ECS H55H-M LGA 1156 mATX Motherboard Review - Intel on a budget
Specifications, Layout, Included Extras
- LGA1156 socket for latest Intel Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 high-end desktop processors
- DMI 2.5GT/s
- Intel® H55 Express Chipset
- Dual-channel DDR3 memory architecture
- 2 x 240-pin DDR3 DIMM socket support up to 8 GB
- Support DDR3 1333/1066 SDRAM *Due to the operating system limitation, the actual memory size may be less than 4GB for the reservation for system usage under Windows 32-bit OS. For Windows 64-bit OS with 64-bit CPU, there is no such limitation.
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot
- 2 x PCI Express x1 slots
- 1 x PCI slot
- Support by Intel® H55
- 6 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s devices
- VIA® VT1705 6-channel audio CODEC
- Atheros AR8131M Gigabit Fast Ethernet Controller
- Atheros AR8132M 10/100 Fast Ethernet Controller(Optional)
REAR PANEL I/O
- 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port
- 6 x USB ports
- 1 x VGA port
- 1 x DVI Port
- 1 x COM Port
- 1 x RJ45 LAN connector
- 1 x Audio port (3 holes jack)
INTERNAL I/O CONNECTORS & HEADERS
- 1 x 24-pin ATX Power Supply Connector & 4-pin 12V Connector
- 6 x Serial ATA 3Gb/s connectors
- 2 x USB 2.0 headers support additional 4 USB 2.0 Ports
- 1 x Buzzer
- 1 x Clear CMOS header
- 1 x Front panel audio header
- 1 x SPDIF out header
- 1 x Front panel header
- 1 x Chassis intrusion header
- CPUFAN/SYSFAN connectors
- AMI BIOS with 16Mb SPI Flash ROM
- Supports Plug and Play, STR/STD, Hardware monitor, Multi Boot, DMI
- Supports ACPI revision 3.0 specification
- CPU voltage adjustable
- Memory voltage adjustable
- Micro-ATX Size, 244mm*200mm
Packaging and Motherboard Layout
The exterior retail packaging for the H55H-M is pretty clear and concise for consumers. It's not too flashy, but does provide the right information that consumers need to know like that it supports DDR3 1333 memory, LGA 1156 processors, and six-channel audio.
The back panel also has an organized list of features and specifications as well as some of the same "feature badges" we saw on the front panel that are a bit redundant.
My first thought when I removed this board from its retail packaging was a nostalgic one. The green PCB is pretty "old school" but the white lettering really pops on it. The orange PCI-E and memory slots really stand out on this PCB too. The board looks pretty organized and leaves plenty of room around the CPU for a good-size heatsink. You can see where ECS had to skimp on better heatsinks for the chipset and power components on this motherboard, but overall everything is neat and organized, which should make installation a breeze.
The back of the PCB includes a small aluminum backplate behind the CPU socket. This is typical of almost every motherboard I've reviewed in recent years.
The back I/O panel includes a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, six USB 2.0 ports, VGA, DVI, COM, Gigabit LAN, and audio ports. Not the most feature-rich back panel, but it is more than adequate for an HTPC setup.
ECS included one PCI-E x16 slot, two PCI-E x1 slots, and one PCI slot for legacy devices. This x16 slot should be a welcome addition to HTPC builders who want to add a higher-end graphics card so their home theater setup can be used for gaming as well.
Some of the onboard headers include support for front panel audio and SPDIF out devices.
There's also two more USB 2.0 headers that support four USB 2.0 devices. You can also see the Clear CMOS header on the right side of the USB headers.
The front panel header for power and reset buttons and LEDs can be seen above. The diagram to the right actually goes with the front panel headers to tell builders how to connect all their front panel devices.
The H55H-M comes with six SATA 3.0GB/s ports, but no RAID support. This is definitely one of the major deficiencies people have noticed with this chipset.
There are two dual-channel DIMMs that support up to 8GBs of DDR3 1333 memory. That's a good amount for any 64-bit home theater system.
The area around the CPU socket has been cleared out to add any third-party heatsink or water cooler. Many people are using self-contained water coolers from Corsair and Coolit Systems because they don't require any maintenance and are price right around some of the higher-end air-based heatsinks.
The ECS H55H-M is pretty bare when it comes to accessories and included extras. The good news is that it at least comes with a couple SATA cables and a well-documented user manual.
Here's a quick pic of the included backplate and SATA cables. Would have been convenient if they added right-angle cables instead of regular ones, but I guess beggars can't be choosers.
They also threw in a detailed user manual, quick installation guide, and driver disc with several ECS programs that further enhances the capabilities of the H55H-M.