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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  • wysiwygbill - Saturday, March 6, 2010 - link

    There is apparently a problem with this motherboard that won't allow turbo boost to function. This wouldn't affect the i3 processors where you compared performance with the i3 but you didn't test any i5 processors or compare i7 performance with the DFI.

    I'd be interested to see how much difference the turbo boost would make by comparing i5 performance with the i3 or by comparing the i7 performance with a different motherboard.

    That's assuming you aren't concerned with the DFI bursting into flames should you put an i7 in it. :-)

  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, March 5, 2010 - link

    $150 for this board is pure insanity. MAYBE if they soldered an i3 to the board it might be worth that much. What is the reasoning behind paying over $300 for a mob/cpu/RAM combo for something like an HTPC? How does this possibly justify a 50% premium versus a similar AMD HTPC setup?
  • ROID R4GE - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - link

    What I am most interested in (and haven't seen anyone mention) is finding out if this motherboard along with and i3 530 can handle playback of a 1080p .mkv file.

    have you done any testing of this type?
  • ROID R4GE - Friday, March 12, 2010 - link

    ok, if anyone is interested. the core i3 and this motherboard can handle a .mkv 1080p movie
  • justniz - Monday, March 1, 2010 - link

    The tests would have been A LOT more informative if you had included figures from the same tests on a full-sized motherboard with the same ram, cpu and graphics card, so we could see exactly how much of a penalty (if any) the just switching to the smaller size board brings.
  • ScavengerLX - Monday, March 1, 2010 - link

    From my experience power consumption between an mATX and its mini-ITX counterpart is generally around a ~5 watts higher. Not a huge difference. I think it would be interesting to see how an ATX system compares to a comparable mini-ITX system though.

  • willtriv - Monday, March 1, 2010 - link

    DFI had a x55 series ITX board on the market for a few months.
    Unless we are talking about h55 and it was a p55...
  • ggathagan - Monday, March 1, 2010 - link

    Yes, this is an H55 chipset, allowing for the use of the i3/i5 on-die GPU, whereas DFI's board is P55, requiring an additional GPU card.
  • karlkesselman - Monday, March 1, 2010 - link

    it seems to me that actually for IDLE power consumption the DFI motherboard is better than Zotac, is it not?
    We have:
    Zotac H55 i3 530 (not igp) = 53 W
    DFI MI-P55 i3 530 (not igp) = 43 W

    So the DFI is 10 W lower on IDLE than Zotac. Can you confirm this? (I assume they use same video card in this case)
  • Ben - Monday, March 1, 2010 - link

    Something in a banner ad in this article just tried to install a fake Antivirus on my computer!

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