Asus announced two new budget-oriented gaming motherboards: the B150 Pro Gaming/Aura and B150 Pro Gaming. These ATX-sized motherboards are identical in every way -- except that the Aura version features customizable LED lighting.
These new motherboards use the B150 chipset, which you wouldn't expect from a gaming product, but it could be a great choice for enthusiasts looking to shave some money off the cost of their motherboard to invest in more robust graphics and processor options (although unlocked processors would be overkill, as the chipset is incapable of overclocking). Furthermore, the chipset has a maximum memory frequency of 2133 MHz, making it seem less like a gaming product and more like a flashy office motherboard. (Not that we aren't into that.)
The B150 Pro Gaming motherboards seem to offer premium aesthetic value for budget-oriented builds that aren't really meant to exceed a certain level of functionality. The motherboards support 6th generation Intel (Skylake) processors and up to 64 GB of DDR4 RAM. There is one PCIe 3.0 x 16 slot, and another x16 slot running at x4 mode. This is adequate for Crossfire support, but not good enough for SLI configurations.
Six SATA 6 Gb/s ports provide plenty of storage options, and an M.2 type 2242/2260/2280/22110 slot supports SATA or NVMe SSDs (although only at PCIe 3.0 x 2 speeds). Four USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports offer a decent amount of connectivity, but for even faster speeds, the B150 Pro Gaming motherboards feature two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports -- one Type-C port and one Type-A port. These ports are capable of transfer speeds up to 10 Gb/s. A gigabit LAN port gets you connected to the Internet.
Asus bolsters the gaming fidelity of the B150 motherboards with ROG features such as SupremeFX audio technology, which includes Sonic Radar II, a game overlay that shows the direction and origin of key in-game sounds, enabling players to pinpoint teammates or enemy combatants. Additionally, the B150 motherboards have a dedicated water pump header and the Fan Xpert 3 software for optimal cooling control.
The B150 Pro Gaming/Aura features an array of LED lights that surround the processor socket, PCH, and some of the edges of the motherboard. Using software, it can be customized to virtually any color and has multiple illumination effects, including color strobing and cycling, pulsating in time with music, and a breathing effect. The LEDs can also be set to change shades to indicate CPU temperature.
The the Asus B150 Pro Gaming/Aura and B150 Pro Gaming motherboards could be a great choice for enthusiasts looking to get the most aesthetic value out of a low-cost, minimally-featured mainboard. The B150 Pro Gaming/Aura is available now for $129 from authorized Asus distributors.
Update, 12/4/15, 11:10am PT: Pricing information is now available for the B150 Pro Gaming/Aura. We added this information to the text.
Derek Forrest is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom’s Hardware and Tom’s IT Pro. PC gaming, graphics hardware and VR devices are among his favorite topics to cover. He is a lifelong PC enthusiast, former IT administrator and a custom PC builder with a penchant for creating music, voice acting and all things geek.