For six months all who wanted to acquire a system based on Intel Core 8-th generation processors in choosing a motherboard it was necessary to focus exclusively on models with top-end chipset Intel Z370. Most recently, Intel has expanded the range of chips Coffee Lake and finally offered manufacturers more affordable PCH. Intel B360 has a special role here. It will surely become a "people's choice", but buyers still choose not chipsets, but motherboards based on them, and here the diversity is very large. Today we have on our review the first model based on Intel B360 – ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING.
The official expansion of the line of chipsets was eagerly awaited not only by potential buyers products on their basis, but also the manufacturers of motherboards. Devices based on the Intel Z370 are certainly good for sales, but having satisfied the needs of the most demanding and impatient, it's time to increase volumes, attracting the interest of those who planned the transition to Coffee Lake, but did not hurry with the purchase of an expensive platform.
The importance of new PCHs for manufacturers in general and Intel B360 in particular, it is only the fact that on one chipset ASUS company offers more than one and a half dozen motherboards in the PRIME, TUF GAMING and ROG STRIX series. In turn, ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING is the top model based on Intel B360.
Included with the board is a user's manual, a driver and software CD, four SATA interface cables, a set of screws for mounting format drives M.2, as well as an additional body kit printed on a 3D printer.
Also included is a set of plastic cable ties, an extension cable for the external LED strip. A set of branded stickers with logos will be useful to fans of such decorations, and a sign on the door with a request not to bother during gaming battles.
Design and layout
For the new models of the ROG STRIX series, the manufacturer uses the well-proven neutral color scheme. The case where designers manage without contrasting screaming elements to provoke interest at the first visual contact. Black printed circuit board with matte coating, black connectors and slots,
Some expression of external design adds fingerprints of branded slogans on the PCB, which visually diagonally intersect with decorative inserts on the protective cover and the chipset radiator.
The board has a powerful power unit with the control controller of the ASP1400CTB. The VRM module of such a configuration is not equipped with all the boards based on the top Intel Z370. It would seem that the model on the Intel B360, which does not allow overclocking the processors, the enhanced power regulator is not very useful, but a certain margin does not hurt, especially for working with 6-core CPUs.
For all power elements and PWM-controller provides additional cooling – a pair of mid-sized aluminum profiles, securely fixed with screws. The additional power is connected using a single 8-pin EPS12V connector located at the top edge of the board.
The ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING has four memory slots. Unlike the basic Intel H310 chipset, the more functional Intel B360 allows two modules to be used per channel, that is, in general, apply up to 4 RAM slots in a two-channel mode. The maximum total size is 64 GB. The memory mode in this case depends solely on the processor used. For Celeron / Pentium / Core i3 – DDR4-2400, Core i5 / i7 – DDR4-2666. As with the older motherboard models, the OptiMem mechanism and the layout according to the T-topology are used for memory, although there is no need for them without overclocking RAM, the developers did not reduce requirements.
The connectors for Q-DIMM slots have single-sided fixation of modules. 19659020]
The board offers six expansion slots – two full-format PCI Express x16 and four compact PCI Express x1. The Intel B360 chipset does not allow sharing the processor resources of PCI Express 3.0, so all 16 lines are used for the main slot. This connector should be used when installing the video card. The slot has a metal cover that increases the mechanical strength of the connector.
The second full-size connector is serviced by the chipset and initially operates in the x4 mode. However, it also divides the dedicated lines with the PCIEX1_1 and PCIEX1_2 slots. If one or both of the connectors are occupied, the x2 mode will be used for the second full-size slot.
Failure to distribute the processor lines PCI Express automatically disables the support for SLI configurations, while a pair of graphics cards with AMD chips can work in conjunction with CrossFireX. 
ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING has an extended set of options for tuning the cooling system. There are six 4-pin connectors on the board. Two of them are nominally provided for the air processor cooler, one is conditionally allocated for connecting the pump to the CBO with additional tuning capabilities, another is supposed for the fan that blows the M.2 format drive. A pair of remaining connectors are for case fans.
For all connectors, automatic detection of the type of connected device and control method (PWM / DC) is provided.
We can only note the traditionally very good adjustment ranges. For example, during the initial setting of the Thermalright Archon Rev.A test cooler, the fan is controlled within 300-1000 rpm, while on most other motherboards, the minimum rotation speed is about 500 rpm
Of the interesting options for devices of this class, we note the possibility to use the values of several temperature indicators (up to 3) when setting the algorithm for the operation of fans. Even the temperature of the graphics processor of the video card can be taken into account here.
There are two built-in thermal sensors (CPU / Motherboard) on the board. The bottom edge also has a two-pin connector for connecting an external temperature sensor. A CMOS memory cleaning connector is located nearby.
The enthusiastic legacy of ROG is evident even in the case of a motherboard based on the Intel B360. The model has an EXT_FAN connector allowing the connection of a proprietary FAN Extension Card with three additional fan connectors and the same number of connectors for external thermocouples.
The board is equipped with a self-test system. At the stage of platform loading, a set of multi-colored LEDs will help to determine the possible problem node. From the additional features we can highlight a signal indicator in the lower right corner of the PCB indicating the power supply.
To the system of additional illumination of components, ASUS developers come very rationally. No, they do not at all reject this idea, but they do not try to turn it into a farce. In the case of the ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING, only the ROG logo and the decorative insert on the interface panel cover are highlighted. There are six RGB LEDs with separate control channels hidden under the cover, which allows to obtain various visual effects.
Of course the board supports AURA Sync technology, allowing to synchronize various platform components, including peripherals. While testing the motherboard, we used the ASUS ROG-POSEIDON-GTX1080TI-P11G-GAMING video card with a very effective backlight system. The illumination of both components is very simply synchronized.
In case you want to "fire up", the board has a connector for connecting an external LED strip. It is supposed to use a garland consisting of 5050 elements with a voltage of 12 V and a total recommended length of up to 3 meters.
During experiments we connected a reel with a 5-meter tape. Results – in the photo. Of course, the glow of the tape is also synchronized with the backlight of the card / graphics card.
To customize the illuminations, use the proprietary AURA application. There is a whole set of different presets available. For many modes, you can choose the brightness and intensity of the glow, the sequence, and adjust the color schemes.
The ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING has six SATA ports that are built into one tier at the right edge of the printed circuit board. The placement of the connectors is somewhat unusual, but there will not be any inconvenience in connecting the interface cables in this case.
The board is also equipped with two M.2 ports for connecting high-speed drives. The M.2_1 connector located in the central part of the PCB covers the aluminum plate that the developers propose to use as a cooler for the installed SSD.
The design is very similar to that used for the top board ROG MAXIMUS X HERO , although in this case an aluminum profile with a smaller thickness is used.
The connector supports both SATA and PCI-E drives up to 80 mm in length. In the first case, one of the six SATA ports on the panel (SATA6G_2) will be deactivated, in the second – the port is available mode PCI Express 3.0 x2 with a bandwidth of about 16 Gb / s. In this configuration, M.2_1 is more suitable for entry-level PCI-E drives, which will suffice for two PCI-E 3.0 lines. It should also be noted that this port divides the PCI-E lines with the lower PCIEX1_4 expansion slot. If the latter is busy, then only one PCI-E 3.0 line remains for M.2_1.
The second M.2_2 port supports the highest-speed devices (2242/2260/2280) with a PCI- E. For the connector, 4 lines of PCI Express 3.0 are allocated, because the throughput of 32 Gb / s will not limit the capabilities of even the most productive SSDs. The M.2_2 port does not share resources with any other subsystems.
In case the installed drive needs additional cooling, the developers propose to print a prepared bracket model on the 3D printer and install a 40mm fan on it for blowing. Stands for fixing the structure are originally on the board (marked 3D Mount), and the corresponding screws are offered with the device.
Note that M.2_2 is also ready to accept Intel Optane Memory accelerators, but they will require processors from Core i3 and above.
In passing, we note a large chiller cooler, which copes well with the heat dissipation from the PCH chip.
The Intel i219-V controller responsible for revealing the chipset's capabilities is responsible for the network subsystem . To manage traffic, the GameFirst IV application is available, which allows setting priority for different applications.
In the Ethernet context, we note the presence of an additional LANGuard safety chain to protect against overvoltage and high-voltage breakdown.
, that in the new chipsets Intel H310 / B360 / H370 integrated controller for wireless communication Intel Wireless-AC. Indeed, part of the computational logic (MAC controller, buffers) has been moved under the PCH cover, however, to connect to the wireless network, an additional module-companion CRF (Companion RF module) with a radio part and a number of other functional units will still be needed. In theory, such devices should be cheaper than full-fledged controllers, but this is a matter of time.
Therefore, one should not flatter themselves about the original possibility of running all new motherboards with wireless networks. In any case, you need an additional CRF (sometimes included in the package), and not the fact that the board will in principle be a M.2 2230 CNVi connector for connecting the network module. For example, the ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING does not. Obviously, developers believe that for games better than the wires have not come up with anything and with this especially you can not argue. If wireless access to the network is still needed, then the desktop has an infinite number of possible options for expanding the functionality.
Despite the fact that the motherboard is based on the Intel B360 chipset, the device's game status did not allow the developers
The presented version of SupremeFX is based on the modified 8-channel codec Realtek S1220A, which is hidden under a protective metal casing. The area of the audio path is separated from the main part of the PCB, Japanese capacitors are used in the circuit and a couple of additional preamplifiers are used to drive the headphones with high input impedance.
The impedance of the connected device is detected automatically by selecting the appropriate level of signal amplification, but if the maximum volume appears insufficient, you can set the mode with a higher ratio.
In general, the sound quality can be called expected from the device with such an element base d. If you want to experiment with software improvements, the developers offer the Sonic Studio III.
Considering the peripheral features of the motherboard, we recall that Intel 300 new wave chipsets finally got an integrated USB 3.1 Gen2 controller. In the case of the Intel B360, the total number of USB 3.1 does not exceed six ports. In this case, 4 of them can comply with the standard Gen2 with a bandwidth of up to 10 Gb / s. Proceeding from such possibilities, card manufacturers distribute available resources at their discretion.
ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING is rather curious in this respect. Here, three high-speed USB 3.1 Gen2 ports are delivered to the interface panel. Two of them are Type-A format, and another one is Type-C, the latter also supports charging currents up to 3A. Now for the fastest USB 3.1, no additional third-party controllers are needed.
The internal USB 3.1 Gen1 connector or more familiar with USB 3.0 (5 Gb / s) allows two corresponding ports to be output to the chassis panel. On the bottom edge there is one internal USB 2.0, also for the output of a pair of connectors, but already much slower (480 MB / s).
The interface panel is "built up" unexpectedly tightly. It housed PS / 2, three USB 3.1 Gen2 (2 × Type-A + Type-C), four USB 2.0 and an Ethernet socket. A full set of digital video outputs – DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort – is provided for connecting display devices. The latter supports modes up to 4096 × 2304 @ 60 Hz. For connection of acoustics, there are five 3.5 mm jacks and an optical S / PDIF. Pay attention to the fact that the panel is initially closed with a stub so you will not forget to fix it before installing the board into the chassis. Again, this technique is not often used even with top-end cards, and it is obvious that the manufacturer wants to please picky users.
As you can see, there are no USB 3.0 connectors (USB 3.1 Gen1) on the panel. This point definitely should not be embarrassing. More high-speed USB 3.1 Gen2 not only completely replace, but also provide twice the higher bandwidth. When installing Windows 10 from a USB flash drive, there were no compatibility issues.
Drawing patterns from the back of the PCB is a new trend in the design of devices of this type. A kind of curtsey toward the owners of the corps with transparent side walls.
The structure of the UEFI is already well known to us. The ASUS graphical shell is easy to learn and easy to use.
For the new motherboards, the manufacturer has added several additional options. First of all, activation of the AURA backlight is "suspended" on the function key F4
Another new function is search for parameters by keyword. It can be useful in case you, for example, during the self-search for the desired parameter are confused in the sections of the shell, but remember what it's called. The utility of this possibility will be determined by everyone.
Motherboards based on the Intel B360 chipset are initially ready to work with any of the current processors of the Coffee Lake family. That is, they will be launched without any problems either with models that have long existed in the market, or with the CPU, which were presented simultaneously with motherboards based on new PCH. Nevertheless, here manufacturers are active at the beginning of sales of new products – a typical practice at the start. For example, in the case of ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING, the first release of the BIOS (0401) is dated 02.03, version 0501 with the declared improved stability appeared a week later, and on April 9 the developers already offered 0602. In the new firmware, in addition to the promised performance increase, for Intel Optane support for a new mode of Data Drive Acceleration, allowing to accelerate not only the system, but also an additional drive.
This opportunity was announced during the recent Intel product presentation. Let's see if this review can increase interest in devices with 3D XPoint memory. For now, for the future, we note that the BIOS will require support for the new caching mode.
The motherboard does not support overclocking functions. This is not a feature of a particular model, but a nuance of all devices based on Intel H310 / B360 / H370. Увы, но для частотных экспериментов подходят лишь платы на топовом Intel Z370.
В настройках BIOS доступна для регулировки опция, позволяющая задать синхронизацию множителей для всех ядер. Конечно, хотелось бы повысить их все до максимального значения, согласно алгоритму Turbo Boost ( множитель 47 – для Core i7-8700K), но даже подобная возможность для Intel B360 слишком оптимистична, чтобы оказаться правдой. Такой «фокус» работает на платах с топовым PCH, а в данном случае настройки игнорируются. Процессор функционирует согласно штатному режиму и заданному алгоритму динамического ускорения.
Во время нагрузки на все 12 потоков тестовый процессор Core i7-8700K работал на рекомендованной для такого режима частоте 4300 МГц.
Отсюда и итоговый результат теста в 1400 баллов, в целом соответствующий работе Core i7-8700K в штатном режиме.
Не стоит также напрасно обольщаться возможности задать для оперативной памяти режим работы вплоть до DDR4-8533. На платах с Intel B360 память будет работать только в режимах, официально поддерживаемых процессорами. Покупка более скоростных наборов в этом случае не имеет смысла, потому как весь их потенциал использовать не получится.
Для процессора Core i7-8700K фактически доступны режимы вплоть до DDR4-2666. Именно с такой эффективной частотой и работал наш тестовый комплект HyperX Fury.
Intel сохранила возможность настраивать тайминги, в этом отношении плата предоставляет все возможности поэкспериментировать с задержками.
Разработчики платы также оставили базовые опции для управления параметрами подсистемы стабилизации, но они в большей мере интересны во время разгона платформы. Напряжение питания процессора регулируется в пределах 0,6–1,7 В (шаг – 0,005 В). Здесь такая возможность пригодится разве что при желании поэкспериментировать с работой CPU на пониженном напряжении питания.
Розничная цена ASUS ROG STRIX B360-F GAMING на старте продаж составляет порядка $150.
Пожалуй, это одна из наиболее дорогостоящих полноформатных моделей на базе чипсета Intel B360. По этой предлагаются даже некоторые самые доступные устройства на Intel Z370. Как это часто бывает, нюансы кроются в деталях.
Силовая подсистема VRM с запасом и массивными радиаторами, улучшенная звуковая подсистема, пара M.2 с охлаждением, хороший набор интерфейсных портов, широкие возможности настройки системы охлаждения и удобное фирменное ПО производителя. Конечно, хотелось бы видеть меньший ценник, возможно стоимость платы несколько снизится со временем.