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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

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.

  • g-unit1111
    I have the H81M-E33 version of this board and after a year of use with a Pentium G-3258 it's still held up surprisingly well. I would definitely recommend these boards in a heart beat.
    Reply
  • Onus
    I think that's the one that Eric reviewed, and gave it an award. For basic boxes they're an excellent choice; much better than the schlock out there. A mere two SATA ports ought to be a deal-breaker for any rational builder.
    Reply
  • littleleo
    Will this board support Broadwell CPUs?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    16445254 said:
    Will this board support Broadwell CPUs?
    No.
    http://us.msi.com/support/mb/H81M-E35.html#support-cpu

    Unlike DRAM, where similar modules that haven't been tested will probably work, CPUs usually need new firmware specifically written to support them. So you should take MSI's word that it's a no-go.
    Reply
  • f-14
    this is a good basic entry level gamer board i have been building with since core 2 duo (G41M-P33 and such) for kids and college students who only want to spend the minimal on a decent gamer. i typically pair this with an Nvidia X60 series graphics card and a 22" monitor and a 460W-500W PSU with a low budget case or lower budget decorative windowed case with the best cfm to noise ratio led fans, usually kingwins.

    i try to buy the 4 ram slot versions incase future requirements change and it's cheaper and easier to add in than replace all the ram.
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    16444324 said:
    I think that's the one that Eric reviewed, and gave it an award. For basic boxes they're an excellent choice; much better than the schlock out there. A mere two SATA ports ought to be a deal-breaker for any rational builder.
    No, that was the E34. Looks like the main difference between this E35 and my E34 is the one PCI slot at the bottom. And I think your table is off, this looks like a 3+1 VRM. Actual value against the E34 is hard to compare. If you don't need that PCI slot, then why not save $5? However, if you do need it, an extra $5 isn't much.
    Reply
  • littleleo
    What uses a regular PCI slot any more? An old printer adapter?
    Reply
  • Onus
    Modems, cheap wireless adapters, some sound cards, and TV tuners may still use PCI slots. It seems unlikely to me that the average person would have one of those.
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    Or someone holding on to older, but still perfectly usable tech. If I bought an expensive PCI sound card years ago, I'd likely still use it, particularly if it had DDL. These cheaper boards are exactly the kind that people would get when upgrading older family computers and want to keep things affordable. I think it's very relevant for them to have a few legacy connectors. Older connectors on enthusiast and premium boards are a mystery to me.
    Reply
  • spentshells
    Nice review, I had an h61 which appears to be pretty much the same board with additional support, it worked great and was extremely stable.
    Reply