The layout of the GIGABYTE GA-H57M-USB3 board is based around a micro-ATX form factor. This makes for a little bit of a cramped board and is something that you would not normally see in what is intended as an entry level board (albeit a high-level one).
Looking at the upper portion of the board, we do see that GIGABYTE has kept the CPU area very clean. This is good for systems that have limited airflow and also allows for someone to use a better air cooler than the stock one that ships with the Core i5 661.
However, to maintain the clear field of the CPU area, they have had to clutter the area around the RAM slots. Here we find that GIGBYATE has stuffed in a 14-pin ATX power connector as well as a PATA and floppy socket. These are so close they become an issue when connecting them once installed in a case (especially if that case is a Small Form Factor).
GIGABYTE has placed the 8-pin aux power adapter in the usual place and has even thrown in a nice extra feature; this is a pair of four-pin fan headers which are great for high-performance air cooling. As I mentioned before, it is clear that while this is an entry level product, GIGABYTE is giving it some enthusiast class features.
The lower half of the board is even more cramped than the area around the RAM slots. GB has stuffed in two x16 (x8 electrical) slots for Crossfire and also two PCI slots. Along the bottom they have stuffed in a multitude of connection options.
One feature that truly does put the GA-H57M-USB3 above much of the competition is the inclusion of USB 3.0. There are also two additional SATA2.0 ports on the board (the two white ones which run off a GIGABYTE controller) as well as two USB 3.0 ports on the back I/O panel.
In addition to the USB 3.0 ports, GB has also chosen to add in DVI, VGA D-SUB, HDMI and Display Port. The rest of the ports back here are pretty standard.
Overall the GA-H57M-USB3 is a cluttered board with little room for expansion. I can foresee issues with installing one of these into an SFF case or even in a mid-tower. Although the extra features that have been stuffed in are nice, I still have to wonder if they are needed on a board that is designed to accept a CPU with a GPU already built in. Maybe GIGABYTE has gotten over zealous on this one. I can only hope that the performance overcomes some of the layout issues I have seen here.
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- Page 1 [Introduction]
- Page 2 [The Box and What's Inside]
- Page 3 [The Motherboard]
- Page 4 [BIOS and Overclocking]
- Page 5 [Test System Setup and Comments]
- Page 6 [Synthetic Tests - Part I]
- Page 7 [Synthetic Tests - Part II]
- Page 8 [Synthetic Tests - Part III]
- Page 9 [Real-World Tests - Part I]
- Page 10 [Real-World Tests - Part II]
- Page 11 [Power Usage and Heat Tests]
- Page 12 [Final Thoughts]