For the past few months, we’ve been reviewing high-end motherboards with much gusto and flair. But we have to admit, not everybody can afford the luxury of having a blinking motherboard with armor on it. With that, we’ve decided to have a string of reviews featuring ATX B85 gaming motherboards from manufacturers which are affordable and are aimed specifically for gaming. We also plan on doing a face-off come this December. To start, we’re going to give you one from ASUS, the B85-Pro Gamer.

As a bit of disclaimer, we’re not going to overclock the B85 motherboards, though the boards have the option to (this also serves as an excuse as we are crappy overclockers).  Secondly, we’re going to concentrate more on the features and the added gizmos.

Introduction

The Pro Gamer series was just locally launched two weeks back and we can view it as ASUS’ move to penetrate the mid-range gaming motherboard bracket. Think of it as the “almost” ROG line. It has some ROG features, which can be found in ROG boards from years back, and is given lesser overclocking prowess.

Out-of-the-box

IMG_1539

We weren’t expecting any goodies or additional bells when it came to unboxing the B85-Pro Gamer. The package included the board itself (surprise!), an I/O shield, two SATA cables, a manual, a driver CD with an ASUS sticker, and a quick start guide.

IMG_1528 IMG_1536

It seems that ASUS can’t distance itself from the red and black theme, opting to also coat the Pro-Gamer with it. The B85-Pro Gamer has small finned heatsink for its VRMs while having a very unattractive one for the chipset.

IMG_1533 slots

As an ATX motherboard, the B85-Pro Gamer has the usual ports and sockets on it.  It supports up to 32GB of RAM and is capable of being equipped with multiple Radeon GPUs. You can check more of the specs at the end of this article.

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The back I/O ports are nothing special. We have 2 PS2 ports for KB and mouse, an Optical S/PDIF, an HDMI, VGA, and DVI ports for the top half. Next, we have four USB 2.0 ports, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, and a LAN port for the Intel Ethernet LAN, and the usual six 3.5mm audio jacks.

The motherboard is also equipped with extensive protection more collectively known as Gamers’ Guardian. As with most ASUS motherboard, the B85-Pro Gamer, despite being a relatively entry-level product, is equipped with components similar or close to its upper-tier counterparts. If you’ve been into any technical seminars of ASUS, words and features such as 10K solid capacitors, 72-hour salt-spray, ESD guards, and all those protection jargons,come into play in this component.

BIOS

Not different from top-of-the-line motherboards, the B85-Pro Gamer also has the clean and sleek BIOS. Upon entering the BIOS, the default appearance is of the EZ Mode, having graphs and visuals to represent the settings and information of the board. Fan settings, overall performance, and boot sources, are part of a number of settings available for the user to click.

The Advanced mode is where the numbers and the experienced ones dwell. Here you can view more intricate features of the board, such as voltage controls, memory clock speeds, and the likes. Features such as USB port control, BIOS update, boot designations, are among the others that reside here. Overclocking features are again limited as this is of the B85 chipset.

Software

Since this is an ASUS motherboard, and they’re a brand known for shoveling in boatloads of software that work in tandem with the hardware, then prepare for a somewhat long read.

AISuite 3

The AISuite 3 is ASUS’ overall tool for viewing and managing the technicalities of your motherboard. Think of it as a software-based BIOS. Voltage, component description, fan control, and other information about your rig can be found in this sweet little program.

b85 software

The pictures above show the different functions that the AISuite 3 can do. It is kind of overwhelming especially if you’re newbie, but the complexity slowly goes away as you get used to the terms and numbers. One can also do away with the tweaking as the tool loads default values that synergize with the built-in functions of the board.

Aside from the controls, the AISuite 3 also provides the user with a BIOS update prompt and a USB 3.0 boost which increases the speed of USB 3.0 transfers.

GameFirst II

Gamefirst

Since buying a budget gaming PC usually equates with its usage in online gaming nowadays, manufacturers are in a fight with each other as to who can deliver the best built-in networking solution. ASUS is the odd man out as it employs an Intel chipset for its networking capabilities, as opposed to the Killer Ethernet employed by the others. In the B85-Pro Gamer, a tool called GameFirst II allows the user to manage the stream of data going in and out of the PC. Obviously, made for gaming, GameFirst II has the inner workings of prioritizing gaming packets as opposed to the conventional video/audio packets first.

GameFirst II runs in two different modes – EZ mode and Advanced mode. EZ mode has a more simplistic interface with a list of games, bars and numbers for display. For the more knowledgeable users, the advanced mode provides a more elaborate and complex system, delving into terms and other options for maximum customization.

Again, the main purpose of this tool is prioritization, given that you have two or more applications that syphon bandwidth, the one set with a higher level gets the more juice. It is especially useful if you’re waiting for a Youtube video to load while playing an online game.

Sonic Radar

sonic radar

The top images show a distinct radar located at the top right of the screen. That little thing can be attributed to the workings of the ASUS Sonic Radar. Working in tandem with the hardware, the Sonic Radar reproduces the sound visually via an on-screen HUD. This helpful tool is for gamers who play FPS games.

We can say that the feature is effective in determining the location of audio around a specific area. It can be used in a number of 32-bit games that support a virtual surround, which is not a concern as most recent games support it.

It really depends on which games you use it as it also registers unimportant ambient audio. Games like Counterstrike and Call of Duty benefit most from this tool. On the otherhand, the Sonic Radar in games like Battlefield and Titanfall will more than likely irritate you with its more stimulating atmosphere.

nba2k sonic radar

Oh yeah, we also did shoot a few hoops with it in NBA 2K14 too.

CONCLUSION

We’ve explored the B85-Pro Gamer and we can honestly say that we can recommend to those looking for a gaming motherboard that is feature-filled and with tools that matter. However, the appearance of the motherboard left us wanting.We are not keen to provide a solid judgment for this motherboard as we’re still waiting to test out the others, but as it seems, the B85-Pro Gamer is great on its own. Do wait for our comparative review by later this year.

The B85-Pro Gamer has an SRP of PHP 4,950 and is already available at your local motherboard store.

SPECIFICATIONS

CPU Intel® for 4th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors
  Supports Intel® 22 nm CPU
  Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
  * The Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 support depends on the CPU types.
  * Refer to www.asus.com for CPU support list
Chipset Build in Intel® B85
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 1600/1333/1066 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
  Dual Channel Memory Architecture
  Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
  * Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.
  * Refer to www.asus.com for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
  * Due to Intel® chipset limitation, DDR3 1600 MHz and higher memory modules on XMP mode will run at the maximum transfer rate of DDR3 1600 Mhz.
Graphic Integrated Graphics Processor
  Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DVI/RGB ports
  – Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
  – Supports DVI with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
  – Supports RGB with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
  Maximum shared memory of 1024 MB
  Supports Intel® InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
  Supports up to 3 displays simultaneously
Multi-GPU Support Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Expansion Slots 1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 mode, gray)
  1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode, black)
  2 x PCIe 2.0 x1
  3 x PCI
Storage Intel® B85 chipset : *1
  4 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray
  2 x SATA 3Gb/s port(s), black
  Supports Intel® Rapid Start Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology
LAN Intel® I217V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s), featuring GAMEFIRST II
Audio SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
  – Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel MIC Jack-retasking
  – High quality 115 dB SNR stereo playback output
  – High-fidelity audio OP AMP(s)
Audio Feature : – SupremeFX Shielding™ Technology
  – ELNA premium audio capacitors
  – Sonic Radar
  – Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
USB Ports Intel® B85 chipset :
  4 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, , 2 at mid-board)
  Intel® B85 chipset :
  8 x USB 2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, , 4 at mid-board)
ROG Exclusive Features GameFirst II
Special Features ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 2 with DIGI+ VRM :
  – The tuning key perfectly consolidates ASUS-exclusive DIGI+ Power Control, TPU, EPU, and Fan Xpert 2 optimize the digital power setting, system performance, power saving and whole system cooling configuration
  Gamer’s Guardian:
  – ESD Guards on LAN, Audio, KBMS and USB3.0/2.0 ports
  – DRAM Overcurrent Protection
  – 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
  – Stainless Steel Back I/O
  – DIGI+ VRM
  ASUS TPU :
  – Auto Tuning
  – TurboV
  – GPU Boost without switch
  ASUS EPU :
  – EPU
  ASUS Exclusive Features :
  – AI Suite 3
  – Ai Charger
  – ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
  – USB 3.0 Boost
  – Disk Unlocker
Back I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard (purple)
  1 x PS/2 mouse (green)
  1 x DVI
  1 x D-Sub
  1 x HDMI
  1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
  2 x USB 3.0
  4 x USB 2.0
  1 x Optical S/PDIF out
  6 x Audio jack(s)
Internal I/O Ports 1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
  2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
  1 x TPM connector(s)
  1 x COM port(s) connector(s)
  4 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
  2 x SATA 3Gb/s connector(s)
  1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
  1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
  3 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (3 x 3 -pin)
  1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
  1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
  1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
  1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
  1 x System panel(s)
  1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
Accessories User’s manual
  ASUS Q-Shield
  2 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
Support Disc Drivers
  ASUS Utilities
  EZ Update
  Anti-virus software (OEM version

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