Asus H97 Pro Gamer Motherboard
H97 Motherboard Packed With Features
Published: 5th August 2014 | Source: Asus | Price: |
Every year, we see a whole new iteration of Intel motherboards to accompany the latest processors and also to keep up with new technologies. However, as enthusiasts, our interest is usually peaked by the 'Z' range of boards; currently the Z97, previously the Z87 with Haswell, and before that we saw the Z77 range with Ivybridge. These however are the highest end boards for the chipset, and you often struggle to find one of these for under £100. However, Intel also release other ranges of chipsets, which often lack a few features of their beefier 'Z' brothers, but also come in at a lower price point, making them ideal for anyone looking for performance on a budget. The H97 chipset packs a lot of features that you'd find on more expensive boards but cuts back on areas such as overclocking which the average user may not be so interested in anyway.
We take a look at Asus' latest H97 motherboard; the H97-Pro Gamer.
The motherboard overall carries a black and red theme - away from the gold colouring that we've been used to seeing on recent Asus products. The board does look really good overall so we can't fault Asus at all here. It is a bit of a shame however that the majority of manufacturers seem to be turning to black and red themes, meaning there's little choice for consumers. It was only a couple of years ago with the Z77 range that almost every motherboard was blue in colour. It would be nice if we still had the variation of colour schemes, or better yet removable parts so we can change the colour theme ourselves.
The H97 Pro Gamer has an 1150 socket, meaning it's capable of running anything from an Intel Celeron to an i7, including the Devil's Canyon 4790K. However, since this is more of a budget option than the Z97 boards, features such as overclocking are cut back since it saves a fair amount of money in cost. However, there are options to increase the multiplier and the CPU voltages, but as the H97 chipset isn't geared towards overclocking, it's safe to assume a Z97 board would be better suited for the task if that is what you are looking for. The board also features 4 DIMM slots for up to 1600MHz memory which is a little slower than we would have liked, but for a mid-range gaming system 1600MHz will be sufficient.
Despite the performance side of things being a little lacking with the memory speed and lack of overclocking support, the H97 Pro Gamer more than makes up for this with its other features. We find an M.2. socket located just below the processor socket, and this really is a great thing to see on a budget board. We recently reviewed an M.2 SSD and found performance to be incredibly high, so it is nice to see that Asus haven't cut back here. Along with this, we also find a couple of the latest SATA Express ports which are capable of speeds of up to 10Gb/s, and we also find four extra SATA 6Gb/s ports too.
The onboard networking is another area that Asus have improved upon since their last generation of 'H' series boards. Similar to the Killer networking that we've seen on other boards, Asus now have implemented their 'GameFirst II' program onto the Intel Networking Chip which is designed to prioritise network traffic from games and minimise traffic from other applications. This is all designed minimise lag in games, and hopefully achieve a better gaming experience.
Finally, we see improved audio performance due to the SupremeFX audio solution from Asus. We've seen this technology on higher end motherboards in the past but never on a budget board such as this. The H97 Pro Gamer combines high quality audio capacitors with a well shielded sound chip and tracer line, meaning you'll hear less background noise in music and games, and should aid towards having an incredibly clear audio experience. We also find a headphone amplifier capable of powering headphones up to 300Ohms which is something we really do love to see on motherboards.
The H97 Pro Gamer comes in at around £90 which is great value for money considering the number of features it has. This motherboard would be ideal for a budget or mid-range system where features like overclocking are not as important.