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Old February 20, 2010, 05:06 AM
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Default Intel New Micro ATX PC - GIGABYTE H55M-USB3 with Core i5 660 Review

Intel officially launched new Clarkdale platform on 8th Jan.
According to Intel UMA chipset, the 3D performance was falling behind AMD.
Even Intel last generation G45 chipset, the 3D performance still cannot compete with his competitor.
As Clarkdale platform launched, Intel royalty customers will look forward it.

All users can find the price in internet and the Clarkdale platform price is still high now.
Clarkdale structure is different with the chipset controller stage. Intel builds in GPU into CPU this time.
It lets users misunderstand the 3D performance will be improved dramatically. Even some of my friends also think in this way.
Actually, my last Core i5 661 review has showed the Clarkdale 3D performance just catch up AMD 785G.
Itís been long time that Intel IGP products 3D performance is far away behind. At least Clarkdale platform is same as AMD IGP products.


Before launching H55/H57, I think this is new segment for all MB makers well preparing for.
This time, the review board is GIGABYTE latest GA-H55M-USB3.
GIGABYTE is one of the three MB brands.
Of course, this time they will provide many H55 models for choice.
H55M-USB3 is with latest USB 3.0. It should attract many users who look for latest technology.

Letís start with MB package.
Keep GIGABYTE consistent design style. Using white color for back and add in spec and features wording.
2oz PCB design, USB 3.0 spec are this H55 model key features.


It bundle with manual, driver CD, Smart 6 user guide, quick installation guide, cables and I/O panel.


GIGABYTE H55M-USB3 board




Intel LGA 1156 32nm CPU double side
The pic is Core i5 660, 2 physical cores and 2 virtual cores by HT(4 threading)
CPU clock is 133 X 25, 3.33GHZ. The built-in GPU clock is 733MHz
The difference with last 661 is the GPU clock is 900MHz.


Back to MB outlook
Lower Left Corner
2 X PCI-E X16, supports CrossFire dual VGA technology and bandwidth are X16+X4
2 X PCI
LAN Chip is Realtek 8111D
Audio Chip is Realtek ALC889, 7.1 channels and support Dolby Home Theater surround sound technology.


Lower Right Corner
5 X blue SATAII, provided by H55
2 X white SATAII, GIGABYTE SATA2 chip provides. Support RAID 0, RAID 1 and JBOD.
1 X IDE,GIGABYTE SATA2 provides.
Dual BIOS, dual protection


Upper Right Corner
4 X DIMM DDR3, support 800/1066/1333/1600/1800/2200+
Max DDR3 capacity is 24GB and can OC to achieve DDR3 1600 up.
DDR3 uses 2 phase PWM and next is 24-PIN power connector.


Upper Left Corner
LGA 1156 CPU socket
Intel LGA 1336/LGA 1156 pin design is not as solid as LGA 775.
This CPU socket design is very weak.
Please read the installation guide in advance and insert carefully.
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Old February 20, 2010, 05:24 AM
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IO
1 X DVI-D
1 X HDMI
1 X D-SUB
4 X USB 2.0(yellow)
2 X USB 3.0(blue)
1 X eSATA/USB 2.0 combo
1 X S/PDIF fiber/coaxial output
1 X 1394a


H55M-USB3 uses 4 phase PWM design. It is mid range components in H55 MB.


USB 3.0 chip is NEC D720200F1
Also using 3x USB power design which each USB port had independent chip to supply voltage. Itís 3 times current more.
It can avoid access problem for external devices power shortage.


H55 chipset heat sink
Due to H55 heat is not high, it doesnít need big surface heat sink.



Boot up screen


MB Intelligent Tweaker, also known as M.I.T.
The below is BIOS version and other status.


Adjust CPU ratio, clock and DRAM clock items


F3a BIOS will show the GPU clock item


CPU related technology items. I have introduced many times in other articles.


Advanced DRAM setup page
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Old February 20, 2010, 05:34 AM
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More detail DDR3 parameters set up page


Voltage page
CPU Vcore 0.50000~1.90000V
QPI/Vtt Voltage 1.050~1.490V
GraphicsCore 0.200~1.680V
PCH Core 0.950~1.500V
CPU PLL 1.000~2.580V
DRAM Voltage 1.300~2.600V


PC Health Status


The above is H55M-USB3 BIOS menu introduction.
I set the BIOS as running stable at 200/1600.
You can refer to the setup if your equipments are similar.


Configuration
CPU: Intel Core i5-660 ES
MB: GIGABYTE GA-H55M-USB3
DRAM: CORSAIR DOMINATOR CMD8GX3M4A1600C8
VGA: Intel Clarkdale 733MHz
HD: CORSAIR CMFSSD-128GBG2D
POWER: be quiet E7 Cable Management 480W
Cooler: Mega Shadow(Deluxe Edition)
OS: Windows7 Ultimate 64bit


Default performance
CPU 133 X 25 => 3333MHz
DRAM DDR3 8GB 1333 CL7 7-7-21 1T
GPU 900MHz 128mb

Hyper 4 X PI 32M=> 18m 09.803s
CPUMARK 99=> 550


Nuclearus Multi Core => 13547
Fritz Chess Benchmark => 13.11/6295


CrystalMark 2004R3 => 163715


CINEBENCH R10
1 CPU=> 4813
x CPU=> 11014


PCMark Vantage => 11878


Sandra Memory Bandwidth - 12107 MB/s
EVEREST Memory Read - 9526 MB/s


Intel Core i5-660 default performance is close to i5-661.
The main difference is 3D performance which caused by clock. However, the performance is not big different.
DDR3 performance is the key weakness of Clarkdale platform.
Intel builds in GPU into CPU and this structure lower the memory controllerís performance...
As 32nm Clarkdale CPU and H55 DDR3 bandwidth, itís not much higher than LGA775 or AM3 platform.
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Old February 20, 2010, 06:03 AM
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Intel Clarkdale built-in IGP performance
733MHz
3DMARK2006 => 1767


StreetFighter IV Benchmark
800 X 600 => 27.50FPS


Biohazard5 Benchmark
800 X 600 => 19.5fps


Call of Juarez
1024 X 768 => Avg 12.3


IGP OC 920MHz
3DMARK2006 => 2069


StreetFighter IV Benchmark
800 X 600 => 33.06FPS


Biohazard5 Benchmark
800 X 600 => 22.9fps


Call of Juarez
1024 X 768 => Avg 20.3


i5 660 GPU OC range is around 733~920MHz. The 661 is about 933~1200MHz.
Comparing to these 2 SKUs, I think 661 GPU is better picked SKU for higher clock version. The 3D performance is also higher.

After last Clarkdale review, some readers asked for more test in GAME section. This review will add two 3D games test.
If this platform is for worksheet only, Clarkdale 3D performance can meet most entry 3D software.

Using 9600GT to compare 3D performance
3DMARK2006 => 10937


In USA, some readers would like me to compare Clarkdale with 9500GSO.
Unfortunately, I only have 9600GT, so I just test 3DMARK2006.
Also can let you know mainstream VGA and built-in GPU performance gap.
For higher 3D performance request, you can install additional VGA card to enhance overall 3D performance.


USB 3.0 test with BUFFALO 1.0TB external HDD. Now there is still less USB3.0 products.
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Old February 20, 2010, 06:17 AM
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ATTO DISK Benchmark over 64k test, the max reading is 152 MB/s and writing is 158 MB/s
CrystalDiskMark reading is 152.4 Mb/s and writing is 156.4 MB/s
FDEBENCH reading is 148 Mb/s and writing is 123 MB/s


USB 3.0 bandwidth break away from the limitation, 30~35 MB/s speed of USB2.0.
For users who using 2.5 or 3.5 inch external HDD box, they can get much higher speed acceleration.
Precondition is waiting for USB3.0 products become more popular, more users can enjoy the high performance from new technology.

As H55 doesnít support RAID, I changed to use single SDD to test transfer rate.
CORSAIR CMFSSD-128GBG2D official spec is 220/180 MB/s

ATTO DISK Benchmark over 64k test, the max reading is 234 MB/s and writing is 188 MB/s
CrystalDiskMark reading is 220.4 Mb/s and writing is 178.2 MB/s
FDEBENCH reading is 214 Mb/s and writing is 182 MB/s


CORSAIR top SSD performance is extremely high. Even it is MLC, the performance is close to SLC.
Back to H55 chip, the HDD transfer ability is around 3% lower than X58/P55. Itís acceptable range.


OC Performance
CPU 200 X 23 => 4600MHz
DRAM DDR3 8GB 1600 CL9 9-9-24 1T
GPU 9600GT 512MB

Hyper 4 X PI 32M=> 13m 54.305s
CPUMARK 99=> 708


Nuclearus Multi Core => 17951
Fritz Chess Benchmark => 17.35/8331


CrystalMark 2004R3 => 215783


CINEBENCH R10
1 CPU=> 6289
x CPU=> 14639


PCMark Vantage => 16604


32nm manufacturing can make dual core CPU clock be OC to higher.
This Core i5-660 quality is not better than 661. It needs 1.360V to reach 4.6GHz.
Of course, if you use original Cooler to OC, you need higher voltage to ramp up the speed.

Rising up the CPU voltage to achieve 5GHz in air cooling.
CPUZ official certificate.
Intel Core i5 660 OC 5G / windwithme


Last is power consumption in OC condition.
CPUZ shows 4500MHz and IGP built-in VGA.
Standby - 73W


Full speed - 135W
CPUZ shows 4500MHz and 2 physical cores + 2 HT virtual cores utilize status.


CPUZ shows 4600MHz and 9600GT
Standby - 107W
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Old February 20, 2010, 06:21 AM
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Full speed - 171W
CPUZ shows 4600MHz and 2 physical cores + 2 HT virtual cores utilize status.


After installing 9600GT, it increases 30W in standby mode.
Itís still very green.
When using built-in GPU, 4.5GHz full speed power consumption is 135W and default clock, 3.33GHz full speed power consumption is 83W.
You can see the power consumption rise up obviously after OC.
Especially for CPU with HT technology, full speed will make temperature and voltage be much higher.


GIGABYTE H55M-USB3
Good
1.With GIGABYTE 2oz, USB 3.0
2.One of few H55 products that supports dual PCI-E CrossFire
3.Wide BIOS voltage range, frequency range and rich BIOS features.
4.CPU OC range is good. 200/1600 ratio can rise CPU to 218MHz
5.External SATA chip to make up H55 without RAID
6.H55 overall power consumption is low

Weak
1.There are only two 4Pin FAN connectors.
2.During OC DDR3, the compatibility needs to improve
3.As Intel design structure, built-in GPU in i3/i5 CPU, the DDR3 performance is not outstanding.



Performance ★★★★★★★★☆☆
Components ★★★★★★★★★☆
Specification ★★★★★★★★★☆
Outlook ★★★★★★★★★☆
C/P Value ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Still remember several surreptitious prerelease H55 products by 8th Jan? The price are all above 4000NTD, around 125USD.
After official launch, many models in the market and the price drops to 3300~4300NTD, around 103~135USD.
For CPU price, most acceptable SKU are Pentium G6950 and i3-530.
Through the market price adjustment, users can accept this price range.
Not just see higher CPU and H55 MB price.
It will make many users who look for Intel Clarkdale platform hang back.

GIGABYTE H55M-USB3 market price is around 4100NTD, 128USD.
The lower version is GIGABYTE H55M-UD2H and price is 3700NTD, around 115USD.
Two H55 boards price gap is not big. The main difference is NEC USB 3.0 chip. You can pick up the suitable one after consideration.

The latest Intel All in one platform supports new manufacturing CPU + GPU design, and also make the price be higher.
Even though H55 MB price is reasonable now, CPU price still need to be lower to reach mainstream segment.
GIGABYTE H55M-USB 3.0 has good spec, OC ability and acceptable price segment.

This is my 5th P55+2nd H55 review in LGA1156 platform.
I hope it can help the users who would like to purchase H55 board can refer to my review. Thanks:) 
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