Intel DH57JG is neither a sensation nor a disaster. Its design is not flawless and its BIOS options are rather scanty, even though this can partially be explained by its small form-factor. Its specs are not gorgeous, either. Particularly, it doesn’t support USB 3.0 and FireWire. It couldn’t overclock our CPU to its maximum and did not allow setting low memory timings. Besides, its fan control system keeps the CPU under harsh thermal conditions. Combined with its rather high price, this makes us wonder who is going to buy it at all.
Well, Intel DH57JG does have an advantage, namely Intel H57 Express chipset. By the way, we were at first perplexed as to why it was not based on the H55 Express which would have been quite sufficient. The H57 Express supports more USB ports, but the mainboard doesn’t use them. It supports more PCI Express lanes, but the mainboard needs only 16 lanes for its single graphics slot. The single notable difference is that the H57 supports RAID arrays but does a small mini-ITX mainboard need this feature? Well, it does! For example, you can build a compact and high-performance file server!
There are many manufacturers that produce ready-made Network Attached Storage devices that accommodate from one to four hard disk drives and run an integrated, usually Linux-based, OS. Such NASes provide reliable file storage for a home or small office but all of them share common problems such as a low processor frequency and a small amount of system memory, which limit their performance. As a result, such a NAS may not provide a data-transfer rate higher than 100 Mbps even when connected via Gigabit Ethernet. As opposed to them, Intel HD57JG allows building a compact server which will be as fast as big desktop computers. But are there any mini-ITX enclosures that would accommodate four HDDs if even microATX system cases not always support that many hard drives? Well, it turns out that such PC enclosures do exist. For example, there is the cute Chenbro ES34169 that supports four HDDs with hot swap feature.
Or there is the Lian Li PC-Q08 series which can accommodate as many as six 3.5-inch HDDs and comes in several colors so that you could choose what suits your home interior best.
So, if you want a small but high-performance file server, Intel DH57JG is going to be a perfect choice for it because the rest of mini-ITX mainboards we know of are based on Intel H55 Express chipset which does not support RAID and cannot provide fault-tolerant data storage. But if you just want a small mini-ITX mainboard for other purposes, there are a lot of more interesting alternatives on the market.