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Affordable Motherboard Asus Vanguard B85 Review

Nowadays customers don’t find it difficult to acquire the motherboard which would absolutely correspond to their needs. This is primarily explained by the fact that each manufacturer tries to pack its production lineup with models of various calibers. Asus is one of the few companies that restlessly enlarge their motherboard inventory with variegated items, and Vanguard B85 (TUF series) is yet another item for saving users. The key to ‘affordability’ of Intel B85 chipset-based board lies mainly in the reduction of connectivity facilities, where the chipset supports not six but four SATA 6 Gb/sec + four USB 3.0 devices. However, the model is rich in other facilities that are vital for a contemporary multimedia PC.

Design and Layout

To begin with, Asus Vanguard B85 is designed in an uncommon uATX form-factor and supports Pentium/Xeon/Corei3/Corei5/Corei7 CPUs (Haswell gen.) for Socket LGA1150. The motherboard inventory involves 4 DIMM slots for the installation up to 32 GB of DDR3 memory (maximum 1600 MHz), an integrated Intel HD Graphics P4600, three PCIe slots (3.0 x16, 2.0 x16, 2.0 x1), one PCI ASM1083 slot, and an integrated ALC887 audio controller (7.1-channel sounding). Connectivity options include two SATA II, four SATA III ports, and fourteen USB ports: 8x 2.0 supported by B85 chipset, 2x 3.0 (B85) and 4x 3.0 supported by ASM1074 controller.

Network options are introduced by gigabit Ethernet port, based on Intel I217V controller. I/O facilities are realized by means of four video ports (D-Sub, HDMI, DVI-D, and DisplayPort 1.2), PS/2, S/PDIF, and internal COM ports. Moreover, the model is known to support the connection of TPM-module, TUF Thermal Radar Core, Q-LED, and GPU CrossFireX technologies.

The Vanguard B85 is equipped with four diagnostic red LEDs that are activated once the main system components are initialized (CPU, RAM, GPU or boot device). The reverse side of the PCB offers enough spacing for the installation of massive cooling power plates; the latter employ spring-actuated plastic nails for proper fixture. Chipset heatsink is rather compact, although it keeps the bridge temperature within the measures of 50 degrees. It should be noted that the motherboard employs two different types of SATA ports: classic ones and deployed at 90 degrees in respect of PCB.

To continue, ASP1253 is the basis of VRM section. The board is also furnished with a four-channel IR3570A PWM controller. Each channel contains two power elements – ON Semiconductor NTMFS4937N and NTMFS4955N; with the aim to improve thermal conditions, each pair is located apart from the others.

Contents of Delivery

Asus Vanguard B85 comes with a set of accompanying items, including: user’s manual with UEFI guidance, general multi-language user’s manual, TUF quality certificate, Thermal Radar Core guidance, CD with drivers and software, plug fitting, two SATA III 6 Gb/sec cables (one of which comes with L-shape end), and a kit of adapters for convenient connection (Asus Q-Connectors).

UEFI

Taking into consideration the fact that Vanguard is a comparatively fresh product, there is small wonder in the availability of only one firmware code. EZ Flash 2 firmware utility features an intuitive interface where all elements are within reach. Its advantages are seen in the possibility to start overclocking at a single-click ease or reduce its speed for a better power efficiency, to activate XMP memory profiles, to change interface language, and to monitor the main system parameters.

The extended UEFI settings mode consists of the most comprehensive sections. ‘My favorites’ is an option that allows for the creation of tag marks for the most frequently used sections. ‘Main’ section contains brief info about the system components and some other functional available in the start menu. ‘Ai Tweaker’ consists of an information line and a wide range of settings dedicated to the fine tuning of the system components (including CPU clock frequency).

For instance, ‘Ai Overclock Tuner’ offers Auto and XMP modes, although it is void of Manual mode to manipulate the nominal frequencies manually. CPU settings embrace Core Ratio and Power Management options; more CPU settings are hidden in a separate section ‘CPU Configuration’, which allows for changing the amount of deployed cores or activating the support for deep sleep modes.

‘PCH Configuration’, contains Smart Connect and Rapid Start functions. ‘System Agent Configuration’ is dedicated to the northern bridge adjustments that particularly concern an integrated graphics core. ‘SATA Configuration’ offers the choice between IDE or AHCI, however it lacks RAID. ‘USB Configuration’ stipulates an individual deactivation of any USB port. ‘Monitor’ section unveils info about thermal conditions, voltage indices, as well as about the rotational speed of five system fans.

‘CPU Q-Fan Control’ prompts the user to define the type of fan manually (Standard, Silent and Turbo), though some other boards of TUF series have got a convenient automatic solution. ‘Boot’ section with Fast Boost and Delay Time options secures a quick initialization of all devices. Finally, ‘Tool’ section contains EZ Flash 2 utility, information viewer, and a convenient tab, in which it’s possible to save all preinstalled settings.
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  • 25 November 2013, 17:48
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