Full-spec PC components took a further step towards miniaturisation today, as Gigabyte unveiled the first Mini-ITX motherboard to be kitted out with USB 3 ports.
Measuring just 170mm x 170mm, the GA-H55N-USB3 features an NEC uPD720200 USB 3 host controller, enabling the motherboard to be hooked up to USB 3 devices with a bandwidth of up to 5Gb/sec. As well as offering USB 3 support, Gigabyte also claims that the motherboard's USB ports output the necessary amount of power needed to recharge an iPod or iPad without any issues.
Mini-ITX motherboards have been wedged into a variety of machines since they were first introduced by VIA at the beginning of the Millennium. The format was originally snapped up by hobbyists looking to squeeze the tiny motherboards into all sorts of eclectic cases, from Star Wars toys to George Foreman grills.
They're now commonly used in the embedded systems market, but they're also becoming popular with those looking to build a small and quiet media PC, particularly now that so many companies make mini-ITX boards that can accommodate fully-fledged CPUs and graphics cards.
The GA-H55N-USB3 is no exception here, coming with an LGA1156 socket that can accept Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs using Intel's integrated graphics. If you want better graphics support, though, then your demands can be met via the full-size 16-lane PCI-E 2.0 slot at the bottom of the board.
Gigabyte's deputy director of marketing, Tim Handley, explained that the board was "designed specifically for users wanting to build the ultimate home entertainment PC; small and sleek enough to seamlessly fit into the living room as part of the home, yet powerful enough to easily transfer, store and view today’s many types of digital media content, whatever the format.”
There are even two BIOS slots for those who like to keep their board up to date with the latest features and hardware support, ensuring that there's a backup BIOS if a flash goes wrong.
The board also has room for two DDR3 memory modules, as well as connectors for four SATA drives, as well as an eSATA port on the back, although there's no support for 6Gb/sec SATA 3 yet. Meanwhile, there are VGA, DVI and HDMI connectors on the back, along with all the jacks needed for 7.1 audio.
There's no information on pricing or availability yet, but we'd expect the board to cost just over the £100 mark.