We analyzed the ASUS H87-PRO, an entry-level socket LGA1150 motherboard based on Intel H87 chipset, with six SATA-600 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, and one PCI Express x16 slot. Let’s see which other features this motherboard offers.
The Intel H87 is very similar to the high-end chipset for this platform, the Z87, differing from it mostly by the lack of overclocking features. It has the same characteristics in regards to the number of SATA-600 and USB 3.0 ports (six of each). It also supports RAID and Smart Response Technology, just like the Z87. Another difference is that the H87 does not allow the bandwidth of the PCI Express 3.0 x16 to be shared with a second slot. It means that, in a system with no overclocking and only one video card, the H87 and the Z87 will offer pretty much the same set of features.
You can see the ASUS H87-PRO motherboard in Figure 1. It uses the ATX form factor, measuring 12” x 8.6” (30.5 cm x 21.8 cm).
Figure 1: ASUS H87-PRO motherboard
Unlike the Z87, the H87 chipset does not allow the bandwidth of the PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot to be shared with a second slot.
The H87-PRO comes with one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (that always works at x4 speed), two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, and three PCI slot.
The motherboard supports CrossFireX, but not SLI technology.
[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]
Intel socket LGA1150 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, that defines what memory technologies you can have and the maximum amount of memory that is possible. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
The integrated memory controller from socket LGA1150 processors supports DDR3 memories up to 1,600 MHz. According to ASUS, the H87-PRO also supports memories up to 1,600 MHz.
The H87-PRO has four memory sockets, and supports up to 32 GiB by using four 8 GiB modules.
In order to enable the dual-channel mode, you must install two or four identical memory modules. If using two modules, install them in sockets of the same color.
Figure 3: Memory sockets; install two or four modules for the best performance
[nextpage title=”On Board Peripherals”]
The Intel H87 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip has six SATA-600 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 5, and 10). The ASUS H87-PRO offers all the six ports.
Figure 4 shows the SATA ports, two of them rotated 90 degrees in order to not interfere with video cards.
The Intel H87 chipset supports 12 USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports. The ASUS H87-PRO offers eight USB 2.0 ports, two located on the motherboard’s rear panel and six available through three headers located at the motherboard; and six USB 3.0 ports, four available on the motherboard’s rear panel and two available through a header.
The ASUS H87-PRO does not support FireWire ports.
This motherboard supports 7.1 audio format using a Realtek ALC887 codec. This codec has the same specifications as the Realtek ALC892, except that the ALC892 has two extra channels for audio streaming. The main specifications for this codec include 97 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 90 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, with 24-bit resolution. These specs are good for the mainstream user, but if you are looking into working professionally with audio editing, you should look for a motherboard that provides an SNR of at least 97 dB for the analog inputs.
The analog audio outputs are independent even if you use a 7.1 analog speaker set, and there is an optical SPDIF output. There is a header labeled “SPDIF_OUT”, where you can install an adapter to have a coaxial SPDIF output or to connect a cable to older video cards that required a physical connection to have audio on their HDMI outputs.
The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by a Realtek RTL8111G chip.
In Figure 5, you can see the motherboard’s rear panel with a shared PS/2 keyboard/mouse connector, two USB 2.0 ports, DisplayPort output, HDMI output, optical SPDIF output, VGA output, DVI-D output, four USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet port, and the analog audio connectors.
Figure 5: Motherboard rear panel
[nextpage title=”More Features”]
The ASUS H87-PRO has a switch that turns on the “GPU Boost” feature, which sets a higher clock for the GPU integrated in the processor.
The “MemOK!” button, shown in Figure 7, allows you to test the compatibility of the memory modules that are installed.
In Figure 8, you can see all of the accessories that come with the ASUS H87-PRO.
[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]
The voltage regulator of the H87-PRO has four phases for the CPU. It is controlled by an ASUS DIGI+ ASP1253 chip, which uses a digital design. Each phase uses two NFMFS4C09N MOSFETs.
Figure 9: Voltage regulator circuit
The ASUS H87-PRO uses solid electrolytic capacitors on its voltage regulator circuit. The coils are ferrite models.
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
[nextpage title=”Overclocking Options”]
The ASUS H87-PRO has a few overclocking options. Below, we list the most important ones (0613 BIOS):
- CPU Core Voltage: From 0.001 V to 1.920 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU Core Voltage Offset: From -0.999 V to +0.999 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU Cache Voltage: From 0.001 V to 1.920 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU Cache Voltage Offset: From -0.999 V to +0.999 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU Graphics Voltage: From From 0.001 V to 1.920 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU Graphics Voltage Offset: From -0.999 V to +0.999 V in 0.001 V increments
- System Agent Voltage Offset: From -0.999 V to +0.999 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU Analog I/O Voltage Offset: From -0.999 V to +0.999 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU Digital I/O Voltage Offset: From -0.999 V to +0.999 V in 0.001 V increments
- CPU Digital I/O Voltage: From 1.0000 V to 2.2000 V in 0.003125 V increments
- SVID Voltage: From 0.001 V to 2.440 V in 0.001 V increments
- Memory Voltage: From 1.185 V to 1.800 V in 0.005 V increments
- Chipset (PCH) VLX Voltage: From 1.185 V to 2.135 V in 0.005 V increments
- Chipset (PCH) Core Voltage: From 0.735 V to 1.500 V in 0.005 V increments
- Memory CTRL REF Voltage (relative to DRAM Voltage): From 0.3950x to 0.6300x in 0.0050x increments
- Memory DATA REF Voltage (relative to DRAM Voltage): From 0.3950x to 0.6300x in 0.0050x increments
Figure 10: Overclocking options
Figure 12: Memory timing settings
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the ASUS H87-PRO include:
- Socket: LGA1150
- Chipset: Intel H87
- Super I/O: Nuvoton NCT5538D
- Parallel ATA: none
- Serial ATA: six SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)
- External SATA: none
- USB 2.0: eight USB 2.0 ports, two on the motherboard real panel and six available through three headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: six USB 3.0 ports, four on the motherboard rear panel and two available through one header on the motherboard
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): none
- Thunderbolt: none
- On-board video: controlled by the CPU; VGA, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors
- Audio: produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC887 codec (7.1 channels, 24-bit resolution, 192 kHz sampling rate, 97 dB SNR for the outputs, and 90 dB SNR for the inputs)
- On-board LAN: one Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by a Realtek RTL8111G chip
- Buzzer: no
- Infrared interface: no
- Power supply required: EPS12V
- Slots: one PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slot, one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (working at x4), two PCI Express x1 slots, and three PCI slots
- Memory: four DDR3-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-1600, 32 GiB maximum)
- Fan connectors: one four-pin connector for the CPU cooler and three four-pin connectors for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: “MemOk!” button and “GPU Boost” switch
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: one
- Programs included: motherboard utilities
- More Information: https://www.asus.com
- Average price in the U.S.*: USD 98.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this First Look article.
The ASUS H87-PRO is a simple mainstream motherboard. It uses the H87 chipset, a simpler product than the high-end Z87, yet you will only feel the difference if you need to install more than one video card, or if you are into overclocking.
This means this motherboard is not aimed at the enthusiast overclockers or hardcore gamers: it is designed for the average user who wants a basic, solid, and honest motherboard, and does not want to pay for features he or she will never use.
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