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::>Motherboards > 2015 > 03 > ASUS H81M2

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17-03-2015


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Motherboard ASUS H81M2: review and testing

Motherboard ASUS H81M2 is one of the most affordable models in the lineup of the Taiwanese company, offering customers a compact microATX format, high quality circuitry, the actual equipment, as well as a number of other improvements and proprietary technologies.

Do note that in order to minimize the final price, ASUS didn’t used the flagship chipset, but the youngest chipset (Intel H81), which nominally doesn’t provide overclocking of processor and has less features, but supports the interfaces SATA 6 Gb/s and USB 3.0, which is important in this price segment.

Let's take a look at opportunities of new product priced as $ 70 - 75.

ASUS H81M2

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

H81M2 (rev 1.02)

Chipset

Intel H81

CPU socket

Socket LGA1150

CPUs supported

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

Memory frequency

1600 / 1333 / 1066 MHz

Memory support

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

Expansion slots

1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16

1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

2 x PCI

Disk subsystem

Intel H81chipset supports:

2 x SATA 6 Gb/s

2 x SATA 3 Gb/s

LAN

1 x Realtek 8111G (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec Realtek ALC887

8-channel sound

Power connectors

24-pin power socket ATX

4-pin power socket ATX12V

Fans

1 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

1 x system fan connectors (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiators on chipset

 

External I/O

1 x DVI-D

1 x DVI-I

1 x LAN (RJ45)

2 x USB 3.0

4 x USB 2.0

3 x audio jacks

2 х PS/2 (mouse and keyboard connection)

Internal I/O

1 x USB 3.0 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 х socket TPM

1 х socket LPT

1 x socket COM

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x set of front panel connectors

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 198 mm

Producer website

 

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

Packaging and content

ASUS H81M2

Package of motherboard ASUS H81M2 designed as a standard cardboard box, decorated in corporate style using the usual dark and golden colors. The front side, besides the names of the manufacturer and model of the device, indicates the presence of chips for ESD protection, and contains support for a number of proprietary technologies, user-friendly interface UEFI BIOS and operating system Windows 8.1.

ASUS H81M2

The reverse side of the package contains an image of the motherboard, a brief technical specification, as well as a list of supported technologies and features:

  • USB 3.0 Boost – the support for protocol UASP is used to speed USB 3.0 interface.
  • Fan Xpert - smart fan control, allowing to achieve an efficient computer cooling with minimal noise.
  • AI Suite 3 - complete proprietary software, allowing to fine-tune a number of system settings without entering the BIOS.
  • Network iControl - using the included software you can control network activity of your PC at real-time, and install each program priority access to network resources.

ASUS H81M2

Package set ASUS H81M2 includes only the most necessary accessories:

  • CD with drivers and utilities;
  • User Guide;
  • two SATA-cables;
  • interface board plug.

Design and features

ASUS H81M2

New product is made on a compact dark brown PCB in a format microATX (244 x 198 mm). The design contains bronze and dark shades that look quite restrained. A yellow color of some elements give the external appearance of a bright and cheerful look.

The layout of on-board elements is implemented at a high level. Discomfort can cause a close proximity of DIMM-slots and slot PCI Express 2.0 x16, and hence in order to extract the memory modules you may have to disable the preset graphics card. Also do note the use of electrolytic capacitors on the board, but the most important power circuits (CPU and RAM) contains installed exclusively solid-state counterparts.

ASUS H81M2

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

ASUS H81M2

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

ASUS H81M2

Due to lack of space at the bottom of the PCB, connectors COM and TPM are arranged over the slot PCI Express 2.0 x16.

ASUS H81M2

The possibility of organizing a disk subsystem is presented by two SATA 6 Gb/s and two SATA 3 Gb/s ports. All interfaces are realized by chipset.

ASUS H81M2

Main board ASUS H81M2 is equipped with two DIMM-slots for memory modules DDR3, which are equipped with latches on one side. Modules operating at frequencies from 1066 to 1600 MHz in nominal mode are supported. Maximum memory capacity may be up to 16 GB which is enough for compact inexpensive system.

Additionally note the module for connecting remote panel with ports USB 3.0. The total number is four: two external and two internal. Since Intel H81 chipset only supports two ports USB 3.0, the operation of the two internal interfaces is implemented by the controller ASMedia ASM1042a.

ASUS H81M2

Cooling system of the product includes one aluminum radiator that provides heat removal from system logic Intel H81.

In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 53.3°C;
  • field-effect transistor of CPU power subsystem – 82.9°C;
  • chokes of CPU power subsystem – 85.5°C.

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

ASUS H81M2

ASUS H81M2

Processor power supply is performed via 3-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller ASP1255D. All power components of CPU have high reliability level: solid capacitors with increased 2.5 time lifetime, as well as chokes with ferrite core. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.     

ASUS H81M2

To extend the functionality the motherboard ASUS H81M2 has four slots:

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

It is expected that the new product offers the ability to install only one graphics card in a single slot PCI Express x16, which is connected to the processor uses all 16 lines of the standard PCI Express 2.0. Intel H81 chipset supports neither line distribution between slots or work with a standard PCI Express 3.0, but this is not a critical disadvantage, since the difference between PCI Express 3.0 and PCI Express 2.0 will not lead to a significant drop in the level of performance of the connected graphics card.

ASUS H81M2

Since the chipset Intel H81 doesn’t support bus PCI, the functioning of the two respective slots is implemented by the bridge PCIE-PCI, based on the controller ASMedia ASM1083.

ASUS H81M2

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

ASUS H81M2

To support network connection there is gigabit LAN-controller Realtek 8111G. A proprietary utility Network iControl help manage network resources in real-time.

ASUS H81M2

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound Realtek ALC887 that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 sound systems.

ASUS H81M2

Interface panel of ASUS H81M2 model contains the following ports:

  • 1 x DVI-D;
  • 1 x DVI-I;
  • 2 x PS/2 mouse and keyboard connection;
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 2 x USB 3.0;
  • 4 x USB 2.0;
  • 3 x audio jacks.

This arrangement is quite decent for a budget model, since it is able to offer two video outputs, a sufficient number of ports USB, as well as the ability to place COM and LPT ports on the rear panel using the appropriate connectors on the PCB. As for features, some users may be disappointed by inconvenient connection of multi-channel speakers.

ASUS H81M2

ASUS H81M2

ASUS H81M2 has quite standard features for organizing cooling system inside the case. There are two 4-pin fan connectors, one of which serves to cool the CPU, while the other second is designed for system fan.

UEFI BIOS

Model uses modern preloader based on UEFI. To provide the setting is possible via mouse control. It proposes two main scenario of the usage.

ASUS H81M2

“EZ Mode” where all required settings are grouped in one screen.

ASUS H81M2

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

ASUS H81M2

All overclocking parameters are in section “Ai Tweaker”.

ASUS H81M2

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

ASUS H81M2

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

ASUS H81M2

Top increase the stability during overclocking you can use voltage settings for key components.  

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

ASUS H81M2

ASUS H81M2

“Monitor” section provides the access to information about temperature of CPU and chipset and monitor voltage on power lines +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 operation.

Also it is possible to take screenshots.  


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