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Cheap Coffee Lake: Three Intel H370 and B360 Motherboards, Tested

How We Test

We picked our primary components (the CPU, graphics, and DRAM) based primarily upon a balance of performance and price. Intel’s Core i3-8350K offers four cores at 4GHz, and the fact that it’s unlocked hasn’t escaped us: Even though it’s unlikely that anyone will crack one of these locked platforms, we’d hate to be stuck with a locked processor if they did.

We also chose the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti for its performance-to-price ratio. The two-fan cooler of MSI’s Gaming X version gives us reduced noise while still fitting within two slots.

Having pushed this article’s budget close to its limit, we decided to stick with RAM we have on-hand. G.Skill’s recently-reviewed Ripjaws V 3200 barely carries any pricing premium, could allow overclocking if anyone were to unlock a similar platform, and kept us within budget. Our CPU supports DDR4-2400 at both 9x 133MHz and 12x 100MHz settings, and if anyone ever figures out how to fool a system into using the higher 12x multiplier with the higher 133MHz base clock, the resulting 1600MHz frequency would get us to DDR4-3200.

The Core i3-8350k does not include a cooler, and we understand that most buyers will be looking for one priced between $20 and $40. While it’s possible to find a $40 cooler that performs as well as our old Noctua NH-U12S, the reason we retained it is that it was already in-hand. As with any build, reusing old components where possible is the best way to save money!

SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
Graphics DriverGeForce 382.53

Comparison Products

We’re comparing today’s samples to the most-average Z370 Mini-ITX motherboard we could find. Since “most average” is not exactly a compliment, we’re giving it the title “Reference Data” in our charts.

Benchmark Settings
Synthetic Benchmarks & Settings
PCMark 8Version 2.7.613 Home, Creative, Work, Storage, Applications (Adobe & Microsoft)
3DMark 13Version 4.47.597.0 Skydiver, Firestrike, Firestrike Extreme Default Presets
SiSoftware SandraVersion 2016.03.22.21 CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth
DiskSPD4k Random Read, 4k Random Write 128k Sequential Read, 128k Sequential Write
Cinebench R15Build RC83328DEMO OpenGL Benchmark
CompuBenchVersion 1.5.8 Face Detection, Optical Flow, Ocean Surface, Ray Tracing
Application Tests & Settings
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3 Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.9.9 Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4k mkv to x265 mp4
BlenderVersion 2.68a BMW 27 CPU Render Benchmark, BMW 27 GPU Render Benchmark
7-ZipVersion 16.02 THG-Workload (7.6GB) to .7z, command-line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=9"
Adobe After Effects CCRelease 2015.3.0, Version 13.8.0.144 PCMark-driven routine
Adobe Photoshop CCRelease 2015.5.0. 20160603.r.88 x64 PCMark-driven routine (light and heavy)
Adobe InDesign CCRelease 2015.4, Build 11.4.0.90 x64 PCMark-driven routine
Adobe IllustratorRelease 2015.3.0, Version 20.0.0 (64-bit) PCMark-driven routine
Game Tests & Settings
Ashes of the SingularityVersion 1.31.21360 High Preset - 1920x1080, Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAA Crazy Preset - 1920x1080, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA
F1 20152015 Season, Abu Dhabi Track, Rain Medium Preset, No AF Ultra High Preset, 16x AF
Metro Last Light ReduxVersion 3.00 x64 High Quality, 1920x1080, High Tesselation, 16x AF Very High Quality, 1920x1080, Very High Tesselation, 16x AF
The Talos PrincipleVersion 267252 Medium Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AF Ultra Preset, Very High Quality, Very High Tesselation, 16x AF
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.