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15-06-2015


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Motherboard ASUS H81M-PLUS: review and testing

It is not always required to buy motherboard based on the flagship chipset for efficient CPU. For example, if the processor has a locked multiplier, a set of expansion cards will consist of a single graphics card, and four SATA ports would be enough to connect the disk subsystem. In this case, you can save on the motherboard taking more affordable solution, and the balance can be invested in other components (such as the purchase of SSD-drive).

Motherboard ASUS H81M-PLUS is one of these relatively affordable entry-level solutions. It can be used not only in the traditional office, educational or home media PC, but also to organize middle range of gaming computer. It offers a wide list of advantages: digital power system, traditionally high quality of element base, support for modern interfaces, as well as a number of other improvements and proprietary technologies.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

Do note that the basis of the model is the youngest chipset (Intel H81), which is largely accompanied by reduced the final cost. Let's take a look at the detailed specifications of the device.

The specs:

Producer 

ASUS

Model

H81M-PLUS (rev 1.06)

Chipset

Intel H81

Integrated processor

Socket LGA1150

Supported CPUs

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

Memory frequency

1600 / 1333 / 1066 MHz

Memory support

2 x DDR3 DIMM-slots with memory support up to 16 GB

Expansion slots

1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16

3 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

Disk subsystem

Intel H81 chipset supports:

2 x SATA 6 Gb/s (yellow)

2 x SATA 3 Gb/s (dark brown)

LAN

1 x Realtek 8111G (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec Realtek ALC887

8-channel sound

Power

24-pin ATX connector

4-pin ATX12V connector

Fans

1 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

1 x system fan connectors (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiator on chipset

Extenral I/O

1 x DVI-D

1 x D-Sub

1 x HDMI

1 x LAN (RJ45)

2 x USB 3.0

4 x USB 2.0

3 x audio jacks

2 х PS/2

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

2 x SATA 6 Gb/s

2 x SATA 3 Gb/s

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x S/PDIF Out

1 x set of front panel connectors 1 x S/PIDIF Out

1 x CMOS

BIOS

64 Mb Flash ROM UEFI AMI BIOS

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

Packaging

user manual

warranty card

disk with drives and documents

2 x SATA cables

1 х interface panel plug

Form-factor, dimensions

microATX

244 х 183 mm

Producer website

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

Package and content

ASUS H81M-PLUS

Motherboard ASUS H81M-PLUS comes in the cardboard box decorated with printing in the corporate style. A key element of the design of the front panel, in addition to the names of the manufacturer and model of the device, is the logo of technology ASUS 5X Protection. Additionally you can pay attention to the support of the operating system Windows 8.1.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

On the reverse side of the package you can find the image of the tested board, a brief technical characteristics, as well as key features and benefits:

  • ASUS 5X Protection involves the use of digital power subsystem ASUS DIG + VRM, the protection of external interfaces, and memory modules from over current and short-circuit current, high-quality solid capacitors with a lifetime of 5000 hours at 105°C, steel interface panel with increased resistance to the corrosive processes and chips for ESD protection.
  • ASUS USB 3.0 Boost - supports protocol UASP is used to speed USB 3.0 interface.
  • ASUS Fan Xpert - smart fan control system, which allows to achieve efficient cooling with minimal noise.
  • AI Suite 3 – proprietary software, that allows to fine-tune a number of system settings without entering the BIOS.
  • ASUS Network iControl – using included software you can monitor PC activity, and install each program, priority access to network resources.
  • ASUS GPU Boost - automatic overclocking technology is integrated into the processor graphics.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

The box with the ASUS H81M-PLUS has a quite standard accessories for low-cost models:

  • CD with drivers and utilities;
  • user manual;
  • two SATA cables;
  • interface panel plug.

Design and features

ASUS H81M-PLUS

The tested model is implemented on a compact dark brown microATX PCB (244 x 183 mm). Bright colors in its design are brought by expansion slots, painted in yellow color, which makes the image of the motherboard more interesting.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

The arrangement of the on-board elements is implemented at a high level, so you won’t face with problems because all of the ports are located at the optimal positions, closer to the edges of the PCB.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

Only you should note a close proximity of DIMM-slots and slot PCI Express 2.0 x16.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

On the reverse side of the PCB you can find the standard base plate of CPU socket, as well as the fact that the only chipset heatsink is attached with plastic clips.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, S/PDIF Out, CMOS, as well as front panel connection module. Also here are two modules for connection of additional interface USB 2.0. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is eight: four are internal and four on the interface panel.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

The possibility of organizing a disk subsystem is presented two ports SATA 6 Gb/s (yellow) and two SATA 3 Gb/s (dark brown). All connectors are functioning thanks to a set of system logic.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

The tested model is equipped by two DIMM-slots for memory modules of DDR3 standard that are equipped with latches from both sides. Modules operating at frequencies from 1066 up to 1600 MHz in the nominal mode are supported. The maximum amount of memory can be up to 16 GB, which is enough for almost any task.

Also note module for connecting the remote panel with ports USB 3.0 on the right side. Total number of relevant ports is four: two internal (the chipset) and two external (due to controller ASMedia ASM1042A).

ASUS H81M-PLUS

Cooling system of the product includes one aluminum radiator that removes heat from chipset Intel H81. In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • cooling radiator of chipset – 40.7°C (during overclocking 41.2°C);
  • field-effect transistors of processor power subsystem – 89.2°C (during overclocking 93.5°C);
  • chocks of processor power subsystem  – 78.2°C (during overclocking 82.2°C).

The results can be described as average, but there is a reserve to the critical values.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

ASUS H81M-PLUS

Processor power supply is performed via 3-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. The transformer is based on PWM controller ASP1258A. The circuitry is made by high quality components such as: solid capacitors with increased lifetime and chokes with ferrite core. Basic 24-pin and additional 4-pin connectors are use for power feeding.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

To extend the functionality of the product user has four slots:

  1. PCI Express 2.0 x16;
  2. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  3. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  4. PCI Express 2.0 x1.

It is expected that the board offers the possibility of installing only one video card in a single slot PCI Express x16, which is connected to the processor and always uses all 16 lines of the standard PCI Express 2.0. Intel H81 chipset does not support any distribution lines between the slots or work with the standard PCI Express 3.0. However, this is not a critical disadvantage, since the difference between PCI Express 3.0 and PCI Express 2.0 will not lead to a noticeable drop in performance level.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

If you decided to take advantage of the integrated graphics core, you have three video outputs: HDMI, DVI-D and D-Sub, controlled by the chip ASMedia ASM1442K.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

Multi I/O capabilities are based on chip NUVOTON NCT5538D which controls the operation of the system fans, ports PS/2, as well as provides the monitoring.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

Two additional USB 3.0 ports on the interface panel are implemented by the controller ASMedia ASM1042A.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

To support network connections there is a gigabit LAN-controller Realtek 8111G. A proprietary tool Network iControl helps manage network resources in real-time.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

Sound subsystem of model is based on the 8-channel codec Realtek ALC887 which supports audio formats 2/4/5.1/7.1.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

Interface panel of the model contains the following ports:

  • 1 x DVI-D;
  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x D-Sub;
  • 2 x PS/2;
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 2 x USB 3.0;
  • 4 x USB 2.0;
  • 3 x audio jacks.

Such arrangement can be described as quite decent for an inexpensive motherboard, as it offers two video outputs and a sufficient number of USB ports. As for features, some users may be disappointed due to uncomfortable connection of multichannel speakers and the lack of HDMI.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

ASUS H81M-PLUS

The possibility of organizing the cooling system inside the body of the ASUS H81M-PLUS is very standard. There are two 4-pin fan connectors, one of which serves to cool the CPU, while the other is intended for the system fan.

UEFI BIOS

Motherboard uses modern preloader based on graphics interface UEFI, to adjust them is possible via mouse. It offers two main scenarios of usage.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

“EZ Mode” where all the necessary settings are grouped on one screen.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

Or used “Advanced Mode” where all settings should be done manually.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

All overclocking settings can be found in “Ai Tweaker” section.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

Frequency multiplier allows to set module connection speed within 800-1600 MHz.

ASUS H81M-PLUS

If necessary you can get the access to memory delay adjustments.

Adjustments required to overclock and optimize the system:

Parameter

Menu

Range

Step

RAM frequency

Memory Frequency

800 − 1600

 

RAM timing

DRAM Timing

CAS Latency, RAS to CAS, RAS PRE Time, RAS ACT Time, DRAM COMMAND Mode, RAS to RAS Delay, REF Cycle Time, Write Recovery Time, READ to PRE Time, FOUR ACT WIN Time, WRITE to READ Delay, Write Latency

 

 

Min. CPU Cache Ratio Limit

8 – MAX

1

 

Max CPU Cache Ratio Limit

8 – MAX

1

 

Long Duration Package Power Limit

1 – 4096

1

 

Package Power Time Window

1 – 127

1

 

Short Duration Package Power Limit

1 – 4096

1

 

CPU Integrated VR Current Limit

0,125 – 1023,875

0,125

 

Power Current Slope

Auto, Level -4 – Level 4

 

 

Power Current Offset

Auto, -100% – 100%

12,5 %

 

Power Fast Ramp Response

0,00 – 1,50

0,001

 

Power Saving Level 1 Threshold

0 – 80

1

 

Power Saving Level 2 Threshold

0 – 50

1

 

Power Saving Level 3 Threshold

0 – 30

1

 

CPU Core Voltage Override

0,001 – 1,920

0,001

 

CPU Cache Voltage Override

0,001 – 1,920

0,001

 

CPU System Agent Voltage Offset

0,001 – 0,999

0,001

 

CPU Analog I/O Voltage Offset

0,001 – 0,999

0,001

 

CPU Digital I/O Voltage Offset

0,001 – 0,999

0,001

 

CPU Input Voltage

0,800 – 2,700

0,010

 

DRAM CTRL REF Voltage

0,39500 – 0 63000

0,00500

 

DRAM DATA REF Voltage on CHA

0,39500 – 0,63000

0,00500

 

DRAM DATA REF Voltage on CHB

0,39500 – 0,63000

0,00500

ASUS H81M-PLUS

ASUS H81M-PLUS

The section «Monitor» opens access for monitoring the temperature of the CPU, as well as the voltage on the rails +12V, +5V and +3.3V. It is possible to set a lower threshold of CPU fan speed or select one of the profiles of its work.


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