Provided by: Gigabyte
No compensation was received for review of this product.

Price Point

Price: MSRP $109.99 ($104.99 at NewEgg)

Class: Mainstream HTPC

At a price point of $109.99, the Gigabyte H77N-WiFi is in the mainstream HTPC category of Intel Z77 motherboard systems.

Performance

Benchmarks – Unlike the usual HiTech Legion motherboard benchmarks, which utilize a discrete video card, the H77N-WiFi was reviewed using the integrated HD4000 graphics on the Core i7-3770K so, understandably, the graphics score is lower. The H77N-WiFi would find a home typically in HTPC or home file-server builds, hence benchmarking it without a discrete video card makes sense. The performance results outside of graphically intensive benchmarks and gaming are otherwise well within typical performance range.

Board Layout - A standard mini-ITX layout provides little room for extra components, hence some are surface mounted on the rear, as well, including the ITE super I/O chip. System builders should be mindful of clearance issues when installing tall air coolers, as the DIMM slots, as well as the PCI-E slots, sit closer to the CPU compared to typical ATX form-factors. An mSATA SSD cannot be installed on the PCI-E module area in place of the bundled Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 module because of clearance issues posed by the COM header and the H77 chipset heatsink.

Pre-bundled Accessories – The H77N-WiFi package includes two discs that contain the software bundle, as well as drivers for all onboard features. Two latching SATA cables, one of which is angled, are also included. Two antennas for the Wireless card are provided for extended range.

Wireless – Equipped with an Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 module, the H77N-WiFi has Wireless B/G/N capability, as well as Bluetooth 4.0, 3.0+HS, 2.1+EDR support, providing remarkable connectivity options rarely found on motherboards of its class.

LAN – Dual Realtek 8111F Gigabit LAN is included on board, and the adapter managed to achieve the expected speeds in real world testing and even further improved when the teaming function is enabled on supported platforms.

USB 3.0 – Four USB 3.0 ports are provided in total, two via onboard header and two more built into the rear I/O. These USB 3.0 ports are natively provided by the Intel H77 Express Chipset. The transfer speeds observed were on par with what the typical Z77 USB 3.0 bandwidth provides. Gigabyte's USB ports are designed with one fuse per port and supports On/Off charge functionality.

SATA 6G – Two SATA 6G ports are provided by the H77 chipset and, with Intel's AHCI drivers, performed with excellent transfer rates on par with benchmark results previously seen on Z77 chipset mainboards reviewed.

Peripherals – The Gigabyte H77N-WiFi has two fan headers that are both four-pin PWM for advanced fan control capability. A COM header is available for serial device usage and a combination PS/2 port for legacy keyboard and mouse devices. Digital and Analog audio outputs are available, as well as two HDMI and a DVI-I port for display outputs.  

 

Reviewer's Opinion

Despite having a smaller ITX surface to work on, Gigabyte managed to include plenty of unique features on the H77N-WiFi mainboard.  These features are not just unique for the sake of being unique; they are also extremely useful, especially for an HTPC or a home file server, which are common mini-ITX projects.  Dual-LAN ports with teaming function, as well as integrated Bluetooth 4.0 and Wireless N, provide unmatched network flexibility compared to typical mainstream motherboards, let alone compared to its H77 mini-ITX peers. Since the Gigabyte H77N-WiFi uses the Centrino Wireless-N 2230 module, HTPC system builders can also enjoy Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) functionality.  Dual HDMI, as well as a DVI-I port in the rear, also serve as wired display output options for 1080PHD media with full analog and digital audio feature connectivity on-board.

Available for $104.99 currently from NewEgg, the H77N-WiFi would also make for a low-cost “hackintosh” platform or as a compact LAN gaming box with an additional discrete video card. I was hoping that the Intel Wireless-N 2230 module could be removed and provide a home for an mSATA SSD as an alternative but, unfortunately, the clearance is simply not there, due to the COM port header, as well as the H77 chipset heatsink being in the way.  This is a small issue and hardly a cause for concern, considering the price and all the other features packed on the H77N-WiFi.

The dual UEFI implementation present in the latest Z77/H77 Gigabyte mainboards is also used on the H77N-WiFi, providing easy access to motherboard settings, either through the mouse-friendly 3D BIOS graphical interface or through the more traditional Advanced Mode UEFI.  Understandably, the voltage control options are limited since the H77N is not meant to be an overclocking motherboard, however, those who are looking to undervolt their CPUs are out of luck as the DIMM voltage is the only voltage adjustment available. 

Instead of all the project possibilities shrinking with the PCB size, Gigabyte has managed to expand upon the potential of what a typical ITX system can do.  The high-quality build with a thick glass-fabric PCB, use of lower RDS(on) MOSFETs, all solid Japanese capacitors, surge protection and ESD resistance ICs is impressive for a motherboard in this price range. The UEFI implementation is excellent and very user friendly, both in 3D BIOS mode or in advanced mode. Most importantly, the price puts it within price range of any user looking for a flexible platform to build upon.

Likes:

  • Price
  • 2200MHZ (OC) DDR3 support
  • Dual HDMI ports
  • Dual Realtek 8111F Gigabit LAN
  • Bluetooth 4.0, 3.0+HS, 2.1+EDR
  • Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 with WiDi
  • PWM Fan headers
  • Ultra Durable 4
  • Gigabyte On/Off Charge

 

Dislikes:

  • No voltage adjustment for CPU via UEFI

 

HiTech Legion Gold Award