Consumers have a staggering array of options when considering a new motherboard and it can be quite tricky to narrow down the choices. MSI produces a stunning range which targets various price points and user demands. Whether you’re looking for a flagship X99 server-grade product, or affordable H170 gaming motherboard, there’s something to suit everyone’s budget. The company has recently launched a promotion which allows you to receive cashback on the following motherboards:
X99A GODLIKE GAMING – £40.00
X99A GAMING 9 ACK – £40.00
X99A GAMING 7 – £30.00
C236A WORKSTATION – £30.00
Z170A GAMING M9 ACK – £30.00
Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM EDITION – £30.00
B150A GAMING PRO – £22.00
H170A GAMING PRO – £22.00
C236M WORKSTATION – £22.00
Z170A GAMING M7 – £22.00
Z170A GAMING M5 – £22.00
Z170A-G45 GAMING – £22.00
Z170A GAMING PRO – £22.00
Z170A GAMING PRO CARBON – £22.00
Z170A KRAIT GAMING 3X – £22.00
Z170I GAMING PRO AC – £22.00
Z170A TOMAHAWK AC – £15.00
Z170A TOMAHAWK – £15.00
Z170A SLI PLUS – £15.00
Z170M MORTAR – £15.00
H170M-A PRO – £15.00
H170I PRO AC – £15.00
B150M NIGHT ELF – £15.00
B150M MORTAR – £15.00
B150I GAMING PRO AC – £15.00
B150I GAMING PRO – £15.00
Please note the cashback offer is only available residents of the United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Poland, Spain and Turkey. Furthermore, you need to have a valid proof of purchase from participating retailers. If you’re eligible, the claim process is really simple and shouldn’t take too long to complete. The promotion ends on the 18th April 2016, and all claims must be filled 30 days after the purchase date. Although, you can’t leave it longer than 60 days to complete.
To register your product and instigate a claim please visit this page. Cashback offers are always a great incentive and reduces the price of a product you’re considering by a decent amount. Perhaps, this is enough of a saving and an encouragement to upgrade to a higher-end model. Please remember the promotion is for a limited time so it’s important to register your claim as soon as possible. Personally, I feel the Z170A Pro Carbon is a bargain even without the cashback offer.
The majority of consumer motherboards supporting Intel’s latest architecture utilizes the Z170 chipset. This makes business sense due to the large number of enthusiasts purchasing DDR4 memory speeds in excess of 2133MHz and engaging in overclocking. For the more budget-conscience user, the H170 and B150 chipsets provide great performance with some limitations. As previously mentioned, the main drawbacks revolve around the lack of overclocking and maximum memory support for DDR4-2133. In recent months, there has been some furore surrounding BCLK overclocking which allowed the end-user to overclock on a H170 or B150 motherboard. Unfortunately, Intel has quashed this idea on new products and tried to force consumers to use a new BIOS to disable this functionality.
Intel’s B150 chipset is primarily designed for business customers so it seems a little strange to see gaming features on B150 motherboards. Honestly, I mostly see these products being purchased by consumers with a limited budget opting for a locked multiplier CPU and cheap memory. The latest B150 motherboard to be announced is the MSI B150M Gaming Pro. As its name suggests, the motherboard adopts the mATX format and suitable for a compact build. The B150M Gaming Pro features two DIMM slots, and supports a maximum capacity of 32GB. This should be more than enough to power an affordable gaming rig, or business PC. As you can see from the header image, the motherboard contains a single PCI-E x16 slot, and 6 SATA 3 ports. There’s also 6 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports on the rear and 2 on the front via an internal header.
On another note, the motherboard supports MSI’s DDR4 Boost technology, LAN Protect, Game Boost and utilizes their Military Class 4 components. The Click BIOS 5 makes navigation remarkably simple, and there’s overvoltage protection to maintain maximum stability. In terms of audio, the product has a Realtek ALC887 codec and Audio Boost. The package is bundled with MSI’s DS B1 Interceptor gaming mouse sporting a 1600 DPI, gold connector, LED illumination and removable weights!
Since the official reveal of Intel’s latest mainstream LGA1151 platform, we’ve analysed the performance numbers of various Z170 motherboards and even taken an analytical look at the non-overclocking H170 offerings. However, there’s another chipset available to consumers even though it’s primarily marketed towards business users. More specifically, the B150 chipset includes Intel’s Small Business Advantage software package to manage a small network of PCs using fairly rudimentary desktop applications. As a result, it seems quite a bizarre choice to release a B150 motherboard which adopts a lavish visual design, although it might be suitable for business clients wanting to play games during their downtime.
In a similar vein to the H170 chipset, there are some technical limitations when opting for the more budget friendly options. For example, B150 motherboards support a maximum of 18 HSIO lanes (in addition to 16 PCI-E from the CPU) compared to 26 on Z170. Additionally, overclocking is disabled even with an unlocked multiplier CPU, the PCI-E lanes are reduced from 20 to 8, and there’s a small dip in USB 3.0 ports down from 14 to 12. Despite these cutbacks, there’s still more than enough connectivity, and features to please a large quantity of consumers. The ASUS B150 PRO GAMING/AURA is a fascinating motherboard because it brings many of the high-end components from the Z170 range and comes with an excellent array of gaming focussed software. This means, it’s possibly the most ostentatious and impressive B150 motherboard I’ve encountered thus far, and I expect to see some impressive performance numbers in our typical benchmark procedure.
Packing and Accessories
The motherboard is packaged in an attractive box which outlines the RGB sections and high-speed M.2 support. Additionally, there’s a promotional 15-day code to access a premium account in the free-to-play title, War of Warships.
On the rear, there’s a basic overview of the board layout, a technical synopsis and details about the AURA RGB lighting system. Furthermore, ASUS also provides information on the Digi+ VRM, USB 3.1 connectivity, premium audio hardware and gaming software.
In terms of accessories, the B150 PRO GAMING/AURA includes a user’s guide, cable labels, zip ties to help with cable management and drivers disk.
As you might expect, the motherboard comes with an I/O shield, SATA cables and M.2 fixing screws.
We’ve mostly seen BIOSTAR motherboards in the HiFi series lately with their characteristic piano styled heatsinks, but BIOSTAR’s next generation of motherboards come with a new theme: Racing. The first motherboards in the new BIOSTAR Racing series are the Z170GT7, H170GT3, and B150GT5 where the names already reveal the chipsets used: Z170, H170, and B150 respectively.
BIOSTAR is mostly known as a budget manufacturer, but they use some high-quality components as these new motherboards also prove. They come with Super Durable Ferrite chokes for high-quality power delivery to vital components, Super Durable Solid Caps for longer-lasting performance, and DUAL BIOS that guarantees resilient motherboard operation if the BIOS should fail. All three come with Intel LAN and the storage options include the new and faster SATA-Express and PCI-e M.2 slots for use with the newest storage drives on the market.
Just because these boards don’t come in the HiFi series, doesn’t mean that the Racing series doesn’t have good audio components and they also come with BIOSTAR’s signature HI-FI audio experience. The motherboards feature an I/O Armor to give the system a better look and also comes with customizable LED effects. You expand your chassis and increase the lighting abilities thanks to the onboard 5050-header for LED strips and then control it via the included VIVID LED DJ.
Besides what I’ve already mentioned, you get a new 100 series motherboard with the features that this brings along, such as plenty of USB connections from 2.0 to 3.1, Intel i217 LAN, plenty of storage connectivity, and four DDR4 DIMM slots along with BIOSTAR’s BIO-Remote 2 and online BIOS update functions that both are extremely useful.
The new BIOSTAR Racing Series is built on what they call the BIOSTAR 6+ Experience and it is composed out of six main features: Speed+, Audio+, Video+, Durable+, Protection+ and DIY+. All things that matter.
BIOSTAR didn’t reveal any pricing at this time but expect them to be cheaper than the average board in the same categories. Sadly there weren’t more photos provided and the official product pages haven’t launched yet, but I’m sure that we’ll see a lot more on these board during CES 2016.
ASRock motherboards usually feature a twist of some sort, setting them apart from the rest. They had the overclocking feature for CPUs on the H87 and B85 non-Z motherboards and recently they added the memory overclocking easter egg to their Z170 Skylake motherboards that allow automatic overclocking of select memory modules. Now they are going one step further and have cracked the RAM overclocking limitations on the non-Z Skylake boards B150, H170, and H110.
The ASRock DDR4 OC feature appears in the UEFI BIOS when the user has installed certain memory modules such as those from Kingston or Samsung. This otherwise hidden feature allows you to overclock the memory frequency from 2133MHz to a max of 2800MHz – providing a 30% boost in clock speed. Intel normally doesn’t feature memory overclocking on anything but the top Z-line motherboards, but ASRock cracked this limitation and the feature is now also available on select ASRock H170, B150, and H110 motherboards. Test show that DDR4 Non-Z overclocking can deliver a 5% memory performance boost measure with SiSoftware Sandra memory benchmark on an ASRock B150 chipset motherboard.
So with a hidden feature like this, how would you know when it is enabled or not. Well, the BIOS boot screen will not show a plain white ASRock icon anymore but instead one that has a coloured light effect added, making it easy to recognize.
Asus announced a new motherboard in two versions for the value oriented gamer that would like a system with all the modern features at a slightly lower cost, the new B150 Pro Gaming motherboards in plain simple and as an Aura model that also comes with LED-illumination. Other than that, the two new motherboards are the same.
Built with the B150 chipset, the new Asus Pro Gaming motherboards allow you to use the 6th generation Skylake Core processors as well as up to 64GB DDR4 dual-channel memory. The motherboards also bring great audio to the end-user in the form of SupremeX and Sonic Radar II. Networking is taken care of by an Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet controller that features both LANGuard and GameFirst technologies to give you the perfect gaming experience with zero lag and great audio.
Naturally, you also get the newest connection technologies, including USB 3.1 Type-A, USB 3.1 Type-C, and an M.2 slot for NVMe SSDs next to plenty of the older connections storage and connectors. You can connect 6 SATA3 drives to these motherboards and also six USB 2.0 and six USB 3.0.
Durability shouldn’t be an issue for the B150 Pro Gaming motherboards as they are built with durable capacitors that can resist temperatures between -55 and +110 degrees Celcius while the input/output panel is made of corrosion-resistant stainless-steel. ASUS also added their ESD Guards to actively protect against sudden ESD surges on the USB, audio, and LAN ports.
Asus did not reveal any pricing or availability at this time.
Every time there has been a change to a new DDR standard, motherboard manufacturers have often retained some models that continue to use the older ram specification. This time around, we’re getting a number of boards with dual support, being compatible with both DDR3 and DDR4. Today ASRock has quietly launched their B150M Combo-G motherboard with support for both DDR3/3L and DDR4 ram with Intel’s latest Skylake LGA1551 platform.
Based off the budget B150 chipset, the mATX board boats all of the usual modern features. Despite not being an overclocking board, there are six digital phases for power along with high-quality solid state inductors. Gigabit LAN is provided via an Intel chip while audio is provided by a Realtek ALC887 Audio Codec with ELNA capacitors. For expansion cards, 2 PCIe x16 slots are provided but the 2nd one comes from the chipset. Rounding off the features, we have up to 6 USB 3.0 ports along with full electrical surge protection.
Along with the BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170Z3, the B150M Combo-G will be one of the better choices for those hoping to retain their DDR3 ram. As noted earlier, both 1.5v and 1.65v DDR3 should work with Skylake just fine and having DDR4 support as well means that a future upgrade to newer ram is possible. Unfortunately, both DDR3 and DDR4 cannot work at the same time and that is unlikely to change.
With the release of Intel’s new Skylake platform, more and more people are in the need for DDR4 memory instead of the older generation of DDR3 modules. Sure, there are a few boards that support DDR3, but why go for something lesser when you don’t have to. Kingston’s enthusiast department HyperX has released their newest DDR4 modules that are designed to work with Skylake on the Z170 and 100 series chipsets as well as the a little older X99 chipset.
The new modules from Kingston’s HyperX division are called Savage and come with speeds of up to 3000MHz. The built-in XMP profiles are optimized for both Intel’s Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs and allow for the easy setup that we’ve come to rely on. The new Savage modules are available as single modules up to 8GB and kits up to 64GB, which is the downside here. More and more people are looking to go beyond the natural limitation you deal with when limited to a maximum of 8GB per module, but I’m sure that bigger version already are in the works.
“We are excited to present this new high speed, yet power efficient memory for those gamers and enthusiasts looking to maximize system performance,” said Lawrence Yang, business manager, HyperX. “HyperX Savage DDR4 offers consumers standout performance, and with its asymmetrical die-cast aluminum, low-profile heat spreader and matching black PCB a standout look to upgrade any system.”
As mentioned the modules go up to 8GB capacity each, but there is also a 4GB version available. The frequencies available range from 2133MHz to 3000MHz, allowing you to choose what you need and prevent you from spending a lot of money on something you might not even need. The CAS Latency is rated between 12 and 15 and the modules are backed by Kingston’s known lifetime warranty.
HyperX Savage DDR4 Features and Specifications:
Capacities: 4GB-8GB (single), 8GB-64GB (kits)
Frequency: 2133MHz, 2400MHz, 2666MHz, 2800MHz and 3000MHz
With Intel opening up the CPU line up for all to see, motherboard manufacturers are now offering up the lower market motherboards to reside below the Z170 options. Following previous nomenclature for the Intel chipset, these motherboards will come under the H170, B150 and H110 chipsets.
MSI have now introduced multiple Pro series offerings with these chipsets, all featuring the best that Intel 100 series has to offer with the stability and reliability that MSI is renowned for. The new PRO series will span over 30 different motherboards of different sizes and also includes the Z170 chipset, which means we could see Z170 performance for not a lot of money.
Some of the features include DDR4 Boost, optimised memory channels for direct and uninterrupted memory signals for the best possible performance, Turbo M.2, SATA Express with Turbo U.2, CLICK BIOS 5, M-Cloud and many more.
MSI has received the renowned reliability status from years of motherboard productions with Military grade components. With the high-grade components also comes some incredibly simple user features, ED Debug LED, Overvoltage Protection and VGA Armor for the PCIe slots. These motherboards are a no-fuss option and great for system builders to create or even upgrade consumer computers.
Are you looking forward to the other chipsets from MSI? Let us know in the comments.
Thank you to TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.
MSI has already shown us what it can do with the Z170 gaming motherboard series, but like every other manufacturer, the features comes at a price; especially on a premium chipset. We have all been waiting for the H170, B150 and H110 chipsets since Skylake launch last month, but we didn’t really know what was going to be offered. Today has seen MSI release multiple motherboard series and with that has expanded the Gaming series with some great looking options.
The range will see the introduction of the BAZOOKA and MORTAR ranges, taking inspiration from the KRAIT series for the colour scheme and will come under the Arsenal Gaming series. The B150A GAMING PRO and B150M NIGHT ELF are added into the Performance Gaming series; offering high performance at an affordable price.
The two leading motherboards will be the Gaming M5 H170 and B150 options, both featuring the usual Turbo M.2, USB 3.1 and GAMING LAN for optimal performance. Here are the key features:
“DDR4 Boost By fully isolating the memory circuitry from other components, DDR4 Boost ensures the memory signal to stay pure for maximum performance and stability.
Audio Boost 3 & Nahimic Studio-grade audio solution for gamers, powered by Nahimic Audio Enhancer. With dual OPA1652 AMPs and metal EMI Shielding you get breathtaking sound quality.
MSI GAMING LAN with Killer & LAN Protect MSI Gaming LAN is powered by the Killer LAN E2400 with intelligent AES 2.0, automatically prioritizes games above other applications. The LAN connector with led features 15KV anti-surge protection for safety.
Military Class V components A new standard in high quality components. The all new Titanium inductor has a solid structure, it can withstand even higher temperatures and has better heat dissipation for more stability and a longer lifespan.
Game in style with the MSI Performance GAMING Series Engineered to provide both a stunning gaming and visual experience, the MSI Z170 Performance GAMING series give you plenty of reasons to show off. The new H170A GAMING PRO, B150A GAMING PRO and B150M NIGHT ELF motherboards are one-of-a-kind. The H170A and B150A GAMING PRO motherboards allow you to customize and display your own unique style with Mystic Light to change color while, again, offering the best gaming features with Audio Boost 3, GAMING LAN and Multi GPU capabilities to serve you in battle and offer the best performance.
Style your PC with the RGB LEDs from Mystic Light Supporting more than 16.5 million colors and many style presets such as breathing, flashing and waving, Mystic Light makes you enjoy and personalize your PC to your own taste. Just change the color to another one using the easy to use Mystic Light APP and make your PC look & feel brand new! With 2048 different colors and 7 different LED modes, the Mystic Light provides infinite possibilities for gamers to personalize their gaming rig.
MSI GAMING LAN with Intel & LAN Protect MSI GAMING LAN found on Performance GAMING motherboards is powered by Intel Gigabit LAN, and features automatic prioritizing of game traffic above other applications using the MSI GAMING LAN Manager. The LAN connector with LED features 15KV anti-surge protection for safety.
Gaming Hotkey Gaming Hotkey enables more functionality using your own keyboard. Simply assign macros to any key and launch your favorite games, load overclocking profiles or do real-time overclocking with the push of a single button. The possibilities are endless!
Steel Armor MSI GAMING motherboards come equipped with reinforced PCI-e connectors with Steel Armor to easily support even the heaviest graphics cards in multi GPU setups.
Dominate MOBA gaming with the Arsenal GAMING motherboards Arsenal GAMING motherboards feature GAMING LAN, Audio Boost, USB 3.1 and unique DDR4 Boost technology with optimized traces and fully isolated memory circuitry, ensuring the memory signals stay pure for optimal performance and stability. With the TOMAHAWK, MORTAR, BAZOOKA and GRENADE motherboard, each model offers its own unique design, the Arsenal GAMING motherboards offer endless gaming fun, whether playing online or offline.
GAMING DNA GAMING on the inside, GAMING on the outside. Red or white LED ambient lights are added to give the motherboard an awesome look and feel, ready for battle.”
Have you already upgraded to Skylake or was you waiting for the rest of the Intel 100 Chipset series to be released before making you mind? Let us know in the comments.
Thank you to TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.
Computex 2015 – MSi is one of the biggest names when it comes to enthusiast motherboards. By offer some of the best components in the world and performance to match; it makes a formidable force and a great option to build a computer on.
Today we get to take a quick look at the new range of Skylake motherboards, including the Z170, B150 and H170 chipsets. As we know, the Z170 chipset is the only one to currently feature DDR4 memory channels, but this could change in the future if more people decide to move onto DDR4. What we see today is the more budget-friendly models, but we should see some of the high range models appear either towards the end of Computex or at a closer date to the release of the Skylake processors.
There are currently 2 misprints on the spec sheets, on the H170M Pro-VDH and B150M Pro-VDH; it state 2x DIMM’s, but they quite clearly have 4x DIMM’s. We will keep you updated with any news and events from the rest of Computex 2015.
Computex 2015 – After the press event yesterday, ECS has invited us down to take a closer look at some of its motherboard. We took a keen interest in the ‘Durathon 2’ range. These will offer the highest quality components to ensure lasting performance and longevity.
They boast some pretty impressive specifications, DDR4 on the Intel 170 chipset and DDR3 on the rest, ample of storage connections, high-quality audio, and fast ethernet connections. Due to the colour themes and lack of distinctive heatsinks, I would assume that these will be primarily targeted at the OEM manufacturers rather than enthusiast market.
We look forward to seeing more from ECS in the future and we will keep you updated with any news or events from the rest of Computex 2015.
Intel’s Broadwell CPUs will continue the shelf-life of Intel’s Z97 and H97 platforms as Intel migrates from the current Haswell CPU architecture next year. Broadwell will arrive on the Intel performance and Mainstream platforms next year, that’s on the Z97 and H97 chipsets and this is expected to occur in Q2 of 2015. However, we won’t just be seeing Broadwell in Q2 of 2015 because according to the latest leaked Intel Roadmap Intel will also offer Skylake shortly after, something we heard about a few weeks back. Skylake will arrive on all Intel platform segments shortly after Broadwell and will take Intel’s chipset family into the new “100” series. Unlike Broadwell and the 9 series which are only offered in the consumer performance and mainstream segments, Skylake and the 100 series will be offered across the entire Intel range of chipsets.
The specifications of Intel’s upcoming chipsets can be seen above. As we see they are not too different to the 8 and 9 series boards; Z87 and Z97 also offer 6 SATA III and 20 PCIe lanes for example. Intel has increased the USB 3.0 count and also the SATA Express and M.2 capabilities of the 100 series. It is important to remember that 100 series motherboards and Skylake CPUs will not be compatible with anything from the 8/9 series or Haswell/Broadwell. Skylake, which are Intel’s sixth generation Core Series CPUs, will utilise a new LGA 1151 socket and they will also have the ability to run DDR3 or DDR4 memory depending on the configuration. Expect exciting things in 2015 from Intel if these rumours are anything to go by!