This will be one of the shortest walk-arounds we have done. The board is simply tiny; on its longest side it is only 6.5 Inches. The designers had to stuff all of the workings of an H55 Motherboard (VRMs, Chokes, and Caps etc) onto this tiny little piece of real estate.
Looking at the board we are quickly reminded that it is not a traditional layout. For starters the SATA ports are the top of the board with the front panel header. The CPU and the chipset seem to have been flip-flopped.
This flip-flop has placed the CPU very close to the single PCIe slot on the board. This negates the use of many oversized heatsinks. But there is more to the CPU placement issue than we see on the surface. We took a look at the underside of the board and found that there are components VERY close to the mounting holes. This is due to the very small size of the board (these are needed components that have to go somewhere). Their placement means that many coolers will simply not work. Our normal Cooler Master Hyper 212+ would not work at all. We had to count on a Thermalright 1156 cooler but even that extended out over the PCIe slot.
On the extreme side some coolers can even block both the RAM and the PCIe slots. Choose your cooler carefully when you start thinking about getting this board.
Looking at the top of the board we find the things we would normally find at the bottom of the board. The H55 Express chipset, the SATA ports, the USB and front panel headers... it is all very odd.
The front panel audio header is very cramped, but this is to make room for the power regulation for the board. We also can see the NEC USB 3.0 controller in this shot.
The I/O ports are fairly mundane. You find the typical VGA out that would exist on any other H55 board, as well as Audio, USB and PS/2 ports. The USB 3.0 ports are probably the only thing that is a little out of the usual. As more boards popup with these, they will be less so.
GIGABYTE has packed quite a bit into a very small space. It will be interesting to see how it performs with everything loaded up.
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