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::>Motherboards > 2015 > 04 > GIGABYTE GA-H81N

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Republish review

02-04-2015


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Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-H81N: review and testing

At the time of this review the motherboard GIGABYTE GA-H81N was one of the most affordable solution of Mini-ITX motherboard with CPU socket Socket LGA1150 in assortment Taiwanese company. At an average cost of about $ 80 - 85, the new offers not only ultra-compact size, but a good equipment which will be enough modern user. The arsenal of GIGABYTE GA-H81N has a support for three modern video outputs, including HDMI, and high-speed interfaces SATA 6 Gb/s, USB 3.0 and mSATA. Another feature is the presence of a single slot mini-PCI Express, which is designed to set the wireless modules Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Taking into account all of the above, the most likely scenario for GIGABYTE GA-H81N is to build a compact multimedia system with a single graphics card, or even without it. Let's find out whether it is able to be a part of such a PC. Let’s start from the specification.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

The specs:

Producer  

GIGABYTE

Model

GA-H81N (rev 1.0)

Chipset

Intel H81

CPU socket

Socket LGA1150

Supported CPUs

Intel Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron 4th gen

Memory frequency

1600 / 1333 MHz

Memory support

2 x DDR3 DIMM- slot with memory support up to 16 GB

Expansion slots

1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 (CPU)

1 x mini-PCI Express (for wireless module)

Disk subsystem

Intel H81 chipset supports:

1 x mSATA 3 GB/s

2 x SATA 6 GB/s

1 x SATA 3 GB/s

LAN

1 x Realtek 8111F (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec Realtek ALC887

8-channel sound

S/PDIF Out

Power

24-pin ATX main power connector

4-pin ATX12V power connector

Fans

1 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

1 x system fan connector (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiator on chipset

Extenral I/O

1 x HDMI

1 x DVI-D

1 x D-Sub

1 х PS/2 (for mouse and keyboard connection)

1 x LAN (RJ45)

2 x USB 3.0

5 x USB 2.0

3 x audio jack

Internal I/O

1 x USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0

1 x mSATA 3 GB/s

2 x SATA 6 GB/s

1 x SATA 3 GB/s

1 x COM

1 x socket LPT

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 х CMOS

1 x S/PDIF Out

1 x set of front panel connectors

BIOS

AMI UEFI BIOS

2 x 64 Mb

PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty card

Disk with drivers and utilities

2 x SATA cables

2 x adapters for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas

1 х interface panel plug

Form-factor, dimensions

Mini-ITX

170 х 170 mm

Producer website

GIGABYTE
Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available on support page

Package and content

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

Package of the product is made of thick cardboard and decorated with quality printing in dark colors. The front side, in addition to the usual names of the manufacturer and model of the device, contains a big logo of branded concept Ultra Durable 4 Plus, which includes the following features:

  • Cool & Performance - power circuits use high field-effect transistors with low on-resistance Low RDS (on), as well as durable solid capacitors.
  • Safe - this model is equipped with two chips with firmware BIOS (main and reserve), which will allow you to avoid a visit to the service center in case of damage to the main chip. Do note the presence of additional protection of ports USB and LAN ESD. Each LAN and USB-port works in conjunction with a special protective filter that is able to withstand electrostatic discharge, which protects the system from power surges, even during a thunderstorm. Also, do not forget about the increased protection against moisture and overvoltage. 

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

The back side has a schematic representation of the motherboard and interface panel, and continues the description of the key benefits:

  • USB DAC-UP Port - the interface panel has a soldered special USB 2.0 port with gold-plated connectors, which is designed to connect an external sound card or amplifier. It is powered by the controller integrated into the chipset USB 2.0, and through a special converter directly from power lines. Therefore it provides a more stable and less noisy output voltage. In the case of own power supply from the connected equipment, power to the connector can be disabled to improve the quality of signal transmission.
  • Mini-PCIE - novelty is equipped with a separate expansion slot mini-PCI Express, which is designed for connection to the wireless interfaces.
  • mSATA - interface for solid-state drives with carrying capacity of 3Gb/s.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

In addition to the disk with the software and the interface board plug, the box with the test model has two SATA cables and adapters to connect the antennas Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Design and features

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

Model GIGABYTE GA-H81N is made on the dark brown printed circuit board in format Mini-ITX (170 x 170 mm). The only radiator which is responsible for cooling the chipset is painted gray, and ports and expansion slots are black.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

On-board elements layout is quite standard for the format of devices and contain thoughtful arrangement of key ports and connectors closer to the edges of the PCB.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

The back side includes the traditional base plate of the socket and plastic clip fastening single radiator, and a number of chips.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

The right side has a sufficiently large number of elements. Do note that the GIGABYTE GA-H81N has two DIMM-slots for memory modules of the standard DDR3, which can operate in dual channel mode. Modules running at a frequency of 1600 MHz in the nominal mode are supported. The maximum memory is up to 16 GB, which is enough for almost any tasks.

Closer to the bottom right corner there are the following connectors: LPT, port SATA 3Gb/s and block to activate ports USB 2.0. Novelty can boast of seven interfaces USB 2.0: two internal and five external. As for USB 3.0, there are only two, and both of them are located on the interface panel. All USB ports are implemented using chipset Intel H81.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

In addition to the above port SATA 3 Gb/s, the capacity of the disk subsystem is represented by two ports SATA 6 Gb/s and interface mSATA 3Gb/s. All of them operate through a set of system logic.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

Despite the perpendicular arrangement of ports SATA 6 Gb/s, access to them will not be difficult even after the overall graphics cards thanks to the competent layout. Also note that to retrieve the memory modules you don’t need to disable the video card is, as the DIMM-slots are equipped with latches on one side only.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

In the lower left corner of the PCB is a module for connecting the front panel audio connectors and connector S/PDIF out.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

At the top, next to the additional 4-pin power connector you can notice interface COM, the CMOS, two fan connectors and front panel connector (with color highlighting to simplify the process of connecting the corresponding wires).

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

The cooling system of this motherboard consists of only one radiator, which provides heat removal from the chipset Intel H81. In the process of testing were recorded the following temperature:

  • chipset heatsink - 40,7°C;
  • FETs of processor power subsystem - 54,8°C;
  • chokes of processor power subsystem - 62,2°C.

Despite the mounting method (using plastic clips) and low heat dissipation area, chipset heatsink adequately copes with its task.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

Processor powering is carried out on a 3-phase scheme for cores and additional nodes. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller ISL95812. All components of the power CPU have a high degree of reliability: used solid capacitors and FETs with low on-resistance. The main 24-pin and additional 4-pin connectors are used to provide supply voltage.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

The possibility of expanding the functionality of the motherboard GIGABYTE GA-H81N is presented by two slots:

  • PCI Express 2.0 x16;
  • mini-PCI Express (for the wireless modules).

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

If you decided to take advantage of the integrated graphics core on the CPU, you have three video outputs: HDMI, D-Sub and DVI-D, which can be navigated by two chips: PTN3360DBS and ASMedia ASM1442.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

Multi I/O opportunities are based on controller ITE IT8620E, which controls the operation of the system fan, ports, COM, LPT and PS/2, and provide monitoring.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

In order to support network connections there is a gigabit LAN-controller Realtek 8111F. A software of GIGABYTE LAN Optimizer allows to distribute network resources between applications.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

The audio subsystem of the motherboard is based on the 8-channel HDA-codec Realtek ALC887, which supports audio formats 2/4 / 5.1 / 7.1.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

The interface panel of model has the following ports:

  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 2 x USB 3.0;
  • 5 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DVI-D;
  • 1 x D-Sub;
  • 1 x PS / 2 connector for mouse or keyboard;
  • 3 x audio ports.

Do note very successful layout of interface panel, especially taking into account the available cost of the board. It includes three video outputs, a sufficient number of ports USB, as well as a special port USB 2.0, which is designed to connect an external sound card thanks to the implementation of the technology USB DAC-UP.

The features include only inconvenient connection of multichannel speakers, where it is necessary to use the audio outputs on the front panel.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

The possibility of organizing the cooling system inside the body is pretty standard for the format Mini-ITX. Here are two 4-pin fan connectors, one of which is used for the CPU cooling system, while the second is intended for system fan.

UEFI BIOS

Tested model is equipped with UEFI firmware based on microcode AMI to operate in four modes: «Smart Tweak HD» (1280 x 720), «Smart Tweak» (1024 x 768, without a permanent display on the sides of the state of the processor, memory and system sensors), «Classic» (classic version of BIOS) and «StartUp» (the initial settings of BIOS).

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

As you may have noticed, while working in the mode «Smart Tweak HD» there is no separate section responsible for the monitoring of voltage and temperature of the main components, since all necessary data is displayed directly on the sides. Here you can watch the CPU temperature and fan speed, to monitor the voltage on the modules of RAM, CPU and power supply lines + 12V, + 5V and + 3.3V, as well as a number of other important parameters. Also do note that not all items in the mode «Classic» are available in «Smart Tweak HD».

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

All settings related to key elements of the system, are conveniently grouped in the respective tabs.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

The tab «Frequency» provides the ability to select one of six types of automatic optimization of system parameters.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

Memory frequency multiplier allows you to set the speed of the connected modules ranging from 800 to 1600 MHz.

GIGABYTE GA-H81N

If required in subsection «Voltage» you can access the voltage on all the key components of the system.

Settings required to optimize the system:

Parameter

Menu

Range

Step

CPU multiplier

CPU Clock Ratio

8 – MAX

 

RAM frequency

System Memory Multiplier

800 – 1600

 

CPU voltage

CPU Vcore

0,900 – 1,200

0,001

Automatic overclocking profiles

CPU Upgrade

Auto; 4,3; 4,4; 4,5; 4,6; 4,7 GHz

 

RAM voltage

DRAM Voltage

1,160 – 1,700

0,020

Chipset voltage

PCH Core

0,955 – 1,150

 

0,005

GPU frequency

Processor Graphics Clock

400 – 4000

50

 

Turbo Power Limit

1 – 4096

1

 

Core Current Limit

10 – 1000

1

 

CPU VRIN Voltage

1,700 – 1,900

0,010

GPU voltage

CPU Graphics Voltage

0,900 – 1,100

0,001

 

CPU RING Voltage

0,950 – 1,149

0,001

System agent voltage

CPU System Agent Voltage

-0,100 - +0,100

0,001

 

CPU I/O Analog Voltage

-0,100 – +0,100

0,001

 

CPU I/O Digital Voltage

-0,100 – +0,100

0,001

 

PCH I/O

1,400 – 1,600

0,005

Intel pProcessor graphics memory

Intel Processor Graphics Memory

32, 64, 96, 128, 192, 224, 256, 320, 384, 448, 512

 

RAM timings

Timing Control

CAS, tRCD, tRP, tRAS, tRRD, tWTR, tWR, tWTP, tWL, tRFC, tRTP, tFAW

 


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