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ASRock H97 Anniversary Motherboard Review

Today's LGA1150 is the last H97 board at a mainstream price that will go on the bench for my scrutiny. It's a little different in a couple of interesting ways, as we'll find out.

Test Results And Conclusion

How We Test

As with our other motherboard tests, the H97 Anniversary motherboard was set up on an open-bed test case. All components were the same as those used in recent reviews.

CPU CoolerBoxed Cooler
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
GraphicsNvidia 347.25

Synthetic Benchmarks And Settings

PCMark 8Version: 2.3.293Work, Home and Creative Benchmarks
SiSoftware SandraVersion: 2015.01.21.15Memory Bandwidth
CrystalDiskMark 3.03Sequential Read
Unigine Heaven 4.0Version 4.0, Built-in BenchmarkBasic: DirectX 9, Low Detail, 1280 x 720, 2xAA, No TessellationCustom: DirectX 11, High Detail, 1280x720, 0xAA, No Tessellation

I used XMP settings for all tests. I did not need to specify detailed settings to get my typical 4.2GHz overclock to run with total stability, and RAM had no problems running at DDR3-1400 with CAS9 timings with my ASRock H97 Anniversary sample.

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Comparison Motherboards

I am continuing to compare individual boards such as this one to the three samples from the mini-ITX roundup I wrote. Performance differences remain small and unimportant. Once again, please subtract 6W from the power measurements shown by the Kill-A-Watt meter, to get the actual system power usage without counting the 6W used by the UPS on my test bench.

Performance Benchmarks

All of the PCMark8 benchmarks ran without issues on the test motherboard.  There are no surprises. In general, this H97 board puts in slightly above-average performance, which overclocking boosts by just enough to notice. Overall, though, the differences are slight.

Sandra shows that this board is somewhat slower than the others on RAM speed. Overclocking allows it to eke out a narrow "victory," but those motherboards can all OC, too, so that's a meaningless win IMHO.

It would take a very tight scale to show any difference here, but this is the slowest example. Even overclocking doesn't matter, amounting to less than a point of difference.

The H97 Anniversary test sample turns in last place finishes here too, at stock. Overclocking shows a little difference, but it will trail again should those other boards also be overclocked. Looking at my raw numbers, I can see though that the biggest change caused by overclocking is a significant increase in the minimum frame rates, in this case 7.6 to 19.9 in DX9 and 7.5 to 20.7 in DX11. There is less than a half point of difference in the maximum frame rates.

Here is perhaps the only real performance anomaly I found, where the power used in the CPU-heavy load of Prime95 jumped through the roof when the H97 Anniversary was overclocked.

CPU temperatures are similar to what we've seen before at stock, but like the power, they climb considerably when the board is overclocked. While the high temperature could be due to a poor application of TIM, the higher power usage suggests that probably is not the case.

The SpeedTest.net LAN test has pretty much outlived its usefulness. Nothing really sticks out that might not be explained by variables beyond my control. Multiple runs turned in similar results. Only the ping was consistently better when the test sample was overclocked, but be sure to take a sack of salt with that result.

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning, I believe the ASRock H97 Anniversary is an odd bird. It has a couple of features that would be desirable to a very specific market segment, those needing heavy GPGPU capabilities. It does seem to give up some performance, though, and is physically bigger. A great choice if you need its specific features─but even at this price I believe there's a better choice if you're only looking for H97 features (like RAID support) in general─but this is still not a bad choice at all.

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Joe Trott is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware, covering Motherboards.

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  • Snayperskaya
    "Cons: Full ATX width"

    Seriously? How is that a con?
    Reply
  • Rookie_MIB
    This would be a good board to put a bunch of PCIe -> SATA adapters for a large scale NAS... Four PCIe to quad-port SATA cards can be had for $20 each or so, so along with the on-board SATA ports you'd be able to put together a 22 drive setup.
    Reply
  • DouglasThurman
    Why does the link for the board show up on NewEgg as the smaller micro-atx anniversary board?
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    17438104 said:
    This would be a good board to put a bunch of PCIe -> SATA adapters for a large scale NAS... Four PCIe to quad-port SATA cards can be had for $20 each or so, so along with the on-board SATA ports you'd be able to put together a 22 drive setup.
    That would be grossly inefficient and slow since each board would only have an x1 PCIe connection. You would be much better off with a motherboard with x4 slots and controller boards with 16+ ports each. Yes, those cost more than $20 but if you can afford to spend $3000 on HDDs + $100 in add-in boards, I think you can afford a $500 controller.
    Reply
  • DonkeyOatie
    I realize that these things take a long time to get out and there are a lot of things in the pipeline. This would have been great information a year a go, but less useful today, especially with the G3258 being past it's' best by', although still a great chip.
    Reply
  • RazberyBandit
    "Cons: Full ATX width"

    Seriously? How is that a con?
    What's funny is that it's not 9.6" (244mm) wide, as per the ATX standard. It is built closer to the widths of the Flex-ATX or DTX standards, which measure 194mm/7.6" and 208mm/8.2", respectively. (If I owned the board, I'd measure it, like the author should have.)

    The dead-giveaway that this isn't a standard 12" x 9.6" ATX board is the fact that it only has 6 mounting holes - it would have 9 if it were in fact a full-size ATX board. My personal moniker for boards built to such dimensions is ATX-Thin.
    Reply
  • mac_angel
    ASRock seem to make decent products, but as for their customer service and warranty, it's poor. Next to impossible to reach anyone, and redirected all over. I have one of their gaming motherboards that I sent back weeks ago and haven't gotten anything back since. Any time I write it, they say it is 'out of stock'. Maybe because I'm in Canada? Either way, really bad support. Never again.
    Reply
  • Onus
    I agree that this socket is now "old," but I have no control over length of the publishing queue. Soon I'll be submitting H170 reviews so as to be more current.
    I list the full ATX width as a con because there are many boards with similar features (all but the multiple PCIe X1 slots) that are considerably smaller. In many settings it doesn't matter, but where it does, you can get most of the same features on a mITX board now.
    Reply
  • Onus
    Oh, and as to ASRock's customer service, for my part I've been satisfied. I bought their Z77E-ITX second-hand some years ago. It died (popped VRM; running stock, but in a cramped case with a hot GPU). Although I bought it without a warranty, ASRock replaced it for $50, and dealing with them was straightforward and easy.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    17439592 said:
    "Cons: Full ATX width"

    Seriously? How is that a con?
    What's funny is that it's not 9.6" (244mm) wide, as per the ATX standard...The dead-giveaway that this isn't a standard 12" x 9.6" ATX board is the fact that it only has 6 mounting holes - it would have 9 if it were in fact a full-size ATX board.
    Actually, you're both right but Onus is more-right. The old standard for computers was horizontal desktops and racks, so top to bottom is "width" and front to back is "depth".

    I try to avoid this confusion by not using the word "width" when describing a motherboard.

    Joe's comments concern the availability of similar features in Micro ATX models. He assumes that you won't need five x1 slots and that 2 would do. He's probably right.
    Reply