Preview of 13 Mini-ITX motherboards for Intel 4th generation Core processors

Introduction

To assemble a powerful PC you no longer need an oversized desktop chassis. With a mini-ITX motherboard and Intel Haswell processor you can build a powerful yet compact PC capable of running any game. We tested a total of 13 Haswell ITX boards.

Even a powerful CPU such as the Core i7 4770K will work fine in a smaller chassis. Since so many features, previously reserved for expansion cards, are now integrated into the motherboard, you really only need one expansion slot for the graphics card.

Companies such as Cooler Master, Bitfenix and others have Mini-ITX chassis that can fit both a heavy-duty power supply and one long dual-slot video card. More importantly, there are finally ITX boards with overclocking features rivalling those of Micro-ATX and ATX models. The huge full-size ATX boards have become obsolete for most users. A small mini-ITX board is plenty for a powerful all-in-one or game PC.

Chipset

For this article we tested 13 Socket 1150 Mini-ITX motherboards compatible with Intel's fourth generation Core 'Haswell' processors. They're all based on the familiar 8 series chipsets: Z87, H87, B75 and the more recent budget alternative H81.

The Z87 chipset is the most advanced with the widest range of features, including overclocking K processors, six USB 3.0 ports, six SATA600 ports and Intel Rapid Storage Technology. The cheaper H87 has two limitations compared to Z87, one of which is important for Mini-ITX boards: with H87, B85 and H81 boards the Core i7 4770K and Core i5 4650K can't be overclocked via the multiplier.

H87 also can't split the 16 PCI-Express lanes from the CPU into 2x 8 lanes or 8+4+4 lanes. For Mini-ITX boards this is irrelevant since there isn't any room anyway for more expansion slots.

You can read the rest of the 13 Mini-ITX motherboards review on hardware.info.