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  • Marlin1975 - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Is Realtek Codec really better than the VIA? I don;t build systems as much as I use to and VIA use to make better Audio Codecs.

    That and I wish small boards like this would include a built in wireless chip. I know you can use a USB one but the idea of a system like this is small. So to have extra cables and items hanging off it takes away from it. Could be just a very basic one.
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    The VIA comment was made in respect of ECS' implementation on the ECS H55H-M that we reviewed a couple of months ago. Same price for the board, but limited Audio out options

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/2945/2

    I should have clarified that better.
    Reply
  • Taft12 - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    But is it the VIA codec that limits ECS' microATX board to only 3 audio I/O jacks + no SPDIF? Or is that just a matter of ECS not providing the connectors? I'm still not clear.

    Do any audiophile readers know which is technically superior between VIA and Realtek audio?
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Any modern codec (family, meaning they can make defeatured parts for cost conscious buyers) from Via or Realtek offers 5.1 or more channel output.

    The issue is not really codec quality, it is board design and PSU selection which determines how much noise gets into the analog circuits. For digital, it's still 1's and 0's.

    Point being, roll the dice and take your chances, there are lots of good and bad audio implementations using the very same chips.

    For HTPC, what about HDMI audio? Why even bother with onboard analog codec for this purpose?
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    From everything I can find, the VT1705 is a 6 channel device, so limited on the analog I/O side. Unfortunately, I can't find a datasheet online so don't know if there are any features ECS chose not to implement. What I will say is that had the features been available I'm sure ECS would have used them. Vendors tend to buy devices like these in bulk, so will utilize them on a wdie range of boards where possible - unless there's a problem.

    As for arguments about whether or not analogue outputs are needed when HDMI audio is available, this is another area (like the legacy devices) where people have downstream hardware they'd like to use.

    Regards
    Raja
    Reply
  • kake - Saturday, August 21, 2010 - link

    One way to get around having an external USB wifi adapter is to use the internal USB header and put the USB adapter inside the case with it. Works a treat. Reply
  • BansheeX - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    But the lack of PS2 ports is a con? It's 2010 for cripes sake. If you have a USB mouse and keyboard, then PS2 eats into USB availability. Also detestable is IDE and floppy eating into SATA ports. Being mini-ITX, thank god the board is legacy free, I say. Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    You're right. I was thinking along the lines of desktop use where people tend to hold on to legacy devices a little too long.. Reply
  • IanCutress - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    People will upgrade all sorts of things, but you will see those still using a PS2 keyboard and mouse, just because they still work. Also in environments where expensive equipment is used based on old connections (floppy, serial), where it's cheaper to buy a new computer than to buy a new $100k piece of hardware with the newest port, then legacy connectors come into play. It's all very well saying 'thankfully this or that has been removed', but at the end of the day, some people still need them and they're included to widen the market. I have some equipment here in my lab (chemistry) that requires ISA cards; upgrading those computers is always a hassle, trying to find a cheap Core 2 motherboard with ISA ports. Legacy markets are always bigger than you think.

    Ian
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    I'm shocked that you can find one at all. Where are boards like that hiding? Reply
  • nubie - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    The industrial market uses (used?) ISA cards.

    Try Soyo, Supermicro, and Jetway for industry boards.
    Reply
  • Powerlurker - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    http://adek.com/ATX-motherboards.html

    I needed to spec one a couple years ago for a piece of lab equipment (I too work in a chemistry lab). It looks like this is the website for the motherboard manufacturer. http://www.commell.com.tw/Product/SBC/P4BWA.HTM
    Reply
  • nubie - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    How could I forget Commell,

    Thanks :)
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Friday, May 07, 2010 - link

    I've purchased several of the ADEK boards to support some old ISA motion controllers we have. The motherboards are around $300, while a new motion controller (these are quite advanced) would have cost about $4000. They work great! Reply
  • Earthmonger - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Really, it is. I could previously count the number of socket 1156 ITX boards on one hand. This ECS is a welcome addition.

    "However, if you're thinking of overclocking with this board, we'd say that ECS is a couple of BIOSes away from a glowing recommendation"

    What ITX board would you recommend for overclocking, then? 'Cause I'm always thinking about it. Where's that EVGA ITX powerhouse at? lol
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Hi,

    Unfortuantely, all mini-ITX boards are limited in one way or another. Either by voltage options (insufficent current handling capacity), and/or the need of some BIOS polish as in the case of ECS.. I'm hoping we see someone put a 180amp capable VRM on one of these baords soon...lol

    regards
    Raja
    Reply
  • MadMan007 - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Yes that would be nice and I don't buy the 'limited space' argument either. There are plenty of good overclocking microATX boards that don't use a ton of space for VRMs. I was hoping DFI would push things in this area but not yet...maybe since they are supposedly focusing on smaller form factors going forward they will. Reply
  • JonnyDough - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Well, not quite legacy free. Isn't that a VGA connector? :) Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Mostly it matters for people doing low level OS development because PS2 requires much less software support than USB. If you're not hacking the linux kernel/porting it to new hardware it, along with RS232 are only really needed for high price hardware interfaces. Reply
  • lwatcdr - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    PS/2 ports and legacy serial and parallel ports can be a very important.
    Remember this is a Mini-ITX board. A good number of these end up in industrial settings.
    Things like CNC machines, and lab equipment use good old serial and parallel ports to interface. They may also have a custom front panel that uses a PS/2 interface.
    Even floppy's are still used on some systems like that and some of the software for them even runs under dos!
    For a nettop or desktop you are correct. They less than useful but there is a large market segment that will need them for a long time. BTW USB to serial converters tend to be crap.
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    I was thinking exactly the same thing. Kill all the legacy ports already!

    The only reasonable reason anyone seems to come up with for needing PS/2 is old KVMs. We've been using PS/2 to USB converters for those at work, so even that's not a big problem.
    Reply
  • jaydee - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    How did an i5-661 beat an i5-750 in the AutoCAD benchmark... Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Higher Turbo frequency I think. Reply
  • danger22 - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    so there is no raid whatsoever on H55? what mini-itx boards have decent raid support? anything on par with ICH10 that comes on full sized boards? Reply
  • MadMan007 - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    H57 has RAID, H55 doesn't. Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Anand compared SATA performance of a few chipsets here:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/2973/6gbps-sata-perf...
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Forgot to add - the Intel DH57JG will do RAID... Reply
  • takerangle - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Is that typo sir?
    http://anandtech.com/show/3699/ecs-h55hi-miniitx-a...
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Thanks, fixed! Reply
  • RustyRat - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    There is a continuous reference to "30 amps" .. is that a Typo? ... "30 amps" is a lotta power! Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Not a typo - it's 30 amps per FET at CPU VID. Reply
  • MadMan007 - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Amps alone aren't a measure of power. A=current, W=power. Reply
  • ajbumass - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    "Much of what the ECS H55H-I can and cannot do bares a startling resemblance to Intel’s DH57JG."

    This should be "bears".

    "The only major difference is that ECS are keeping a loose grip on the voltage reigns for Clarkdale processors at present, so you get more room to play with overclocking."

    I think you mean "reins".
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Sorry, fixed! Reply
  • nubie - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    I have been waiting a long time.

    Finally and at last.

    Only problem?

    I have yet to see a decent case and PSU for one of these :(.

    Well, except maybe a Shuttle K45 case and PSU. They have a slimline optical bay at the top, but no port for it in the front cover :S
    Reply
  • jaydee - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Silverstone SG05/06, w/300W PSU? Reply
  • nubie - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Many thanks, I don't know how I missed that. I enjoy SPCR. Reply
  • Swivelguy2 - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Rajinder,

    Did you test if this board can run 2 digital displays (HDMI + DVI) from the IGP? There are reports that some H55 boards can only run 2 displays using one of them as analog, so I'm wondering if this one is similarly crippled.

    Thanks for the review!
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Hi,

    Just checked for you quickly. No problems here. I'm using DVI out and HDMI out simultaneously and both displays are active.

    -Raja
    Reply
  • Swivelguy2 - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Great, thanks! Reply
  • gaidin123 - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    I've had this board for a couple weeks now paired with an i3-530 and it's been solid running at just under 160Mhz Bclk at stock voltage. It's by far the cheapest p55/h55/h57 mini-itx board yet it has more than enough features for most imho. Lian-li's got a few mini-itx cases out and hopefully the lan-gear guys get their mini-itx gamer case out at a reasonable price soon...

    Gaidin
    Reply
  • shamans33 - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Can IGP and Discrete Graphics be enabled at the same time? Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    No that's a lock-out by Intel afaik.

    later
    Raja
    Reply
  • howiey - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Thanks for this review. It was thorough, concise and it actually addresses what many want to know aside from the OC issues. For example, S3 suspend is crucial for HTPC and basically a dealbreaker for many on the Zotac mini-ITX boards, yet a surprising number of reviews ignore this in their reviews, focusing on Crysis benchmarks at 5 different resolutions. Worse is that the conclusion is that it basically performs the same as other H55 boards, so NO new information is gained by the reader. That you read the comments about HDMI / DVI simultaneous output and actually followed up is commendable, so thanks for your efforts. Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the feedback! Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    I was very interested in this board when they said it supported i7 chips, but a little less so now that I see the 85w limit. That cuts the supported i7s down to exactly one, the 82w i7-860S. Still, no one else bothered to enable the 860S on their H55/57 m-ITX boards, so they get exclusive credit for that. Reply
  • Grug - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    I just built one of these for my sister. i3-540 CPU and the WinSis mitx case at Newegg. I've never built one that small and was amazed how much power was packed into a tiny little case just the size of two laptops stacked on top of one another.

    For anyone who doesn't game and need an external GPU and just wants a high performance day to dayer, these ITX solutions are as good as it gets. I would replace my full sized ATX case in a heartbeat if the damn GPU vendors weren't such power pigs. I want a low profile GPU that works at under 75W and allows me to play modern games at 1900x1200. Until that happens (probably a few years at least), I consider NVidia/ATI inept.

    My only disappointment was that you couldn't undervolt. I wanted to undervolt it a bit to try to cut down even further on the already low heat output.
    Reply
  • dlmartin53 - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    I know this is off subject but it seems the AMD motherboard scene is non-exsistant judging by the fact you have to go way back to see any mention of that other camp. You do mention them in testing data but no AMD Mboards reviewed for many months? I like all the Intel coverage, but would like to see more than just reviews of the latest AMD chip coming out.

    I will get off my soapbox now, thanks.
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Hi,

    Last AMD board we reviewed was the - the ASUS M4A89GTD Pro in March:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/2959

    We'll be adding some 890FX coverage in at some point - got another couple of guys working with me now, so things should improve.

    Regards
    Raja
    Reply
  • nubie - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    Well, they did 'invent' the DTX specification, where you get 2 slots. Good both for the dual-slot gaming crowd, and the people who want wifi and a RAID card, or a single slot video card.

    After they released the DTX spec I was excited, but I don't think a single board came out of it.

    Those in the know will buy an HP "DTX" motherboard from their SFF systems, but being OEM I don't think they are the greatest motherboards (no idea if any of them support the Athlon II x2, the only chip I would want in an AMD mITX/DTX system. ) Also they use a non-standard connecter, not good. Pluses would be dual-channel ram and a pcie x16, but it was a couple years ago, and look where we are today, a whole bunch of boards with those features.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    The CPU multiplier ratio control option should either be removed altogether, or it should be made to work. In its current state the option is useless, serving only to create non-POST situations


    Like the subject line says. I have this CRAAAAAZY idea. How about instead of trying to OVERCLOCK the dammed board. How about you try and do something insane such as use the board for it intended purpose, and *maybe* underclock / undervolt the board ?

    But Gee, I guess that would make too much sense eh ? Just because you can try and do something. Does not mean that you *should* do it.
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    I had flashes of those ideas too. They were swiftly tempered when i found that the BIOS has no undervolt options, a minimum BCLK of 133 and broken control of CPU multiplier ratios.
    With regards to underclocking and undervolting; power gating on C-States is pretty good, so there's not much if any saving to be had in very light load situations when you've got no effective multiplier control and a minimum BCLK of 133. Best thing you can do with the board in its current state if you want to encourage ultra-low power consumption and low levels of heat is to use Windows power options to set a high load threshold for SpeedStep ramping (low multiplier VID is programmed around 0.85V on the Clarkdale CPUs).

    Hope that helps.

    Raja
    Reply
  • xrror - Tuesday, June 01, 2010 - link

    I have this crazy idea too, that this is the first time I've seriously considered an ITX board because ECS was cool enough to allow real overclocking. I also find it pretty great that they do allow you to overspec the power. I wish there was some way to send a "bravery" award to the BIOS engineer(s) who slipped that through.

    So either heatsink like mad and hope you can stave off burning the power section with your 4.5Ghz i7 - or admit the fact that burning up 2 of these boards is STILL CHEAPER than most other ITX boards that don't even have this much overclocking flex.

    Wow, really ECS maybe IS getting back to it's overclocking roots. ECS boards were common overvolt-mod fodder because of this. Which is a good thing - just to clarify that I'm NOT slamming ECS.

    Since otherwise it's just time to get a Dell.
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Friday, May 07, 2010 - link

    At least for me as I am about to build a home server box.

    Boards like this are perfect. Stick a RAID card in the PCI-Ex16 slot then add 4x2TB HD and works just as I want.

    Now all I have to understand is how to set Linux as my primary domain controller for a network of Windows box (window 7, vista and XP pro) and I will be rocking
    Reply
  • jillsean - Friday, May 07, 2010 - link

    Just a quick one Raja.

    Would you say this is a better board than the Zotac H55 mini ITX, especially when it comes to overclocking and stability? Also, do you know if you can change the IGP clock ratio on the Zotac H55 board?

    Many thanks in advance.
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Friday, May 07, 2010 - link

    Hi,

    Assuming ECS don't back-track, the H55H-I is probably a tad better for overclocking Clarkdale processors. Zotac's board is limited to using stock VTT.

    If you can look past the overclocking/underclocking stuff, the only reason I can see to buy the Zotac relates to the additional USB ports on the rear I/O panel (10) and the inclusion of WiFi. Otherwise, it's ECS all the way.

    Raja
    Reply
  • jaydee - Friday, May 07, 2010 - link

    What does it take to switch between a graphics card and the IGP? If you have a discrete card in, but want to use the IGP (for power savings), can you reboot and change something easily in the BIOS? With monitors coming with more than one DVI or HDMI input, this would be handy.

    Or is it the case, that as long as the discrete card is detected, it will always be on, no matter what?
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Friday, May 07, 2010 - link

    Hi,

    As soon as you plug a discrete card into the PEG slot, the IGP switches off - and there's now way to activate it again unless you remove the discrete card. BIOS does not offer any option for switch-over unfortunately. I don't have a discrete PCIe soundcard here, but suspect that would have a similar effect on this board too (I should have a soundcard here soon I can test this).

    regards
    Raja
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Friday, May 07, 2010 - link

    As soon as you plug a discrete card into the PEG slot, the IGP switches off - and there's *no* way to activate it again unless you remove the discrete card. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, May 07, 2010 - link

    Really? That would be a massive mistake if plugging in ANY PCIe device kills the onboard video, a discrete GPU isn't the only thing a user might want in that slot. Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Friday, May 07, 2010 - link

    I'll try and find out ASAP and report back if need be. I did hear this had happened on some H55 boards in the past (RAID cards in primary PEG slot triggering an IGP shut-off) - but am not sure if it was fixed via a BIOS update or not.

    later
    Raja
    Reply
  • kaborka - Saturday, May 08, 2010 - link

    I don't understand why HTPC performance wasn't included in the review. Is the onboard graphics good enough for 1080P and BD decoding? Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Sunday, May 09, 2010 - link

    Hi,

    The Clarkdale IGP handles HD video playback fine. We do run HD video as part of the power consumption tests (although not as a benchmark).

    regards
    Raja

    Reply
  • aaaaaa - Monday, May 10, 2010 - link

    Do you have any numbers for ECS H55H-I performance with Lynnfield processors? Reply
  • pvdw - Monday, May 10, 2010 - link

    PS/2 ports aren't needed since there are cheap adapters available that will support a ps/2 keyboard and mouse from one USB slot. Reply
  • rodders27_uk - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    You would be surprised how much still runs on ISA cards within industries, if you pay £15-20k per card for example, with 4-5 cards or more in a server, they can often outlast the underlying server hardware by 2-3 times. Companies just don't want to re-spend money like that when the card still works fine. Reply
  • Dopeyd - Monday, July 05, 2010 - link

    Not sure if this was covered but I've noticed that sticking a raid cards in the PCIe for the mini-itx on H55 chipset have caused some systems to halt (gigabyte), have you been able to test this out on the ECS? Reply

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