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ASRock H61M/U3S3 MicroATX Review

The latest-generation Intel Core CPU has proved to be a tasty little chip, with the budget versions surprisingly speedy for their friendly price tag. With this CPU’s video decoding abilities showing the GPU makers a thing or two, it’s no surprise that MicroATX motherboards are in high demand among HTPC builders. This ASRock board aims to cater to their needs without breaking the bank.

Fear not data lovers, while this motherboard does indeed use Intel’s troublesome H61 chipset, it’s the B3 stepping. Unlike the original version of this chipset, Intel has resolved the nasty SATA corruption issue that plagued the first. It’s cooled by a passive heatsink, so you won’t hear the fan buzzing during quiet scenes. Being such a small board, it’s limited to dual DDR3 1333 memory slots, and has a single PCI Express 2.0 16x slot for your video card. Next to this reside a couple of PCI slots, but it’s a tight squeeze – fill these and you’ll have difficulty fitting in a decent video card.

Given that HTPC owners often make use of USB slots for external hard drives, the inclusion of dual USB 3.0 ports (courtesy of the ASMedia ASM1042 controller) is a most welcome feature.
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