ASRock H61M/U3S3 Motherboard

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Product(s): ASRock H61M/U3S3 Motherboard
Provided By: ASRock

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Introduction: 

Today we've got a new board from ASRock on the BCCHardware test bench and we are very interested to see just what it's capable of. The H61M isn't the fanciest board available from ASRock but it offers a great amount of features on a board that is very affordable in a micro ATX form factor.

The H61M from ASRock is based on the Intel H61 chipset and supports the 2nd generation (LGA 1155) Intel i7, i5, and i3 CPUs. This is the first LGA1155 Motherboard we've reviewed (we've got some more coming in the coming weeks) so we will be comparing this board up against other Intel and AMD motherboards which should be very interesting to see how it can compare to previous Intel chipsets as well as the competition (AMD).

While this board might be a micro ATX board it still has a ton of features which makes this board very suitable for a HTPC where space is limited or in basically any application where you don't need a full size board.

Let's take a look at the H61M from ASRock in the next section.

 

First Impressions:

We'll keep this section pretty brief as we take a look at the H61M/U3S3 motherboard.

Motherboard
Motherboard
Box
Box

As you can probably see already the H61M/U3S3 is a pretty standard looking Micro ATX board. As you can see in the picture above you get 2 memory slots (max of 16GB of memory), 2 PCI slots, 1 PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (for a dedicated video card if you need more power than the onboard video offers) and 1 PCI Express x 1 slot.

If you take a close look around the CPU socket you might notice the holes where the CPU cooler mount too look a little strange (and there are a few extras). This is the first board that I've seen that has additional mounting holes to let you use your old LGA775 cooler if you want on your new LGA1155/LGA1156 motherboard. Not a huge deal to most people but it can save you a few bucks if you want to upgrade the CPU cooling of your system and have an old cooler kicking around from a previous computer.

 

Closer
Closer
PCI
PCI
   
Ports
Ports
Accessories
Accessories

 

On the side of the board you'll notice that you've got tons of ports to work with. Included onboard is a 6 channel Realtek audio controller, onboard gigabit Ethernet, 4 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports, VGA, DVI, and HDMI video outputs as well as your standard PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports. Basically this board has everything you're going to need built-in so putting together a system is going to be pretty simple.

So that's what the H61M/US3S looks like, in the next section we'll take a closer look at some of the features and specifications that this board offers.

 


ASRock H61M/U3S3 Motherboard Specifications:

ports.jpg

All specifications taken from ASRock.com

 

General
CPU - Supports 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i7 / i5 / i3 in LGA1155 Package
- Supports Intel® Turbo Boost 2.0 Technology
- Supports Intel® K-Series CPU
- Supports Hyper-Threading Technology
Chipset - Intel® H61
Memory - Dual Channel DDR3 memory technology
- 2 x DDR3 DIMM slots
- Supports DDR3 1333/1066 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
- Max. capacity of system memory: 16GB*

*Due to the operating system limitation, the actual memory size may be less than 4GB for the reservation for system usage under Windows® 32-bit OS. For Windows® 64-bit OS with 64-bit CPU, there is no such limitation.
BIOS - 32Mb AMI UEFI Legal BIOS with GUI support
- Supports "Plug and Play"
- ACPI 1.1 Compliance Wake Up Events
- Supports jumperfree
- SMBIOS 2.3.1 Support
- IGPU, DRAM, PCH, CPU PLL, VTT, VCCSA Voltage Multi-adjustment
 Audio, Video and Networking
Graphics - Supports Intel® HD Graphics Built-in Visuals : Intel® Quick Sync Video, Intel® InTru™ 3D, Intel® Clear Video HD Technology, Intel® HD Graphics 2000/3000, Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX)
- Pixel Shader 4.1, DirectX 10.1
- Max. shared memory 1759MB
- Multi VGA Output options: D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI
- Supports HDMI 1.4a Technology with max. resolution up to 1920x1200 @ 60Hz
- Supports DVI with max. resolution up to 1920x1200 @ 60Hz
- Supports D-Sub with max. resolution up to 2048x1536 @ 75Hz
- Supports Auto Lip Sync, Deep Color (12bpc), xvYCC and HBR (High Bit Rate Audio) with HDMI (Compliant HDMI monitor is required)
- Supports HDCP function with DVI and HDMI ports
- Supports Full HD 1080p Blu-ray (BD) / HD-DVD playback with DVI and HDMI ports

*Due to chipset limitation, the Blu-ray playback of Intel® HD Graphics is only supported under Windows® Vista™ and Windows® 7.

**Intel® InTru™ 3D is only supported under Windows® 7 and Windows® 7 x64.
Audio - 5.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC662 Audio Codec)
LAN - PCIE x1 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
- Atheros® AR8151
- Supports Wake-On-LAN
- Supports PXE
 Expansion / Connectivity
Slots - 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (blue @ x16 mode)
- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot
- 2 x PCI slots
SATA3 - 2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors by ASMedia ASM1061, support NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions
USB 3.0 - 2 x USB 3.0 ports by ASMedia ASM1042, support USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
Connector - 4 x SATA2 3.0 Gb/s connectors, support NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug functions
- 2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors
- 1 x IR header
- 1 x CIR header
- 1 x Print Port header
- 1 x COM port header
- CPU/Chassis/Power FAN connector
- 24 pin ATX power connector
- 8 pin 12V power connector
- Front panel audio connector
- 2 x USB 2.0 headers (support 4 USB 2.0 ports)
Rear Panel I/O I/O Panel
- 1 x PS/2 Mouse Port
- 1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port
- 1 x VGA/D-Sub Port
- 1 x VGA/DVI-D Port
- 1 x HDMI Port
- 4 x Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports
- 2 x Ready-to-Use USB 3.0 Ports
- 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
- HD Audio Jack:Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone

 

Other Features / Miscellaneous

Unique Feature - ASRock Extreme Tuning Utility (AXTU)
- Instant Boot
- ASRock Instant Flash
- ASRock AIWI
- ASRock APP Charger
- SmartView
- ASRock XFast USB
- Hybrid Booster:
- ASRock U-COP
- Boot Failure Guard (B.F.G.)
- Combo Cooler Option (C.C.O.)
- Good Night LED
Support CD - Drivers, Utilities, AntiVirus Software (Trial Version),
ASRock Software Suite (CyberLink DVD Suite - OEM and Trial; Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi MB - Trial)
Accessories - Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
- 2 x SATA Data Cables (optional)
Hardware Monitor - CPU Temperature Sensing
- Chassis Temperature Sensing
- CPU/Chassis/Power Fan Tachometer
- CPU/Chassis Quiet Fan (Allow Chassis Fan Speed Auto-Adjust by CPU Temperature)
- CPU/Chassis Fan Multi-Speed Control
- Voltage Monitoring: +12V, +5V, +3.3V, CPU Vcore
Form Factor - Micro ATX Form Factor: 9.6-in x 8.6-in, 24.4 cm x 21.8 cm
- All Solid Capacitor design (100% Japan-made high-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors)
OS - Microsoft® Windows® 7 / 7 64-bit / Vista™ / Vista™ 64-bit / XP / XP 64-bit compliant
Certifications - FCC, CE, WHQL
- ErP/EuP Ready (ErP/EuP ready power supply is required)

 

 

 

ASRock H61M/U3S3 Motherboard - Testing

Now comes the part you've all been waiting for..... Testing!

In this section we've paired the H61M/U3S3 from ASRock up with a brand spanking new Intel Core i7 2600k CPU to see what it's made of. This is the first LGA 1155 board that we've officially reviewed so unfortunately we don't have another board to compare it up against head to head yet (we've got another couple boards that we will be reviewing in the upcoming weeks which will provide even more test data to see how this board stacks up). Basically in this testing we are going to be comparing the H61M/U3S3 up against previous Intel motherboard as well as some AMD boards that we've tested in the past. This should hopefully give you a pretty good idea of what this board is capable of as well as help you determine how much of a performance increase you can expect to see with an upgrade from previous generations.

In all of our testing of the H61M/U3S3 motherboard we have used the following test system:

 

Testing - PCMark Vantage

This first test is a pretty standard benchmark from the folks at Futuremark that focuses on overall system performance.

We will be comparing the ASRock H61M/U3S3 up against the following boards we've reviewed in the past:

ASRock X58 Extreme 3 (full review can be found here)

  • Intel Core i7 920 CPU @ 2.66GHz
  • 6GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3-1600
  • AMD Radeon HD 4870
  • Crucial Real SSD C300 128GB SSD
  • Windows 7 Ultimate x64

ASRock 890GX Extreme 4 (full review can be found here)

  • AMD Phenom II X6 1050T
  • 8GB DDR3-1333 Memory
  • AMD Radeon 5870 1GB Video Card
  • Crucial Real SSD C300 128GB SSD
  • Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
PCMark Vantage

The results of this test are pretty interesting when you compare then up against the other test systems.

HDD Testing - All 3 test systems were running SSD's with the H61M/U3S3 system running the slowest SSD yet it was able to still post up a pretty decent result and beat the X58 system.

Memory - In Memory testing the H61M/U3S3 came in last due to us running the memory at a slower speed (1066 MHz), obviously when comparing it to two systems that are running memory at a much faster speed we would expect it to come in last.

Games - This was perhaps the most interesting category as I was very interested to see how the onboard Intel HD 2000/3000 GPU would be able to perform compared to two systems that had Radeon cards installed. The final result was pretty good for that H61M/U3S3 as it was able to achieve scores very similar to a system running a Radeon HD 4870. In the past onboard graphics has been seriously lacking in power when it comes to gaming but it seems like the Intel HD 2000/3000 onboard GPU is able to do very decently and should be able to play a good majority of games available today.

Productivity, Music, TV, and Communications - In the other 4 set of tests we see the ASRock H61M/U3S3 at the top of the list (and in the Communications test almost double the next competitor). The new LGA1155 Intel Core i7 CPU really shines in these tests and as you can easily see is able to beat previous i7 CPU's as well as the competition without much issue.

 

Testing - 3DMark Vantage

This next set of testing will focus very heavily on the gaming abilities of our test system. We aren't expecting any amazing scores due to the fact that we are running the Intel HD 2000/3000 onboard graphics but it should be very interesting to see how onboard graphics have improved as of late (like we saw in the last set of tests).

We will be comparing our testing system up against:

ASRock 890GX Extreme 4 (full review can be found here)

  • AMD Phenom II X6 1050T
  • 8GB DDR3-1333 Memory
  • Integrated Graphics - AMD Radeon HD 4290
  • Crucial Real SSD C300 128GB SSD
  • Windows 7 Ultimate x64

 

3DMark Vantage

For this set of tests we have matched the ASRock 890GX Extreme 4 up against our ASRock H61M/U3S3 and are going to have a battle between integrated GPU's (Intel HD 2000/3000 vs AMD Radeon HD 4290). Naturally we weren't expecting groundbreaking numbers but we found that the Intel HD 2000/3000 GPU proved that it was clearly the winner and the ASRock H61M/U3S3 test system scores almost 5x higher.

The Intel i7 2600k also helped the ASRock H61M/U3S3 system score much better than the AMD test system but it is pretty clear that during gameplay you should expect to see significantly better performance thanks to the Intel HD 2000/3000 integrated GPU.

 

ASRock H61M/U3S3 Motherboard - Testing

Before we start this section we will briefly recap our test system that we have used in all of our testing:

 

Testing - PMCore

PMCore is a benchmark that is pretty heavily dependent on the CPU and should give us a pretty good idea of what the Intel Core i7 2600k when combined with our ASRock H61M/U3S3 motherboard is capable of.

In this test we will be comparing our test system with the following systems:

ASRock 890GX Extreme 4 (full review can be found here)

  • AMD Phenom II X6 1050T
  • 8GB DDR3-1333 Memory
  • Integrated Graphics - AMD Radeon HD 4290
  • Crucial Real SSD C300 128GB SSD
  • Windows 7 Ultimate x64

ASRock X58 Extreme 3 (full review can be found here)

  • Intel Core i7 920 CPU @ 2.66GHz
  • 6GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3-1600
  • AMD Radeon HD 4870
  • Crucial Real SSD C300 128GB SSD
  • Windows 7 Ultimate x64

PMCore  

Well the results show that the AMD test system was pretty much nowhere near the competition and both Intel Core i7 test systems scored almost identical scores in this test. Both the Intel i7 920 and the Intel 2600k were pretty similar in performance when it comes to raw CPU computing power.

 

Testing - Cinebench 11.5

Cinebench is a benchmarking utility which tests the CPU performance as well as your Graphics Card (OpenGL) performance.

We will be testing our H61M/U3S3 board up against the following AMD test system:

ASRock X58 Extreme 3 (full review can be found here)

  • Intel Core i7 920 CPU @ 2.66GHz
  • 6GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3-1600
  • Integrated Graphics - AMD Radeon HD 4290
  • Crucial Real SSD C300 128GB SSD
  • Windows 7 Ultimate x64

 

Cinebench

As you can easily see in this benchmark the H61M/U3S3 system was clearly the winner thanks to the Intel i7 2600k CPU as well as the Intel HD 2000/3000 integrated graphics.

When comparing the Intel HD 2000/3000 Graphics up against the integrated AMD Radeon 4290 we found a huge increase in performance and this basically just reconfirms what we've seen in all of the other testing which is the Intel HD 2000/3000 integrated graphics are a clearly superior graphics solution.

 

Well that wraps up our testing section of this review, in the next section I will share my final thoughts and award a final score to the ASRock H61M/U3S3 motherboard.

 

 

 

ASRock H61M/U3S3 Final Thoughts:

When reviewing a motherboard like the H61M/U3S3 from ASRock the results of the testing/benchmarks are important but realistically the features/value of the board is one of the bigger factors we consider when we review a board that is in the sub-$100 dollar MSRP range. The H61M/U3S3 motherboard that we reviewed can be currently found online for ~$75.00 USD and when you look at all the features you are getting and the performance you can achieve it makes it pretty easy to become a fan of this board from ASRock.

The overall performance of the H61M/U3S3 is very decent (we aren't expecting a board like this to set any records) and if you pair it with a Intel i3 CPU you could quite easily put together a CPU/Board/Memory combination for under $300 dollars and still have a pretty high-end computer that will last you for quite some time. The combination of performance and value make this board pretty attractive.

It's pretty tough to be overly critical on a $75 dollar motherboard, luckily in the case of this board I really had no major complaints during any of my testing. Probably the biggest drawback for some "power users" would be the same problem inherent with most micro ATX boards and that's the lack of expandability. If you want a system with more than 16GB of memory or need to have more PCI expansion slots then naturally this board isn't for you. Changes are good that the amount of expandability that this board offers will be more than enough for 95% of users out there today, especially since this board offers "Full ATX" features in a Mini ATX form factor.

When you sit back and look at all the features you get on the H61M/U3S3 for the price (and not to mention all in a micro ATX package) the value of the H61M/U3S3 is by far the biggest (and easiest) selling point. This board includes USB 3.0, built-in Intel HD 2000/3000 graphics that allow you to actually play a game if you wanted to, 100% all solid capacitors that won't bulge over time, Intel's InTru 3D technology, HDMI output, and many other features that you wouldn't think a "value" board like the H61M/U3S3 would offer.

At the end of the day the ASRock H61M/U3S3 is a winner in our books. Tons of features, extremely affordable price, great performance and stability and all in a small micro ATX package has earned this motherboard our "Editor's Choice - Gold" award. When you combine this board with one of the latest Intel processors (i3, i5, or i7) you can really build a very decent computer for a very affordable price without sacrificing features or quality.

 

Pros:

  • Good Performance
  • Micro ATX Form Factor
  • Tons of Features
  • VALUE!!! (MSRP ~$75 USD)

 

Cons:

  • Nothing Major

 

 

BCCRating

Gold
 

I'd like to thank ASRock for sending us their H61M/U3S3 Motherboard. If you have any questions, comments, or general feedback, please leave it at the "Comments" link below.