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ASRock H170M Pro4S And H170M-ITX/ac Motherboard Reviews

ASRock H170M-ITX/ac

I skipped over this board in the original roundup since I'd already examined MSI's offering in this form factor. Now, we'll get to see how ASRock compares.

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In the box, you get the board, a pair of SATA cables and a pair of antennas for the wireless radio. There is also the usual I/O plate, driver CD and what appears to be the standard ASRock glue-bound 7-1/16-inch x 5-1/16-inch manual that will not lie flat and is somewhat difficult to read due to tiny type. As usual, you get English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Turkish and four pictographic Asian languages, plus Bahasa Indonesian. It's not a bad manual, but I do wish it were a little bigger, especially as I get older. Youngsters won't care, but us old guys need to juggle eyeglasses while we're building, making it a little more of a challenge than it needs to be.

The audio codec is an ALC892, a step up from the ALC887 that MSI uses, and sufficient for most users. The mSATA slot on this board may be used only for the wireless card or for an mSATA drive; it will not work with PCIe M.2 drives. Furthermore, because the slot will point the drive straight up, a builder could hit a height limitation in smaller mITX cases.

The layout is otherwise uninspiring, even for mini-ITX. All of the SATA headers are in a row just above the two DIMM slots, between the PCIe connector and the mSATA connector. Once the parts are installed, finger space here will be nonexistent—and all of the ports will face the same way, so you may need to remove those ahead of the one you really want.

The system speaker pins are located between the SATA ports and the DIMM slots, which is a good thing to plug in very early in the build process. The CLRMOS1, front panel and TPMS headers are crowded together in the front-left corner, but there's enough space to get to them. And the one you'll need most often, CLRMOS1, is on the outside, and includes a jumper cap. To its right is the USB3.0 connector. Between that and the USB2.0 connector is a 20-pin ATX power connector. How often do you see those?

Right above the DIMM slots, on the right edge, is a three-pin header labeled "PWM_CFG1," but it is not described (nor diagrammed) in the manual; I left it alone. The two four-pin fan headers are behind that. Behind the CPU socket is a four-pin CPU power connector. The CPU QVL includes the 91W Haswell CPUs, though, so this (and the 20-pin main ATX power connector) is apparently not a problem. H170 is not an overclocking chipset, and the VRMs lack heat sinks. The CR2032 battery is wrapped and taped to the back of the Realtek LAN port, connected by a two-pin wire that plugs in behind the DVI-I port. The audio connector is where you'd expect to find it: right behind the rear-panel audio jacks.

If you've seen one ASRock H170 UEFI, you've seen all of them. Here are a couple more screenshots not previously included. The boot priorities screen looks like this:

Obviously, this screenshot was captured before I had done any configuration, as Bootup Num Lock is still on. The Storage options screen under the Advanced tab looks like this:

Now it's time to compare the performance of these two with the previous five motherboard samples. All of those have been aggregated into a five-board average in the charts.

Joe Trott is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews motherboards, specializing in budget Intel chipsets.