THE RECENTLY LAUNCHED Intel H55 chipset has found a home in a really tiny motherboard from Zotac and it’s hard not to be impressed with all the features that this tiny board has to offer. Zotac got famous for making some nForce based mini-ITX boards, but the company has continued the trend with other chipsets and the H55-ITX WiFi is the latest addition to its range of tiny, yet feature packed boards.
Although this board is hardly targeting the overclocking market, it looks like a great solution for those interested in building a small HTPC, especially in combination with one of the new Core i3 or Core i5 processors that offer bitstreaming of audio over HDMI. For those looking to add their own graphics card for a bit of gaming action, as quite frankly, the new Intel IGP just won’t cut it for most games, there’s a PCI Express x16 slot. Zotac has also outfitted the board with a mini PCI Express slot, usually found in notebooks.
The Mini PCI Express slot comes with an 802.11b/g/n WiFi card and this is the first time we’ve seen Zotac supply both of the antennas with one of its mini-ITX boards. Connectivity is excellent as well, as Zotac has fitted no less than 10 USB 2.0 ports around the back alongside a single PS/2 port, a DVI and HDMI connector, an eSATA connector, Gigabit Ethernet and 7.1-channel audio with optical S/PDIF out. There are also two headers for an additional four USB ports, six SATA ports and two DDR3 memory slots. The Zotac board will also work with the Core i5 and Core i7 processors for socket 1156, but then you’ll need to fit a graphics card.
Mini-ITX is set to grow this year, although most of the boards are likely to be Atom based – Zotac has announced a few models with the Atom D510 – but even Intel is going down the Core i3/i5 route with an H57 based mini-ITX board. DFI has a P55 already on the market and from our understanding the company is going to have a lot more mini-ITX consumer products coming later this year. It’s a shame that AMD’s DTX form factor never took off, as the extra depth of the DTX boards offers a second expansion slot. This is something that would come in handy for many HTPC builds, but it’s not a crucial feature these days. It’s just that we’re not big on having USB dongles hanging off the back of our PC unless we have to. Pricing and availability were not announced.S|A
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