Motherboard Guide

ASUS B85-Pro Gamer review

ASUS B85-Pro Gamer motherboard makes affordable gaming DIY systems possible

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Launch SRP S$198
Latest Price From S$176 (Check Latest Prices)

Overall rating 7.5/10
Performance:
8
Features:
7.5
Value:
7
THE GOOD
Gaming centric features like SupremeFX audio and Game First II technology
Excellent overclocking capabilities, especially with Pentium G3258 AE chip
Affordable gaming-class board
THE BAD
Lacks support for upcoming Broadwell chips
More advanced board options are available for just $50 more


ASUS B85-Pro Gamer - Fabulously late for the party

ASUS B85-Pro Gamer - Fabulously late for the party

The ASUS B85-Pro Gamer comes across as a rare attempt by the company to take a stab at the entry-level and mid-range PC gaming market segment. This full ATX board hails from the previous generation Intel 8 series, and not to mention its humble roots as a chipset that is meant for business and productivity desktop system. This motherboard was actually announced in March this year; however, it has only recently made its way to our shores. Priced at S$198, it isn't exactly the cheapest Intel B85-based board around; hence, let us take a closer look at its feature set to see what exactly is in store.

The red on black color scheme of the board alludes to the company's top-end Republic of Gamers gaming centric products. This is in line with ASUS' recent announcement of a pair of AMD FM2+ gaming boards that also sport the same striking color scheme. In fact, the color red is confined to its fancy looking heatsinks - both VRM and PCH ones. The MOSFETs heatsinks, in the vicinity of the LGA1150 CPU socket, have fins for heat dissipation. A row of 10K black metallic capacitors are placed very close to the CPU socket and this may hinder the mounting of some customized CPU coolers. However, we doubt the use of standard coolers would pose any issue.

 

From the rear view, we can see their fins for heat dissipation for the board's MOSFETs. Speaking of power delivery components, the board sports an 8-phase system that is driven by its Digi+ voltage regulator module. In addition, the system also features high-end 10K Japanese-made (Nichicon GT series) black metallic capacitors.

In terms of expansion slots, there are a pair of PCIe x16 slots; the first is of PCIe Gen 3.0 standards, while the other is a PCIe 2.0 slots that operates only at x4 speeds. As a result, the board exclusively supports AMD multi-GPU configurations, up to AMD quad-GPU CrossfireX setups. Since the second PCIe x16 slot is wired to operate at only x4, NVIDIA SLI isn't officially supported on this board. The other expansion slots consist of two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots, and three PCI ones.

One of its gaming centric features is the SupremeFX onboard 8-channel audio system that features "premium" ELNA audio capacitors and a 300ohm headphone amplifier. The traces of the audio system are separated from the rest of the board to minimize electrical interference. In addition, the SupremeFX audio codec has an EMI sheath, also for protection against EMI. In terms of software features, the board supports the exclusive Sonic Radar app that claims to pinpoint the "precise direction and origin of in-game sounds", allowing you to gain an edge over other gamers.

Standard fare headers and connectors line the bottom edge of the board; they consist of front panel audio connector, a digital audio connector (S/PDIF Out), a clear RTC RAM jumper (to clear CMOS), a TPM connector, a COM port header, and a chassis fan connector. There are two USB 2.0 headers, and last of all, the system panel connector.

There are four SATA 6Gbps connectors (in grey), and the black SATA 3Gbps connectors are stacked atop each other. Do note that there isn't RAID support for the SATA 6Gbps connectors.

The B85-Pro Gamer doesn't support overclocked memory modules and due to the limitation of the Intel B85 chipset, overclocked memory modules on XMP mode will automatically operate at the default clock speed of DDR3-1600MHz. There is a USB 3.0 header located in between the DIMM slot and the 24-pin EATX power connector, and this is to facilitate the installation of front-facing USB 3.0 panels.

The rear I/O ports feature a pair of PS/2 ports; the green port is for the mouse and the purple one is for your keyboard. Video output is taken care of by a HDMI port, a D-Sub port, and a dual-link DVI-D port. There are only two USB 3.0 ports, and four USB 2.0 ones. For audio connectivity options, there are six analog audio jacks, and a optical S/PDIF out port. The Gigabit LAN port is linked to an Intel I217V LAN controller and it supports the GameFirst II traffic-shaping technology to reduce network lag. In the following pages, we shall examine the performance of the board.