Intel H55, H57 and Q57: New chipsets for Clarkdale processors
After the introduction of the Clarkdale processors (Core i3/i5) Intel also delivers the chipsets that have been designed for the new platform. PC Games Hardware explains the different versions.
Together with the Clarkdale (Intel Core i3 and Core i5 tested - Clarkdale review) Intel also offers the appropriate chips for socket 1156 motherboards: H55, H57 and Q57 are, like the already available P55, single chip designs. So there is not separation into North- and Southbridge. The new chips support the new Clarkdale processors as well as the Lynnfield CPUs. Furthermore P55 boards can work with Clarkdale processors but in that case the integrated graphics unit of Intel's new CPUs is not used - this only works on H55, H57 and Q57 motherboards.
The second big difference to the P55: The PCI Express lanes of the PCI E Controller, which is integrated into the processor, cannot be split on H55, H57 and Q57 boards. So there always are 16 lanes for a single graphics card. On P55 boards from a price region of about 120 Euros the PCI E lanes of the processors are split up by a switch: Two graphics cards get eight lanes each and if only one card is installed it has access to all 16 lanes. But since the new chips deliver six (H55) or eight (H57, Q57) additional PCI Express lanes, using graphics cards in SLI or Crossfire mode is, in theory, possible. Up to now no motherboards with the new chips and SLI or Crossfire support have been announced though. If the additional lanes of H55, H57 and Q57 can be used for a Geforce card as a dedicated Physx accelerator has to be checked in a separate test. Motherboard chip and CPU are linked with a comparatively slow DMI standard.
|Clarkdale graphics unit||Not supported||Supported||Supported||Supported|
|PCI-E 2.0 Lanes (CPU)||1 x 16 oder 2 x 8 Lanes||1 x 16 Lanes||1 x 16 Lanes||1 x 16 Lanes|
|PCI-E 2.0 Lanes (Chip)||8 Lanes||6 Lanes||8 Lanes||8 Lanes|
|PCI||4 Slots||4 Slots||4 Slots||4 Slots|
|USB||14 x USB 2.0||12 x USB 2.0||14 x USB 2.0||14 x USB 2.0|
|SATA ports||6 x SATA II||6 x SATA II||6 x SATA II||6 x SATA II|
|Integrated gigabit LAN||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|RAID||Matrix Storage (optional)||Nein||Rapid Storage (optional)||Rapid Storage (optional)|
|Quiet System Technology||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Thus the P55 chip is still intended for performance hungry socket 1156 buyers who don't need the integrated graphics unit anyway. As the chart shows, the H55 on the other hand is most suitable for low-priced systems: In contrast to the other socket 1156 chipsets it only supports 12 instead of 14 USB 2.0 ports and it doesn't support hard drive technologies like Intel Rapid Storage. Thus most H55 motherboards are offered in the Micro ATX form factor and currently cost between 75 and 100 Euros. If you want a cheap gaming Pc without RAID, SLI or Crossfire the H55 boards are a worthy option nevertheless.
In contrast to the H55 the H57 offers two additional USB ports, Rapid Storage technology and eight instead of six additional PCI Express lanes. The ‘Q' of the Q57 indicates the version for office PCs. The chip mainly is the same as the H57 but allows a better remote maintenance: Even Blue Screens (of Death) can be observed via remote access. All of the new chips support only USB 2.0 and SATA II. For USB 3.0 and SATA 3 you need additional controllers.
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