A great-value microATX LGA1156 motherboard that's good for both low-cost PCs and media centre systems alike.
LGA1156, microATX, Intel H55 chipset, supports: Core i3, Core i5, Core i7
At just under £70, Biostar’s TH55B HD means you can build an LGA1156 PC for little more than an old LGA775-based one. You might appreciate its eye-catching black and red colour scheme if you’re fitting it into a case with a transparent side panel. More practical are the power and reset buttons, which are useful for testing the board during installation without having to connect your case’s front panel buttons.
It’s a compact microATX model that’s well suited for use in a media centre PC. It supports the integrated graphics chips built into Intel’s latest Core i3 and i5 processors and has a HDMI port so you only need one cable to output audio and video. If you want to connect an older surround-sound amplifier, there’s an S/PDIF header but no actual output.
If you want to add an internal TV tuner or sound card, there are two PCI slots as well as a PCI Express x1 slot. A dedicated graphics card can be plugged into the PCI Express x16 graphics card slot, but the slot is located close to the passively cooled Northbridge. The tight spacing can make fitting an especially chunky card a little tricky.
There are six SATA ports for connecting storage devices. There’s no RAID controller to join multiple internal hard disks together for enhanced speed or reliability, but this is forgivable at this price. In addition to the four USB ports, there are three headers which can also be turned into ports using backplates. There are also headers for adding parallel and serial ports for using legacy peripherals, but more USB or SATA headers, or perhaps FireWire headers, would have been more useful for more people.
Biostar’s TH55B HD isn’t without its flaws, but they’re forgivable at this price. This is a great choice for building a LGA1156 PC on a budget.
|Core i3, Core i5, Core i7
|Processor external bus
|133MHz (2.0GB/s Direct Media Interface)
|Chipset north bridge
|Chipset south bridge
|Passively-cooled north bridge
|Supported memory type
|Maximum memory speed
|1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 4-pin ATX
|PCI-E x16 slots
|Dual graphics architecture
|PCI-E x4 slots
|PCI-E x1 slots
|Serial ATA ports
|RAID chipset (max disks)
|Wired network ports
|Realtek ALC662 (3x analogue out, S/PDIF header)
|USB2 ports / headers
|Firewire ports / headers
|1x PS/2, parallel header, serial header
|HDMI, DVI, VGA
|3x SATA, 1x Molex to SATA power
Setup and Overclocking
|CPU clock max adjustment