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Old October 7, 2010, 08:13 AM
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Default High Performance ITX Platform Review-Intel Core i5-655K Air Cooling to 5GHz

The normal image of ITX platform for users is hard to find in the market, price is high and old generation chipset.
Even itís the NoteBook CPU socket or SO-DIMM design to make ITX platform price go even higher.

Intel launched 32nm Core i3/i5 CPU early this year and also launched H55/H57 chipset at the same time.
Also, many MB manufacturers launched LGA 1156 ITX MB. The price is lower than past ITX MB.
New spec ITX MB uses PC spec CPU and DDR3 that makes ITX product be more easy to use and cheaper.



This review is to introduce the high performance ITX platform with latest products.
First of all, the CPU is Intel latest unlocked version, K series, Core i5 655K.


Left side is product manual and right side is 655K CPU.
The special thing is 655K and 875K donít bundle original cooler.
Intel suppose the unlocked version CPU users will choose better performance cooler.


The clock is 3.2GHz supports Turbo Boost technology. The max speed is 3.46GHz.
Physical 2 Cores with Hyper-Threading can achieve 4 threads, called 2C/4T.
32nm manufacturing, L3 Cache is 4MB.


CPU back design can see the version and different design.
The built-in GPU clock is 733Mhz.


MB uses GIGABYTE H55N-USB3


2oz cooper PCB, USB 3.0, 3X USB Power, and On/Off Charge are advantage features.
2 X DIMM DDR3 support 800/1066/1333/1600(OC), and maximum capacity is 8GB.


1 X PCI-E X16 for user to install Low Profile VGA card.
Realtek ALC892 supports 7.1 channel and High Definition Audio technology.


24 + 4-PIN power connector.
4X blue SATAII support by H55. Itís SATA2 and no RAID function.


IO
1 X DVI-D
1 X HDMI
1 X D-SUB
2 X USB 2.0(Yellow)
2 X USB 3.0(Blue)
1 X eSATA/USB 2.0 combo (Yellow)
1 X S/PDIF fiber output
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Old October 7, 2010, 08:22 AM
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USB 3.0 chip is NEC D720200F1


As per the components and spec, the user price is around 4000NTD, about 127USD.
Although there are only 3 ITX MB in the market, after comparing, H55N-USB3 C/P value is quite good.


System Configuration
CPU: Intel Core i5-655K
MB: GIGABYTE GA-H55N-USB3
DRAM: CORSAIR DOMINATOR CMD8GX3M4A1600C8
VGA: Intel Clarkdale 733MHz
HD: CORSAIR Force SSD 60GB
POWER: Thermaltake ElementQ 220W
Cooler: Intel Cooler
OS: Windows7 Ultimate 64bit

Case uses Thermaltake ElementQ for OC real test.
The product dimension is 130 x 220 x 330 mm


Left side is built-in 220W SFX PSU and also can install 2x 3.5Ē devices and 1x 5.25Ē device.
ElementQ design is for mute. However if you have system fan, it will be great help for internal heat flow.


As H55N-USB3 design layout, it causes ElementQ Power/Reset cables are not long enough.
Although MB and CASE are good C/P products, but you should know such detail before buying.
Real installation test, it should close the chassis and test how long can run normally under OC condition.

Performance Test
CPU 200 X 20 => 4000.4MHz 1.216V
DRAM DDR3 4GB 1600 CL8 8-8-24 1T
GPU 733MHz 64MB

Hyper 4 X PI 32M=> 15m 11.167s
CPUMARK 99 => 626


Nuclearus Multi Core => 15752
Fritz Chess Benchmark => 15.19/7293


CrystalMark 2004R3 => 198722


CINEBENCH R11.5
CPU => 3.36 pts
CPU(Single Core) => 1.35 pts


PCMark Vantage => 14672


655K OC to 4GHz is stable. The full speed temperature is around 70 degree C. The temperature control is also acceptable.
If the chassis is opened, using the original cooler can OC to 4.3GHz. The full speed temperature is around 90 degree C.
I personally hope to test OC in chassis to find the balance between stable, temperature and performance.
After many OC combo test, 4GHz is the most stable condition inside complete close for long time usage.


Currently, the best tool to enhance the system performance is SSD.
With CORSAIR FORCE SERIES F40, I hope it can have better performance in this ITX system.


Size is 2.5Ē and ID is F60. The highest performance is 285/275 MB/s.
Random 4K writing performance can reach 50000 IOPS which improve the 4K writing issue in past SSD.
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Old October 7, 2010, 08:35 AM
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ATTO DISK Benchmark over 16k benchmark result is max read 286.1 Mb/s and write 266.8 MB/s
EVEREST File Benchmark over 512k benchmark result also above 250 MB/s.


EVEREST Linear Read Average 235.1 MB/s
AS SSD Benchmark
Seq Read - 200.00 MB/s Write - 44.00 MB/s
4K-64Thrd Read - 102.03 MB/s Write - 56.93 MB/s


Recently, SSD price is dropping a little and performance is better due to controller chip improvement.
Some hi-end SSD almost reach the SATA2 300 MB/s bandwidth. I believe the market will be even booming after SATA3 being more popular.
ITX platform uses CORSAIR F60 can shorten the system boot, open application and access files time.


Now, I use open air to test the higher OC performance.
System Configuration
CPU: Intel Core i5-655K
MB: GIGABYTE GA-H55N-USB3
DRAM: CORSAIR DOMINATOR CMD8GX3M4A1600C8
VGA: Intel Clarkdale 733MHz
HD: CORSAIR Force SSD 60GB
POWER: ANTEC Neo ECO 400C
Cooler: Mega Shadow Deluxe Edition
OS: Windows7 Ultimate 64bit


BIOS OC setup
Tuning CPU ratio, frequency and DRAM multiplier page.
When pull the high clock, QPI Clock Ratio set at X44 is the best. The performance is also good.


CPU related technology items
C1E is for power saving. When CPU utilization rate is low, the CPU will lower the frequency and voltage.
Turbo Boost is opposite with C1E. When CPU loading is low, you still can pull to higher speed.


DRAM setup page supports X.M.P. auto OC technology.


DDR3 parameters setup page


Voltage page
Load-Line Calibration
CPU Vcore 0.50000~1.90000V
QPI/Vtt Voltage 1.050~1.990V
GraphicsCore 0.200~1.800V
PCH Core 0.950~1.500V
CPU PLL 1.000~2.580V
DRAM Voltage 1.300~2.600V


You can see GIGABYTE Micro ATX H55 BIOS items are rich and vary.
The overall OC ability is also good. I can pull 655K to 200MHz stable easily and donít need high Vtt.
Above setup is for 200/1600 stable OC ratio. You may need to minor tuning due to the different components character.
You can refer to this setup as your need.

Performance Test
CPU 200 X 23 => 4600.4MHz 1.376V
DRAM DDR3 4GB 1600.2 CL8 8-8-24 1T
GPU 733MHz 64MB

Hyper 4 X PI 32M=> 13m 46.692s
CPUMARK 99 => 718


Nuclearus Multi Core => 18083
Fritz Chess Benchmark => 17.136/8333
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Old October 7, 2010, 08:53 AM
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CrystalMark 2004R3 => 217668


CINEBENCH R11.5
CPU => 3.83 pts
CPU(Single Core) => 1.55 pts


PCMark Vantage => 15924


After changing to high end CPU cooler, OC to 4.6GHz and pass the benchmark are not big deal. It pull high the performance 10~15%.
Due to 655K is 2 Cores, the OC range is higher than 4 or 6 Cores CPU. The perivous review of 660/661 also can achieve 4.6GHz.
Of course, you can see the strength of 32nm manufacture.
It really help to lower the temperature, power consumption and pull the CPU clock.

DRAM bandwidth test - DDR3 1600 CL8 8-8-24 1T
CPU OC 4GHz
Sandra Memory Bandwidth - 15180 MB/s
EVEREST Memory Read - 12050 MB/s


CPU OC 4.6GHz
Sandra Memory Bandwidth - 15232 MB/s
EVEREST Memory Read - 12125 MB/s


You can see the difference between 655K and Core 2 Duo structure by the test result.
In the past, in LGA 775 platform, the higher CPU clock means higher DRAM bandwidth.
LGA 1156 built-in Memory Controller in CPU, so the CPU clock doesnít impact DRAM performance much.
However this design make LGA 1156 basic DRAM bandwidth is 20~30% higher than LGA 775.
This is why even yopu pull LGA 775 CPU clock to extremely high, the bandwidth still cannot catch up LGA 1156.

Temperature
System standby - 40~41


CPU Full Speed - 71~73
Intel Burn Test v2.4,Stress Level Maximum


The standby temperature is not high and full speed at 73 is also acceptable.
If you use this cooler, CPU temperature will be higher inside the chassis.
But it still can long time use under acceptable temperature condition.

Power Consumption
CPU 4GHz
System Standby - 62W


CPU Full Speed - 100W


CPU 4.6GHz
System Standby - 68W
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Old October 7, 2010, 09:09 AM
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CPU Full Speed - 130W


No matter OC to 4G or 4.6G, the standby power consumption is lower than 70W.
The full speed gap is bigger, but the highest is around 130W. Itís very green platform.
If CPU works at default 3.2GHz, the power consumption will be much lower.

Finally, pull CPU voltage to 1.488V, 655K air cooling can OC to 5GHz.


CPUZ Certify
Intel Core i5 655K OC 5G / windwithme

Early Jan, I OC Core i5-660/661 CPU to 5GHz and now 655K also can OC to 5GHz.
And using 655K 5GHz to enter OS, the voltage is lower to 1.488V. You can see Intel CPU yield rate is improved.



Since Intel launched LGA 1156 in early 2010, 2 Cores CPU started to built-in GPU.
It becomes a new choice of ITX market, price and performance. CPU combination is more vary.
There are Core i3-530/540, Core i5-650/660/661/670/655K.
The price is also more flexible for different budget.

For MB, early this year DFI launched LANPARTY MI P55-T36, and few months later ECS announced H55H-I and GIGABYTE GA-H55N-USB3.
These 3 models all break the old barrier and image for this kind of products.
They all emphasize OC and rich BIOS items. The performance is almost same as Micro ATX or ATX MB.


No matter NooteBook or Desktop PC all go for smaller form factor.
Like PC, the normal size is ATX and smaller goes for Micro ATX.
Now, MB starts to move to ITX, and more MB brands provide the products.
Also Intel pushes new series Core i3/i5 CPU, 32nm manufacture and built-in GPU technology.
This year, ITX visibility is higher. I hope ITX products can be more popular and more brands to join this competition.
The customers can enjoy smaller PC which saves home space and good PC performance. :)

This article is also posted in my blog: WIND'S 3C
Welcome 3C fans to drop by.
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Old October 7, 2010, 09:50 AM
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Thanks for the good review, I was looking for a itx board , after read your review I ordered one, I will be more modest than you and put an i3 on it.
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Old October 7, 2010, 02:40 PM
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those are some nice power numbers with that oc! plus its got a pc-e slot, all you got to do is run it open bench to make a decent card fit!
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Old October 7, 2010, 02:55 PM
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Sweet power from a mini monster! Curious how long the board could keep a 4Ghz and over OC.
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Old October 7, 2010, 03:26 PM
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OC ? , why everything have to be OC..... from what I read the cooler need for OCing will block the pci-e.
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Old October 7, 2010, 03:27 PM
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if you look on the components on the pcb, looks more like a mid end part than low end :) well, if you keep the price in mind.
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