Articles: Mainboards

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As we can see, systems miniaturization also touches upon desktop computer systems these days. Today’s computer users have already got used to the thin and light notebooks, which are just as functional as their full-size counterparts. Now we see a similar tendency in the desktop segment. Mini-ITX form-factor becomes increasingly popular and the number of solutions designed in this form-factor continues to grow rapidly.

I am very pleased to see that today Mini-ITX form-factor is no longer associated with limited functionality or low performance. All platforms we have just discussed in our roundup are good choices for a performance system. They all support contemporary high-speed Sandy Bridge processors, fully-functional graphics cards and popular interfaces.

At the same time it is particularly nice that miniaturization doesn’t lead to price increase, which is the case with the mobile platforms. In other words, if you are looking to buy a new computer, then Mini-ITX form-factor definitely should be considered as one of the worthy alternatives. Especially, since systems like that save a ton of space and fit seamlessly with home environment.

As for the LGA1155 Mini-ITX mainboards in particular, we can conclude that there are a lot of really great products in the market today. However, it won’t be as hard to choose the right one, as you may have thought in the beginning of this article.

There are two types of compact mainboards on Intel H67 chipset. The first type is a multi-functional combine with maximum of features. Mainboards like that are equipped with Wi-Fi adapters, have a lot of interface ports and often boast some unique features, like Bluetooth or larger number of USB 3.0 ports. The second type is a durable contemporary mainboard without any luxurious extras that supports all contemporary interfaces, like USB 3.0 and SATA-600, but at the same time is not overloaded with additional components.

It is totally up to the user in each particular case to decide which mainboard type would be a better choice. But in our opinion, it makes more sense to take solutions without Wi-Fi and other similar bonuses. You can always add a unit like that with PCI Express or USB interface at a later time. And in this case you can even have a better quality choice. The makers of overloaded mainboards rarely use the best controllers. For example, all Wi-Fi controllers on the mainboards tested (where available) today didn’t support 5 GHz frequency range at all.

So, in the end we decided to give the title of the best LGA1155 mainboards based on Intel H67 chipset and designed in Mini-ITX form-factor to Intel DH67CF. It receives our Editor’s Choice award for excellent manufacture quality, rich functionality and support of all contemporary interfaces, as well as brilliant energy-efficiency. We would also like to specifically stress that this mainboard offers extensive hardware monitoring options, which is an indisputable advantage.

We should also give due credit to Asus P8H67-I mainboard. We were almost ready to let it split the first prize with Intel DH67CF, but it suddenly vanished from retail. That is why we are awarding Asus P8H67-I with our Recommended Buy title, meaning that if you see it in stores, do not wait.

It is a great board, super high-quality, with everything a contemporary platform needs, beautiful and functional BIOS and even a few unique features. Firstly, it has six SATA ports, which allow using Asus P8H67-I in mini-servers, and secondly, it supports CPU downclocking and therefore can appeal to computer enthusiasts. However, it is not absolutely fault-free: it lacks an eSATA port and shows average power consumption.

If you are still looking for a mainboard with immediate Wi-Fi support, then we could definitely point out a leader among these products. We particularly liked ASRock H67M-ITX/HT mainboard, which received our Ultimate Innovation title.

It pleasantly surprised us with its extensive functionality, by adding not only an integrated Wi-Fi module but also a very useful remote control unit on top of the entire set of standard features. These could be great bonuses for a Mini-ITX system, so if you are planning on putting together a multimedia combine, then you definitely should consider ASRock’s solution. Especially, since this mainboard’s performance and power consumption are at least as good as those of the competition and its price doesn’t seem over-the-top.

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