Gigabyte has rolled out six mainboard models for Intel’s LGA1156 processors with integrated graphics core. The series is meant to cater to different user categories. It is easy to discuss these mainboards in pairs and we will begin with the two junior models. The microATX GA-H55M-S2H is simpler than the GA-H55M-UD2H. It lacks an additional IEEE1394 (FireWire) controller and there are no eSATA and DisplayPort connectors at its back panel. It also has only two memory slots and is the least expensive product in the series.
The next two are designed in the ATX form-factor and differ from each other in functionality. As opposed to the simpler GA-H55-UD3H, the GA-H55-USB3 is equipped with extra controllers that implement IEEE1394 (FireWire), USB 3.0 and two more SATA ports. It also has one eSATA and one DisplayPort on its back panel. These models also differ by the variety of available expansion slots.
The next two mainboards, like the first pair, are designed in the microATX form-factor but match the full-size and full-featured GA-H55-USB3 in functionality. As opposed to the previous pairs, the GA-H55M-USB3 and GA-H57M-USB3 – which are going to be discussed and tested in this review – do not differ much from each other. Both use the same PCB design and have the same number of extra controllers, expansion slots and back panel ports. The difference is only in the chipset: one is based on Intel H55 Express and another – on Intel H57 Express. We discussed the capabilities of Intel’s new CPUs and chipsets in our article called Dual-Core LGA1156 Processors: Core i5-661, Core i3-540 and Pentium G6950 CPUs Review, but can remind you that the H55 has six PCI Express channels (as opposed to eight in the H57) and 12 USB 2.0 ports (14 in the H57). It does not support RAID. Now let’s have a closer look at Gigabyte’s GA-H55M-USB3 and GA-H57M-USB3 mainboards and see what is so special about them in comparison with other makers’ mainboards we have tested so far.