Gigabyte H55M-S2H Budget 1156 Motherboard

Posted by on Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - 1:19am

Gigabyte H55M-S2HEven with the overclocking abilities of the H55M-S2H, it is still aimed at the HTPC crowd. Of which, I am a proud member. In order to get this board going, you will want to mate it with one of the new Clarkdale processors. Adding a monitor or flat screen TV will have you viewing your favorite movies or more in all their glory. If you want to see if this board has anymore surprises, then you will have to read on.

Introduction to the Gigabyte GA-H55M-S2H

We are at it again with another H55 chipset motherboard. This time our review sample is from Gigabyte, the GA-H55M-S2H. Also mATX, the H55M offers some of the features of the feature-rich Asrock motherboard we reviewed yesterday. The GA-H55M-S2H boasts all the same shades of blue, and white we've seen from Gigabyte in the past few years. A combination which tends to provoke a real love it or hate it reaction from people. Honestly, I love the combination as it is not like all the other boards out there with black PCB and blue or blue slots. Gigabyte dares to be different.

The GA-H55M-S2H may not offer all the features you will find in some boards. One thing it offers is overclocking, a flagship feature for Gigabyte.. I will not get into it right now. You will have to read through the review, but we were surprised from what we got from this $90 motherboard.

Even with the overclocking abilities of the H55M-S2H, it is still aimed at the HTPC crowd. Of which, I am a proud member. In order to get this board going, you will want to mate it with one of the new Clarkdale processors. Adding a monitor or flat screen TV will have you viewing your favorite movies or more in all their glory. If you want to see if this board has anymore surprises, then you will have to read on..


  1. Support for an Intel® Core™ i7 series processor/Intel® Core™ i5 series processor/ Intel® Core™ i3 series processor in the LGA1156 package (Go to GIGABYTE's website for the latest CPU support list.)
  2. L3 cache varies with CPU
  1. Intel® H55 Express Chipset
  1. 2 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 8 GB of system memory (Note 1)
  2. Dual channel memory architecture
  3. Support for DDR3 2200+/1800/1600/1333/1066/800 MHz memory modules
  4. Support for non-ECC memory modules
  5. Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules

* To reach DDR3 2200 MHz and above, you are required to use with Intel Core i7/Core i5 CPU without HD Graphics and install a discrete graphics card.
When using Intel Core i5/Core i3/ Pentium CPU with HD Graphics, the maximum memory speed supported is 1666 MHz
* Go to GIGABYTE's website for the latest memory support list.

Onboard Graphics Integrated in the Chipset:
  1. 1 x D-Sub port (Note 2)
  2. 1 x DVI-D port (Note 2) (Note 3) (Note 4)
  3. 1 x HDMI port(Note 2) (Note 4)
  1. Realtek ALC888B codec
  2. High Definition Audio
  3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
  4. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
  5. Support for CD In
  1. 1 x RTL8111D chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots
  1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16) (Note 5) (The PCIEX16 slot conforms to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
  2. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4) (Note 6)
  3. 2 x PCI slots
Multi-Graphics Technology
  1. Support for ATI CrossFireX™ technology(Note 6)
Storage Interface Chipset:
  1. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors supporting up to 6 SATA 3Gb/s devices

JMicron JMB368 chip:

  1. 1 x IDE connector supporting ATA-133/100/66/33 and up to 2 IDE devices

iTE IT8720 chip:

  1. 1 x floppy disk drive connector supporting up to 1 floppy disk drive
USB Chipset:
  1. Integrated in the Chipset
  2. Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 on the back panel, 4 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)
Internal I/O Connectors
  1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  2. 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
  3. 1 x floppy disk drive connector
  4. 1 x IDE connector
  5. 6 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
  6. 1 x CPU fan header
  7. 1 x system fan headers
  8. 1 x front panel header
  9. 1 x front panel audio header
  10. 1 x CD In connector
  11. 1 x S/PDIF In header
  12. 1 x S/PDIF Out header
  13. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  14. 1 x serial port header
  15. 1 x clearing CMOS jumper
Back Panel Connectors
  1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard or PS/2 mouse port
  2. 1 x D-Sub port (Note 2)
  3. 1 x DVI-D port (Note 2) (Note 3) (Note 4)
  4. 1 x HDMI port (Note 2) (Note 4)
  5. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  6. 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  7. 1 x RJ-45 port
  8. 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/ Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
I/O Controller
  1. iTE IT8720 chip
H/W Monitoring
  1. System voltage detection
  2. CPU/System temperature detection
  3. CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
  4. CPU overheating warning
  5. CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
  6. CPU/System fan speed control (Note 7)
  1. 2 x 64 Mbit flash
  2. Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
  3. Support for DualBIOS™
  4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
Unique Features
  1. Support for @BIOS
  2. Support for Q-Flash
  3. Support for Xpress BIOS Rescue
  4. Support for Download Center
  5. Support for Xpress Install
  6. Support for Xpress Recovery2
  7. Support for EasyTune
  8. Support for Dynamic Energy Saver™ 2
  9. Support for Smart 6™
  10. Support for Auto Green
  11. Support for Q-Share
Bundle Software
  1. Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
Operating System
  1. Support for Microsoft® Windows 7/Vista/XP
Form Factor
  1. MicroATX Form Factor; 24.4cm x 21.0cm
  1. Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors' website or 3rd party website.
  2. Due to most hardware/software vendors no longer offer support for Win9X/ME. If some vendors still has Win9X/ME drivers available, we will publish on website.
Note (Note 1) Due to Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than 4 GB.
(Note 2) To use the onboard D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI, you must install an Intel CPU with integrated graphics.
(Note 3) The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
(Note 4) You can use only one of the onboard digital graphics ports (e.g. DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI-D) for output when in the BIOS Setup program or when during the POST screens.
(Note 5) For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.
(Note 6) The PCIEX16 slot operates at up to x4 mode when ATI CrossFireX™ is enabled.
(Note 7) Whether the CPU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/system cooler you install.
(Note 8) Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.


  • Innovative Smart 6 technology for smarter PC management
  • Supports Intel Core™ i7/ Core™ i5/ Core™ i3 LGA1156 processors
  • Dynamic Energy Saver™ 2 technology enables best energy efficiency
  • 2 PCI-E 2.0 x16 graphics interface(x16+x4) with ATI CrossFireX support for ultimate graphics performance
  • AutoGreen technology Greening your PC via Bluetooth cellphone
  • Patented DualBIOS™ technology delivering highest level failure protection
  • Easy BIOS setting for GPU overclocking
  • Supports 6 devices without the need for drivers to be installed before being fully operational
  • Enhanced Intel HD Graphics integrated with the processor
  • Integrated HDMI/ DVI interface for smoother HD video playback
  • Compatible with Windows 7 to deliver the best operation experience
  • Meet European Union EuP(Energy-using Products) requirement

Closer look

The Gigabyte H55M-S2H is a beautiful board. It has a medium blue PCB, layered with white and light blue slots and connectors. What I like most about Gigabyte motherboards is there aren't a bunch of colors just thrown around. Cosmetically, the board is sound and a pleasure to look at. Even the layout is about as perfect as you can get.

The Gigabyte H55M-S2H supports all the current processors based on the 1156 socket. This includes the brand new Clarkdale with integrated graphics. To get an extra performance boost from the processors, the board also utilizes Intel Turbo Boost technology.

Like what we saw on the Asrock H55M Pro, there is a lot of space surrounding the CPU socket. Though not terribly exciting for non-enthusiasts, we will discuss the features of the motherboard further. The board supports Intel's Turbo Boost, but there are far more options besides. One of the features I like is the DualBios. If you were in a predicament where you mis-flashed the board's main BIOS, the board will boot to the secondary BIOS: a good safety net.

Even though it's not labeled a gamer's board, it has full support for Crossfire with a couple of Radeon cards. If you only need to run one GPU, then Gigabyte advises to install it in the top 16x PCIe slot as it runs at the full PCI Express 2.0 standard. The bottom slot runs at 4x.

A lone pair of memory slots show this board not to be Gigabyte's top-end offering.  There are several boards out there and a couple from Gigabyte that offer four DIMM slots. Still this board can support up to 4 gigs of memory in each slot totaling a whopping 8 gigs DDR3 up to 2200MHz without having to overclocking the CPU.

The H55M-S2H supports six SATA devices at once, but there are no RAID options available. This is something we saw on the Asrock H55 board as well.

The rear of the board has a cornucopia of connection. There are a total of eight USB 2.0 port,  but no 3.0 on the H55 series yet. The board lacks fire wire and eSATA, which is often the case on a budget motherboard. For your visual pleasure, there are one each of the following: VGA, DVI and HDMI. Remember these connections are only useful, if you install a Clarkdale CPU.

BIOS of the GA-H55M-S2H

Testing Begins

Testing Hardware:

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H55M-S2H
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.

Tech ARP x264 HD 3.15
Simply put, it is a reproducible measure of fast your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It's nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other.

Overclocking the GA-H55M-S2H and the Intel Core i3 540

Well I guess I have to let the beans out now. We were able to get our lowly little i3 540 processor to 4140MHz with just 1.4v in the BIOS. This was done with little other adjustments in the BIOS. We had to dial in the ram timings manually and the rest was a no-brainer.


Gigabyte always puts out a quality motherboard. With the GA-H55M-S2H, we see that they are continuing the tradition. In the case of the GA-H55M-S2H, Gigabyte is also doing it a lower end motherboard. Granted, the GA-H55M-S2H only has two DIMM slots and lacks eSATA and fire wire ports, but it is still ideal for a home server or even as a home theatre setup. The ample USB ports gives you all the connections you will need for external connectivity.

One of the biggest pluses of the GA-H55M-S2H is it overclocking ability. For a mere $90 we saw they board hitting 4GHz with ease. All we needed was a voltage bump. I am sure with more tweaking we could have gotten more from the board as well as the processor. We just may have to revisit the board at a later time to experiment farther. FYI, the 4GHz was rock stable.

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