Hot on the heels of Intel's full Skylake launch, Asus is ready with a slate of motherboards based on Intel's more mass-market H170, B150, H110, and Q170 chipsets. Many of the same features found in the company's Z170 boards have made the journey down to the lower end of the lineup, which may make them the perfect companion to your new best friend, the Core i3-6320. Much like its lineup of Z170 boards, Asus has two mobo families for the new chipsets: Signature Series and Pro Gaming.
All of the boards Asus is introducing have several common features. Digi+ VRM purportedly reduces power consumption and increases stability by responding quickly to the CPU's power needs. The Signature Series and Pro Gaming motherboards all have overvoltage protection, not just on the Gigabit Ethernet ports (which Asus calls LANGuard) but also in the various I/O ports, audio jacks, and memory slots, as well.
The Pro Gaming lineup integrates "gaming-optimized audio and networking", and its models are only based on the H170 and B150 chipsets. Outside of the chipsets, the boards have a lot in common. Both the H170 Pro Gaming and the B150 Pro Gaming use Asus' SupremeFX 2015 hardware and software audio suite. The Pro Gaming boards each have Intel Gigabit Ethernet, M.2 slots with PCIe 3.0 x4 connectivity, and a USB 3.1 Type-C port. Both boards are ATX-sized, and they each have a single PCIe Gen 3 x16 slot and a second physical x16 slot that can supply up to 4 lanes of third-gen PCI Express connectivity.
Where the two Pro Gaming boards differ is in memory and storage configurations. The H170 Pro Gaming supports DDR4 at 2,133 MT/s and a single SATA Express drive. The B150 Pro Gaming supports DDR3-1866 and eschews SATA Express entirely. Using DDR3 may make the B150 Pro a cheaper upgrade option for DDR3 owners who don't want to let go of their current RAM.
The Signature Series, by contrast, has eight little snowflakes that are each special in their own way. Despite having so many members, the Signature Series of motherboards really boils down to three model suffixes: the full-sized ATX Pro, the microATX M-Plus, and the Mini-ITX I-Plus. These boards are based on the H110, H170, Q170, and B150 chipsets.
A highlight of the Signature Series boards is the H170I-Plus D3, which seems like the perfect candidate for a powerful mini-ITX system on a budget. It's got on-board 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a pair of DIMM slots for DDR3-1600. The Q170M-C is the only member of the lineup with Intel's vPro remote management features built in.
Builders will find USB 3.0 Type-C ports on the ATX and micro-ATX H170 and B150 Signature Series boards. The two ATX H170 variants also have a single M.2 slot, too. All of the boards come with Realtek's ALC887 audio codec and an isolated, illuminated analog signal path.
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