The H55M Pro is meant to be a small motherboard and with the move to a two chip solution it can be both small and relatively uncluttered. This is not to say that it is not a little cramped, but that manufacturers like ASRock can take advantage of the extra board real estate freed up by the disappearance of the Northbridge.
The H55M Pro is a micro-ATX form factor that manages to include quite a few full sized features. Although there is no support for SLI, you can still slap in a pair of AMD GPUs for CrossFire support (dual x8). But let's not get ahead of ourselves here and start our normal walk around the board at the top right.
In the upper right corner we see pretty much what you would expect from an ATX board. You have the now very familiar 24-pin ATX power connector and four RAM slots for up to 16GB or DDR3 1333 goodness. Right below the ATX Power socket we find five SATA II ports. These are all non-RAID enabled ports as the H55 chipset does not include a RAID enabled SATA II controller right from Intel.
Moving to our left, we find a very open area around the 1156 Socket used by the Clarkdale CPUs. Even the power regulation is well spaced for good air flow. We also see the 8-pin 12V Aux power connector and a pair of fan headers (one four pin for the CPU and a three pin general purpose header).
Looking at the lower half of the board, we now get to see some of the advantages to the two-chip H55 solution. We have a total of two x16 mechanical (x8 electrical) PCIe ports. ASRock has of course thrown in the typical useless x1 port between the two x16 ports. You also have a single legacy PCI port if you need it.
Below the slots and the heatsink for the chipset are a grouping of headers. There are headers for a printer port (parallel), com port (Serial), Trusted Platform Module, 1394a and three USB 2.0 headers.
For I/O you have some interesting options. As the Clarkdale contains its very own GPU, the H55, H57, and Q57 motherboards are being built with the all of the proper video ports (although many do not have DisplayPort). These are connected to the CPU socket using Intel Flexible Display links. But other than these exceptions, you have most of the same ports you would find on any other mini-ATX motherboard.
Page 3 of 12
Further Reading: Read and find more Motherboards content at our Motherboards reviews, guides and articles index page.
Do you get our RSS feed? Get It!