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MSI H81M-E35 V2 Motherboard Review

Today we're taking a look at another mainstream LGA1150 board: MSI's H81M-E35 V2. We'll determine what an enthusiast might give up by choosing a low-cost platform.

Our Verdict

This board is a good choice for the mainstream home user, with enough SATA ports for a SSD boot drive, a data drive and even a third drive in addition to an optical drive. The board feels solid, with high-quality components, backed by a three-year warranty. The only problem is that there are some cheaper boards out there costing $15-$20 less and offering similar features. If you feel uncomfortable buying the cheapest option available, though (even if the warranty is similar), this board should be a more comfortable purchase.

For

  • Quality components • Plenty of ports for the intended market • Speaker header • Front and rear USB3.0 • 3-year warranty • Support for 84W CPUs per QVL

Against

  • Miniature manual • No pilot or diagnostic LEDs • Found minor BIOS anomalies • More expensive than competition

Tom's Hardware Verdict

This board is a good choice for the mainstream home user, with enough SATA ports for a SSD boot drive, a data drive and even a third drive in addition to an optical drive. The board feels solid, with high-quality components, backed by a three-year warranty. The only problem is that there are some cheaper boards out there costing $15-$20 less and offering similar features. If you feel uncomfortable buying the cheapest option available, though (even if the warranty is similar), this board should be a more comfortable purchase.

Pros

  • +

    Quality components • Plenty of ports for the intended market • Speaker header • Front and rear USB3.0 • 3-year warranty • Support for 84W CPUs per QVL

Cons

  • -

    Miniature manual • No pilot or diagnostic LEDs • Found minor BIOS anomalies • More expensive than competition

Introduction

Today's sample uses the basic H81 Express chipset and sells for $59.99 at Newegg, just at the edge of our $60-$80 budget range. The H81M-E35 V2 is a microATX board with a mere 2+1 power phases, but it has the ability to overclock Intel's unlocked Pentium G3258, and MSI's QVL even includes higher-end 84W CPUs. Noting the absence of ports on some competing H81 boards, is this perhaps an example of H81 done right? Let's find out.

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