Originally Posted by badbob001
Seems like there is a shift in preference to the new ASRock H55 boards with USB3 and SATA3. But these boards are so new that I can't find any reviews and don't even see them on newegg to purchase!
Anything special about these new boards catching your eye? I don't see them having a PLX chip to give more bus bandwidth to non-video components, especially USB3 and SATA3, so perhaps there are still bandwidth restrictions.
I do like that the MicroATX ASRock H55M/USB3 has two 1x PCIe slots but the one next to the 16x PCIe seems completely wasted since any decent video card would at least have a big fan that would take up the adjacent slot. What good H55 board can actually have unobstructed access to at least one 16x PCIe and two 1x PCIe?
If I look at the ATX Midrange, the ASRock H55 Extreme3 board has three 1x PCIe so I THINK this might work, unless there is some strange restriction I'm not seeing in the manual such as this-slot-is-disabled-if-a-video-card-is-installed. All this trouble just to access a second 1x PCIe slot, but I do like this board's additional two ram slots.
As far as I know, there is no H55/H57 mb (except for ASUS P7H57D-V EVO) that has the PLX bridge. In some mb (GIGABYTE), the NEC chip is connected directly to the PCI Express bus of the CPU when no device is in the bus, but connected to H55 when it is in use. Nevertheless USB 3.0 at 250MB/s is still a lot faster than USB 2.0 (60MB/s).
You will have to wait for Sandy Bridge (not so far away, Q1 2011) if you want a satisfactory solution.
ASRock started as a subsidiary of ASUS, but is now blowing away ASUS (a kind of
). In my mind, ASUS vs. ASRock = bloated, overpriced vs. lighter, a good set of features, cheaper. H55M/USB3 is a nice, cheaper mb. The only missing feature in H55M/USB3 is IEEE 1394, that's the reason why I also listed ASUS and GIGABYTE mb. GA-H57M-USB3 has a second PCIe x16 (at x4) slot, which may be useful in some cases.
If you like usable two PCI Express x1 (or higher) slots with a 2-slot graphics card, ASRock H55M Pro is the only microATX mb (the graphics card in the second PCI Express x16 slot will be connected to H55 at x4, but this is enough for most applications except for serious 3D). Of course, as H55 has only six PCI Express lanes, PCIe x1 + PCIe x4 + PCIe Gb LAN + USB 3.0 is impossible. (MSI H55M-ED55
is seemingly another such mb, but actually it is not; both x16 slots are connected to CPU and hence the second slot will be disabled with Clarkdale.) If you look at P55 microATX, MSI P55M-GD45 is similar to ASRock H55M Pro (but I see no reason to choose it over H55M Pro).
I am currently testing ASRock H55 Extreme3 (another nice mb from ASRock). On my test bed:
There is no stupid restriction on the PCI Express x1 slots. The six PCI Express 2.0 lanes in H55 are used for:
- 3 for 3 PCI Express x1 slots
- 1 for the RTL8111DL Gb LAN chip
- 1 for the Fresco USB 3.0 chip (this supports only one USB 3.0 port, however)
- 1 for the Marvell SATA 6Gbps chip
As usual, the mb does not waste a PCI Express lane on IDE. GIGABYTE GA-H55-USB3 has IDE, but does not have Marvell SATA 6Gbps. This is the best H55 ATX mb available in US right now.
Look at MSI P55A-G55. If you use a discrete card, this is it. (Or ASUS P7P55D-E if you prefer x16+x4 instead of MSI's x8+x8.)