Motherboards based on Intel's B85 chipset might not be the first things that come to mind when you think "enthusiast-grade" hardware, but Asus is blazing such a trail with its new TUF Trooper B85.
This budget bruiser is packed full of durability-enhancing features, like ESD-shielded Ethernet, USB, and audio jacks. Asus also claims that it had a third-party lab subject the Trooper to military-spec endurance tests for moisture resistance and salt spray. The company is confident enough in the Trooper's fortifications that it's backing the board with a five-year warranty.
The Trooper B85 includes software fan control features similar to Asus' conventional boards, although it only has a CPU fan header and a pair of four-pin chassis fan headers on tap. Asus has shielded and separated the analog audio traces to improve sound quality, but the Realtek ALC887 codec might be the limiting factor for output quality there.
More interestingly for a budget mobo, the Trooper features all-PCIe connectivity, with a blend of PCIe 3.0 and 2.0 slots standing at the ready. There's only a pair of DDR3 DIMM slots, however, and the board tops out at 16GB of RAM.
We've reached out to Asus for pricing and availability info, but the value envelope might be pretty narrow, considering that more modern H97 mobos exist for about the same price as Asus' B85 boards. Those H97 boards might not survive salt spray or exceptionally muggy conditions, but those without offices on oceangoing vessels probably won't mind.
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