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Cheap Coffee Lake: Three Intel H370 and B360 Motherboards, Tested

How We Test

We picked our primary components (the CPU, graphics, and DRAM) based primarily upon a balance of performance and price. Intel’s Core i3-8350K offers four cores at 4GHz, and the fact that it’s unlocked hasn’t escaped us: Even though it’s unlikely that anyone will crack one of these locked platforms, we’d hate to be stuck with a locked processor if they did.

We also chose the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti for its performance-to-price ratio. The two-fan cooler of MSI’s Gaming X version gives us reduced noise while still fitting within two slots.

Having pushed this article’s budget close to its limit, we decided to stick with RAM we have on-hand. G.Skill’s recently-reviewed Ripjaws V 3200 barely carries any pricing premium, could allow overclocking if anyone were to unlock a similar platform, and kept us within budget. Our CPU supports DDR4-2400 at both 9x 133MHz and 12x 100MHz settings, and if anyone ever figures out how to fool a system into using the higher 12x multiplier with the higher 133MHz base clock, the resulting 1600MHz frequency would get us to DDR4-3200.

The Core i3-8350k does not include a cooler, and we understand that most buyers will be looking for one priced between $20 and $40. While it’s possible to find a $40 cooler that performs as well as our old Noctua NH-U12S, the reason we retained it is that it was already in-hand. As with any build, reusing old components where possible is the best way to save money!

SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
Graphics DriverGeForce 382.53

Comparison Products

We’re comparing today’s samples to the most-average Z370 Mini-ITX motherboard we could find. Since “most average” is not exactly a compliment, we’re giving it the title “Reference Data” in our charts.

Benchmark Settings
Synthetic Benchmarks & Settings
PCMark 8Version 2.7.613 Home, Creative, Work, Storage, Applications (Adobe & Microsoft)
3DMark 13Version 4.47.597.0 Skydiver, Firestrike, Firestrike Extreme Default Presets
SiSoftware SandraVersion 2016.03.22.21 CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth
DiskSPD4k Random Read, 4k Random Write 128k Sequential Read, 128k Sequential Write
Cinebench R15Build RC83328DEMO OpenGL Benchmark
CompuBenchVersion 1.5.8 Face Detection, Optical Flow, Ocean Surface, Ray Tracing
Application Tests & Settings
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3 Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.9.9 Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4k mkv to x265 mp4
BlenderVersion 2.68a BMW 27 CPU Render Benchmark, BMW 27 GPU Render Benchmark
7-ZipVersion 16.02 THG-Workload (7.6GB) to .7z, command-line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=9"
Adobe After Effects CCRelease 2015.3.0, Version 13.8.0.144 PCMark-driven routine
Adobe Photoshop CCRelease 2015.5.0. 20160603.r.88 x64 PCMark-driven routine (light and heavy)
Adobe InDesign CCRelease 2015.4, Build 11.4.0.90 x64 PCMark-driven routine
Adobe IllustratorRelease 2015.3.0, Version 20.0.0 (64-bit) PCMark-driven routine
Game Tests & Settings
Ashes of the SingularityVersion 1.31.21360 High Preset - 1920x1080, Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAA Crazy Preset - 1920x1080, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA
F1 20152015 Season, Abu Dhabi Track, Rain Medium Preset, No AF Ultra High Preset, 16x AF
Metro Last Light ReduxVersion 3.00 x64 High Quality, 1920x1080, High Tesselation, 16x AF Very High Quality, 1920x1080, Very High Tesselation, 16x AF
The Talos PrincipleVersion 267252 Medium Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AF Ultra Preset, Very High Quality, Very High Tesselation, 16x AF
  • ghettogamer
    no under $80 mobo yet?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    20852628 said:
    no under $80 mobo yet?
    We can see that MSI tried to push the top end of the B360 range with the Micro ATX sample submitted, so I wouldn't be surprised to see lesser B360 boards for $80. Below that will be H310, and I doubt anyone wants to show those off.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    Now if we could just get cheap graphics cards we'd be back in business!
    Reply
  • Saga Lout
    When the miners are staring at bankruptcy, they'll be glad to get a reasonable price.
    Reply
  • 1_rick
    20852654 said:
    20852628 said:
    no under $80 mobo yet?
    We can see that MSI tried to push the top end of the B360 range with the Micro ATX sample submitted, so I wouldn't be surprised to see lesser B360 boards for $80. Below that will be H310, and I doubt anyone wants to show those off.

    Newegg's got about a dozen sub-$80 boards, mostly H310, but several B360s.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    20853375 said:
    20852654 said:
    20852628 said:
    no under $80 mobo yet?
    We can see that MSI tried to push the top end of the B360 range with the Micro ATX sample submitted, so I wouldn't be surprised to see lesser B360 boards for $80. Below that will be H310, and I doubt anyone wants to show those off.

    Newegg's got about a dozen sub-$80 boards, mostly H310, but several B360s.
    Thanks Rick, I figured the bottom of the B360 market would be around $80 and with in-store discounts maybe a bit less. I don't think I'd recommend the H310 for much.

    Reply
  • bit_user
    20852687 said:
    Now if we could just get cheap graphics cards we'd be back in business!
    When is the last time you checked?

    Newegg has new GTX 1080's starting at $610, GTX 1060's from $270, and RX 580's from $350.

    Not exactly cheap, but prices have been dropping every week, for nearly a month.
    Reply
  • Lutfij
    20852687 said:
    Now if we could just get cheap graphics cards we'd be back in business!
    Amen to that brudda!

    20852738 said:
    When the miners are staring at bankruptcy, they'll be glad to get a reasonable price.
    Yeah, miners! :'(

    Nice article/review/writeup Thomas. Keep up the great work!
    Reply
  • sunsanvil
    I would have been very interested in seeing you evaluate these boards with an upper end non-K processor. Its one thing to say that less expensive boards will tend to be coupled with lower end CPUs, but in the case of the Intel x70 family, the Z370 is all but pointless for anything which does not have a K at the end of it. That means that finding out how H and B boards make out with something like an i5-8600 or i7-8700 would be quite relevant, particularly as it relates to power delivery during all-core max turbo situations.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    20932240 said:
    I would have been very interested in seeing you evaluate these boards with an upper end non-K processor. Its one thing to say that less expensive boards will tend to be coupled with lower end CPUs, but in the case of the Intel x70 family, the Z370 is all but pointless for anything which does not have a K at the end of it. That means that finding out how H and B boards make out with something like an i5-8600 or i7-8700 would be quite relevant, particularly as it relates to power delivery during all-core max turbo situations.
    There are of course other reasons to use a Z, including support for DDR4-3200 etc, SLI/Crossfire, and CPU-based NVMe.

    Your point is also appropriate, and the combination of these two points could leave one question why I didn't use the 8700K in the first place and tell readers "if the board can handle this it can certainly handle that". We used to do things that way until angry budget-gamers came in and said "we don't use expensive CPUs on cheap motherboards". And so we'd be left testing the boards on at least two processors...and heck the higher one might as well be the 8700K since we already have it right? And we'd at least get to show whether or not these boards can lock-in the highest "stock" Turbo Boost ratio with that one, right?

    Reply