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H610 Motherboard Roundup: i9-12900K Meets Sub-$120 Micro ATX

H610 boards are good for mid-range processors, but struggle with the i9-12900K

H610 Motherboard Roundup
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Specifications: MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

SocketLGA1700
ChipsetH610
Form FactormATX
Voltage Regulator6 Phase (4x MOSFETs for Vcore)
Video Ports(1) HDMI (v2.1)
(1) DisplayPort (v1.4)
(1) D-Sub
USB Ports(2) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C (5 Gbps)
(4) USB 2.0 (480 Mbps)
Network Jacks(1) 1 GbE
Audio Jacks(3) Analog
Legacy Ports/JacksPS/2
Other Ports/Jack
PCIe x16(1) v4.0 (x16)
PCIe x8
PCIe x4
PCIe x1(1) v3.0 (x1)
CrossFire/SLI
DIMM slots(2) DDR4 3200, 64GB Capacity
M.2 slots(1) PCIe 3.0 x4 (32 Gbps), PCIe/SATA (up to 80mm)
(1) Key-E for CNVI Wi-Fi
U.2 Ports
SATA Ports(4) SATA3 6 Gbps (Supports RAID 0/1/5/10)
USB Headers(1) USB v3.2 Gen 2, Type-C (10 Gbps)
(1) USB v3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
(2) USB v2.0 (480 Mbps)
(1) USB v2.0 (480 Mbps, 4-pin)
Fan/Pump Headers(2) 4-Pin (CPU, System)
RGB Headers(2) aRGB Gen 2 (3-pin)
(1) RGB (4-pin)
Diagnostics PanelEZ Debug LED
Internal Button/Switch
SATA Controllers
Ethernet Controller(s)Intel I219-V (1 Gbps)
Wi-Fi / Bluetooth
USB ControllersGenesys Logic GL850G
HD Audio CodecRealtek ALC897
DDL/DTS✗ / ✗
Warranty3 Years

Inside the Box of the MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

Inside the box with the MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4, MSI includes your standard fare of accessories including SATA cables, driver disk and more. Like the others, the accessory stack is thin but should get you started without an extra trip for basic parts. Below is a complete list of the included extras.

  • (2) SATA cables
  • Quick install guide
  • Registration card
  • M.2 clip
  • IO shields
  • Driver DVD
  • Case badge

Design of the Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

(Image credit: MSI)
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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

(Image credit: MSI)

The H610M-G, as far as looks go, isn’t something that warrants your attention like the more expensive boards can. The Pro sports a black PCB and some gray lines stenciled on the board in a checkerboard-like pattern. You won’t find any shrouds or heatsinks, outside of a small chipset heatsink attached via push pins like the others. There are no RGBs on the board, so any lighting will have to come from the integrated headers.

(Image credit: MSI)

On the top half, we get to see all the board is made of, since it lacks any kind of heatsink or shrouds in this area. On top is the 8-pin EPS connector (required) that sends power to the processor. To the right of the socket and left of the DRAM slots are the first (of two) 4-pin fan headers. I'm not sure this is enough for some systems, especially those using an AIO and multiple system fans. You’d need to piggyback a couple on a header. The good news is the headers should be able to take it, as they both output 2A/24W.

Continuing right, we run into two unreinforced DRAM slots that lock the sticks down on one side. Support is listed up to DDR4 3200 which is the maximum for the platform. We had to manually set the DDR4 3200 speed on this board as it didn’t play nice with XMP and our DDR4 3600 kit.

We find the first (of two) RGB headers in the upper-right corner. In this area, a 3-pin ARGB, while on the bottom is the 4-pin RGB. Down the right edge, we hit a system fan header, the EZdebug LED (the only board here that has one), a 24-pin ATX connector for board power, and finally, the front panel USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) connector.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

MSI implements a six-phase VRM with four phases dedicated to Vcore. Of the three H610 boards heere, this one sports the weakest parts, which makes the default 110W limit understandable. Power is sent from the 8-pin EPS connector to a Realtek RT3628AE 9-channel controller (8+1). Power moves to the Sinopower 55A SM4337 N-channel MOSFETs and Sinopower 4503NH MOSFETs. Again, what’s here is a long mile from the most powerful we’ve seen, but it can support the 110W it’s limited to.

(Image credit: MSI)

The bottom portion of the board also shows off the hardware. On the left is the Realtek ALC897 audio codec, along with four yellow caps dedicated to audio. There are two PCIe slots in the middle, with the top slot surprisingly reinforced to prevent EMI and shearing from heavy graphics cards. This slot runs at PCIe 4.0 x16 speeds and gets its lanes from the CPU. The x1 size slot runs at PCIe 3.0 x1 speeds and sources lanes from the chipset.

Next, we spy two M.2 sockets, one above and the other below the primary PCIe slot. The top socket is for storage modules, while the bottom socket is Key-E and supports CNVi Wi-Fi. The storage socket supports up to 80mm PCIe and SATA-based modules supporting speeds to PCIe 3.0 x4 (32 Gbps). Of the three boards in this review, it’s the only one that supports SATA-based M.2 devices.

Along the right edge are four horizontal-facing SATA ports. Like the others, RAID support isn’t mentioned in the manual. Note that you lose a SATA port (SATA7) when installing an M.2 SATA SSD in the M2_1 slot. Again though, this is the only board here with two M.2 slots. Your worst-case scenario is three SATA ports and SATA-based M.2. If you use a PCIe-based M.2, all four SATA ports remain active.

Several headers live across the bottom, including USB and SATA ports, RGB, etc. Below is a complete list of all the headers across the bottom of the board.

  • Front panel audio
  • 4-pin RGB header
  • COM port
  • USB 2.0 header
  • TPM header
  • Front panel header
  • 4-pin ARGB header

(Image credit: MSI)

As we move to the rear IO area, the IO plate is simple like the others - a thin metal shield with the labels stamped on. Working left to right, we hit the HDMI, D-SUB, and DisplayPort video outputs for use with a processor that has integrated graphics. Next to that is a PS/2 port that sits on top of two USB 2.0 ports (four total). The blue USB ports run at USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) speeds. Continuing right, we see the Intel GbE port and a three-plug audio stack.

Firmware

Like the other MSI BIOS configurations, you start with an informational EZ Mode that allows editing of some high-level functions, including enabling XMP profiles, adjusting fan speeds, and more. The main menu is informational up top, while the bottom two-thirds is where the adjustments happen. You select the section you want on the left or right sides, and the details show in the middle. Some digging is inevitable, but overall we find this BIOS full of options and easy to read and get around. The biggest difference between the Pro and other MSI motherboards is the color. Normally they use black and red, but the Pro has a black and white theme that matches the board.  And if you want to know how to access your BIOS (from any system), we can help!

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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Software

For software, the theme these days is to place a lot of the functionality in one program. MSI’s take on this is called Dragon Center, which lets you download individual applets. Some of the programs include Mystic Light (RGB control), LAN Manager, User Scenario (overclocking, monitoring, and fan control), Super Charger, MSI Companion (help record games), and many more.

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

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MSI Pro H610M-G DDR4

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

MORE: Best Motherboards

MORE: How To Choose A Motherboard

MORE: All Motherboard Content

Joe Shields
Joe Shields

Joe Shields is a Freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews motherboards.

  • javiindo
    Not to be able to do overclock on the RAM it means that it's not possible to use the XMP profiles in the RAM?
    What was the speed of the RAM tested? Do these motherboards support DDR5? :-o
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    javiindo said:
    Not to be able to do overclock on the RAM it means that it's not possible to use the XMP profiles in the RAM?
    What was the speed of the RAM tested? Do these motherboards support DDR5? :-o
    It just means it doesn't have support for beyond DDR4-3200, per the maximum speed of the JEDEC standard. And they don't support DDR5 (Alder Lake boards can only support one or the other)
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    Would have been nice to run a i5-12600K and 12400 to see if these boards can max out these chips.

    Is there a way to shut down some cores and throttle back the i9 to emulate the i5s ?
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    Co BIY said:
    Would have been nice to run a i5-12600K and 12400 to see if these boards can max out these chips.

    Is there a way to shut down some cores and throttle back the i9 to emulate the i5s ?
    The 12600k scores about 17.000 in cb23, 18 when overclocked, the 12900k hits 22 and above on these 610 boards.
    They barely slow down the 12900k by around 10% compared to full hog no power limits on the 12900k so anything else should be more than fine on thee boards.
    https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-core-i9-12900k-and-core-i5-12600k-review-retaking-the-gaming-crown/6
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    Does the socket look crooked on the MSI to anyone else ?

    Reply
  • ceomrman2
    This is a great article! I feel like the best values are sometimes hidden because people sometimes fixate on the wrong things. You can spend tons on RAM and cool-looking MB features that don't really yield much in the real world, for example.

    Everyone's goals are different. I'm using pre-tax Canadian prices (very similar to US after conversion). I'm biased towards spreadsheets/BI, photos, and video encoding. Gaming is relevant, but not top of mind. I'll play with OC'ing but won't pay extra for it. I figured CAD$1400 for ssd/GPU/case/etc, and separately figured prices for these MB/CPU/RAM/opt. WiFi combos. I applied my own weights to the benchies - higher for productivity and efficiency, less for synthetics. I compared i9-11900k, 5950x, and DDR5 z690 boards (as one set). For prices on those I used the average of a couple recent "best medium price" recommendations for the various categories. I added the Asus H610 and each of the three B660s in the article.

    The 11900k system would cost -11% vs average, but deliver -23% performance I care about, I'll call that "net -12." The typical DDR5 z690 costs +12% and delivers +11% performance, net =1. The Ryzen was net -1, and Asus H610 was net 0. So all those look perfectly reasonable - you just get just what you pay for. The Asus B660 was net +4, though, and ASRock and MSI B660 boards were both net +5. I puttered with the weighting but the general "bunching" of results was pretty reliable, with 11th gen Intel always losing by a lot, 5960x/DDR5 z690/H610 all basically tied for overall value, and the B660 boards all slightly better overall.
    Reply
  • RedBear87
    hotaru.hino said:
    It just means it doesn't have support for beyond DDR4-3200, per the maximum speed of the JEDEC standard. And they don't support DDR5 (Alder Lake boards can only support one or the other)
    Technically Alder Lake can support both DDR4 and DDR5, there's at least one motherboard from Onda (a Chinese OEM) that supports both. And answering javiindo's question, there are more mainstream motherboards that support DDR5 only. Of course at the moment it doesn't make a lot of sense to pair expensive DDR5 with a cheap mobo, but the option does exist (somehow).
    Reply