We recently reviewed nine Mini-ITX motherboards with integrated processors and two Mini-ITX boards with AMD Socket FM1 processors. If you want to assemble a more powerful Mini-ITX system, then you should look at motherboards with Intel Socket 1155 processors. In part 3 of our Mini-ITX series we will test a number of these boards.
We received eight ITX boards with the Intel Socket 1155 processor socket, compatible with Intel Sandy and Ivy Bridge processors. If you combine them with a fast Core i5 or Core i7, you can build a compact yet powerful system.
We encountered three different chipsets in this segment. The H77 and Z77 chipset are Intel's latest 7 series. The Z77 is the most deluxe chipset and features 2x SATA600, 4x SATA300, 4x USB 3.0, 10x USB 2.0, RAID 0/1/10/5 and SSD caching. The Z77 chipset also makes it possible to overclock K processors. The H77 is more affordable, and lacks overclocking and SLI/ Crossfire support (which aren't relevant for ITX anyway). An H77 or Z77 board with enough SATA connectors and an energy-efficient Celeron or Pentium processor can serve as a nice foundation for a home server.
A number of manufacturers also have a budget solution based on the previous-generation H61 chipset, which also is compatible with Ivy Bridge processors. With this chipset you don't get USB 3.0, 4x SATA300 (no 600), no SSD caching and no RAID. It's less ideal for a home server or gaming PC, but fine for an affordable and compact allround PC.
We tested the boards in combination with a Core i7 3770K Ivy Bridge processor.