Budget Computing: Nine H55 And H57 Motherboards Compared

Gigabyte H55M-USB3

Gigabyte is the second company to take our “features for the money” concept well into the features category by providing a USB 3.0-compatible motherboard. Yet, its H55M-USB3 pushes a little further towards the premium market by also providing both HDMI and DisplayPort interfaces. A total of four onboard video outputs are configurable across two display devices.

Other handy (but less spectacular) features include a second x16-length slot, but further examination showed that slot is limited to only one 2.5Gb/s pathway. The primary x16 slot has 32 times the bandwidth, but installing a graphics card there prevents the integrated graphics ports from working.

Windows XP users will appreciate the easier installation of AHCI drivers via the H55M-USB3’s floppy connector, while system integrators will have just as much appreciation for the board’s ability to support legacy serial and Ultra ATA devices. Missing, however, is the parallel port so often required by system integrators to support legacy software security dongles.

As the H55M-USB3’s primary market, high-end media center PC builders won’t likely notice the legacy hardware and might instead focus on the motherboard’s true PCIe x16 and PCI slot positions, which perfectly match the card riser locations of many low-profile cases. Support for up to four memory modules and seven internal drives is consistent with that market, as is RAID 0 and 1 support through the GSATA2 Serial ATA/Ultra ATA controller. However, users who require the additional performance or configurability of Intel’s software-based RAID modes will have to step up to the nearly identical H57 model with a similar name.

BIOS Features

Gigabyte’s H55M-USB3 supports a broad range of overclocking and underclocking options to meet the needs of both silent PC and compact performance enthusiasts. Controls are divided across several submenus of the M.I.T.'s many menus, where current settings are also displayed.

Underclockers can minimize voltage needs by reducing the multiplier or base clock, while overclockers can shoot for the moon on base clock with the aid of drive strength and clock skew controls.

Setting DRAM Timing Selectable to Quick allows Channel B timings to be set simultaneously with Channel A, simplifying memory-performance configuration.


Sky-high upper voltage limits of 1.90 and 2.60V for the CPU core and RAM should satisfy the needs of nearly any overclocker, but Gigabyte also plays to the silent PC crowd with lower CPU and DRAM limits of 0.50 and 1.30V.

The H55M-USB3 stores up to eight BIOS configurations as user profiles, and can also export these to a drive. Gigabyte also automatically stores up to four additional configurations to assist forgetful tuners.


The wide variety of internal interfaces is not reflected in the H55M-USB3 installation kit, as only one legacy Ultra ATA and two SATA cables are included. A Dolby Home Theater sticker points to the extended feature pack Gigabyte purchased for Realtek’s ALC889 codec, enabling advanced options such as Dolby Digital Live.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • wintermint
    Nvm, it's on the CPU.
  • Crashman
    wintermintDo anyone know how good is the integrated graphics found in these mobos? Can it handle some games?
    It's not on the motherboard, it's on the CPU. Different CPU's have different clock speeds for the GPU. And it can't even play most games, let alone play them smoothly:

  • liquidsnake718
    useless... this is just for HD movies and simple web based games, onboard gpus on motherboards are even better than this intel..... i wonder if this was larrabee...... or if larabee will really come to fruitition as I read in a toms article its basically dead.... however i wonder if this was larrabee.....
  • anamaniac
    I'm sad to see Quantum Force (Foxconn's enthusiast line, such as the Bloodrage) die.
    At least Foxconn still makes really cheap stuff...

    Honestly though, I'm more interested what's the lowest voltage you can get on stock clocks and DDR3 1066 cas6.
  • dertechie
    wintermintDo anyone know how good is the integrated graphics found in these mobos? Can it handle some games?
    The IGP is integrated into the Clarkdale CPU. I believe it is simply a further evolution of the X4500HD, and can at least now claim to be on rough par with ATI's integrated graphics, assuming that AMD hasn't done much to up the ante in the 800-series chipsets. Check the reviews of the i5-661 and the i3-5x0s. The 661 is the fastest IGP they sell (there's a reason reviewers all got that particular chip), at 900 MHz, the others are clocked at 733 MHz or 533 MHz. No, it can't run Crysis.

    Larrabee is dead, it wasn't worth it to Intel to actually build it. The project isn't dead, but Larrabee Mk I will never see mass production silicon.
  • enzo matrix
    Why do you guys only ever compare P55 and P57 boards? What about AM3? Or even 775 and AM2+?
  • anamaniac
    wintermintDo anyone know how good is the integrated graphics found in these mobos? Can it handle some games?

    Intel i5-661.
    CPU at 4.3GHz. IGP at 1133MHz. Both are at stock clocks.
    Crysis Warhead (1024x768, assuming low settings), 26FPS.

    It can play Crysis. =)
  • ta152h
    enzo matrixWhy do you guys only ever compare P55 and P57 boards? What about AM3? Or even 775 and AM2+?
    At least they moved to H55/H57, which is a platform that should sell a lot, rather than the brain-damaged P55 platform, which most sites spend a lot of time trying to convince (not that successfully, based on the bad sales) is a great platform.

    Lynnfield/P55 is such a strange product, and appeals to such a limited segment of the market. It's not cheap, but it's a high-end product either. So, you get squeezed by x58, which is the real platform, or LGA 775, and now H55/H57 from below. It's not a big market segment, and I think it makes Intel's line a little confusing to average consumers, especially since the Clarksdale CPUs overlap it in cost from below, and the Bloomfield do from above.

    It's obvious Intel didn't want to release CPUs with an IMC for the mainstream until they could move the IGP on-board the CPU. Since the IGP has to use the memory controller, there are compromises however you do it when you have an IMC. You either go to the processor, or you add the logic on the IGP (making it redundant), so Intel avoided that problem by putting it on the processor. The P55 is again neither fish nor fowl. It's got limited PCIe lanes, but doesn't have an IGP either.

    There's a small segment where it makes sense. It's power efficient and the performance is only slightly less than Bloomfield in many situations, but I think the average consumer is going to find the H55/H57 much better for their needs (an IGP is critical in this market), and the enthusiast will want the full-blown Bloomfield. For that reason I think these motherboards are significant even though the P55 isn't. Maybe you don't want it, but, you'll probably have a friends/family neighbors asking about a computer with these products. They aren't technical marvels with their weird memory controller placed in the video controller, but aside from the distasteful technical compromises Intel made, they still address the market and needs of most people very well. The only one that is so offensive I could never bring myself to recommending is the new Pentium version. It probably is fine for most people, but it's so offensive, it's painful to recommend. I think LGA 775 is better at that point. Or AMD, of course.
  • daniel266
    WOW ! one more article about intel !! why im not suprised... hope that this comment dont disapear magically...
  • JohnnyLucky
    Thank you for including audio & video encoding benchmarks and productivity benchmarks.