Exclusive: Hands on with Gigabyte’s upcoming mini-ITX motherboards
Published on 08-21-2012 11:19 AM by
Today we've got a worldwide exclusive, the first hands on pictures of Gigabyte's upcoming mini-ITX motherboards based on the Intel H77 and Z77 chipsets. We've got some good news and we have some bad news, at least if you're looking at things from a CustoMac perspective, so fasten your seatbelts and let's jump right into it.
The PCB of the Z77N-WIFI is identical to that of the H77N-WIFI – this is also why we didn't bother to post pictures of the H77N-WIFI – and the difference here is of course that the Z77N-WIFI offers overclocking as well as features such SSD caching if you're running Windows. Sadly SSD caching isn't compatible with OS X, as the OS doesn't recognise Intel's RAID driver.
The board is fairly basic with a four phase VRM design which means that overclocking is doable, but don't expect to break 4.5GHz on this board if you want a stable system. As you can see from the pictures below, we're looking at a Realtek ALC892 audio codec and a pair of Realtek RTL8111F Ethernet controllers. You also get a pair of 4-pin PWM fan headers and oddly enough the board also has a pin-header for a serial port, just above the Intel Centrino Wireless N-2230 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo card. Although we already knew the Wi-Fi card won't work in OS X, everything is pre-wired to allow for a compatible card to be swapped in and you do also get a pair of antennas to go with the board.
At the rear, things remain the same as with the H77N-WIFI and no matter how much we hoped that Gigabyte would put a DisplayPort connector on the Z77N-WIFI, it didn't happen. Due to Intel's limitations in terms of display outputs combined with the Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge CPU's, this board can only support 1920x1200/2048x1152 resolution at the most per port, which we know some of you weren't too happy about and that's quite understandable, but this applies to all 6 and 7-series motherboards without DisplayPort connectivity.
The bad news is that you'll have to wait another two to three weeks to get your hands on one of these boards, depending on where in the world you're living, but the first lot is shipping by air from Taiwan shortly. The good news is that it would appear that the Z77N-WIFI will be the cheapest Z77 based mini-ITX board in the market at less than US$140 with the H77N-WIFI being some $20 cheaper. Does that make the Z77N-WIFI the ultimate mini-ITX hackintosh board? Well, you tell us, but at least the price point is pretty attractive compared to the competition for the Z77N-WIFI and the boards will have the same advantages when it comes to OS X installation as all of Gigabyte's other 7-series LGA-1155 motherboards.
Photo surfaces of Gigabyte's upcoming H77N-WIFI mini-ITX motherboard
Gigabyte's H77 mini-ITX board unveiled, of sorts
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