Gigabyte H55N USB3
Intel Core i3 530 2.93GHz Processor
Intel Reference Cooler
Gigabyte H55N USB3 Motherboard
4GB Corsair PC3-12800C8 Memory
XFX Radeon HD 5670 1GB GDDR5
Samsung Spinpoint F1 320GB Hard Disk Drive
Samsung 22x DVD+/-RW
BeQuiet Dark Power Pro 850W PSU
Windows 7 Home Premium x64
One of the drawbacks of the Zotac H55 ITX was it's comparatively spartan BIOS, which inevitably lead to it's disappointing overclock. Thankfully we are pleased to say that Gigabyte have done quite the opposite. I will not bore you with the main menu or other constituent subcategories; let's delve straight into Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T).
Within M.I.T, the user is provided with a small list of sub menu's that separate overclocking parameters into more managable (and less daunting) lists. First of all, Gigabyte have included a main overview page that indicates just about every important overclocking variable and it's current setting. If you are even a slightly forgetful individual, we believe that you would quite like this feature.
Gigabyte offer a reasonable level of tweaking ability. Bearing in mind that a Mini ITX machine is more than likely air cooled, higher voltage ranges aren't necessary. We were mostly pleased to see that Gigabyte have included a parameter to adjust Quickpath Frequency as this was inevitably what doomed Zotac's offering to the bin of appauling overclocks. With a better engineered BIOS, let's see just how far the H55N USB3.0 can go.
The answer to the above is "very far". We commenced our overclocking attempts in a modest fashion by raising the BCLK in 5-10MHz increments, while maintaining low CPU and Memory frequencies. It was not long until we exceeded the Zotac H55's maximum BCLK of 150MHz and from then onwards the testbed felt like a ticking timebomb. Needless to say we had a long wait ahead of us as the ticking had not turned into a "BOOM" until a stunning 220MHz BCLK frequency. Later we were able to verify a max stable frequency just 10MHz shy of this at a pleasing 210MHz.
Given that we have tested fully fledged Micro ATX and ATX H55/H57 motherboards that have struggled to break 200MHz, Gigabyte have done incredibly well to offer such a capable overclocker on a 17cm x 17cm PCB.
Max CPU Frequency
Given the nature of the test setup, the maximum CPU overclock was bound to be on the low side. Equipped with Intel's low profile reference cooler, we found our maximum stable frequency at 3.60GHz and an operational voltage of 1.175V.
With the formality of overclocking now completed, let's commence the testing.