We performed all our experiments on the following test platform:
- Mainboard: EVGA H55 rev. 1.0, 123-CD-E635-KR (LGA1156, Intel H55 Express, BIOS version A49 from 12/22/09;
- CPU: Intel Core i3-540 (3.06 GHz, 133 MHz base frequency, 4 MB L3 cache, Clarkdale, 1.025 V Vcore);
- Memory: 2 x 2048 MB OCZ DDR3 PC3-12800 Blade Series Low Voltage OCZ3B1600LV6GK (1600 MHz, 6-6-6-24, 1.65 V voltage);
- Graphics card: HIS HD 5850, H585F1GDG (ATI Radeon HD 5850, Cypress, 40 nm, 725/4000 MHz, 1024 MB 256 bit GDDR5);
- Storage subsystem: Seagate Barracuda XT, ST32000641AS (2 TB, SATA 6 Gbps, 7200 RPM, 64 MB cache);
- Optical drive: Sony NEC Optiarc AD-7173A DVD±RW;
- CPU cooler: Scythe Mugen 2 Revision B (SCMG-2100);
- Thermal interface: Zalman CSL 850;
- PSU: OCZ GameXStream OCZGXS700 (700 W) with Zalman ZM-F3 fan;
- Case: open testbed.
We used Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit (Microsoft Windows, Version 6.1, Build 7600) operating system, Intel Chipset Software Installation Utility version 126.96.36.1995, ATI Catalyst 10.2 graphics card driver.
Operational and Overclocking Specifics
In the nominal operation mode EVGA H55 annoyed me only with the double squeak of its piezoelectric speaker at each startup. The speaker cannot be turned off. Otherwise, I had no problems with it. But I did have difficulties when I tried to overclock. The mainboard offers an automatic overclocking mode called “Dummy O.C.” in its BIOS. In this mode the base frequency is increased to 160 MHz, the voltages are lifted up, and the power-saving technologies are turned off. It is easy to overclock with that feature but Dummy O.C. cannot really unlock the whole potential of your processor. It is better to manually select optimal parameters.
However, I could not get much higher above the Dummy O.C. results even when overclocking manually. Most mainboards can work at a base frequency of 200 MHz and higher if you reduce the CPU frequency multiplier but EVGA H55 was only stable at 170 MHz. At a base frequency of 175 MHz it could start but would not load the OS. And it did not start up at all at higher frequencies. Therefore I had to limit my CPU overclocking to 3.9 GHz whereas other overclocker-friendly mainboards could reach a CPU frequency of 4.5 GHz. The memory worked at a rather low clock rate of 1360 MHz with 6-6-6-16-1T timings. The mainboard wouldn’t start up when I tried to increase the memory frequency to 1700 MHz.
I must confess we got EVGA H55 quite a long time ago but have been postponing its review, waiting for a new version of its BIOS that might perform better. Unfortunately, there is still no BIOS update on the EVGA website and I performed my tests with firmware A49 dating back to last year.