When Intel first launched their 8th Gen Coffee Lake CPUs, anybody seeking to improve their processor solely had a single selection of motherboard chipset: the somewhat costly Z370. Mercifully, Intel have now expanded their 300-series family to encourage price range builders to make the soar too – and the B360 chipset is one in all them.
To discover out if it’s any cop towards pricier motherboards, I’ve received the ATX-sized Asus ROG Strix B360-F Gaming readily available to see what’s what – and the outcomes are very promising certainly.
Earlier than we dive into the specifics, it’s price noting that, as we discovered with my crop of AMD Ryzen-based X470 motherboards, there’ll little question be different mobos on the market – B360 and Z370 alike – which might be each marginally quicker and slower than Asus’ B360-F Gaming. Nonetheless, as one of many costlier B360 fashions on the market (costing £110 within the UK and $130 within the US), it ought to give us a reasonably good thought about what to anticipate in a best-case state of affairs.
To check it, I loaded it up with my Intel Core i5-8600Okay CPU operating at its default three.6GHz (in any case, the B360 chipset does not help overclocking), 16GB of Corsair Vengeance RAM operating at 2133MHz, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070Ti graphics card and a Samsung 850 Pro SSD.
As talked about above, the B360-F Gaming is an ATX-sized, so you need to be capable to install the motherboard into any mid or full tower case. It additionally comes with a somewhat swish pre-mounted I/O board so that you don’t should faff round with becoming a steel plate around the again, and also you even get a splash of RGB lighting to assist carry a contact of color to your PC’s innards.
In fact, with the B360 being extra of a mid-to-low-range chipset in comparison with the upmarket Z370, the B360-F Gaming doesn’t include an enormous variety of growth slots. On the B360-F Gaming, you get simply the one PCIe x16 three.zero slot operating at full velocity, whereas the second and closing one in all this dimension runs at simply x4.
That’s high quality should you’re solely going to be sticking a single graphics card in your PC, however these after a multi-GPU setup ought to word this specific motherboard solely has help for AMD’s 2-way Crossfire tech, not Nvidia SLI. For those who’re planning to build a PC with a couple of Nvidia card inside it, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
For those who’re occupied with including a lot of growth playing cards, nonetheless, the B360-F Gaming has you effectively lined. Not solely do you get 4 PCIe x1 slots, however they’re additionally sensibly spaced, which means you’ll solely lose entry to one in all them if you find yourself utilizing the second PCIe x16 slot – which is greater than will be stated for different motherboards that are likely to cram them in beneath the principle PCIe x16 slot.
In the meantime, its 4 DDR4 DIMM slots help as much as 64GB of RAM at a most velocity of 2666MHz. That’s not the quickest velocity round, all advised, however it ought to nonetheless be greater than sufficient for almost all of PC builders on the market – simply be sure to don’t purchase RAM that runs any quicker, akin to 3000MHz+, as you gained’t be benefit from it.
Storage-wise, the B360-F Gaming comes fairly well-equipped. You get two M.2 sockets for NVMe SSDs (together with a detachable heatsink to assist hold one in all them further cool), six SATA ports for extra conventional 2.5in SSDs, Intel Optane Reminiscence help.
The principle profit the B360 chipset brings over Z370, nonetheless, is its USB help. Whereas Z370 boards high out at USB three.1 Gen 1 help, B360 throws in USB three.1 Gen 2 as effectively, supplying you with even zippier speeds for all of your units. On the B360-F Gaming, you’ll discover two of those in common Kind-A kind in your I/O panel, in addition to a single Kind-C port.
The B360-F Gaming additionally offers you loads of inside fan headers – two for the CPU, a devoted AIO water pump connector, and one other three for added chassis followers. If all that wasn’t sufficient, there’s even a fan extension header as effectively.
By way of efficiency, the B360-F Gaming would make a high quality basis for any gaming PC. Certainly, once I put it up towards my Asus Prime Z370-P motherboard (one of many cheaper Z370 boards on the market), the B360-F Gaming matched it in virtually each take a look at I believed at it – which is fairly spectacular when it’s meant to be the lesser chipset.
In Cinebench R15, for instance, the B360-F Gaming really got here out a fraction in entrance, scoring 182 within the single core take a look at and 1004 within the multicore take a look at. The Prime, alternatively, managed 181 and 974 respectively.
It was fairly shut in Geekbench four and PCMark10 as effectively. In each circumstances, the Prime edged into the lead, however solely simply – scoring 5054 and 19732 in Geekbench four’s single and multicore checks over the B360-F Gaming’s 5000 and 19714 outcomes, and a complete of 5694 in PCMark 10 versus the B360-F Gaming’s rating of 5519.
When it got here to pitting it towards 3DMark’s graphically intense Fireplace Strike take a look at, nonetheless, the B360-F Gaming reclaimed its crown, ending with a rating of 16275 and a mixed body charge results of 41.09fps. The Prime, alternatively, maxed out at 16123 and a mixed body charge of 40.71fps. In fact, zero.four frames of a second is hardly large when it comes to a efficiency increase, however it goes to point out you don’t essentially have to go along with a Z370 board to get the perfect potential gaming speeds.
The one black mark towards the B360-F Gaming is its storage speeds. In AS SSD’s 1GB 4K random take a look at, which reads and writes 1GB’s price of tiny 4K file chunks to random areas on an SSD, the B360-F Gaming managed an honest 30.1MB/s learn and 91.1MB/s write, however the Prime got here in with scores of 37.6MB/s learn and 109.5MB/s write – that’s a 25% quicker learn velocity and a 20% quicker write.
Nonetheless, it’s not the top of the world within the grand scheme of issues, and the remainder of the B360-F Gaming’s outcomes are nonetheless extremely spectacular. You’ll nonetheless need to go along with a Z370 board should you’ve received an unlocked processor you plan to overclock, after all, however for these with unlocked Espresso Lake processors (those which don’t have a Okay in their identify), the B360 route is nearly actually higher worth for cash within the long-run than making an attempt to sport the system and going for an inexpensive Z370 board.
Certainly, I ought to most likely level out that the Asus Prime Z370-P is definitely marginally inexpensive than the B360-F Gaming proper now (costing £105 within the UK and $116 within the US), however when you concentrate on the additional USB help you get with the B360 chipset, to not point out the B360-F Gaming’s good pre-mounted I/O board and RGB lighting, you may as effectively spend the teensy bit further. Not solely do you get a better-looking board out of it, however you additionally get one that provides superior future-proofing to your units.
For those who’re seeking to construct a brand new Intel Espresso Lake gaming PC, the Asus ROG Strix B360-F Gaming gained’t disappoint.