55 ITX. It even managed to shoehorn in a PCI Express x16 slot for those looking to build pint-sized gaming systems with potent pixel-pushing power.

Given the close proximity of the DIMM and PCI Express slots, you’ll want to be careful about running larger aftermarket coolers that fan out from the socket. Then again, if you’re enamored enough with smaller form factors to splurge on the H55 ITX, you might be less inclined to run a monster CPU cooler that might require a larger enclosure.

As one might expect, there simply isn’t room on the board for voltage circuitry heatsinks. A total of five power phases keep the CPU supplied with juice, which just happens to be the same phase configuration as the much larger Intel board.

Amazingly, Zotac managed to find space for six internal SATA ports. One of these ports is shared with an eSATA connector at the rear, which lets Zotac avoid using an auxiliary storage controller.

The only extra peripheral that made the cut is an 802.11n Wi-Fi card that plugs into an onboard mini PCIe slot. The built-in Wi-Fi makes the H55 ITX considerably more attractive for home-theater PCs, since it takes care of the network link while leaving the PCIe slot open for a TV tuner card. Gamers running discrete graphics cards will also be able to get their Wi-Fi on without resorting to external USB dongles.

Although lacking in FireWire and USB 3.0 connectivity, the H55 ITX’s port cluster is otherwise stacked. A total of ten USB ports are available alongside a full set of analog audio jacks, an S/PDIF output, and both DVI and HDMI video outs. Zotac also throws in a DVI-to-VGA connector for those with cheap LCDs or old-school CRTs, and there’s a PS/2 keyboard port for the clickety-clack Model M crowd.

Over to the left, we find a couple of connectors for the Wi-Fi antennas that Zotac includes in the box. Just below those antenna plugs is a handy CMOS reset switch that’s much easier to access than the jumper wedged between the board’s chipset heatsink and vertically oriented battery.

On the BIOS front, the H55 ITX sits somewhere between the Intel board and what you get from Asus and Gigabyte. The clock speed, timing, and voltage controls are more limited than what’s provided by the Asus and Gigabyte BIOSes, but at least they’re present—and functional. There are certainly enough options for the sort of modest overclocking a reasonable person might attempt with such a small-form-factor system. Extreme overclockers should definitely look elsewhere, though.

The H55 ITX’s tiny form factor is really far better suited to unobtrusive desktops and home-theater PCs. For those folks, the BIOS’s fan speed controls will be a welcome sight. Users can choose between having the CPU fan spin at a pre-defined speed or adjusting its revolutions based on a target CPU temperature. In the latter mode, the user may also set a minimum fan speed and control how aggressively the fan responds to temperature changes.

Before moving on, I should note that the first batch of H55 ITX boards doesn’t work properly with the Turbo Boost feature built into Core i5 and i7 CPUs. The issue can’t be fixed by a BIOS update, but Zotac is replacing all affected boards free of charge. The review unit we tested is a newer board that works properly.

The devil’s in the details

We don’t really expect you to keep the specifications and BIOS options of four different motherboards straight in your head, so here are a couple of handy charts that sum up all the gory details.

Asus M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H Intel DH55TC Zotac H55 ITX
Clock speeds Base: 80-500MHz in 1MHz
steps

QPI:
3200, 37222, 4800, 5333, 5867MHz
GPU: 133-1500MHz in 33MHz steps
DRAM:
800, 1066, 1333MHz
Base: 100-600MHz in 1MHz
steps

PCIe:
90-150MHz
GPU: 400-2000MHz in 1MHz steps
Base: 133-240MHz in 1MHz
steps
Base: 100-500MHz in 1MHz
steps

DRAM:
800, 1066, 1333, 1600MHz
Multipliers CPU: 9X-22X in 1X steps CPU: 9X-22X in 1X steps
QPI: 12X-44X
in 4X steps
DRAM: 6-10X in 2X steps
NA CPU: 9X-22X in 1X steps
Voltages CPU: 0.85-1.7V in
0.00625V steps

CPU PLL: 1.8-2.2V in 0.02V steps

IMC: 1.1-1.9V in
0.02V steps

GPU: 0.5-1.75V in
0.0125V steps

DRAM: 1.2-2.2V in
0.02V steps
PCH: 1.05-2V in 0.02V steps

CPU: 0.5-1.9V in 0.00625V
steps

CPU PLL: 1.6-2.54V in 0.02V steps

QPI/VTT:
1.05-1.49V in 0.02V steps

GPU: 0.2-1.68V in
0.02V steps

DRAM: 1.3-2.6V in
0.02V steps
DRAM termination: 0.53-1.185V in 0.02V steps
DRAM A/B
data: 0.72-1.44V in 0.01-0.05V steps
DRAM A/B address: 0.72-1.44V in
0.01-0.05V steps
PCH: 0.95-1.5V in 0.02V steps

NA CPU: -0.1-+0.2V in 0.025V
steps

GPU: -0.1-+0.2V in 0.025V steps

DRAM: +/-0.2V in 0.02V steps

PCI:
+/-0.1V in 0.01V steps

Monitoring Voltage, fan status, and
temperature
Voltage, fan status, and
temperature
Voltage, fan status, and
temperature
Voltage, fan status, and
temperature
Fan speed control CPU, system CPU CPU, system CPU

As you can see, the Intel BIOS has virtually nothing to offer overclockers. Asus and Gigabyte are in a class all their own, while Zotac at least manages a competent lineup of options.

Asus P7H55D-M EVO Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3 Intel DH55TC Zotac H55 ITX
CPU power 8×3-phase 4x2x1-phase 5-phase 5-phase
DIMM slots 4 DDR3-1333 4 DDR3-1333 4 DDR3-1333 2 DDR3-1600
Expansion slots 1 PCIe x16
2 PCIe x1

1 PCI

2 x16
2 PCI
1 PCIe x16
2 PCIe x1

1 PCI

1 PCIe x16
Storage I/O 1 ATA/133

6 SATA 3Gbps w/ RAID 0/1/10/5

1 Floppy disk

1 ATA/133

5 SATA 3Gbps w/ RAID 0/1/10/5

2 SATA 3GBps w/ RAID 0/1/JBOD

6 SATA
3Gbps
w/ RAID 0/1/10/5
6 SATA
3Gbps
w/ RAID 0/1/10/5
Audio 8-channel 8-channel 8-channel (digital only) 8-channel
Ports 1 PS/2 keyboard
1 HDMI
1 VGA
1 DVI

4 USB
2.0 w/ 6 headers
2 USB 3.0
1
FireWire w/ 1 header

1 RJ45
1 eSATA

1 analog front out
1 analog bass/center out
1
analog rear out
1 analog surround out

1 analog line in

1 analog mic in

1 S/PDIF out (TOS-Link)

1 PS/2 keyboard/mouse
1 HDMI
1 VGA
1 DVI
1 DisplayPort

4 USB
2.0 w/ 6 headers
2 USB 3.0
1
FireWire w/ 1 header
1 RJ45
1 eSATA

1 analog front out
1 analog bass/center out
1
analog rear out
1 analog surround out

1 analog line in

1 analog mic in

1 S/PDIF out (TOS-Link)

1 PS/2 keyboard/mouse
1 HDMI
1 VGA
1 DVI
4
USB
2.0 w/ 6 headers
1 RJ45

1 analog front out
1 analog bass/center out/line
in
1
analog rear out/mic in

1 PS/2 keyboard
1 HDMI
1 DVI

10 USB
2.0 w/ 4 headers
1 RJ45
1 eSATA

1 analog front out
1 analog bass/center out
1
analog rear out
1 analog surround out/line in

1 analog mic in

1 S/PDIF out (TOS-Link)

On the specifications front, these boards are more alike than they are different. Blame—or credit—Intel’s H55 Express chipset.

Our testing methods

We used the Core i3-530’s integrated Graphics Media Accelerator HD during testing. Windows 7’s power plan was set to “balanced” for all but a subset of our power consumption tests.

Although we aim to keep motherboards on an even playing field, there was no avoiding the DH55TC’s inability to run our OCZ DIMMs at 1333MHz. Instead, the modules were clocked at 1066MHz with a slightly tighter TRAS timing that we were also unable to modify through the BIOS.

With few exceptions, all tests were run at least three times, and we reported the median of the scores produced.

Processor

Intel Core i3-530 2.93GHz

Motherboard


Asus P7H55D-M EVO


Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3


Intel DH55TC


Zotac H55 ITX
Bios revision 0806 F2 0028 A130PA16

North bridge
Intel H55 Express Intel H55 Express Intel H55 Express Intel H55 Express

South bridge
Chipset drivers Chipset: 9.1.1.1025

AHCI: 8.9.0.1023

Chipset: 9.1.1.1025

AHCI: 8.9.0.1023

Chipset: 9.1.1.1025

AHCI: 8.9.0.1023

Chipset: 9.1.1.1025

AHCI: 8.9.0.1023

Memory size 4GB (2 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs) 4GB (2 DIMMs)

Memory type


OCZ OCZ3G1600LV6GK DDR3 SDRAM
at 1333MHz


OCZ OCZ3G1600LV6GK DDR3 SDRAM
at 1333MHz


OCZ OCZ3G1600LV6GK DDR3 SDRAM
at 1066MHz


OCZ OCZ3G1600LV6GK DDR3 SDRAM
at 1333MHz
Memory timings 7-7-7-20-1T 7-7-7-20-1T 7-7-7-16-1T 7-7-7-20-1T

Audio
Realtek ALC889 with 2.42
drivers
Realtek ALC889 with 2.42
drivers
Realtek ALC888S with 2.42
drivers
Realtek ALC888 with 2.42
drivers
Graphics Integrated
GMA HD with 15.16.5.64.2021 drivers
Hard drive
Western Raptor X 150GB
Power Supply PC Power & Cooling
Silencer 750W
OS

Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64

We’d like to thank Western Digital for sending Raptor WD1500ADFD hard drives for our test rigs.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at a 60Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

Memory performance

We’ve gotten away from running application and game benchmarks in our motherboard reviews because performance in those kinds of tests tends to be determined by a system’s CPU or graphics card. You can get a better idea of how the Core i3, i5, and i7 CPUs compatible with these boards stack up against a broad range of competitors in a wide selection of synthetic, application, and gaming tests in our latest CPU review.

Motherboards even have a rough time differentiating themselves when we specifically target memory performance. The Core i3-530’s integrated memory controller is a common denominator here, although it’s up to each board’s BIOS to tune that controller and the DIMMs we installed.

The Asus, Gigabyte, and Zotac boards are on equal footing in our memory bandwidth and latency tests, which is to be expected given that they’re all running the same DIMMs at 1333MHz with 7-7-7-20-1T timings. With its memory unavoidably clocked at only 1066MHz, the DH55TC has less memory bandwidth to offer and longer access latencies. I expect the Intel board would be competitive if it were able to run its memory at the same speed as the others, though.

Power consumption

We measured system power consumption, sans monitor and speakers, at the wall outlet using a Watts Up Pro power meter. Readings were taken at idle and under a load consisting of a Cinebench 11.5 render alongside the rthdribl HDR lighting demo. We tested with Windows 7’s High Performance and Balanced power plans.

Asus and Gigabyte ship their boards with energy-saving software that’s supposed to lower power consumption without impeding performance. We’ve tested the P7H55D-M EVO and GA-H55M-USB3 with and without this software installed. The EVO uses an EPU app that must be configured in “auto” mode to avoid performance-sapping clock throttling, while the H55M-USB3 uses Gigabyte’s Dynamic Energy Saver software.

A whopping 20 watts separate the four boards at idle. Intel’s DH55TC leads its closest competitor by a full 5W and consumes 10W less than the Gigabyte board. The EVO is easily the most power-hungry of the lot, though.

The picture changes when we apply a demanding CPU and GPU load, which seems to overwhelm the H55 ITX a little. The Mini-ITX board is one of the most efficient at idle, but it consumes more power than the others under load.

Once more, the DH55TC draws fewer watts than the others. The gap between the Asus and Gigabyte boards is much smaller here than it was at idle. This time around, it’s the EVO pulling fewer watts than the H55M-USB3.

Interestingly, neither the vendor-supplied software applications nor Windows 7’s power-saving schemes have much impact on power consumption with these boards. I suppose that’s a testament to the overall power efficiency of the Core i3-530, which sips power conservatively even when the operating system isn’t concerned with saving watts.

Overclocking

There are all sorts of interesting ways to overclock a system, but in this round-up we’re only interested in how each motherboard affects the process. Automatic overclocking software has come to a good number of recent enthusiast boards, and it’s available with the Asus and Gigabyte mobos.

Asus’ TurboV software handles automatic overclocking, and there’s a Turbo Key application that turns your system’s power button into an overclocking toggle switch. Why Asus couldn’t present this functionality in a single overclocking app is beyond me, but then I have many questions for the folks who design tweaking and overclocking software for Taiwanese motherboard makers.

TurboV cranks the base clock by a whole 7MHz.

TurboV isn’t particularly aggressive, and it only elected to take our i3-530 up to 3.1GHz with a 140MHz base clock. I suppose that counts as an overclock, but only just barely. Asus could certainly stand to be more aggressive on this front, and the company tells me that it will be with future BIOS revisions.

Gigabyte’s Smart QuickBoost software handles overclocking for the H55M-USB3. The app was considerably more optimistic about the potential of our Core i3. In its Twin Turbo mode, the app raised our CPU to 3.5GHz on a 160MHz base clock.

Gigabyte QuickBoosts the H55M-USB3 to 3.5GHz.

The Asus and Gigabyte boards were both stable at the speeds they settled on, even when subjected to a four-way Prime95 load. Neither TurboV nor Smart QuickBoost actively seeks out your system’s highest stable clock speed, though. The apps select from a library of pre-defined clock speeds associated with different CPU models, so this automatic overclocking isn’t as intelligent as one might expect.

Real enthusiasts will probably resort to overclocking the old-fashioned way—by slowly raising the base clock speed and testing for stability along the way. And so we did, dropping the CPU and memory multipliers where possible to take those components out of the equation. Stability was tested with another four-way Prime95 load.

The base clock eclipses 200MHz on the P7H55D-M EVO.

Let’s start with the EVO, which was easily the best overclocker of the bunch. The board cruised all the way up to a 210MHz base clock without requiring so much as a smidgen of extra voltage. 220MHz wasn’t in the cards, though. We tried applying extra voltage all around, but 210MHz was all she wrote.

The GA-H55M-USB3 stable at a 190MHz base clock.

The H55M-USB3 was just as easy to overclock as the EVO, but it didn’t reach quite as high a base clock speed. The Gigabyte board topped out at 190MHz, where it was stable with stock voltages. I did manage to get the board into Windows with a 200MHz base clock speed, but not without a considerable amount of video corruption and graphics driver crashing under load. Adding voltage didn’t resolve either issue, although the board was completely stable and problem-free at 190MHz.

The DH55TC hits a 160MHz base clock.

With the DH55TC’s overclocking options so limited, we were left to fiddle with the base clock and quite literally nothing else. The board made it up to a 160MHz, which put the CPU at 3.5GHz with apparently stock voltage. However, we ran into BSODs under load at 165MHz and when trying to load Windows at 170MHz. If only the BIOS had some overvolting options, we might’ve gotten the board stable at those speeds—or even higher ones. After all, our Core i3-530 is certainly capable of doing better than 3.5GHz.

The H55 ITX with a 180MHz base clock.

The Zotac board’s CPU multiplier controls didn’t work for us, but we still managed to get the base clock up to 180MHz, which translates to nearly 4GHz for the CPU. This feat required an extra 0.2V for the CPU, but other system voltages went untouched.

Motherboard peripheral performance

To provide a closer look at the peripheral performance, we’ve compiled Ethernet, Serial ATA, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire, and audio performance results below.

HD Tach
FireWire performance

Read burst

speed (MB/s)


Average read

speed (MB/s)


Average write

speed (MB/s)


CPU utilization

(%)


Asus P7H55D-M EVO
41.5 36.7 28.6 2

Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3
32.6 28.9 19.8 2

Only two boards actually have FireWire ports, and between them, the Asus offers higher transfer rates for both reads and writes.

HD Tach
USB 2.0 performance

Read burst

speed (MB/s)


Average read

speed (MB/s)


Average write

speed (MB/s)


CPU utilization

(%)


Asus P7H55D-M EVO
33.8 32.5 28.5 5

Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3
34.2 31.1 21.4 8

Intel DH55TC
33.4 29.5 20.4 7

Zotac H55 ITX
33.4 29.9 29.7 8

All four boards use the same H55 USB 2.0 controller, but the Intel and Gigabyte models nonetheless have slower write speeds than the others. There are some subtle differences in read performance, as well, but not nearly of the same magnitude as in the write speed tests.

HD Tach
USB 3.0 performance

Read burst

speed (MB/s)


Average read

speed (MB/s)


Average write

speed (MB/s)


CPU utilization

(%)


Asus P7H55D-M EVO
174.6 118.7 126.3 8

Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3
152.5 119.1 123.7 7

SuperSpeed USB is limited to the Asus and Gigabyte boards, but the two are much closer here than they were in the FireWire tests. The only real difference between the two comes in the burst speed test, where the EVO is more than 20MB/s faster.

HD Tach
Serial ATA performance

Read burst

speed (MB/s)


Average read

speed (MB/s)


Average write

speed (MB/s)

Random access time
(ms)

CPU utilization

(%)


Asus P7H55D-M EVO
231.2 110.5 110.7 8.4 4

Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3 (Intel)
218.8 109.4 110.2 7.4 7

Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3 (GSATA)
179.5 110.5 80.0 7.0 3

Intel DH55TC
256.7 110.5 109.5 8.6 5

Zotac H55 ITX
212.7 108.1 109.9 7.3 9

Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of these results. I can understand some deviation in CPU utilization, especially given HD Tach’s +/- 2% margin of error in that test. However, it’s odd to see such a difference in burst speeds and random access times between the various H55 implementations. I wouldn’t worry too much about the differences there, but I would avoid the Gigabyte board’s GSATA controller in favor of the H55’s SATA ports.

NTttcp Ethernet
performance
Throughput (Mbps)
CPU utilization (%)

Asus P7H55D-M EVO
935.2 10.3

Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3
926.8 9.6

Intel DH55TC
931.4 6.9

Zotac H55 ITX
927.7 6.3

Once more, I’m at a loss. This time, it’s over why Asus and Gigabyte passed on the Gigabit Ethernet controller embedded in the H55 PCH in favor of Realtek chips that aren’t any faster and, based on our results, appear to consume slightly more CPU power. The H55’s built-in GigE controller certainly performs well on the Intel and Zotac boards.

RightMark Audio
Analyzer audio quality

Frequency response

Noise level

Dynamic range

THD

THD + Noise

IMD + Noise

Stereo Crosstalk

IMD at 10kHz
Overall score

Asus P7H55D-M EVO
5 5 5 4 3 5 5 5 5

Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3
5 5 5 4 3 5 5 5 5

Intel DH55TC
5 4 4 5 3 5 4 5 4

Zotac H55 ITX
5 5 5 5 3 5 5 5 5

The DH55TC scores slightly lower than the other boards in our RightMark Audio Analyzer analog signal quality tests. That’s a particularly disappointing result considering that the Intel board is the only one that doesn’t have a digital S/PDIF output that easily allows users to bypass the analog outs.

Conclusions

Sometimes it’s difficult to determine the best option in a round-up of like products. Not today. Our favorites easily separate themselves from the rest of the pack, but before singling them out, let’s take a moment to address the boards that didn’t make the cut.

Obviously, Intel isn’t targeting hard-core enthusiasts with the DH55TC. The board has corporate desktop written all over it, and its modest power draw is sure to appeal to anyone who manages tens, hundreds, or thousands of systems. However, I still can’t get over how bare the board really is. The BIOS is missing even the most basic of performance tuning options, and the port cluster could use a lot more love. I just can’t bring myself to recommend a board that’s this basic yet costs only about $12 less than the much more feature-rich GA-H55M-USB3.

Pricing weighs heavily on our recommendations here at TR, and it’s primarily for that reason that Asus’ P7H55D-M EVO misses out on an award. Make no mistake about it: this is a very good motherboard. The EVO is the best overclocker of the bunch, has faster FireWire and USB 3.0 performance than the Gigabyte board, and even incorporates decent BIOS-level fan speed controls. However, the EVO also draws more power at idle than the competition. More seriously, it costs a whopping $138 online, making it nearly $30 more than the Gigabyte H55M-USB3. I’d have no qualms about running the EVO in one of my personal systems, but there’s no way I’d pay such an exorbitant premium for the privilege.

Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3
April 2010

Why pay that much more for the Asus when the Gigabyte gets you roughly the same feature set and performance for just $110? It’s not like the H55M-USB3 is just cheaper—it also serves up a second physical x16 slot, RAID support for two SATA ports, and a DisplayPort connector for integrated graphics. The H55M-USB3 is more power-efficient than the EVO at idle, too, and it’s nearly as good an overclocker.

A bargain price tag doesn’t excuse the H55M-USB3’s painfully stone-age fan speed controls or its pokey FireWire chip. However, it softens the blow considerably, especially when the rest of the board is so solid. The GA-H55M-USB3 is easily the best value of the lot and an obvious Editor’s Choice.

The H55M-USB3 isn’t the only board we’re singling out for distinction, though. Zotac’s H55 ITX might be half the size of the microATX field, but with an LGA1156 socket and a PCIe x16 slot, you can put together a tiny system that packs one heck of a punch. What impresses me most about this diminutive design is the fact that it can easily serve as the basis for a desktop system, a home-theater PC, or even a gaming rig. The integrated Wi-Fi ensures that the PCIe x16 slot is available for other peripherals, and although USB 3.0 support would’ve been a nice addition, I can understand why it wasn’t included.

With a $145 street price, the H55 ITX doesn’t come cheap. But Mini-ITX mobos with real CPU sockets have always been expensive, and this latest one isn’t unreasonably so. If you’re in the market for something a little smaller than microATX, Zotac’s H55 ITX is TR Recommended.

Comments closed
    • ltcommander.data
    • 10 years ago

    I’m hoping to build a computer with a Lynnfield processor on a mATX motherboard with USB 3.0 and 6Gps SATA for some future-proofing with USB 3.0 being more important. However, when I checked last month I didn’t find any P55 mATX motherboards with USB 3.0 and 6Gps SATA. I don’t know if that’s changed since, but this can’t be such a unique request?

    The closet I’ve found is the Gigabyte GA-H57M-USB3, which has USB 3.0 albeit on a 250MB/s bus when a discrete GPU is connected which is sufficiently faster than USB 2.0 for now, but importantly has a 2nd PCIe x16 slot that is electrically a PCIe x4 slot so has sufficient bandwidth for a USB 3.0/6Gps SATA expansion card if I’m so inclined. It does seem kind of a waste of all the onboard display connectors to pair a Lynnfield with a H57 chipset though.

    • ClickClick5
    • 10 years ago

    l[<"For a very long time, Intel motherboards were dull, drab, and frankly, boring. Well, they were to PC enthusiasts, anyway. But dull, drab, and boring *tend* goes over well with system builders and..."<]l Do you mean *trend* or *tend to go*? (Off the side, my intel 975XBX2 is still going strong with a multiplyer OC for the past three years.)

    • bimmerlovere39
    • 10 years ago

    I’m quite ready for PCI slots to disappear – or at least be tucked under the primary PCIe x16 slot, both here and in full ATX motherboards. While I understand the desire for backwards compatibility, I find it gobsmacking that virtually no boards totally eschew PCI in favor of PCIe x1 links.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 10 years ago

    I love mATX. Plenty of expansion slots and drive bays for me, yet smaller computers in general.

      • flip-mode
      • 10 years ago

      I’m not sold. mATX is not “meaningfully smaller” to me.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 10 years ago

        Have you seen the mATX cubes? a tiny bit wider than a standard tower, sure, but much shorter and less-deep.

      • tfp
      • 10 years ago

      Yeah now that everything is pretty much on board I don’t have the need for all of the slots like I did years ago.

    • anotherengineer
    • 10 years ago

    What no MSI mobo 🙁

      • NeelyCam
      • 10 years ago

      Yeah, that’s what I was wondering about – a total miss.

      On that note, just finished my I5-670 build over the weekend, with MSI H55M-ED55. For a supposedly super-efficient mobo, I found it particularly disturbing that it doesn’t support CPU undervolting! It’s OK, though – I was able to get the CPU passively cooled (and by “passive” I mean no CPU fan).

      Idles at 28-30W, haven’t check load power yet. One-hour Prime pushed the CPU temp to about 85C – kind of scary, but I’m sure the CPU has some thermal protection circuits on it, so I’m not worried… Zero noise is SO worth it.

    • deruberhanyok
    • 10 years ago

    Thanks for the article, Geoff. Nice roundup.

    I’m curious – do you have a lower-rated power supply you could test with? I’m wondering if the idle/load numbers might look different with, say, a 350W supply (or even smaller, in the case of the ITX board).

    • flip-mode
    • 10 years ago

    300? Doh. Zotac for life, er, something. Nice roundup, Mr. Gasior.

    • spintroniX
    • 10 years ago

    wow. Pretty offensive to little people.

    If you were comparing black motherboards would you call it the nigger roundup?

    • obarthelemy
    • 10 years ago

    Question to the editors: do we have any idea how many people overclock ? in the general public and in your readership ?

    I keep hearing about overclocking… of the 50+ PC owners I know, NOBODY overclocks. As the PC expert I should be the one doing it, except I UNDER-clock for quietness.

    I’m wondering if overclocking is that relevant anymore, except to the 13-17 “I need to prove something” crowd.

    • indeego
    • 10 years ago

    39 watts idle on a modern system is amazing, to me. Intel should at least get a mention for that featg{<.<}g

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 10 years ago

      Actually, if sites would stop using bazillion watt PSUs and high end video cards, you’d see that pretty regularly with any other current platform that has integrated graphics.

      Inexpensive laptops have been able to reach under the 10w range for a while now. Until they start doing that with desktop parts, I don’t think we should be too quick to commend anyone. They’re yanking our chains here, somehow or another.

        • NeelyCam
        • 10 years ago

        Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to test systems with <100W max with 1000W PSUs, “80Plus Gold” or not.

        I got to 25W idle with a picoPSU, MSI H55M-ED55, i5-670 and an SSD. Adding a WD Green 1.5TB drive pushed that to 30W. I’m not sure why… it’s supposed to idle at 3W…

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 10 years ago

          Maybe it does? Assuming your power brick is roughly 80% efficient, and that there’s possibly another equivalent loss from the motherboard making more voltage and current conversions, it could round up to 5w.

          But ignoring that, you’ve just made a very good point. That’s about as well as you could expect to set up a desktop to save power and make it as similar to a laptop as possible.

          And yet, it’s using up to several times as much electricity as “less advanced” laptop platforms managed, and still more than just about any do now with the screen included.

          25w isn’t very much, but when the “same” parts in laptops use so much less, and can still be inexpensive, it gives me the idea we’re being gipped on the desktop end.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            Jipped only if power draw is the only concern and upfront cost isn’t. Compare prices for mobile parts versus desktop ones and you’ll see where we aren’t getting jipped.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 10 years ago

            There isn’t a real difference. You can buy $400 laptops all day long with a screen, battery, keyboard, and all that attached.

            It’s not about what the computer is used for. It’s about when the computer’s NOT being used, and how much power it may or may not be just wasting.

    • rei
    • 10 years ago

    Does the H55 chipset support AHCI?

      • marvelous
      • 10 years ago

      Only the Asus board supports AHCI. At least that’s what I’ve been hearing.

      • format_C
      • 10 years ago

      Of course it does.

    • marvelous
    • 10 years ago

    The Gigabyte H55 board is not a 10 phase board. I don’t know why Geoff thinks it is. It’s 7 phase power far as I know. 4 for the CPU, 2 for memory, and 1 for the GPU. You have to wonder why it doesn’t overclock well as the Asus board.

    I have the Asus P7H55-M EVO myself. Awesome board with great layout that would satisfy anyone wanting to replace their ATX counterpart which I did couple of weeks ago for $115. I can’t help notice that techreport value Newegg’s price to dictate editor’s choice. It doesn’t make sense to me. Asus is more refined and less fidgety than Gigabyte. It also performs and overclocks better. Newegg is not the king of prices. They haven’t been competitive in price for most things for the past 2 years. Even ebay has Asus P7H55D-M EVO for $125.99 shipped with 8% bing cash back.

      • wira020
      • 10 years ago

      I kinda agree with u.. I really think that the differences in performance is good enough to justify the price… I have Asus 785g v-evo, and i’m very satisfied with it…

    • Bauxite
    • 10 years ago

    I may be biased but I’d like to see minicard slots work their way onto uATX boards too.

    It would be a great way to break the 4 card limit in the same form factor. (3 w/ some gpus)

    They don’t have to mount flat either, a standing slot/bracket would take almost no space.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 10 years ago

      I’d like to see smaller cards and risers become more prevalent in general, and not just for the tiniest boards. I think that’s the biggest shortcoming of modern desktops. The standard card size just wastes space for anything but high end graphics.

      Even micro-ATX boards are small enough for cases you stow away or mount to the back of a monitor, and they’re generally suitable for pretty much any sort of computer but one with a multi-GPU setup. Most people will only ever use one expansion card, which /[

    • bdwilcox
    • 10 years ago

    Though I love the MicroATX form-factor, I tend to stick with a full ATX for my main machine because of the size requirements of high-end video cards. A Radeon 5850 basically swamps a MicroATX motherboard and covers most of its usable slots while oftentimes bumping into and pinching poorly placed connectors like straight SATA connectors and RAM levers. There’s also the problem of finding a MicroATX case to fit extra long cards like 5850s and 5870s as well as provide them with sufficient cooling.

    For other PC uses such as email/web/word processing grandparent machines, MicroATX is nicer and ITX would be even nicer if it didn’t carry such a high premium. One trend I do notice is that older people seem happier with laptops than small PCs. I’m inclined to believe that it’s due to the laptop’s requisite lack of clutter and tangled wires.

    • NeelyCam
    • 10 years ago

    Ethernet tests: table says MBps, but should be Mbps.

    • etilena
    • 10 years ago

    while i like the size of mini itx boards, i’ve never been able to find any decent case to pair it with.

    • bdwilcox
    • 10 years ago

    That revised graphic now matches the overall professionalism of your site.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 10 years ago

    Lol, someone get me an ice pack.

    Edit: reply-fail brought to you in part by the HTC g[

      • UberGerbil
      • 10 years ago

      Is it still a fail when it makes no sense as a reply to /[

    • UberGerbil
    • 10 years ago

    The front page picture for this story is one of the strangest in the history of TR.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 10 years ago

      I am thoroughly disturbed.

        • UberGerbil
        • 10 years ago

        But we’ve known that to be true for some time.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      So does that make the mobo shots geek midget porn?

        • UberGerbil
        • 10 years ago

        Well, it appears to have changed (I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t have clearance for the “star” of the shot…. or maybe bdwilcox’s appeal got to them)

          • MadManOriginal
          • 10 years ago

          lol, yeah I’m sure they’d change it because of an insult. Funny though, the first time I saw the article on the front page I swear the guy wasn’t in the picutre, then after reading the article and going back to the front page it was. Maybe it’s a random serve? 0_o

          • NeelyCam
          • 10 years ago

          I can’t believe I missed the original picture! 🙁
          This sucks.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 years ago

      what was the picture? At 5:15 CDT this morning it was a picture of the motherboards.

    • shank15217
    • 10 years ago

    Lancer not included.. haha that made my day

    • danny e.
    • 10 years ago

    wow. with a headline like that, this may be the first geek site to make mainstream news. oh, the scandal!

    • grantmeaname
    • 10 years ago

    First!
    l[

      • ew
      • 10 years ago

      It doesn’t count as a real first post if you actually read the article. 😛

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