BUD­GET BOARDS

BEN MAN­SILL DWELLS IN THE LAB THE COALFACE

PC & Tech Authority - - DNA STORAGE FEATURE -

I‘ll tell you why we usu­ally bring in only top end motherboards when a new chipset comes out and we do a group test. Pre­mium boards gen­er­ally have a full suite of fea­tures, many – but not all – of which trickle down to lower-end boards. The think­ing here is that if you are con­sid­er­ing a lower-end board it’s quite pos­si­ble the im­por­tant as­pects have been cov­ered in our re­view, like the au­dio codec for ex­am­ple, and you can use that knowl­edge when you’re shop­ping for a bud­get board.

That said, we know how pop­u­lar pre­mium motherboards are. And we get why, they’re hard to re­sist while be­ing rel­a­tively easy to jus­tify given you’re likely to hold onto it for at least a cou­ple of years - In­tel’s re­cent trend to­wards elim­i­nat­ing CPU back­wards com­pat­i­bil­ity not­with­stand­ing.

So here we are do­ing a bud­get board group test! These usu­ally fol­low our pre­mium group tests by a cou­ple of months in line with these prod­uct’s re­lease cy­cle.

This month it’s all In­tel, specif­i­cally the im­pres­sive B360 chipset and a board from each of the Big Four. Our man Chris was thor­oughly im­pressed and two of these boards scored a per­fect 5/5 and a Rec­om­mended award. Not bad! And, as he dis­cov­ered, there’s very lit­tle to sep­a­rate the pre­mium from the bud­get. Un­less you want to go hard with over­clock­ing it’s per­fectly pos­si­ble to pick up a well se­lected B360 board that’s pre­mium in all but name. The ac­tion kicks off on the fol­low­ing page. On the min­ing front we have a cou­ple of in­ter­est­ing prod­ucts. There’s the built-for-pur­pose rig from Pi­o­neer on page 51. While a good over­all con­cept it is de­feated by eco­nomics, and re­dun­dancy well be­fore it has the po­ten­tial to pay for it­self. That box is a tra­di­tional su­per-ba­sic PC stuffed with gam­ing video cards. Nick has run the num­bers and alas they don’t add up.

But, while Razer’s Core V2 (re­view on page 67) is os­ten­si­bly in­tended to add meaty GPU power to a reg­u­lar lap­top, be­ing, if Razer’s dreams come true a Razer Blade Stealth (mar­vel­lous ma­chine, re­view on page 56). Razer be­ing Razer it’s mar­keted as a de­vice that adds gam­ing horse­power, and in­deed that’s how most of these will end up in life. But for a sin­gle GPU prod­uct that has had its cost al­ready ra­tio­nalised as some­thing for fun and fun only, it’s a log­i­cal step to have this ma­chine earn a few dol­lars min­ing for you, too. Be­ing in a sep­a­rate box its heat won’t dam­age the rest of the PC. Very el­e­gant, in­deed.

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