Asrock H55M Pro Socket 1156 Motherboard

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asrock h55m proThe H55 is the newest thing to come from Intel. Not surprisingly, Asrock was right there to send out boards to all review sites. We have often seen this from the 'big' companies. The first of the boards released was the H55M Pro. As all H55 motherboards, the H55Pro-M is a micro ATX offering with dual 16x PCIe slots for Crossfire support, four DIMM slots and support for DDR3 2600. We definitely can't call Asrock a budget motherboard maker anymore. There are many more features the new board has to offer and we will discuss them as we look over it. Now,we really want to know how well it will overclock. We all want to get a little bit more out of the motherboard and processor to make it worth more for our money.

Introduction to the Asrock H55M Pro

I browse different forums to try and improve on what I already know. We can never learn too much. Often, I have come across one question, again and again. "What CPU should I buy?" The thread usually begins with what the person is using the PC for. Once I saw a person start such a thread and he was building the PC for general usage - not a gamer, graphic design or anything of that nature. He wanted something decent, while not spending his entire bank account. All of his needs could have easily be done with a dual core CPU. Yet, as always, there were people that try to convince individuals that they need a quad core to do basically nothing.

The first thing I thought was a new Intel Core i3 CPU would work perfectly. The low cost processor coupled with a new H55 chip set motherboard is the making of a pretty decent build. The new i3 speeds can top 3.46GHz in stock forum. For about $200 for board and processor, you can have something that will give the older socket quads a real run for their money. And with the iGPU on the CPU you don't have to worry about going out and spending well earned cash on a graphic cards. As much as 1759MB of graphic ram is more than enough to support the big screen television sitting in the living. Granted the only thing that will not change when building a new box based on the new Intel chip set is the price of the ram. Rather you are looking to for out all kinds on 6GB of ram for an i7 or 4GB on a i5/i3 the price will be about the same.

Let me get off the soapbox and get to the review. Asrock is known to make an affordable motherboards for the masses. As of late, they have been producing higher end motherboards that will give all the big boys like MSI, ASUS and Gigabyte a run for their money. What I like about Asrock now is that we don't have to wait for them to produce a motherboard on current chip sets. They are releasing them on launch, so that if you are on a budget, you don't have to wait to build.

The H55 is the newest thing to come from Intel. Not surprisingly, Asrock was right there to send out boards to all review sites. We have often seen this from the 'big' companies. The first of the boards released was the H55M Pro. As all H55 motherboards, the H55Pro-M is a micro ATX offering with dual 16x PCIe slots for Crossfire support, four DIMM slots and support for DDR3 2600. We definitely can't call Asrock a budget motherboard maker anymore. There are many more features the new board has to offer and we will discuss them as we look over it. Now,we really want to know how well it will overclock. We all want to get a little bit more out of the motherboard and processor to make it worth more for our money.


 

Specifications

  1. Supports Intel® Core™ i7 / i5 / i3 and Pentium® G6950 Processors in LGA1156 Package
  2. ASRock DuraCap (2.5 x longer life time), 100% Japan-made high-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors
  3. 4 + 1 Power Phase Design
  4. Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology
  5. Intel® H55 Chipset
  6. Supports Dual Channel DDR3 2600+(OC)/2133(OC)/1866(OC)/1600/1333/1066 non-ECC, un-buffered memory, 4 x DIMM slots, Max. capacity up to 16GB
  • Supports Intel® HD Graphics, Pixel Shader 4.0, DirectX 10, Max. shared memory 1759MB
  • Supports ATI™ CrossFireX™ , Quad CrossFireX™
  • 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (at x16 mode), 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (at x4 mode, 2.5GT/s)
  • Multi VGA Output options: D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI
  • Supports HDCP function with DVI and HDMI ports
  • Supports Full HD 1080p Blu-ray (BD) / HD-DVD playback
  • 5 x SATAII 3.0 Gb/s connectors, support NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug functions
  • 1 x Powered eSATAII/USB Connector
  • Supports 2 x IEEE1394 ports (one port on back panel, one header on board)
  • PCIE x1 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
  • 1 x TPM header
  • Supports ASRock Instant Boot, Instant Flash, OC DNA, Good Night LED, Multi-Speed Fan Control
  • Supports ASRock OC Tuner, Intelligent Energy Saver, Turbo 50
  • Combo Cooler Option (C.C.O.)
  • EuP Ready
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio (VIA® VT1718S Audio Codec with QSound function)
  • Supports HDMI Audio with Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio
  • Compatible with Windows® 7
  • Free Bundle : CyberLink DVD Suite - OEM and Trial; Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi MB - Trial
  • I/O Panel: 1 x VGA/D-Sub Port, 1 x VGA/DVI-D Port, 1 x HDMI Port, 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port, 1 x IEEE 1394 Port, 5 x Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports, 1 x Powered eSATAII/USB Connector, 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED

Closer look

This motherboard is a multimedia beast. Asrock put a lot into this motherboard to make it media friendly. From the high quality VIA audio being aided by the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi MB Trial to the media easy integrated graphics which is piped through the new Intel processor. Asrock is no longer taking a backseat to the "higher tier" motherboard manufacturers.

They say little things come in big packages and that saying holds true for this new motherboard. The H55 falls in line with all the other early released H55-based motherboard with its size: micro-ATX. This new chip set was aimed at the media buff as well as the consumer that is not looking to game a lot. But if you do you can always add a GPU later. The small size does not take away from the fact that this is a complete motherboard.

The layout is about as perfect as you can get when trying to pack all the connectors, slot and plugs onto such a small surface area. Asrock still uses several different colors on their boards when it comes to the different connections but what we see from them now is the black or bronze PCB that companies like EVGA, ASUS and MSI are using. This color is far more attractive than the teal color of their older boards.

We begin our tour in the upper right hand corner where the DIMM slots dominate. Many of the mATX produced at limited to just two memory slots. Asrock packed four on this board. This gives the board a maximum of 16GB of ram support. What is even better the slots support up to DDR3 2600 and beyond. So this should be a decent ram overclocking board.To the right of the ram slots are five SATA 2 plugs. Unfortunately Asrock elected to skip Raid on this model. And there is no IDE connector.

For slots, the H55M Pro supports three different forms of PCI: standard, 1x and two 16x. So that means if you are looking for a SFF gaming rig you get CrossFireX and Quad CrossFireX capability.

Typical of a motherboard that is aimed at media personnel, the H55M Pro has all the connections that it will take to give the explosive visual and audible experience. For video there is VGA, DVI and HDMI. Through the HDMI port you get audio with Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio. In order to support multiple speaker setups, audio is ported through standard audio jacks or optical SPDIF Out port. Gigabit LAN, five USB 2.0, eSATA and fire wire ports are also in order.

The space surrounding the CPU is plentiful, so that the use of larger coolers in no problem. With the recent success of Asrock motherboards in overclocking, support for larger coolers is a huge plus. We see the H55M Pro uses a Lotes socket and has support of all current i3, i5 and i7 (1156 socket only). Granted, you only get iGPU support when using the i3 and 5xx and 6xx series processors. For long lasting durability, the board uses DurCap, which are 100% Japanese.


BIOS of the P55 Deluxe


Testing Begins

Testing Hardware:

Motherboard: Asrock H55M Pro
Processor: Intel Core i3 540
Ram: OCZ DDR3 PC12800 4GB Dual-Channel
Video Card: XFX HD 4770
HDD: Seagate 7200.11
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT 1000 (Donated by Thermaltake for our test bench)
Case: Open Air
Cooling: Thermaltake Silent 1156
OS: Windows 7 RC

Futuremark PCMark Vantage
3DMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX10 performance of your graphics card. We’ve been making 3DMark for over 10 years, with each new edition using the latest 3D technology to determine real-world performance.

Futuremark 3DVantage
3DMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX10 performance of your graphics card. We’ve been making 3DMark for over 10 years, with each new edition using the latest 3D technology to determine real-world performance.

A 3DMark score is an overall measure of your system’s 3D gaming capabilities, based on comprehensive real-time 3D graphics and processor tests. By comparing your score with those submitted by millions of other gamers you can see how your gaming rig performs, making it easier to choose the most effective upgrades or finding other ways to optimize your system.

3DMark is widely used by the PC industry, press and media as well as individual users and gamers, for comparing performance levels between whole systems or even specific components

SiSoftware Sandra Lite 2007 SP1
SiSoftware has announced the availability of Service Release 2 (SR2) for SiSoftware Sandra 2005, the latest version of its award-winning utility. The focus of this service release has been improved support, compatibility and reliability rather than new features. We have been working closely with more hardware vendors than before to be able to bring greater direct support of an increased market share of commodity and server technologies.

Lavalys Everest
Lavalys EVEREST Home Edition is freeware system information, system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for home PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. It offers the world's most accurate system information and diagnostics capabilities, including online features, memory benchmarks, hardware monitoring, and low-level hardware information. EVEREST Home Edition is uniquely available for home users without any charges, based on the freeware license.


Maxon Cinebench
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performance capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

Super PI Modded 1.5
In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi in collaboration with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center. This record should be the current world record. (Details are shown in the windows help.) This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environment such as Windows NT and Windows 95. In order to calculate 33.55 million digits, it takes within 3 days with a Pentium 90 MHz, 40 MB main memory and 340 MB available storage.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
The events of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat unfold shortly after the end of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. Having discovered about the open path to the Zone center, the government decides to hold a large-scale military "Fairway" operation aimed to take the CNPP under control.

According to the operation's plan, the first military group is to conduct an air scouting of the territory to map out the detailed layouts of anomalous fields location. Thereafter, making use of the maps, the main military forces are to be dispatched.

Despite thorough preparations, the operation fails. Most of the avant-garde helicopters crash. In order to collect information on reasons behind the operation failure, Ukraine's Security Service send their agent into the Zone center.
From now on everything depends on the player.

Resident Evil
This test the performance of the video game on your system.


Overclocking the H55M Pro and the Intel Core i3 540

Overclocking the ASrock H55M Pro was not as exciting as we would have liked. We tried using the included overclocking utility in the BIOS of the board. We managed to get it to 4GHz. These setting used really loose timing on the memory and also a quite a bit of CPU. So we decided to do it all manually which is more fun and more satisfying. We, still only, managed a whooping 4GHz with timer ram timings as well as just 1.2v pumped into the CPU.


Conclusion

The introduction of the new Intel Clarkdale processors brought a new level of motherboards. They come with integrated graphics that does not require a North Bridge to provide the technology to give you all the brilliant colors on your display. That technology is embedded into the CPU. Asrock presented us with their version of this new tech in the form of the H55M Pro.

Being designed mainly for the business, casual and media PC user, the H55M Pro fulfills all the needs for these people. The built-in graphics is geared towards each as there isn't much need for a crazy over-priced GPU to provide the needed visuals to present your desktop on your television. You definitely don't need a dedicated GPU to allow you to use your office productivity suite or to browse the world-wide web. Depending on the amount of ram placed in the system you are given a whooping 1759MB of graphic memory. Which you can dial down if you need more of your system ram.e

The H55M Pro being the type of board it is provides you with all that one would need when it comes to SATA and other types of storage ports. Internally there are five which is more than enough for a HTPC box or office rig. Out the rear are five USB 2.0, one eSATA and a fire wire port.

We were pretty pleased with the board overall. Even the overclocking of the board was pretty decent. We decided to test the overclocking ability of the board using low voltages. We were about to hit the 4GHz mark very stably with only 1.2v of CPU voltage.

We priced the board at $109.99 from most respected retailers. This puts the board in the price range of lower end Gigabyte, MSI and ASUS boards. But at the same time offer more features than these boards. Making this board a great buy. If you best the price on performance we still feel its a great buy. We were surprised by the level of the new board and the lower end CPU. For those on a budget feel good to know that you will not be deprived of performance.

 

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