With the expansion of the lineup of chipsets for the Coffee Lake processors, those wishing to move to the new desktop platform Intel significantly reduced the input threshold and expanded the choice of motherboards. Experimenters will still prefer the model on the Intel Z370, but now users who do not suffer from overclocking now have the opportunity to save by picking up a more affordable fee. Today we have a review on the model with the warlike name MSI B360M MORTAR.
MSI has placed a special emphasis on devices with the Intel B360 chipset. Almost one and a half dozen motherboards with this PCH already at the start of the updated platform are convincing proof of this. MSI B360M MORTAR belongs to the middle-class game line Arsenal Gaming
Scope of delivery
Complete with the board, user's manual, quick installation guide, driver and software CD, two SATA interface cables and a rear panel cover housing. The device also comes with a pair of screws for fixing M.2 drives and a sticker with the same logo of the game series.
Design and layout
The MSI B360M MORTAR corresponds to the Micro-ATX format, with dimensions of 243 × 243 mm.
The motherboard is based on Intel B360 chipset and allows using any processors of the Coffee Lake family. Back in October last year, the first chips with the Core 8 core architecture – Core i3 / i5 / i7 – were introduced, and just a couple of weeks ago the range expanded, and also replenished with more affordable processors from the Pentium Gold G5xxx and Celeron G4xxx families. Recall that the updated platform does not provide backward compatibility, because motherboards on the Intel 300 chipsets work only with the chips of the family Coffee Lake.
The MSI B360M MORTAR board has a restrained external design. Black textolite base with additional decorative shading, dark gray elements of the cooling system, black connectors and expansion slots. Design in general is typical for Arsenal Gaming models.
In case you want something extraordinary, the manufacturer also offers the MSI B360M MORTAR TITANIUM version in the corresponding color scheme.
For motherboards not providing for the possibility of overclocking, manufacturers usually do not make a special accent. In this case, it is necessary that the device ensure stable operation of the processor in its normal mode. However, among the Coffee Lake there are models with a TDP of 95 watts, and therefore absolutely rely on a simple VRM just is not worth it. In addition, if the board is to be used as the basis for the gaming system, the increased load on the power regulator module will be the usual mode.
The MSI B360M MORTAR received a 7-phase power subsystem (4 + 2 + 1), the parameters of which are controlled by the Richtek RT3607BC controller . To cool all the power elements, additional radiators are used. At the same time, the unit installed on the MOSFET of the processor phases has increased dimensions. This profile shape significantly increases the overall dispersion area, accelerating the removal of heat from the power packs.
Both radiator units are well secured with screws.
To connect the additional power to the top edge of the board, there is one 8-pin connector .
The board has four slots for installing memory modules up to a total of 64 GB. When using the Intel B360 chipset, the operating mode of the RAM is limited solely to the processor. In the case of Core i5 / i7, it's DDR4-2666, whereas with Core i3, Pentium Gold and Celeron, the memory will work in DDR4-2400 mode.
As for compatibility, the infinite list of tested memory modules counts about a thousand different sets. Let's hope that they are all really tested with each model of the board, rather than automatically roaming from one product line to another. It is not easy to imagine the necessary labor, that's interesting in someone's work.
DIMM connectors provide two-way fixing of modules. When the video card is installed, the distance from the open connector to the PCB remains minimal, but still allows you to operate the modules without removing the graphic adapter.
Standard Micro-ATX boards are often equipped with four expansion slots. The MSI B360M MORTAR offers a pair of full-format PCI Express x16 and the same amount of compact PCI Express x1.
The main PCI Express x16 slot always works in x16 mode and has an additional metal cover that increases the mechanical strength of the connector.
Intel B360 does not allow sharing processor lines PCI Express, therefore devices based on it can not in principle offer SLI-bundles, although CrossFireX support is preserved.
The second full-sized slot is serviced by the chipset and by default runs in x4 mode. It is worth noting that one of the compact PCI-E x1 is located immediately below the main PCI Express x16, and therefore when using a video card with dual-slot CO it will be unavailable. This should be taken into account when planning the configuration of the system.
The middle class cards do not usually spoil an additional body kit. From the useful options, we can highlight the EZ Debug LED display system with a set of four LEDs that help determine the problematic node that does not allow the system to boot up.
Four 4-pin connectors are provided for configuring the cooling system. One of them is allocated for the processor cooler, three more – for connecting the case fans. Next to all the connectors are the Nuvoton 3947SA controllers, which allow the use of PWM and DC voltage control for fan speed control.
The control method will need to be selected in the BIOS settings. For the CPU_FAN1 connector, PWM is initially defined, and for the rest – DC Mode. With the use of case fans with a 4-pin connection, you need to change the control mechanism.
Almost no motherboard now can do without additional illumination. Even the most basic models are equipped with illumination, therefore it is not surprising that LEDs are used in the case of the MSI B360M MORTAR. However, the developers here did not begin to zealous. RGB-elements are installed only in the area of the sound subsystem, moderately lighting the insulating track.
In case you want more, one 4-pin connector for external tape with RGB-LEDs 5050 (power supply – 12 V). The manufacturer recommends the use of garlands up to 2 m in length and the number of elements requiring a current of up to 3 A.
Practical tests show that the board coped without problems with a 5-meter tape (60 elements per 1 m).
control for LEDs installed on the board and external tape.
Mystic Light App is used to adjust the backlight settings. In this case, the management options are not too broad, and a dozen different modes are available. Here, you can synchronize the illumination with other devices that support Mystic Light Sync technology.
For the users who pay much attention to the external decor, the manufacturer proposes to additionally decorate the power element radiator. There is a place for sticker sticking on the aluminum block, which the manufacturer offers to print out by himself.
For the fans of the militaristic theme, a preparation with a mortar badge is prepared, and a fancy dragon is shown to the fantasy players.
For connection of drives with SATA interface, the board has 4 corresponding ports. Two connectors are located at the right edge and are prudently positioned parallel to the PCB plane, to avoid problems with connecting cables when using a graphics card. Another pair of SATA ports are located at the lower edge of the PCB.
The MSI B360M MORTAR also received two M.2 ports for connecting high-speed drives. M2_1 is located in the central part of the board and can work with SATA- and PCI-E-drives up to 110 mm in length. For him, 4 PCI-E 3.0 lines with a bandwidth of up to 32 Gb / s are allocated. When using SATA-drives, the available SATA-ports on the board are not activated. In the Intel B360 arsenal, there are 6 channels of this interface, so in this case one of the unused ones is used.
The second port of M2_2 (2242/2260/2280) is ready to work only with high-speed PCI-E-drives or Intel Optane Memory. Four PCI-E 3.0 lines are also allocated for this connector, but with the use of M2_2, the second full-size PCI-E x16 slot will be deactivated. Yet the resources of the chipset are not unlimited. In any case, this distribution looks more rational than the splitting of the available lines when M.2 works in x1 or x2 modes, potentially limiting the capabilities of fast SSDs.
Here the emphasis is on the ability to optimally configure the storage subsystem, and the ability to install the second video card is justified for this class of platforms.
A compact heatsink is fixed on the chip of the chipset. The dimensions of the cooler can be confused by someone, but in practice it copes with the heat dissipation from the PCH having a thermal package of 6 W.
It is interesting to distribute the USB channels available to the chipset. Recall that Intel B360 has a built-in controller that supports 6 USB 3.1 ports, and 4 of them can comply with the USB 3.1 Gen2 specification with a bandwidth of up to 10 Gb / s. Manufacturers of cards can at their own discretion dispose of such resources of the chipset. It can only be noted that now, for full-speed USB 3.1, third-party controllers are not needed.
In the case of the MSI B360M MORTAR, a pair of USB 3.1 Gen2 connectors are located on the interface panel. One of them has a USB Type-A format, the second is a compact symmetrical USB Type-C. The high-speed connector of the classic form factor is easy to distinguish by the red inner insert.
In addition, the board also has an internal connector for outputting another USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port to the panel. Such connectors are not so often seen even on new models of cases, so this is more likely to affect the future.
From what most of the owners already need – the internal USB 3.1 Gen1 connector (USB 3.0) on two corresponding ports. As for the less speedy interfaces, four USB 2.0 ports are located on the interface panel, another internal connector allows to obtain two additional ports.
The connection to the wired network is organized with the help of a gigabit controller Intel i219-V,
The manufacturer recommends using the specialized utility MSI Gaming LAN Manager to configure the network traffic. Of course, the maximum priority for games, but you can set the mode for any application.
The sound system of the board is based on the 8-channel Realtek ALC892. Despite the fact that it does not use a top-end codec, subjective quality of the sound on the gaming headset is not inferior to that for the board class higher on the ALC1150 / 1220. Of the features can be isolated isolation of the sound path with additional illumination of the boundary track and the use of Japanese specialized containers in the chain.
There are not many options for additional program tuning. In fact, the parameters offered by Realtek for their codecs are available through the stylized shell.
MSI B360M MORTAR offers a representative composition of the connectors on the interface panel. More alive than all living combined PS / 2, also there are 4 USB 2.0 ports, a pair of USB 3.1 Gen2 (Type-A + Type-C). A full set of digital video outputs – DVI-D, HDMI and full-format DisplayPort (up to 4096 × 2304 @ 60 Hz) is provided for connecting display devices.
Also on the panel are five 3.5 mm connectors for easy connection of multi-channel acoustics. If you need a "number", there is also an optical S / PDIF here.
On the back of the PCB minimum elements. In the area of the sound subsystem, a set of seven RGB LEDs is visible.
For the MSI B360M MORTAR, the already familiar Proprietary Click BIOS 5 shell is used. Of course, the application is partially refined taking into account the capabilities of specific motherboard models, but the overall concept and the structure remains the same.
The basic platform settings are already available in EZ Mode, well, and more detailed options are opened in Advanced mode.
Since the Intel B360 chipset does not allow overclocking the processors, the developers decided not to activate the ability to configure the pit voltage on the CPU cores. In this case, you can only rely on the automatic mode. Increase the voltage of the processor running in the normal mode, there is no need. At the same time, CPU Core Voltage can not be reduced here. On the one hand, there is no special need for this, on the other hand, those wishing to play in "downwashing" will not have the opportunity to play with this parameter.
But the voltage on the memory modules can be adjusted within 0.6- 2.2 V in steps of 0.01 V.
The working frequency of DRAM chipset also does not allow to change. This feature is only available on boards based on the Intel Z370. In the case of models on the Intel H310 / B360 / H370, the memory mode will depend solely on the processor used.
At the same time, it is possible to adjust timings. With this no questions asked.
The manufacturer continues to support the Board Explorer section, which allows the BIOS to identify installed components and connected peripherals.
While some manufacturers offer the ability to search parameters in the BIOS for keywords as a serious innovation, this function has already been registered in the Click BIOS more than a year ago.
OC Profiles section on the In board tel B360 looks like some banter that you should not take it personally. These are just the consequences of the unification of the UEFI shell. By the way, you can save profiles with different settings for memory timings.
As we already mentioned, the processors will not be able to disperse even the "K" index in the model name. The attempt to "deceive the system" by setting the maximum multiplier for all the cores will also fail. The processor will work in normal mode, with the algorithm specified in the dynamic acceleration mechanism Turbo Boost 2.0. For example, the Core i7-8700K with the load on all the computational units worked at 4300 MHz with a periodic reduction of up to 4,100 MHz.
The final performance results in the tests correspond to those expected for the nominal processor operation mode
The manufacturer offers a set of applications that are integrated within the MSI App Manager package to manage the platform from the OS.
Key system settings are available in the Command Center. First of all, it is monitoring parameters and setting the algorithm of the cooling system. CPU / memory overclocking functions are not available, so there is no corresponding capability in proprietary software.
It is also programmable to not change the power supply voltage of processor cores.
During practical experiments also It was interesting to evaluate the efficiency of the overall design of the cooling system. After an hourly load of the Core i7-8700K in the stability test from the AIDA64 package, the heatsink on the VRM power cells warmed up to just 44C. Obviously, the actual heating of the MOSFET itself is slightly higher, but, in any case, the result is very good. In addition, we used a top model of a 6-core processor with a TDP of 95 W, while chips with a smaller thermal package will often work together with boards on the Intel B360.
The MSI B360M MORTAR boards will soon be available in Ukraine. Estimated retail price at the start of sales – 3100 UAH. (~ $ 118).