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Overview of the MSI B250M Mortar Motherboard

January of 2017 was marked by the emergence of new processors Intel Kaby Lake-S, while the motherboard manufacturers have released products based on fresh 200- series chipsets. The PCH execution identity allows vendors to produce different models based on the earlier designed PCB. MSI B250M Mortar is one of the kind, as the manufacturer has a similar model – MSI Z270M Mortar.

Technical Characteristics


In fact, B250 is the youngest of the latest generation products. The most significant of its innovations is supporting the work of drives with PCI-E interface, mainly implemented in the popular now format M.2. The model is equipped with an expansion slot of this type. Additional adapters are unavailable, so all the possibilities come through Intel B250. The network interface uses the Intel controller, and the sound is formed by Realtek ALC892.

The B250M’s characteristics are as follows:

  • • Chipset – Intel B250
  • • Processor socket – Socket 1151
  • • Processors – Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium, Celeron (Skylake-S, Kaby Lake-S)
  • • Memory – 4 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400, up to 64 GB
  • • PCI-E Slots – 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16
  • 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x4)2 x PCI Express 3.0 x1
  • • M.2 – 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110)
  • • Integrated graphics core (processor) – Intel HD 510/530/610/630
  • • Video inputs – DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-D
  • • Number of connected fans – 4x4pin
  • • Ports PS/2 – 1 (keyboard/mouse)
  • • USB ports – 3.1 x 6 Gen1 (4 connector on the rear panel (one type C), B250)
  • 6 x 2.0 (2 connector on the rear panel, B250)
  • • Serial ATA – 6 x SATA 6Gb/s (B250)
  • • Integrated audio – Realtek ALC892 (7.1, HDA)
  • • Network capabilities – Intel I219V (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • • COM – 1 (internal)
  • • TPM – +
  • • UEFI – AMI UEFI
  • • Form Factor – mATX
  • • Dimensions, mm – 244 x 244
  • • Additional features – Thunderbolt header, EZ Debug LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, BOOT LED), block for connection of RGB LED ribbon, support for AMD 2-Way CrossFireX

Equipment


The design of the box has greatly changed becoming more restrained. The motherboard is placed inside in a separate cardboard pallet. Its back side contains the information about the newly integrated backlight system of red shades and LED RGB tape support. The basic package includes the following items:

  • • User’s guide which illustrates and describes in detail all the UEFI features (in English);
  • • Multilingual quick guide;
  • • CD with drivers and proprietary software;
  • • Customer registration card;
  • • Case plug supplemented by a sticker with the nests’ indicators;
  • • Two cables SATA 6Gb/s cables, one of which has an L-shaped connector on one end.

Appearance


The product size allows taking advantage of eight attachment points. There is a decorative cover over the input-output ports in the rear panel. Reinforcement is only present at the main PCI-E slot and the new M.2 one.

Light-emitting diodes are placed not only at the PCB stripe insulating the audio part, but also at the remaining three corners, each having two units.

Six longitudinal SATA sockets are provided for storage devices. M.2 allows connecting the devices most diverse in size. No auxiliary buttons or switches are in place; only one case plug for the third generation USB interface can be used. In addition to lighting, the board as well has a diagnostic system with four red LEDs EZ Debug LED.

The top PCI-E slot works with the processor, and the other ones – with the chipset. There is not even a single operational amplifier to support the codec.

The processor voltage regulator looks simpler if compared with the devices of a higher price category. But the presence of the radiators is encouraging. They are of an average height, so that they cause no problems when installing cooling systems.

The converter circuit is based on Richtek RT3606BC. This is a five-channel PWM controller. Two channels are reserved for the graphics system and the processor has three ones. Two external drivers complete the scheme.

The included force elements are from Niko Semiconductor – PK616BA and PK632BA. Each of the CPU stabilizer channels has two units (4 in total), as for the SE, one PK616BA has been expelled, so leaving just three elements.

The radiators do not have a large area of dissipation because of the edges’ absence. The chipset uses a paste as a heat conductor, and ordinary rubber-like pads are chosen for transistors. Their contact with the power assembly is provided by a good screw clamp.

On the rear panel the manufacturer has implemented a maximum of capabilities inherent in Intel B250. just the only thing may disappoint, it is the absence of an optical S/PDIF.

UEFI Features


Basic mode of system settings allows to set the date and time, as well as the boot device priority and to obtain information about all system components. Selected UEFI menu items can be collected in one of five profiles.

Control of four heat sinks is available; for the CPU only the method of changing the PWM duty cycle is supported, so three-wire models will work constantly at high speeds. Deep settings are available in advanced mode.

Talking about overclocking is possible only conditionally. The maximum CPU frequency will not exceed its certified values, and for the memory the highest mark will not exceed 2133/2400 MHz (for Skylake-S /Kaby Lake-S processors). The delays can be reduced to improve the system performance. Additionally, the user has all the basic voltages (but for the CPU) at one’s disposal.

Tightening the scheme to 10-12-12-28-1T has requested the installation of the voltage by 1.41 V, and the auxiliary units remained at their normal level. After the implemented measures the DRAM latency has become significantly smaller.

As the auxiliary units, six built-in profiles for the configuration storage of the auxiliary mechanisms should be mentioned, as well as the viewer options in the form of an interactive map for the board.

A search engine note on UEFI-content should be as well mentioned, however, you need to understand exactly what you are looking for while using it.

Software Provided


Since the product is a representative of a gaming series, the software and equipment are very extensive here. For absolute perfection it lacks special sound software. The following software is provided:

Branded: Command Center, DPC Latency Tuner, Dragon Eye, Fast Boot, Live Update 6, MSI Gaming APP, RAMDisk, Smart Tool, X Boost
Network: Gaming Lan Manager, WTFast, XSplit Gamecaster (Premium 1-year license)
Additional: CPU-Z MSI GAMING, Intel Extreme Tuning Utility

Live Update enables the opportunity to immediately use the most current version of the software. Among the settings in the Command Center there is nothing helping to believe in overclocking. The complex can be used just for reference purposes. Fast Boot will lead into the UEFI environment once you reboot.

Adjusting the backlight is one of the Gaming APP possibilities. In fact, you can only select the animation mode because of the one-color LEDs. More ways to set the mood appears when using RGB-tapes.

The sound settings are based on the Realtek branded configurator, and the sound is very good for one of the younger representatives of codecs.

The network subsystem is honored by the branded Gaming Lan Manager. This utility is based on the famous cFosSpeed and its duty is the allocation of priority among applications when sharing a network connection.

Conclusion


This overview clearly shows the ability of inexpensive motherboards to successfully compete in the market. B250M Mortar showed a decent level of performance, and the processor frequency is just 100 MHz lower being compared with the one on the boards with a more functional PCH — Z270.

Though it is impossible to increase the frequency above the certified value, but the user is still able to reduce the delays for memory to significantly improve the latency.

Belonging to the gaming series of products means that there is a broad set of different directions’ supporting software. The network and sound subsystems have nothing special to boast of, as this is the prerogative of more expensive products, and the backlight is only of red color.

The manufacturer has fully unlocked the chipset capabilities on the developed B250M Mortar. The available capacity is quite suitable for the assembly of the system with an eye on high performance. In general, a decent successor of B150M Mortar has appeared to occupy a place in the same market segment.
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  • 31 January 2017, 16:27
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