Review: Philips 241P6VPJKEB 4k Monitor

It wasn’t too long ago, I went into my local retailer looking for a basic 1080p monitor and the prices being around £200 and when I say basic, I mean basic VGA only. Then new monitors started hitting the market, Quad HD (QHD, 1440p) and Ultra HD (UHD, 2160p). With these monitors, my eyes grew wide in awe; I just had to have one.

Sadly I couldn’t afford one, but my friends at Philips sent out one of the new P-Line 4k monitors, the Philips  241P6VPJKEB; so here’s to you!

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Philips has always been a household brand; everyone has owned at least one Philips product in their life, be it a TV, radio, DVD player/ VCR or even batteries. You tend to hear less and less about Philips in the consumer mind, but the products are everywhere; I use Philips bulbs in my car!


Let’s get on to talk about the monitor itself before I take an extended trip down memory lane.

4K monitors are huge, in both senses of the word. Since their conception, the technology has dominated movies, gaming, and even the business world. Along with that, the general size of a 4K monitor is that of an average TV; around 32″. The argument is that once you hit a small screen size, the resolution is then so high that you lose detail from having too much detail.

I have previous experience with 4K and there are two issues with the technology; although one isn’t such an issue since the new Pascal graphics cards were released.

  1. Compatibility: 4K monitors were released before the cable technology was standard. Yes, you could have hit 4K@30hz, but most will argue that 60hz should be the minimum refresh rate for monitors.
  2. Performance: 4K is stupidly demanding for games and very few graphics cards can handle it effectively. I guess this is now redundant with newer graphics cards on the scene, but I’ve seen a 1080 struggle in some instances.

I think Philips 241P6VPJKEB is on the small side, but it is being aimed at professional users with productivity in mind. The 24″ screen size is perfect for most office desk spaces, while the 4K resolution allows to have multiple windows open at once without compromise.

With MHL and a built-in web camera, it’s perfect for conference calls and easily showing off content on your phone.

241P6VPJKEB_00-IMS-en_GB


Specifications
Philips always impress with the quantity and quality of the specification list available online. I’m only going to post the display specification here, but take a look at the full specifications here.

specs

A pretty impressive range of specs here, 4K@60hz, 5ms response time, 178° IPS viewing angle and 99% sRGB. The specifications definitely place this as a professional monitor, but it would also happily handle most gaming scenarios.


Images
And what about the actual monitor itself?

It’s very business like, no “glitz and glamour” here.

monitor1

Along the bottom of the screen are two IR transmitters. These help with a special power saving feature, called PowerSense, by monitoring the user. If the user leaves the desk for any reason, power saving kicks in to save power.

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powersensor

A pretty standard array of menu buttons, no fancy joysticks or touch pads in sight.

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This monitor comes with the standard audio jacks, VGA, DVI HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2.

ports

Who ordered all these USB ports? The monitor features 3x USB 3.0 ports, 1 with fast charging and one USB-A to act as a hub; keeping your desk ‘clutter free’.

usbs

A nice looking stand. As you can expect, it has been passed around a few media outlets and has picked up some battle scars.

base1

The stand supports height adjustment of 130mm, 90° pivot, the tilt between -5 and 20°, and swivel of 175° in both directions.

base2

Fully assembled, it looks like a pretty basic monitor with that peculiar camera bulge on the top. With the monitor in place, the vertical movement is very easy and can be done with just one finger.

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Even though it can, I don’t know why you would pivot this monitor into this position; the camera bulge wouldn’t allow it to sit flush with another monitor.

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Box and accessories

A pretty standard Philips box, clean and crisp with just the key information printed.

box1

A close up of the key features, 4K, IPS, MHL, etc…

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A very impressive range of cables here, most notable is the MHL cable (pictured centre, but not included). That power brick is pretty substantial, hopefully the cable is long enough to stash it somewhere out of sight.

cables


Usage
There’s not a lot to run home here, it’s 16:9 and has 4K resolution, by now pretty much everyone has seen a 4K resolution in some form or another. If you are one of those few who has been living under a rock, here are some 1080p to 4K examples.

Desktop
Windows 10 has been built pretty well to handle scaling, along with the majority of apps available such as Google Chrome. So you won’t really notice much different between 1080p and 4K until you start zooming in on an image.

Both of these desktop examples have been kept the same apart from the resolution. Each has 100% scaling enabled to show how much difference there is (note icon and taskbar size), however, you can enable 200% scaling at 4K to enlarge the icons.

1080p Desktop1080p desktop 100% scaling

4K Desktop4k desktop 100% scaling

Split Screen
4K is designed for multiple windows, essentially having the room to place four 1920×1080 monitors together. Thanks to the great compatibility of most applications, there is very little difference between 1080p and 4k at auto settings.

Split Screen 1080p1080p

Split Screen 4K2160

Video
So what about watching a video, surely the high resolution would play up here? and it doesn’t, thanks to near enough perfect scaling; albeit content at 720p will be very pixelated if blown up to 4k.

If you viewed 720p without scaling, the image is fairly small and could be hard to make out details when viewed at a 4K resolution.720pexample

1080p is very similar, 4K has quadruple the number of pixels compared to 1080p, so details can still be lost.1080pexample


Performance
Like I said earlier, 4K is a demanding resolution and requires some hefty graphical processing power to make use of it. During general use or video playback, internal graphics processors will be fine, but gaming will require something special. I’m not going to go nuts here, just a single game to show how much more demanding 4K is.

The following components will be used to test this game. It’s not the latest generation, but it does the job.

Item Clock Speed
Processor Intel i5-2500k Stock Boost
Motherboard ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe
Memory Kingston HyperX Genesis 8GB 1600MHz
Graphics Card Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 970 Stock Boost
Storage #1 Samsung 850 Pro 512GB
Storage #2 WD Blue 2TB 7200RPM
Power Supply Corsair AX760i
Cooling Corsair H100i

Tom Clancy’s: The Division
I normally use Battlefield 4 or something of similar age so readers can go view and compare with other sites; however, I like The Division and the built-in benchmark is pretty sweet (short).

As you can see, there is a linear drop in FPS when moving from 1080p to 2160p.

chart


Menus
Singing the tune of an early 2000 monitor, the menu buttons are retro. Inline 5 on the front of the screen itself with small printed images to give some sort of inclination of what they do. In a world of joysticks and direction pad controls; these are very confusing to use.

menu1
menu2 menu3 menu4

SmartControl
Well, I was complaining about the menu navigation earlier and I guess the Philips boffins knew it would be an issue, so SmartControl software was included. It can handle all of the hardware settings of the monitor, leaving out SmartImage, Multi-view, and Audio Source.

It’s very easy to use, but I lost functionality when this was open and I changed the resolution. It required a restart to get it working again.

SmartControl1 smartcontrol2


Final Thoughts
For a 24″ 4K monitor, it’s pretty good. I still think 4K is wasted below 32″ and will continue to think that until someone gives me a good reason otherwise. It has ample of features to keep most happy and offers exactly what it says on the tin.

Out of the box, the monitor has brilliant settings, true to life colours with no washout and deep contrasts to show off blacks well. There is no backlight bleed from any part of the monitor, which is what I would expect from a small panel.

I know I’ve kept harping on about how this is designed for business use and that the non-flashy approach works well, I just wish the menu navigation was simpler; I have become very accustom to touch panels, directional pad, and joysticks and I feel they are the way forward. That being said, once a monitor has been calibrated to taste, you shouldn’t have to spend too much time in the menu’s to care.

Another neutral point is the webcam. It’s brilliant for conferencing and connectivity on Skype and similar applications, but I’ve recently been learning about cyber security and webcams are a massive security risk in some cases. Forcing a customer to have a webcam permanently in view can be off-putting. Although I guess this is why the newer 272B7QPTKEB is featuring a retractable webcam.

Something that really caught my eye with this monitor was the PowerSense technology. I thought it was just a gimmick that rarely worked and saved very little power. I put it to the test by leaving it at idle on desktop and monitoring the wattage. When I was sat at the monitor, the full system was drawing and average of 130w; however, when I moved it dropped to a noticeable 112w. This was consistent over the course of a weekend of testing, but I did notice it didn’t work if the monitor wasn’t aligned properly. Something that may need to be noted if the monitor will be secondary and not in direct view for the IR transmitters.

To complete this review, I had to edit some images. I went into this section with some negative thoughts due to user reviews I read online about poor colour recreation considering it has a 10-bit pallet and 12-bit internal processor. I can safely say that I didn’t experience any issues and all of my images came out as I expected. Not everyone can afford a calibration tool, but the built in settings will be perfect for most users.

What I liked:

  • IPS panel
  • Customisable power LED brightness
  • Built to last
  • Good range of physical adjustment
  • Easy to install and set up
  • Built-in webcam

What I disliked:

  • Awkward menu navigation
  • Built-in webcam

Recommendation:

  • Hidden menu buttons would clean up the front face

Price
Recommended retailer: Box.co.uk @ £387.76


Is there anything else you want me to take a look at? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

Review: LG 29UM68-P Ultrawide Monitor

I’ve been hunting for a nice little (haha yeah right!) ultrawide monitor for a while now,  ever since I witnessed the displays at CeBIT 2015 I loved them. Very few people I know have one and anyone I ask usually jumped on the 4K hype train, even the sales “advisor” at a local PC World even said I should spend the money on a 4K display; well that was until I ripped him to pieces saying how he shouldn’t assume everyone can afford a £500+ graphics card to adequately handle 4K gaming.

Back on track, I have finally purchased one, it’s not the model I wanted, but I did get change from £250. The LG 29UM68(-P) is one of the more budget orientated models on the market, but don’t let it’s target put you off. It features a tasty 2560x1080p IPS panel, AMD FreeSync technology, and sRGB over 99%, it has more than enough appeal for everyone.

Why did I choose 2560×1080?
The answer is simple, practicality! Firstly, I have a very small office and two monitors side by side would be too large to fit into this room. I get most of the benefits of a multi-monitor setup without the large bezel and footprint. Yes, a 1440p or even 4k monitor would have been more beneficial but that’s where point two comes in. I loved my multi-monitor setup in my old office in games, the slightly extended and natural Field of View made for a much more immersive experience.


Specifications
So let’s take a look at what the monitor has to offer (specifications taken directly from LG website):

Size (Inch) 29″ Flat
Panel Type IPS
Color Gamut (CIE1931) sRGB over 99%
Colour Depth (Num of Colours) 8bits (6bit+FRC), 16.7M
Pixel Pitch (mm) 0.2628(H) x 0.2628(V)
Resolution 2560 x 1080
Brightness(Typ.) 250cd/m2
Contrast Ratio(Original) 1000:1
(DFC) Mega
Response Time_Typ.(on/off) 14ms
(GTG) 5ms
Viewing Angle(CR≥10) 178/178

LG never cease to impress with IPS panel implementation, 99% sRGB, 178° viewing angle and a relatively low 5ms (GTG) response time stack this to be a pretty decent offering.


Images
And what about the monitor itself?

If you’ve never seen an ultrawide monitor in person before, the appearance may shock you on first look. For a 29″ panel, it has the overall height of a panel around 24″, but the width of a monitor around 32″.

SAMSUNG CSC

Personally, I’d say this monitor is targeted at the entry level and it does show that with the display input options. Just a single DisplayPort 1.2, 2x HDMi 1.4 ports, AUX out and DC power.

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

The base is disappointing, considering how small the screen is vertical, I would have liked a height adjustable stand. This stand places the bottom of the screen just 10cm off the surface.

SAMSUNG CSC

It does have a small cable management hook…..wow.

SAMSUNG CSC

It does have a nice profile when installed and it does allow the monitor to tilt up to 20°.

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Fully assembled, you get a small shudder as you realise the space on your desk isn’t enough.

 

SAMSUNG CSC

 

Box and accessories
The box is very non-flashy, a focus on “economic” has taken the logistical world in recent years.

It does show off the fact it has AMD FreeSync, but I think the logo should have been bigger on the front of the box to really reel in customers.

SAMSUNG CSC

 

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No DisplayPort cable? Really LG?

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Usage
Using the monitor is near enough the same as a standard 16:9, but you may have to position yourself slightly differently if [like me] your desk was set up perfectly to look at the centre of a 16:9.

Desktop
Desktop usage is simple, you might have to drag your mouse further to get to the edges so get used to falling off your mouse pad a few times. You can comfortably fit two windows on the same screen without having to compromise and sometimes have to deal with mobile mode (shudders).

Windows

Video
So what about watching a video, surely the weird horizontal resolution would play up here? and it does.

As you can see in the images below, the top is a standard 1280×720 video window and the bottom is a standard 1920×1080 video window. If you try to watch something on YouTube, it will usually upscale to the 1080p format, but you will still have the black bars either side. There is software available to change this, but the distortion makes for an unfavourable experience.

720example11080example1

So what about gaming?
21:9 monitors have been touted as perfect gaming monitors, giving a multi-monitor experience without the central bezel. While this is true, expect some minor compatibility issues as 21:9 isn’t a default resolution just yet.

Game #1: Need For Speed (2015): I wanted to test this game because I’ve heard mixed reviews with scaling. At 2560×1080, the in-game (driving) scales perfectly and actually just makes it look like you’ve adjusted your viewing angle. However, the videos and menus are fixed 1920×1080 and it does detract slightly; especially if you wipe out and expect to witness it in full resolution.

nfs1080 nfs2560

Game #2: Battlefield 4: Shooters are typically where wide Field of View comes in handy, you can see slightly more to your sides which give you a slight tactical advantage. Here you gain that wider viewing angle as seen by the door, radiator and wall markings.

bf4 2016-08-14 18-53-08-77bf4 2016-08-14 18-51-53-67


Menus
The monitor comes with a menu joystick style navigation. A single click opens up a sort of Apple style scroll wheel choice. The menus are then very intuitive to navigate with the joystick on the bottom of the monitor.

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

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SAMSUNG CSC

Game Mode
No matter what type of technology you buy, there’s a good chance it has a Unique Selling Point (USP), obviously offering a 5ms, 2560×1080, IPS monitor with FreeSync isn’t enough for LG. Game mode is a simple menu choice which enables a few pre-determined settings to give you a competitive edge when gaming. The two key settings are FreeSync and Black Stabilizer. FreeSync tries to sync up the graphics card and monitor refresh rate to prevent screen tearing; usual stuff. However, Black Stabilizer is a little different, it is a simple brightness increaser to brighten up dark areas of a game where an emery may be hiding to jump out. I find this setting a little pointless as most games now come with a setup brightness process to ensure your brightness level is optimum for the game.


Final Thoughts
For a bargain basement 29″ ultrawide monitor that features a respectable response time, IPS panel and AMD freeSync, this monitor is bloody brilliant.

The monitor itself has brilliant out-of-box settings, the colours are deep and true to life with no washout. I love how there is no backlight bleed either, you tend to find with larger monitors that the corners tend to darken or brighten to over-compensate.

I have a NVIDIA graphics card, so the FreeSync functionality is lost on me, but the cheapest 21:9 G-Sync monitor is around £600; so that was out of the question. The addition is great though if you have an AMD graphics card and maybe I’ll test this out in the future if I can get my hands on one (hint hint). The fact that I am using a NVIDIA graphics card doesn’t impede functionality, but I did notice a small amount of tearing on Battlefield, however, that could have been due to an improper configuration (I was constantly swapping from 2560×1080 to 1920×1080 and it was resetting the settings).

To complete this review, I had to edit a few photos. I found it incredibly easy to edit them and get, what I thought, were pretty accurate colours. The IPS technology really helps with this and the factory colour settings are very good, I wish I had a calibration tool to fully test the settings.

Game mode, like I said earlier, seems rather pointless. The two main features I took note of are likely already configured before you even start playing the game.

What I liked:

  • IPS panel
  • Easy to navigate menus
  • Strong construction
  • Non-glaring LED power indicator
  • Productivity potential
  • Gaming FoV increase

What I disliked:

  • No height adjustment
  • Glossy finish
  • No included DisplayPort Cable

Recommendation:

  • I would have loved this monitor to be curved

Price
Place of Purchase: Currys PC World — £239.99
Recommended Retailer: Overclockers UK — £249.95

There’s a reason why I listed OcUK, despite it being more expensive. Finding and having a hands-on experience with a monitor is very difficult and an ultrawide monitor can be considered niche to the point where no one knows what it is in most shops. I asked the sales adviser if I could at least open the box to check it out and the firm answer was “no” with a strict no returns policy if I don’t like it (I’ll see about that). OcUK on the other hand, will allow you to return the product, it might charge a small restocking fee (usually non-refundable postage).  Why did I buy it from possibly the worst customer service and experience place in the UK? Because I’m extremely impatient and I wasn’t about to drive 3 hours to get to a good stockist.

Review: MSI B150M MORTAR

This review has been made possible thanks to MSI.

msilogothing

For my first end user review, I’m going to be looking at the MSI B150M MORTAR. Generally I like to keep my reviews light, but motherboards require that bit more detail to fully get all of the features across.


Introduction

The B150 chipset is one of the newest chipsets on the market ready for PC users to upgrade to Skylake CPU’s without the huge price tag of Z170. Most people tend to completely buy overkill parts and could easily get away with buying a low end i5 or even i3.

What’s the key difference between the B150 and Z170? The lack of Overclocking is the key feature, but there are some other differences such as only 8 PCIe lanes vs 20, fewer USB ports and the lack of RAID. Honestly, if you have the money for RAID or require more than 12 USB ports, then you’ll likely have the requirement for high end Z170 or even X99.

Untitled

The Company

MSI are one of the leading companies in the world for computer hardware and have remained true to the consumers by offering some of the best graphics cards and motherboards that you can buy with a very aggressive price point.

The Product

I’ve tried to look around for reviews online and noticed that there are NONE (3/Nov/2015), so the benchmark has been set!

The MSI B150M MORTAR is based on the aforementioned B150 chipset. Aimed at the budget orientated gamers who want to save some money on features, but still have the option of DDR4 memory and Intel’s new 14nm Skylake processors.

The MORTAR motherboard is brand new branding for the Intel 100 series release and falls under the newly categorised Arsenal Gaming. The Arsenal range is aimed more towards the integrated VGA users rather than a discrete graphics card and suggested games are the slower paced offline simulators, but we’ll see what this board can do in the testing. (Click the image for a larger version).

msi_z170_gaming_series_pyramid1

image001

The Arsenal range has been split into 4 different sections: TOMAHAWK, MORTAR, BAZOOKA and GRENADE.

image003


Specification

CPU Support — Intel 6th Generation Skylake CPU
Socket — LGA 1151
Memory — 4x DDR4 Dual Channel Slots up to 64GB @ 2133MHz
PCI — 2x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16/ x4) \\ 2x PCIe 3.0 x1 \\ 1x M.2 Wi-Fi slot
GPU Support – 2 Way AMD Crossfire
USB — 6x USB 3.1 Gen1 \\ 4x USB 2.0

For a full range of specifications, please visit the product page here: http://www.msi.com/product/motherboard/B150M-MORTAR.html#hero-specification

I bet you noticed there, only 2133MHz memory support? That’s right, there is a limitation on the B150 chipset that limits the RAM to 2133MHz. If you do happen to buy this (or any other DDR4 B150) motherboard, you can still enable XMP to get the XMP timings without the speed.

Special Features
It just wouldn’t be a motherboard with a huge amount of utilities on offer. In years gone by, these were avoided as there were either cumbersome, didn’t add much additional functionality or just down right annoying. I’ll be the first to say that I never downloaded any, but lately I’ve actually downloaded at least 1 utility for each motherboard that I’ve installed.

MSI offers the following:

— Gaming App
— Super Charger
— Command Center
— MSI RAMDisk
— MSI M-Cloud
— MSI Gaming Lan Manager
— CPU-Z MSI Gaming
— Live Update 6
— Fast Boot
— Intel Extremely Tuning
— SteelSeriesEngine 3

First up, the Gaming App. The actual App itself is very small, but from the simple interface you can access Eye Rest, OSD, Mouse Master and Gaming Hotkey. The CPU Clock feature is somewhat wasted on this motherboard considering you can only choose between Gaming and Silent Mode. This would be extremely useful to install if you want to enable macro features without having a dedicated macro keyboard (i.e. Corsair K95).

gamingapp

Command Center is a monitoring utility on the B150 chipset. You can monitor all aspects of your CPU and RAM and even give minor tweaks to voltages and timings. Personally I think this particular utility could have been cut and even combined with Gaming App.

commandcentre

commancentre1

commandcentre2

As with most MSI Gaming motherboards, you get the MSI branded CPU-Z. A bit nicer on the eyes compared to the stock version.

cpuz

Fast Boot is extremely useful. No ends of times I’ve had keyboard issues and couldn’t enter the BIOS, so this took out the frustration and allows you to reset the computer and enter BIOS instantly without a key stroke.

fastboot

Live Update is the backbone of MSI software and saves so much time. Install this first and you can then see what drivers, BIOS, programs and utilities are available to you. You can also choose to have a full installer from within this utility to save trying to find the download folder on your computer.

liveupdate1


Pictures

The box represents the army origins of the MORTAR name with an imitation army cargo box design and handles on the front cover.

box

The rear of the box features an image of the main board with key details picked out. Other details such as detailed specification and IO layout is also printed here.backbox

Accessories are reasonable for the price of the motherboard, Quick install manual, driver disk, padded IO shield, 2x SATA 6Gb/s cables and a B150M/ Z170M manual.

acc

The board itself is plain and simple. Predominately black with silver/ white detailing with the capacitors, DDR4 BOOST detailing, CPU socket and PCIe Shield.

cover

A closer look at the DDR4 BOOST detail and it gives the user a visual representation of how free flowing the information is between the memory channels and the CPU.

 

ddr4boost

Along the side of the memory lanes are three simple EZ Debug LED’s. CPU, DRAM and VGA give you a quick insight to if there is a problem.

ezdebug

The PCI section of the board is simple with 2x PCIe x16 lanes and 2x PCIe x1 lanes. Nestled between them is a M.2 WiFi/ Bluetooth module connector.

pcie

For a relatively cheap motherboard, there are 6x SATA 6Gb/s ports and 1x SATA express. This means that this board can utilise the lightning fast SSD’s from Intel.

ports

This PCB is the same design as used on the Z170M MORTAR, so there are some features missing such as an additional USB 3.0 header next to the SATA ports.

random-usb

Considering the mere ~£80 price tag, you get a lot of IO functionality, such as 4 USB 3.1 ports, HD audio including optical and 3 widely used display connections if you decide you want to use on board graphics.

io

When I tried to install this board into the case, I found that the EPS power connector is a minor design flaw due to the upward facing clip. If you have a case which has a fan installed in the roof section, you might find this difficult to unclip without removing the board itself.

eps

In true MSI style, the main features are printed on the back, along with a SteelSeries logo thanks to the SteelSeries partnership.

back

I found it difficult to take an accurate picture of the rear facing LED’s, but within my Corsair 500R test bench/ case, the recessed motherboard tray acts as a reflective surface and bounces more light towards the window.

LED

Benchmarks

For my benchmarking, I’m going to use software that is readily available for everyone to be able to download and compare instead of using the stupidly expensive software options that most reviewers use. I did end up buying Aida64 to get better and more in depth Memory figures, but there is a trial version also available which gives around 60% of the information.

But first, let’s take a look at my test system:

CPU – Intel i5-6600K @ Stock w/ turbo
RAM – Crucial Ballistix Elite 2666MHz 16GB Dual Channel
Storage – Samsung 830 128GB SSD
Power Supply – Corsair HX650m
Graphics Card – ASUS STRIX GTX 960
Cooling – NZXT Kraken X60
Case – Corsair Carbide 500R

Processor

wPrimewprime

Cinebenchcinebenchcpu

Graphics

3DMark3dmark

Cinebenchcinebenchopengl

Unigineunigine

Memory and Storage

Aida64 memoryaidaRAM

CrystalDiskMark

CDM

All of the charts are pretty straight forward apart from this. On this particular chart, I enabled a 4GB cache using MSI RAMDisk to show what sort of performance could be attained. As you can see, well over 6500Mb/s read and 9000Mb/s read. Obviously this wouldn’t have the option to be used as permanent storage due to the volatile nature of RAM


My Ratings

Quality — 9.5/10
Each component and slot is well placed and strong (no movement when inserting and removing RAM, GPU, etc…). The text on the surface is minimal but clear to read.
It could get the extra .5 if MSI provided a new manual with just the B150M specification. This is being EXTREMELY picky on my behalf, but I think some inexperienced users may get confused when reading the manual as it doesn’t clearly state between some key features, just “Z170” is printed which some readers may glance over and miss read.

Value For Money — 9/10
For just £70 ($89.99US), the motherboard is a very good option to break into the Intel 6th Generation of processors. It has a very generous amount of features including a multi debug LED which helps pinpoint where the problem is between VGA, RAM and CPU. Along with the onboard features, MSI also include a huge amount of utilities that actually work, many times I’ve installed a utility and it either didn’t work or looked like it came straight from Windows XP. The good thing about MSI being a high end manufacturer, a lot of the features can filter down to these entry level motherboards and improve the experience tenfold.

Right now, I think the board is priced very well, but I think it could include a few more SATA cables (one for each port) and a BIOS reset button on the back next to the Clear CMOS. Along with them, I think MSI could have swapped which USB 3.0 header it included to the flat version to help with cable management.

Practicality — 7/10
There are two sides of the fence here. If you are only buying a lower end processor such as an i3-6300T or i5-6400, this motherboard is perfect for your processing power and will make for a good low end gaming computer when coupled with pretty much any graphics card. However, locking DRAM speeds to 2133MHz and not allowing full turbo boost speeds (on the K series especially) hinders the performance.

The overall installation process was straightforward enough, but when I came to unplug the 8 pin CPU (EPS) power connector, there was virtually no clearance between the connector and the top of the case. If the connector was flipped 180°, this wouldn’t be an issue.

Overall — 8.5/10
A very good motherboard with strong overall performance and a dominating presence inside your case with those subtle LED’s. If you are looking to buy into the newest Intel 100 series motherboards and overclocking doesn’t interest you, this would be a great option.

Interested in purchasing this motherboard? Check out my list of favorite retailers here:

Dabs (UK) — £64.76
Newegg (USA) —  $89.99
AmazonUK — £75.28
AmazonUS — $102.20