INTEL B360 MOTHERBOARDS
WITH THE B360 CHIPSET INTEL AND ITS PARTNERS DELIVER A PLATFORM THAT’S HIGH ON PERFORMANCE AND LOW ON COST. CHRIS SZEWCZYK POWERS UP
Budget boards that offer almost everything
When Coffee Lake processors launched back in October, the line-up was pretty thin on options with Z370 motherboards being the only ones to choose from. That’s all changed now that Intel has launched the budget oriented H370, H310 and B360 chipsets which finally puts Coffee Lake into the realms of mainstream affordability.
For so long, Intel based systems aimed at budget users have seen incremental improvements. As we move well into 2018, it’s clear that users expect more from their computers. Gaming, Netflix, streaming, smartphone video conversions, video calls and so on. A dual core just doesn’t cut it anymore. A CPU like the Core i5-8400 with its 6 cores capable of 4GHz means that users can do more than ever, but until now, there haven’t been budget oriented chipsets to match.
THE BUDGET OPTION
Enter B360. At the most basic level it is similar to Z370, with Coffee Lake CPU support, four memory slots, PCIe 3.0, SATA 6GB/s etc. but as you dive under the hood, there are actually quite a few differences. This doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of handling a powerful rig. It can certainly do that, but there are some significant limitations that separate B360 from the more expensive Z370 chipset.
Primarily, B360 does not support overclocking of either the CPU or memory. The latter point means that B360 motherboards are limited to DDR4-2666 only. In a nutshell, if you want to overclock, or run high speed memory, skip B360. There are a few other limitations with regards to the number and type of USB ports, the number of PCIe lanes and RAID, but for the most part these things don’t affect a user with a common system configuration.
If you’re running a single graphics card, 2x8GB of RAM, a fast NVMe SSD and some additional SATA drives then B360 will function exactly as it would as if you were using Z370. Why pay extra for stuff you don’t want or need? That’s the kind of option B360 brings to the table. It’s not cheap or nasty, it just omits some features a big chunk of the market will never need or use.
With all this in mind, we’re pleased to have four B360 motherboards on hand for review over the following pages.
“As we move well into 2018, it’s clear that users expect more from their computers.”