Asrock H55M Pro - FeaturesThe Asrock H55M Pro is around $10 - $20 cheaper than the Asus and Gigabyte motherboards featured in this article. At just $90 you would expect a rather bland product with no additional features other than those provided by the chipset. Fortunately, you would be wrong as the H55M Pro actually appears better equipped than the Asus P7H55-M Pro.
That's not to say a lot has been added to this motherboard but Asrock did include Firewire and eSATA support, neither of which can be found on the P7H55-M Pro. At the same time there are a few features that cannot be found on the Asrock H55M Pro but are available on other H55 motherboards.
Legacy hardware such as PATA devices and floppy disks are not supported by this motherboard, for example. This is obviously not a big deal as anyone who is migrating to the LGA1156 platform will be undergoing an entire system build, and therefore supporting these age old technologies is not really necessary, especially with today's storage prices.
The only other thing you will miss out on with the Asrock H55M Pro is one USB 2.0 port. Rather than offering the full 12 range, Asrock has provided just 11 ports to avoid having to redesign the I/O panel. Still, 11 ports should be far more than the average user requires so most can look past this.
Substituting for the missing USB 2.0 port is Firewire, which has been provided by the VIA VT6308S controller. This chip can handle a pair of IEEE1394 ports, one of them can be found on the I/O panel while the other can be utilized by purchasing an optional Firewire bracket that connects to an onboard header.
Asrock also used a VIA chip to provide audio support by going with the VT1718S audio codec. This 7.1 channel HD audio codec supports HDMI audio with Dolby True HD and DTS HD master audio with S/PDIF out. Unfortunately, VIA audio drivers are notoriously bad and in fact we were not able to get HDMI audio working at all. VIA doesn't provide much in the way of support and there's also not much -- if any -- info on their website about the VT1718S audio codec.
Gigabit LAN support is provided by a Realtek RTL8111DL controller, similar to the solution used by Gigabyte. The RTL8111DL is commonly used by notebooks and desktops as it utilizes the PCI Express bus for maximum throughput.