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06-12-2014


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Motherboard ASUS B85-PRO GAMER: review and testing

It's no secret that in the range of ASUS top solutions for gamers are released in a lineup ASUS ROG. They have not only excellent capabilities but also the corresponding cost. As for the less rich gamers who are not willing to spend for motherboard more than 200 dollars, for them was represented the lineup ASUS Gamer, which includes more affordable solutions.

In previous articles we have learn versions ASUS Z97-PRO GAMER and ASUS H97-PRO GAMER. At this same time we will focus on the youngest model of this lineup based on the chipset Intel B85, namely ASUS B85-PRO GAMER. Let's compare it with the previously discussed options:

 

ASUS Z97-PRO GAMER

ASUS H97-PRO GAMER

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

USB 3.0

inner/outer

4/2

4/2

2/2

USB 2.0

inner/outer

2/6

2/6

4/4

RAM

(frequency)

4 x DIMM

Up to 32 GB

(800 – 3200 MHz)

4 x DIMM

Up to 32 GB

(800 – 1600 MHz)

4 x DIMM

Up to 32 GB

(800 – 1600 MHz)

PCIe x16

x16

x8+x8

x8+x8+x4

x16

x16+x4

x16

x16+x4

PCIe x1

2

2

2

PCI

2

3

3

Video outputs

HDMI

DVI-D

D-Sub

HDMI

DVI-D

D-Sub

HDMI

DVI-D

D-Sub

Audio outputs

6
Optical S/PDIF-out

6
Optical S/PDIF-out

6
Optical S/PDIF-out

SATA 6 Gb/s

4

4

4

SATA 3 Gb/s

No

No

2

SATA Express

1

1

No

eSATA

No

No

No

M.2 (NGFF)

1

1

No

Thunderbolt 

No

No

No

LAN

Intel WGI218V

Intel WGI218V

Intel WGI217V

Wi-Fi

No

No

No

Bluetooth

No

No

No

Power phases

8

8

8

Format

ATX

ATX

ATX

Estimated cost

$195

$175

$140

Even without the specification of estimated cost of these models, it is clear that ASUS B85-PRO GAMER can be considered as the most affordable solution in a series ASUS Gamer. New product offers quite good equipment especially given the availability of high-quality audio subsystem based on the codec SupremeFX, as well as high-end network controller from Intel, supplemented with proprietary technology GameFirst II, which optimizes Internet traffic in order to increase the priority of online games. Of course, due to the use is not very functional (but affordable) chipset, the new product has not interfaces SATA Express and M.2, but it is not in order to critical to build a cheap gaming system. And now let's go straight to the review of trend in more detail and explore all of its features.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

B85-PRO GAMER (rev 1.01)

Chipset

Intel B85

CPU socket

Socket LGA1150

Supported CPUs

Intel Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron 4th generation

Memory frequency

1600 / 1333 / 1066 MHz

Memory support

4 x DDR3 DIMM-slots with memory support up to 32 GB

Expansion slots

1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16

1 х PCI Express 2.0 x16

x16

x16+х4

2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

3 x PCI

Disk subsystem

Intel B85 chipset supports:

4 x SATA 6 Gb/s

2 x SATA 3 Gb/s

LAN

1 x Intel WGI217V (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec SupremeFX

8-channel sound

S/PDIF Out

Power connectors

1x24-pin ATX main power connector

1x8-pin ATX12V power connector

Fans

2 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

3 x system fan connector (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiator on the chipset

Aluminum radiators on power subsystem elements

External I/O

1 x HDMI

1 x DVI-D

1 x D-Sub

1 x LAN (RJ45)

2 x USB 3.0

4 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

6 x audio jacks

2 х PS/2 (for mouse and keyboard connection)

Internal I/O

1 x USB 3.0 each with support of two USB 3.0 (19-pin)

2 x USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0

4 x SATA 6 Gb/s

2 x SATA 3 Gb/s

1 х socket TPM

1 х socket COM

1 x S/PDIF out

1 x CMOS

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x set of front panel connectors

BIOS

64 Mb Flash ROM UEFI AMI BIOS

PnP, ACPI 4.0a, SM BIOS 2.8, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty booklet

Driver and utility disc

2 x SATA cable

1 х interface panel plug

Form factor,

Dimensions

ATX

305 х 228 mm

Producer website

ASUS
Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available on support page

Packaging and content

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

Motherboard ASUS B85-PRO GAMER is shipped in a cardboard box with a traditional branding of the series ASUS Gamer in black and red colors. The front side, in addition to the name of the manufacturer and model of the device, contains a number of logos indicating about the support for OS Windows 8.1, technology AMD CrossFireX, as well as the possibility of display image with a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD).

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

On the reverse side of the box, in addition to the image of the motherboard, as well as a short list of its features, you can pay attention to the support of a number of technologies:

  • SupremeFX - preset audio codec offers support for eight channel audio, and provides audio playback with a signal/noise ratio at the level of 115 dB. In order to avoid interference caused by electromagnetic interference is used a shielded audio codec technology, and maximum sound quality is provided by audio capacitor ELNA. We also note the amplifier TI R4580I with support of headphones with an impedance of 300 Ohms.
  • Sonic Radar - during the game on the screen appears the radar, which by analyzing the sound of footsteps, shots or requests for assistance displays information about the location of enemies and allies that will definitely give you a distinct advantage on the virtual battlefield.
  • GameFirst II is a technology designed to optimize Internet traffic in order to increase the priority of online games, which should reduce the delays and thus make the gameplay more comfortable.
  • DRAM Over-current Protection - special fuses protect the memory modules from the damage caused by excessive amperage or short circuit.
  • Stainless Steel Back I/O - interface panel is made of high quality stainless steel with coated chromium oxide. It has a high resistance to oxidation, making it three times more susceptible to breakage.
  • 10K Black Metallic Capacitors - motherboard uses exclusively Japanese solid capacitors of series Nichicon GT with increased life up to 10 000 hours and 20% thermal resistance.
  • ESD Guards – are applied special fuses for added protection against electrostatic discharges.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

In the box with the ASUS B85-PRO GAMER we found quite a standard set of accessories:

  • CD with drivers and utilities;
  • User Guide;
  • Two SATA cables;
  • interface panel plug.

Design and features of the board

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

Like all the previously reviewed model of series ASUS Gamer, the novelty is executed on black ATX PCB which is characterized by a reduced width (305 x 228 mm) and stands out from competing solutions in this price segment by quite stylish decor in black and red colors.

Due to the reduced width, the right side of the PCB has no mounting holes, which means that you should observe the care when connecting the main power cable and remote panel with ports USB 3.0. For the rest, it is important to note quite competent layout, as well as the fact that DIMM-slots are equipped with latches on one side only.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

Looking at the back of the motherboard, you can notice not only the usual base plate of CPU socket, but also different ways of radiator fixation. Chipset cooler uses screws, and the radiator on the elements of the power subsystem uses plastic clips.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, S/PDIF Out, CMOS, COM and TPM ports, one 4-pin socket to connect case fan, as well as front panel leading-in socket. Additionally here are two leading-in sockets for activation of USB 2.0 ports. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is eight: four are internal and four on the interface panel.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

The possibility of organizing a disk subsystem is presented by four SATA 6 Gb/s and two SATA 3 Gb/s ports. The operation of all interfaces is implemented by chipset. 

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

Main board ASUS B85-PRO GAMER is equipped with four DIMM-slots for memory modules DDR3, which are equipped with latches on one side only. RAM can operate in dual channel mode. To implement it the modules must be installed either in the first and third or second and fourth slots. Modules operating at frequencies from 1333 to 1600 MHz in the nominal mode are supported.  Maximum memory capacity may be up to 32 GB which is enough for almost any tasks.

Additionally, note the module for connecting remote panel with ports USB 3.0. In total, their quantity is four: two external and two internal. All of them are implemented by the chipset.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

Cooling system of the product includes three aluminum radiators: one for heat removal from chipset Intel B85 while two others cover elements of power subsystem.  In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 35.2°C;
  • top cooling radiator to cool CPU power elements – 38.1°C;
  • bottom cooling radiator to cool CPU power elements – 38.5°C.

The obtained results clearly show a high efficiency of cooling system, indicating the proper selection of materials and design.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

Processor power supply is performed via 8-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller ASP1252 with integrated DIGI+ VRM power consumption subsystem control. All power components of CPU have high reliability level: solid capacitors of series Nichicon GT and chokes with ferrite core. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.    

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

To extend motherboard functionality the user has seven slots:  

  1. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  2. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х16);
  3. PCI;
  4. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  5. PCI Express 2.0 x16 (mode х4);
  6. PCI;
  7. PCI

Despite the presence of two slots PCI Express x16 and support of technology AMD CrossFireX, novelty is the most suitable to install only one graphics card, since one of the two connectors are connected to the chipset and its capacity is limited to four lines PCI Express 2.0. If you install two graphics cards, the obtained scheme x16 + x4 won’t fully unlock the potential of this bunch.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

If you decided to take advantage of the integrated on the CPU graphics core then you have three video outputs: HDMI, DVI-D and D-Sub, switching is carried out by chip ASMedia ASM1442K.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

Since the chipset Intel B85 does not support bus PCI, the functioning of the three respective slots is implemented by the bridge PCIE-PCI based on the controller ASMedia ASM1083.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

Multi I/O capabilities are based on NUVOTON NCT6791D chip which controls system fans, COM and PS/2 ports and provides the monitoring.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

In order to support network connections there is GB LAN-controller Intel WGI217V. Distribution of network resources and prioritization of traffic can realize a corporate utility TurboLAN.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound SupremeFX that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 sound systems. It has several proprietary features which were described in the begging of the review. The codec bunch uses audio amplifier TI R4580I with support for headphones with an impedance of 300 Ohms and high-quality audio capacitors ELNA. The codec is protected with special casing against electromagnetic interference.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

Do note that the area of the audio subsystem is shielded with a protective strip with red LED-backlit.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

Interface panel of ASUS B85-PRO GAMER model contains the following ports:

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DVI-D;
  • 1 x D-Sub;
  • 2 x PS/2 for mouse and keyboard connection;
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 2 x USB 3.0;
  • 4 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 х optical S/PDIF out;
  • 6 x audio jacks.

In our opinion, this arrangement is very successful because it has a sufficient number of USB ports and three video outputs (including HDMI with the ability to display image with a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD)). Also It makes it comfortable to connect multi-channel speaker system. And using the appropriate connector on the PCB you can put the COM port on the rear panel.

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER

ASUS B85-PRO GAMER has good opportunities for the organization of the cooling system inside the case. Here are five 4-pin fan connectors, two of which are used for cooling the CPU, and the other three are applied for system fans.


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