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Asus P7H55-M review

Motherboards for Intel’s current range of LGA1156 processors were perplexingly expensive for some time. Prices have fallen dramatically in recent months, however, and now Intel-based budget PCs are back on the agenda. An ideal board for such use is Asus’s new P7H55-M, which uses the H55 Express chipset.

Asus P7H55-M

This microATX board is available in a number of different versions, with more expensive models adding extras such as USB3 and SATA3. For most users though, this basic model should prove sufficient – in fact it’s remarkably well equipped given its low cost. Our previous favourite budget LGA1156 board, the Gigabyte GA-H55M-S2, made a number of compromises to reach its low price, many of which aren’t present here.

The most obvious of these is the P7H55-M’s full complement of four memory slots. This means you can add up to 16GB of memory, or more importantly, add two cheap 2GB modules now, and still have space to add two more later. Also missing from the GA-H55M-S2 but present here is an IDE connector. This means you can connect any old optical drives or hard disks you may have, which could save you money when building your new PC.

Asus P7H55-M ports

On the back panel there are additional ports. A HDMI output is good to see, making this board a great basis for a media centre PC; plus lots of PC monitors come with HDMI inputs now. You can output audio over HDMI, including HD audio such Dolby TrueHD from Blu-ray discs; alternatively you can use the optical S/PDIF or the 5.1 surround sound analogue output.

To use the VGA and HDMI outputs, you’ll need to buy an Intel processor with a built-in graphics core. Most of the available chips have one, but not the Core i5-750 or 760 (below). An ideal companion to a budget board like this would be the Pentium G6950 (see Labs, Shopper 273), which costs around £65. Such a PC will have no problem with Full HD video playback.

If you want to play modern 3D games, however, you’ll need to add your own graphics card, there’s a PCI-Express x16 slot. Placing a larger dual slot card here will block the PCI-Express x1 slot next to it. Thankfully there’s another such slot below, along with a standard PCI slot for older cards.

Rounding off the board’s basic features are six SATA2 ports for internal storage devices. Three’s also six USB ports on the back panel for peripherals and the usual Gigabit Ethernet port for networking. If you really need USB3 support, then the P7H55-M/USB3 is an otherwise identical board; but you’ll pay around £75 for it at present from Overclockers.

For our benchmarks, we fitted the P7H55-M with our reference Core i5-750 processor and 4GB of DDR3 memory. It scored 138 overall in our benchmarks, which is in line with the results we’ve seen from other boards based on this chipset.

It may not have fancy useful new features like USB3, but the P7H55-M does have everything you need to form the basis for an excellent PC. Intel’s new Sandy Bridge codenamed processors may be on the horizon, but manufacturers tell us that motherboard prices are likely to be stratospheric on launch, so you’ll be in for a fairly long wait if you want to build a new low-cost PC using the new chips.

Basic Specifications

Part Code P7H55-M
Processor socket LGA1156
Form factor microATX
Size 244x224mm
Processor support Core i3, Core i5, Core i7
Processor external bus 133MHz (2.4GHz DMI)
Chipset north bridge Intel H55 Express
Chipset south bridge Intel H55 Express
Passively-cooled north bridge yes
Integrated graphics Yes
Supported memory type DDR3 1066/1333/1600/1800/2000/2200
Maximum memory speed PC3-17600
Memory slots 4
Maximum memory 16GB
Dual-channel support yes

Internal Ports

Power connectors 1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 4-pin ATX
PCI-E x16 slots 1
Dual graphics architecture none
PCI-E x4 slots 0
PCI-E x1 slots 2
PCI slots 1
Fan headers 2
Floppy ports 0
IDE ports 1
Serial ATA ports 6
RAID chipset (max disks) none

Features

Wired network ports 10/100/1000
Sound (ports) Realtek ALC887 (6x analogue out, 1x optical S/PDIF out)
USB2 ports / headers 6/3
Firewire ports / headers 0/0
Legacy ports PS/2
Other ports VGA, HDMI
Cables included N/A
Brackets included none
Software included none

Setup and Overclocking

Voltage adjustment CPU/RAM/chipset
CPU clock max adjustment 500MHz

Buying Information

Price £59
Supplier http://www.aria.co.uk
Details www.asus.com

 

Souce: expertreviews.co.uk

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