Responding to reader requests, we will be taking closer looks at more budget and mainstream boards. What do you give up by not choosing an "enthusiast" class motherboard? Should you care, or perhaps, who should care?
Today's sample uses the very robust H97 chipset, and was $75 on Newegg when this review was prepared, but is now at $70. The ASRock H97M Pro4 is a micro-ATX board with 4+1 power phases and the ability to overclock the unlocked Pentium G3258. Let's take a look at it — but first, a little vindication: I achieved very poor overclocking results in prior testing, so I bought another G3258 to see if the budget boards I'm testing are the issue, or if I had simply lost the silicon lottery, which was my suspicion. The board about to be exposed could not overclock the original chip over 4.0GHz stable either, but the new chip was fairly happy at 4.2GHz on the board-selected 1.28V, just getting a little warm in some tests. That warmth discouraged me from going for an even higher overclock, but a tweaker, using a better cooler, may zoom right on past my efforts. Worth noting is that I couldn't find a spot on or near the VRMs registering as high as 37C on my IR thermometer during my tests.