Intel H55 Mobo Shootout - Integrated HD Graphics Showdown

By Vincent Chang - 25 Jan 2010

Intel DH55TC

Intel DH55TC

Intel has been sprucing up its own reference designs to appeal beyond the usual OEMs but while we saw some of that flair in its higher end motherboards, it's not the case for the DH55TC, which is as vanilla as it gets. One could say that having too many features is detrimental as they are not considered desirable for this market segment but for the US$110 that Intel is asking, we expected more.

Even Intel is going with the trend of having solid capacitors, though these are reserved for more critical areas like around the CPU.

Let's start with the features, which is as standard as one gets. Everything's that covered by the chipset specifications are in, from the single PCIe 2.0 x16 slot to six SATA ports, of which two are eSATA compatible. There is indeed no sign of extras, with the rear I/O connectors the fewest of all the boards reviewed. At least Intel has maintained the quality of its components, preferring solid capacitors for the critical parts of the board.

The four SATA ports in black are internal while the two in red are actually shared with eSATA connectors at the rear I/O (of course only either set can be used and not both). A good thing about the board is that Intel has labelled everything onboard clearly so there's no need to refer to any manual.

The rear outputs on the Intel board pales in comparison to other manufacturers, with no eSATA or FireWire option and an audio jack with only three outputs and no S/PDIF. Of course, with the chipset's support for DTS HD audio over HDMI, it's not that big of an issue.

A standard four DIMM configuration supporting DDR3.

A single PCIe 2.0 x16 slot with two PCIe x1 slots and a PCI slot.

No sign of passive cooling near the CPU socket but plenty of room for your own CPU cooler.

Besides the lack of features compared to other H55 offerings, the Intel board's BIOS was found to be 'locked' for the most part. There were fewer settings available, especially those related to tweaking the voltage and clock speeds of the processor and graphics core.

As for the layout of this board, there are some slight flaws which may affect some users. The common scenario of having one of those long, modern graphics cards of the dual-slot type that interfere with SATA ports is likely to occur with two of the SATA ports on this Intel board. The retaining clips on the DIMM slots are also too close to the PCIe 2.0 x16 slot for comfort, making it harder to remove memory modules and any installed graphics card.

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