BEN MANSILL DWELLS IN THE LAB THE COALFACE
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.