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Gigabyte GA-H67N-USB3-B3

Trying to appeal to the users, Mini-ITX mainboard developers work really hard to load their LGA1155 products with unique features. Some of them add Wi-Fi controllers, some offer Bluetooth, some allow broad expansion capabilities, and some set very low retail price. In this situation it may often be challenging to find simply a good well-built platform without anything over-the-top.

Luckily, Gigabyte comes to rescue with their compact LGA1155 H67N-USB3-B3 mainboard that has everything necessary and nothing excessive for a contemporary platform. This mainboard is compatible with any LGA1155 processors, supports discrete graphics accelerators and regular DDR3 SDRAM modules, has SATA 6 Gbps and USB 3.0 ports and features a Gigabit network controller. However, Gigabyte didn’t add any wireless interfaces and didn’t put an additional mini-PCIe slot onto their board.

Gigabyte mainboard has a different distinguishing feature: the manufacturer didn’t try to compromise on the quality of their components. GA-H67N-USB3-B3 ranks with Gigabyte’s top-of-the-line enthusiast products and belongs to the Ultra Durable 3 series, which means that it is built on a PCB with double copper layers and uses only highest-quality components. In other words, if you are looking for a regular Mini-ITX LGA1155 mainboard, then Gigabyte will be able to offer you a few good options at a very democratic price point.

The layout of GA-H67N-USB3-B3 is quite unique. Like on most other mainboards the processor socket on GA-H67N-USB3-B3 is located not in the best spot – close to the DIMM and PCI Express x16 slots, although the mainboard design is not too complex, Gigabyte engineers couldn’t move the socket even a few millimeters away from the graphics card slot. So, it may be incompatible with some of the large processor coolers.

The processor voltage regulator has a four-phase circuitry. And theoretically, the board can disable some of the phases in order to optimize power consumption. However, in reality you will need to install special software for this feature to work.

There is a pretty large heatsink responsible for cooling the chipset. It uses secure screw-on retention, so there is no need to worry about the chipset temperature: Gigabyte’s solution is by far more efficient than the heatsinks we saw on other manufacturer’s Mini-ITX mainboards. The processor voltage regulator, however, doesn’t have any cooling on it, but it doesn’t heat up excessively during work anyway.

Gigabyte GA-H67N-USB3-B3 has two fan connectors: a four-pin connector for the processor fan and an additional three-pin connector. The mainboard can adjust the rotation speed of both fans connected to it, even if there is a three-pin fan connected to the four-pin plug.

Besides fan connectors, GA-H67N-USB3-B3 has two SATA 6 Gbps ports, two SATA 3 Gbps ports and two pin-connectors for USB 2.0 ports on the system case panel. Note that one of these USB connectors doesn’t lose power when the system is off, so any ports connected to it may be used for charging gadgets at any time. By the way, I would like to remind you that USB ports on contemporary Gigabyte mainboards may deliver higher current than suggested by the specifications, so they can power and charge even very demanding devices.

Gigabyte GA-H67N-USB3-B3 doesn’t have too many additional controllers. There is an omnipresent Realtek RTL8111E Gigabit network controller, Renesas D720200 USB 3.0 controller and eight-channel Realtek ALC889 audio codec. Judging by this set of controllers we can imagine what the mainboard back panel is going to look like.

However, Gigabyte engineers managed to surprise us. There is no DVI Out in the back, and the monitors may be connected via D-Sub or HDMI, which are doubled in quantity on the back panel. I don’t think it is the best possible combination, but it looks like they are shooting for the HTPC segment in the first place, so it is more important for it to have an additional “consumer” port used in TV-sets. Of course, you can use an adapter to connect a DVI monitor to this board, but you will have to purchase an adapter like that separately.

Besides monitor outs, the mainboard back panel also has an eSATA port, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit network port and a lot of audio outs, including six analogue audio-jacks and an optical and coaxial S/PDIF.

While many mainboard makers have switched to UEFI BIOS with graphics interface, Gigabyte continues using time-tested solution enhanced with Hybrid EFI. It means that GA-H67N-USB3-B3 supports 3 TB hard disk drives, but uses the same BIOS with text interface.

Nevertheless, they still make some improvements that should make it easier to work with the mainboard BIOS. For example, the latest BIOS update provided this mainboard with Touch BIOS support – a Windows utility that allows configuring certain settings right from the operating system.

In terms of available functionality, Gigabyte GA-H67N-USB3-B3 is a good product. Although, some of the overclocking-related features have been removed after all. For example, this mainboard doesn’t allow changing the BCLK frequency. Instead, there is a parameter for the CPU clock frequency multiplier, which can only be lowered.

 

 

 

In fact, there is an advantage to this. Gigabyte took away overclocking, but enabled downclocking. The board can lower the CPU voltage, so Gigabyte GA-H67N-USB3-B3 owners can always adjust their BISO settings to turn a regular processor into an energy-efficient one.

It is also possible to play with the voltages of other system components. For example, you can lower the DIMM voltage, which may be useful if you are using energy-efficient memory modules. There is a setting for the GPU voltage, too. You can even access its frequency on Gigabyte GA-H67N-USB3-B3, so GPU overclocking is something you can definitely do.

Fine-tuning of the memory sub-system on Gigabyte GA-H67N-USB3-B3 is also not a problem. You can not only manually adjust all memory timings independently for each module, but also lock the memory frequency at a certain value despite the SPD records. However, it is not possible to overclock DDR3 SDRAM on this mainboard, because Intel H67 chipset doesn’t allow it. The maximum frequency for your DDR3 memory can be set at 1333 MHz.

The accessories bundled with Gigabyte GA-H67N-USB3-B3 are not particularly diverse. It comes with a manual, a disk with the drivers, I/O Shield for the back panel and two SATA cables with locks.

 
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