Four LGA-1150 Motherboards Under $60

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terion

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We get that. We have guys working on it. But to be honest, we wanted to get this article done first
That's fine. I can't wait to see that. MicroATX and 80-120$ target sounds great.
I like that You focus on details that are not really visible from spec, like layout issues, VRM cooling etc. This is whole point of technical journalism!
 

PaulBags

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Can't you just put a newer os on it and be fine? Sure, you're not going to boot from GPT, but once the OS is loaded what does it matter?
 

joex444

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Any memory benchmark? The B85 should run in dual channel while the H81s were all single channel. The G3258 supports dual channel, AFAIK. Maybe it's simply not bottlenecked by memory and there's no performance difference that any of the shown benchmarks yield, but if there was a memory bandwidth comparison we could at least ensure that the B85 was configured correctly.
 

RedJaron

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Thank you all. I've done plenty of tech writing and reviews in the past, but nothing that would be this widely read so I was a little apprehensive. I'm glad you liked it.



I can only review what is sent to me. We invited pretty much everyone to participate in this, but we can't coerce manufacturers to send us product. Even if Thomas and I could buy every model out there at our own expense, we don't have time to review every single one.


I've got a quartet of $100 - $130 boards on my bench right now. We're getting there, but it will take a little time.


It has to do with the review theme. As I said on the first page, we asked specifically for LGA1150 mboards retailing at $60 that had unofficial overclocking support and that we would use the G3258 in our testing. That's it. No chipset restrictions, no size or form-factor restrictions. It's up to the manufacturer whether they have a "sleeper" OC mboard and whether they want to submit it.


I don't disagree with the second slot idea. I've got a mATX board on my bench right now and the GPU backplate is literally touching the RAM release tabs. Given mATX's limited slot count, moving it down one row has other implications. But putting the x1 slot up top and the x16 at #2 like on most full ATX boards doesn't sound like a bad idea. For a SLI or CFX mATX board that of course doesn't work.

More SATA ports is debatable. H81 can't provide more than four SATA ports anyway. Everything else can go up to six. To go above that on any current Intel chipset you need add-on controllers, which increases the cost of the board and would probably move it out of the $60 range we asked for here. But even so, you can't RAID on H81 or B85. You can readily find six-port mATX B85 and H87 boards on the cheap for home servers and the like that need the extra drives. But remember the theme here was low-end OCing, and that's not a big concern in servers.


Yes, but only H87/97. The H81 and B85 boards do not support RAID in the chipset.

Someone told me years years ago that if you ask me for the time, I'll tell you how to build a clock. These are cheap boards, but I still felt them worthy for good coverage. I'm not following you on the second part. These may not have all the toys of premium boards, but I definitely consider them "tweakers."


If anyone does this, please send me pictures. My main concern in using an i7 is the current draw through the VRMs. The G3258 is only a 50W chip. The 4970K is close to double that. I suspect the VRM would become the limiting factor before heat, so putting it under water wouldn't help. And again, this was about OCing on the cheap. If you've got money for an i7 and water cooling, you should have an extra $50 to get at least a low-end Z board to make them worthwhile.

You can overclock the K chips in these as well. The ASRock BIOS said "Non-Z OC", not non-K. It let's you mess with multipliers and voltage, the same settings you'd use on a Z board.


By all means I'm open to feedback. What about it did you find so terrible? What results were questionable?

As said numerous times now, I can only test what was sent to me. If you want to complain about the lack of a specific product, I propose you take it up with the manufacturer for not submitting it.

A few degrees within the safe zone don't matter. Doesn't mean I want to push it as far as possible with a low-end board. Since no board here has a dedicated heat sink, I and many others thought it a good idea to monitor them to make sure they weren't getting unreasonably hot.

If it makes a difference to you, I used an IR thermometer to measure them. Every entry here had matte black or dark grey chokes and exposed black silicon. No special glossy layers means emissivity should be around 0.95 - 1.0. So setting my therm to 0.96 I ran it across the entire VRM circuitry every few minutes while under full load and noted the highest temperature recorded. Is that "scientific" enough for you? I would have loved to have a FLIR camera, but that's outside my budget.

Again, what part of "they didn't submit those boards" do you not understand? In terms of the D Plus, that regularly retails for $65, meaning it doesn't meet the criteria of this roundup. Promos and especially rebates don't count since they can change by the time the review actually gets published. Boards have been dinged for just that in the past where the promised price isn't met upon release.

I'm sorry you had a problematic board. I used the USB3 ports quite a bit in this review to install drivers and tuning applications with no problems. I also pushed the G3258 far beyond the power an i3 would draw. Again, I saw no problems with it.

Newsflash: I have no contact with Tom's accounting, and I have no idea who spends what on advertising. But baseless accusations usually amuse me, so thank you for the laugh.

Now, longevity and durability testing would be great, but reality dictates that reviews should be posted while the product is still relevant, preferably when it's first released. No single reviewer has the capacity to stress test a product for months at a time. Doing so would mean Haswell reviews would have just come out.

Don't forget your hat on the way out.
 

RedJaron

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Yes, I used Sandra to benchmark the RAM. The chart is in the Sandra graph cluster on page 8. And actually all these boards are dual-channel. The difference is that H81 can only support a single DIMM per channel while B85 and up can handle two DIMMs per channel. Simplified, H81 can only use two DIMMS total while everything else can use four. This B85 board only had two DIMM slots, however.
 

Onus

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Hmmm, I ought to have noticed the "Non-Z" vs. "Non-K." Your focus was obviously on overclocking, so it probably would interest tweakers more. Mine tends to be more on OOB experience, with maybe a few "easy" changes applied; what a [cautious] [mainstream] user might try.
 

Calculatron

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I was actually just wondering if, perhaps, it had to do with the BIOS. Gigabyte and Biostar are not known for their amazing BIOSes.
 

mczak1

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No DP and not even HDMI is quite limiting - this means one monitor only (just don't mention the VGA output, ok?), with a max resolution of 1920x1200 (or 2560x1600 and 30Hz if you manage to find one which can do this). The problem here is that DVI is (and always has been) single link only with intel igps.
With HDMI (1.4) you can at least do 2560x1600 at 60 Hz (AsRock claims otherwise but I don't believe them, the igp can certainly do it though there's probably monitors around which can't), 4k at 30 Hz should work as well.
These IGPs may not be the fastest but certainly more than enough for driving high resolution monitors for office-related work.
 

RedJaron

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I do mention the lack of DisplayPort in the review, however as I also said, I'm not surprised by its absence on a $60 motherboard. Also, two boards here have HDMI. And even as old as the VGA port is, it's still worth mentioning because for basic office and home work, it's still sufficient and many people still have old displays that use it. So no, it's untrue to say you're restricted to a single display using the IGPU.

And complaining you can't drive a hi-res display on an IGPU is rather ridiculous, especially on inexpensive mboards. A $60 mboard + $70 CPU + $60 RAM + $60 HDD + $50 PSU = $300 system. Tell me what kind of office user spends more on a display than they do on their actual system.
 

James Mason

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I just also wanted to thank you guys for finally posting an article about affordable mother boards.

I kinda wished you DID do actual game play, with things like i3s and i5s and modest/moderate GPUs like GTX 750ti/960/970, ect. Non Oc'd and the like.

Because really, we all know motherboards don't matter much for gameplay, it's just nice having numbers to back it up.
 

Crashman

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The Mini-ITX Z97 article sitting in queue has a couple "made for overclocking" (by way of having the Z97) models with 4-phase voltage regulators. You'll be surprised at how quickly these run out of room on the Core i7-4790K :)

3-phase? It's going to trip the motherboard's thermal protection and downclock the 4790K below STOCK speed, while using STOCK voltage, at full CPU load. Best to stick with dual-cores if you want a high clock on a cheap voltage regulator.
 

RedJaron

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Sorry you had to wait so long, it took some time to get the time and manpower available to do it, and we've got more coming.

I agree it would have been fun to use a range of CPUs to get a feel for how high the board could "punch above its weight." It was a casualty of trying to get these missing segments covered as fast as possible. It wasn't feasible to get me a copy of every bench component Thomas uses for his Z97 and X99 reviews and use them in this review. We went with whatever was the fastest way to get enough hardware to sufficiently review the boards for the lowest cost.

While I'd love to experiment with an i5-K in one of these, it would have been a thought experiment and not much else. Like I siad, it'd be fun, but not very practical. The vast majority of users don't spend four or five times the money on a CPU as the mboard it lives in. If you're going to spend $300 - $400 on CPU and cooling, you should have the extra money to get a better equipped Z board instead of one of these. If you have a big block 429, you don't skimp on a tranny or tires, otherwise you'll never get to actually use the power under the hood.

The decision to not use actual games was mine, so if that's disappointing others, I'll own up to it. As a low-budget board, I thought it would be nice to use readily available benchmarks ( meaning free, ) so that readers could run the same tests I ran here and compare their own systems to what is being tested. And as you said, the mboard doesn't actually affect gaming so long as it's not handicapping the connectivity lanes. A locked i3 will perform the same whether it's in H81, H87, or Z97. The SBMs usually do a good job of showing game performance with various parts. The most recent budget system used an i3 and R9 280, so that should give you an idea of what any of these boards can do when paired with slightly pricier parts.
 

mczak1

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I do mention the lack of DisplayPort in the review, however as I also said, I'm not surprised by its absence on a $60 motherboard. Also, two boards here have HDMI. And even as old as the VGA port is, it's still worth mentioning because for basic office and home work, it's still sufficient and many people still have old displays that use it. So no, it's untrue to say you're restricted to a single display using the IGPU.
Ok limited to one reasonable display then (in any case you couldn't drive a high-res display from it neither)...

And complaining you can't drive a hi-res display on an IGPU is rather ridiculous, especially on inexpensive mboards. A $60 mboard + $70 CPU + $60 RAM + $60 HDD + $50 PSU = $300 system. Tell me what kind of office user spends more on a display than they do on their actual system.
FWIW you can get 2560x1440 displays for less than that (though such cheap ones tend to have only one dual-link DVI port, so won't work with the boards which have HDMI neither).
Also, I don't think paying more for the monitor than the rest of the system is ridiculous at all, I certainly did 10 years ago.
1) Larger screen most likely increases productivity in nearly all scenarios, more computing power only in very limited scenarios.
2) Monitors age WAYYY slower than the rest - guess what monitor I'm still using but what desktop computer I'm not... (ok it is getting old now really...)
 

voiceip

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Asrock have H81M-G easy run 4770K at 4.7Ghz daily, sweet and beauty budget mobo, maybe it didn't available at you guys country?
 

Crashman

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Former Staff
It's not available in the US as far as I can see. And maybe it wouldn't run our 4790K at 4.7 GHz. I haven't seen any inexpensive voltage regulators that could run it past 4.40 GHz, because our 4790K is leaky and needs a lot of current, and because we run an "unrealistically tough" load.
 

Crashman

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These are all much cheaper than the Z97-A, have one GPU slot, and have overclock ability.
 

chrpai

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None of the boards have 4 DIMMS. If I was interested in 2 DIMM I'd go for an ITX board. Looking at Newegg I see the Biostar Hi-Fi B85S3+ for $58 and the Gigabyte GA-B85M-DS3H for $53.99 after $10 rebate. It would have been really good to see these boards in this review.
 

Onus

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Is there a realistic, workable way to allow readers to submit products (at their expense) about which they are curious for review (as time permits)? Perhaps more realistically, can Tom's facilitate a channel between potential customers and vendors, to encourage the latter to submit specific boards for review?
 

RedJaron

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I still don't understand what you're getting at. Though old, VGA is still perfectly reasonable for home and office work. I wouldn't want to use it for gaming or professional graphic creation, but neither of those fall under common IGPU use; they use a discrete GPU. And you're arguing with yourself with #2. Yes, monitors last a lot longer than systems, especially in home and office uses. With that being the case, it's very common to find older VGA and DVI only monitors in homes and businesses, especially those in 1280x1024, 1600x900, and 16080x1050 resolutions. Displays above 1920x1200 are a rarity in most businesses and homes. Even most gamers don't go above 1080 right now.

Yes, larger displays can increase productivity. But multiple monitors do as well and it's far cheaper to get two basic screens than a single 1440 or 4K display. I know you're not averse to spending hundreds on a 1440 display, but you, me, and most people on these forums are also the exception. We're the tech enthusiasts who want premium tech because we have computing needs and wants far higher than the vast majority of computer users out there.

You're complaining about a problem that largely doesn't exist. I'm sure there are a few consumers out there that have more money than sense and will spend the big bucks on an "awesome" monitor and then get the absolute cheapest system for it. Those people are very rare. Because if a person has the money for a QHD or 4K display, they probably have the money and ego to want bragging rights on a premium computer as well.
 

Vlad Rose

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I agree about not wanting to go overkill on the monitor. The main reason I have no intentions of buying a 4k monitor soon is not only the cost of the monitor itself, but having to buy a dedicated video card powerful enough to drive one (and continue to do so for newer games); especially when at the 20" ish size you'll barely notice the difference over 1920x1080. Plus I don't see a need to go "TV" size for a monitor as screens that big hurt my eyes at the distances usually associated with monitors.
 

logainofhades

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B85 anniversary often hangs around the $60 mark. It would be my pick.
 

Crashman

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Onus or RedJaron could probably contact Biostar and ask them why they didn't submit the Hi-Fi B85S3+. I'm curious as well since Biostar informed someone with an oc-locked board that he only needed a (publicly available) firmware update to overclock.
 

voiceip

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Yeah, I'm from Viet Nam and Asrock sell it here, at price 60~70$ (1.450.000 VNĐ) and it can stable 4770K, not 4790 bro :D
You can use google translate and read the review here by an senior member:
http://vozforums.com/showthread.php?t=4149265
4 phase, 3 mofset for each phase. it good enough :)
 
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