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Four LGA-1150 Motherboards Under $60

Test Bench Configuration

Test System Components

We've heard your feedback about exploring low-budget overclocking with this little unlocked wonder. And as mentioned, Intel's stock heat sink and downdraft fan work well with these boards and their VRMs. For enthusiasts on a budget, this is a perfectly affordable union.  

Mushkin asked to sponsor our motherboard reviews, and we were happy to have them. The Chronos SSD removes any slowdowns and pauses from a mechanical disk and puts the bench software's focus on the motherboard, where it belongs.

Mushkin also contributes a pair of DDR3-1600 CAS 9 modules. These may seem tame compared to what Thomas uses in his X99 and Z97 reviews, but remember that the Pentium G3258 doesn't support data rates above 1400 MT/s, so these modules are more than adequate.

Gigabyte sent over an entry-level graphics card for our testing, matching our mainstream theme with a GeForce GT 730 2GB. Remember that we're focusing on the differences between motherboards; we only need a sufficiently strong GPU for a few 3D tests, and the 730 gets the job done.

This PSU is overkill for our round-up's modest power requirements. However, we wanted an 80 PLUS Gold-rated unit for accurate power consumption measurements, especially since efficiency drops significantly under a 20-percent load. The modular cables keep our bench clean and the near-silent operation is much appreciated as well.

I used Gelid GC-Extreme thermal compound for this round-up. The stock cooler's compound is only good for one application, and I needed at least four. Instead of scraping and reapplying partially cured paste for each subsequent test, I used a fresh smear for my installation on all four boards.

Drivers

GraphicsNvidia 347.25
ChipsetB85M-DGS: 9.4.0.1027 H81M-HDS: 9.4.0.1026 H81M-E: 9.4.0.1026 H81M-E34: 10.0.20

Benchmark Suite

PCMark 8Version: 2.3.293 Work, Home, and Creative Benchmarks
SiSoftware SandraVersion: 2015.01.21.15 CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography File System Bandwidth Memory Bandwidth
Cinebench R15Version: R15.0 x64 CPU Single and Multi-Core
3DMarkCloud Gate Version: 1.1, Skydiver Version: 1.0 Test Set 1: Cloud Gate, 1920x1080, Default Preset Test Set 2: Skydiver, 1920x1080, Default Preset
Unigine Heaven 4.0Version 4.0, Built-in Benchmark DirectX 11, Low Detail, 1920x1080, No AA, No Tessellation
Unigine Valley 1.0Version 1.0, Built-in Benchmark DirectX 11, Low Detail, 1920x1080, No AA


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  • MasterDell
    The best H81 board IMO, is the DS2V.
    Reply
  • colinstu
    on the conclusion page, the the four motherboards with the pros and cons are all mixed up.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    15641225 said:
    The best H81 board IMO, is the DS2V.
    Gigabyte doesn't agree with your, or else they would have sent one.
    15641336 said:
    on the conclusion page, the the four motherboards with the pros and cons are all mixed up.
    I think it's fixed now.

    Oh, and about his voltage comment in the article, I believe the board he tested is the first in several years on this site to not force a higher-than-set DIMM voltage.
    Reply
  • terion
    At last! Thanks!
    Reply
  • terion
    But there is still huge gap between $55 mobos here and 155$+ mobos in "Best Motherboards". Some recommendations in price range in between would be great.
    Something with solid power section, lasting capacitors, good component layout, silent, but intended for mainstream gaming, so no M.2, no SLI, single network interface etc. Basic features, but solid foundations.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    15641520 said:
    But there is still huge gap between $55 mobos here and 155$+ mobos in "Best Motherboards". Some recommendations in price range in between would be great.
    Something with solid power section, lasting capacitors, good component layout, silent, but intended for mainstream gaming, so no M.2, no SLI, single network interface etc. Basic features, but solid foundations.
    You mean $60 and $120 boards, right? Because that's the bottom of our current range of Z97 reviews. We get that. We have guys working on it. But to be honest, we wanted to get this article done first
    The plan from here is to cover Z97 Micro ATX, then $80 to $120 Z97 boards. We've also gone "sideways" with boards that aren't designed to overclock. And, there's a Z97 Mini ITX article in the publishing queue as we speak :)

    And then, after all that has been done, we'd still like to get back to a $120-$160 segment repeat, to cover the new products that have been released since the last round of mainstream LGA 1150. motherboards
    Reply
  • vaughn2k
    I am still using Core2 Quad Q9650. I can still bear it's power hungry character though... Until I see that there is a big advantage to upgrade, I will stay this way.
    Reply
  • PaulBags
    Needs more sata ports, and I'd prefer to see the main x16 on the second slot.
    Reply
  • Memnarchon
    Great article. We needed a comparison of low cost 1150 mobos for budget builds.
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    I am still using Core2 Quad Q9650. I can still bear it's power hungry character though... Until I see that there is a big advantage to upgrade, I will stay this way.
    It all depends on what you are doing. I had to abandon my C2Q as my main machine a long time ago because it simply choked on bandwidth when doing HD video editing and some games... But it still had a few years left over as my wife's main computer and was perfectly adequate for audio editing, office apps, light games, etc. I eventually replaced her system with an i3 Ivy Bridge setup due to a GPU failure and complaints of the C2Q being too loud in general... so now the C2Q is running as my home server, and will probably remain as my home server for a few years yet until it is a 10 year old chip (and 10GbE becomes more affordable).

    Point being, it is an extremely capable 8 year old chip, with a long life ahead of it still. But to say that there is no advantage to upgrading is a bit short-sighted. New chips allow for much smaller silent (or near silent) systems that literally sip power in comparison. New chips have enough iGPU power to compete with some of the midrange dGPUs from 8 years ago... and again as part of the 50-70W CPU package rather than a separate 150-250W GPU card. Not to mention the perks of being able to install faster/cheaper/more RAM with DDR3/4 compared to DDR2, or having lots of SATA3, USB3, and PCIe3 interfaces. Even running as a NAS the Core2Quad is limited to a max of 3TB HDDs where even the cheap motherboards listed here can take 8TB drives if you wanted to. Things like sound cards were still a necessity in the C2Q era, but now onboard audio is so good that even ardent audiophiles would be hard pressed to tell the difference. RAID was a costly feature back in the day, and now it is built into most motherboards (even the B-series chipsets, though it is listed as not having it on the charts here for some reason).

    I guess what I am trying to say is: If the older platform still meets your needs, then great! Enjoy it as long as you can, because there is value in that. But saying that the chip and the platform are not starting to show their age, or that there are not lots of advantages in moving to a newer platform (granted those advantages may not directly apply to you) is overlooking a lot of considerations.
    Reply