h61n usb3 1 Gigabyte quietly launches its H61 mini ITX motherboard

If you're on the hunt for a cheap mini-ITX board for Intel's Sandy Bridge processors then it looks like Gigabyte might have the solution for you with its new GA-H61N-USB3 motherboard. It's the more affordable version of Gigabyte's H67N-USB3 and even though it's using Intel's budget chipset, it's far from a budget board when it comes to features.

If you're on the hunt for a cheap mini-ITX board for Intel's Sandy Bridge processors then it looks like Gigabyte might have the solution for you with its new GA-H61N-USB3 motherboard. It's the more affordable version of Gigabyte's H67N-USB3 and even though it's using Intel's budget chipset, it's far from a budget board when it comes to features.

Gigabyte isn't the first company to make a mini-ITX H61 motherboard though, in fact, Gigabyte is the last of the big board makers to launch a H61 mini-ITX board. The good news is that it's a pretty compromise free motherboard, although there's one or two little niggles, but then again this seems to be a common theme among all of the H61 mini-ITX boards. Most of this is likely down to the board makers not wanting them to compete with their more expensive H67/Z68 boards.

h61n usb3 2 Gigabyte quietly launches its H61 mini ITX motherboard

The PCB layout is more or less identical to the H67N-USB3, with a few minor changes. The most disappointing one is that there are only two SATA ports, as the H61 chipset is limited to only four SATA ports and one of the four ports has been given eSATA duty. In lieu of the missing two SATA connectors is a pretty pointless TPM connector. We'd much rather had another fan header, or even that third SATA port. This is also one of only three mini-ITX boards which has a x16 PCI Express slot which might just come in handy.

The PCB itself has also changed as the H61N-USB3 is part of Gigabyte's Super4 series of motherboards, which despite the name is a category below the Ultra Durable 3 series in which the H67N-USB3 belongs. Another minor change is in the USB 3.0 host controller and although we expected a move away from NEC/Renesas, we didn't expect to see a Fresco Logic FL1009 chip, as Gigabyte has so far been in favour of Etron. That said, the Etron chips are quite big and this is a tiny motherboard, so it's possible that Gigabyte went for Fresco Logic because of the smaller chip size.

h61n usb3 3 Gigabyte quietly launches its H61 mini ITX motherboard

Around the back things have only changed slightly and to some the changes might even be an improvement over the H67N-USB3. What we're looking at is a set of four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, 5.1-channel analogue audio with optical and coaxial S/PDIF out and finally a D-sub, DVI and HDMI port. As such the changes include swapping one of the two HDMI ports of the H67N-USB3 for a DVI port on the H61N-USB3 and losing three of the analogue audio jacks.

The H61N-USB3 is already on sale in Taiwan for NT$3090 (S$130) which compares quite favourable to the H67N-USB3 which retails for NT$4300 (S$180) and if you don't need RAID support or care about SATA 6Gbps speeds, then this looks like a pretty decent alternative for an affordable HTPC or any other kind of tiny PC.

Source: Gigabyte