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Zotac H55-ITX WiFi review

A H55 board with a competent feature set, but not the high-performance board it could be

Our Verdict

A high performance Mini-ITX board is a nice idea. The Gigabyte H55N-USB3 executes it better.

For

  • Great feature set includes N-spec WiFi
  • Six SATA ports

Against

  • Disappointing overclocking results
  • No USB 3.0

Stuffing Intel's desktop-class H55 chipset into a miniscule Mini-ITX motherboard is hardly a standard procedure.

However, the Zotac H55-ITX WiFi can't hope to get by based on nothing more than novelty. It must beat the likes of Gigabyte's identically proportioned and similarly specified H55N-USB3.

On paper, you'd give the Zotac H55- ITX WiFi more than a sniff at pulling it off. It matches its Gigabyte nemesis in most regards, including support for powerful discrete graphics and a full range of video output options when running on Intel HD integrated video.

To all that support it adds an integrated N-spec WiFi networking chipset. That said, the H55-ITX WiFi does lack support for USB 3.0. You might say, therefore, it's a dead heat on features.

Not so for price, however, with the Zotac demanding an extra £10 or so. In that context, the solution is simple. It's a gloves-off contest for performance props. May the best board win.

Okay, the Zotac H55-ITX WiFi is more expensive than its closest competitor from Gigabyte, but it does come with a few extra frills. Apart from the aforementioned WiFi networking chipset, Zotac has managed to squeeze in an extra pair of SATA ports for a grand total of six. That's as many, in other words, as a typical ATX motherboard.

Zotac h55 itx wifi  connections

Weak performance

Given the price premium, however, the lack of USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps support is disappointing. But neither is as significant as the H55-ITX WiFi's real weakness, which is performance.

At stock clocks, the gap may be small. We're talking a second here and a frame per second there, but the Gigabyte is consistently ahead. Bring overclocking into the equation and things really go south for Zotac.

Firstly, the BIOS menu is a bit clunky and confusing. Dig around and you will eventually discover that most of the important options are available even if enthusiasts will note the absence of some of their favourite fine tuning parameters.

Anywho, the bottom line for the H55-ITX WiFi is a top baseclock frequency of 180MHz. That's well short of the Gigabyte H55N-USB3's 210MHz maximum frequency and could prove a limiting factor when overclocking.

Moreover, running components at the ragged edge is rarely a good idea. Arguably, therefore, the long term maximum for this motherboard is 160MHz to 170MHz.

It's also worth noting that the H55- ITX WiFi is peculiarly power-hungry when running a Core i7 processor combined with discrete graphics. This may well be an erroneous voltage setting that could be remedied simply by a future BIOS update. For now though it certainly undermines this motherboard's eco-friendly and efficiency credentials.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelH55 Express
Onboard VideoOn-board Video Chipset
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots1
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket H LGA-1156
Brand NameZotac
Form FactorMini ITX
Processor SupportedCore i3, Core i5
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory8 GB
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots2
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD graphics
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Wireless LANYes
Number of SATA Interfaces7
Number of Total Expansion Slots2
eSATAYes
HDMIYes
DVIYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Total Number of USB Ports10
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports1
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports4
Total Number of PCI Express Slots1
Width170.2 mm
Depth170.2 mm
ManufacturerZOTAC International
Product ModelH55ITX-A-E
Product NameH55ITX-A-E Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300
Manufacturer Part NumberH55ITX-A-E
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.zotac.com
Marketing Information

Take small form factor computing to a whole new level of performance with the ZOTAC H55-ITX WiFi mini-ITX platform and LGA1156 socket Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processors with Intel QuickPath technology. The ZOTAC H55-ITX WiFi is the perfect foundation for a high-performance small form factor PC with support for high-speed DDR3-1333 MHz memory technology and PCI Express x16 expansion, all in a miniature mini-ITX platform. Despite the miniature size, the ZOTAC H55-ITX WiFi features 10 USB 2.0 ports, 7.1-channel high-definition audio, digital optical S/PDIF audio output, 6 SATA 3.0Gb/s ports and one eSATA port for maximum expansion and connectivity. Integrated 802.11n WiFi (300Mb/s) technology delivers lightning-fast network transfers up to 300Mb/s for performance that's up to three times the speed of conventional 100Mb/s Ethernet without the need of wires on the ZOTAC H55-ITX WiFi.