For most of us, Zotac isn't the name that comes to mind when thinking about your next motherboard. Instead, brands like ASUS, Gigabyte or MSI are closer to the tip of your tongue. For HTPC users however, that all started to change with the release of several mini-ITX motherboards based on NVIDIA's GeForce 9300 and ION chipsets. Despite its initial teething problems, the Zotac ION ended up being the perfect motherboard for a DIY low powered HTPC capable of full 1080p video playback.

If you needed more CPU power, Zotac offered the LGA-775 socket GeForce 9300-ITX-WiFi. You got the same mini-ITX form factor, but support for Core 2 CPUs instead of the on-board Atom that its ION boards were limited to. With the release of Intel's first 32nm dual-core processors earlier this year, Zotac wanted to offer an updated platform for SFF or HTPC users who didn't want to sacrifice CPU performance. Based on Intel's H55 chipset and supporting the entire line of Core i3, i5 and LGA-1156 i7 CPUs, Zotac sent us its latest mini-ITX board: the H55-ITX WiFi.


There are a couple of possible directions you can take with the H55-ITX. First, you could choose to turn this into a low-watt HTPC by utilizing a Core i3 and relying on Intel’s HD graphics for your video needs. On the other hand, you could install an i5 or i7 and populate the PCIe slot with a dedicated graphics card for a nice mid-range gaming system. Cases such as the Silverstone SG-06 and the upcoming Lian-Li PC-Q08 would complement a system such as this perfectly.

With these two different directions in mind we have decided to test the H55-ITX with both integrated and dedicated graphics. Decide for yourself which direction works the best for you.

On a side note, even the performance computing market is seeing a transition away from the more traditional full-sized motherboards. In fact, ZOTAC markets only one full-sized ATX board in the US.

 
Performance Summary
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  • mindless1 - Sunday, February 28, 2010 - link

    The real question is why not. It's always amusing when some short-sighted person comes along and suggests a motherboard should be stripped of every possible feature that particular individual doesn't want to use, as if there is some gain in removing legacy features.

    More features mean a wider customer base, more sales, lower per unit cost.
    Reply
  • MadMan007 - Monday, March 01, 2010 - link

    I think one PS/2 for keyboard is fine. It's not as if this board is lacking in USB ports. I'd say that by now most people use USB mice at least so no PS/2 mouse port shouldn't be a complaint. Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Monday, March 01, 2010 - link

    I still use an old AT-plug keyboard (with PS/2 adapter). It's made of metal and heavy plastic and weighs about 7 lbs and you can hear me typing on it from anywhere in the house.

    I love that thing.
    Reply
  • JonnyDough - Monday, March 01, 2010 - link

    On the other hand if you got used to a softer quieter keyboard you could annoy people less and still love typing! :) Practice makes perfect. Old habits are tough to break, but sometimes worth the effort. i.e. smoking? Reply
  • vol7ron - Sunday, February 28, 2010 - link

    I know it's a lot of work, but you guys have been making great strides with the Bench area. Is it possible to get gpu, memory, and motherboards on there too?


    Thanks,
    vol7ron
    Reply
  • Saosin - Sunday, February 28, 2010 - link

    Does it undervolt and/or underclock? And if that's the case; What's the range and how small are the V steps? Reply
  • ScavengerLX - Sunday, February 28, 2010 - link

    The base clock can be dropped down to 100MHz and Vcore can be reduced to .10V under the default voltage. Hope that helps.

    Joshua
    Reply
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Monday, March 01, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the info. -0.1V is pretty weak, but I guess it's better than nothing. Reply
  • jigglywiggly - Sunday, February 28, 2010 - link

    Looks like a solid motherboard, too bad I have no use for a htpc. Reply
  • oc3an - Sunday, February 28, 2010 - link

    On Page 4:

    "An abundance of on-board SATA ports are provided by the P55 chipset."

    I'm pretty sure it's H55.

    -Patrick
    Reply

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