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What are you looking for in a Motherboard Review?

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I'm taking notes here :) . I have a few questions so far.

Component quality: How do you find this out. Like is Vishay actually better than Renesas? This goes down a rabbit hole like what determines the quality of a component. We could do facts like Renesas sells higher amp MOSFETS, but is it actually better in the same class. Datasheets are often not available and those efficiency curves are generally "best case.

Also Curious about the current (amps) in a fan header. If the manual doesn't list it, does anyone know a good way to measure this? Should I just daisy chain fans until the fans stop spinning?
generally fan controllers don't have OCP. So overloading a fan header leads to physical damage.

Also on the topic of VRM quality. Sometimes the component manufacturer screws up. Sometimes the mothboard manufacturer implements the components wrong.
 
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capacitors conected backwards and blowing mosfets, risk of fire, that's really bad to say the least
 

Mussels

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I'll probably skip a few things already well covered, and go into things that I think matter
@ir_cow and I ahve already had some PM's discussing a bit of this, too.

I've kinda ordered the content in a way that lets you get informed of the background of the motherboard, the specific motherboard, and then results based opinions in the cinematic style movies do - introduction, bad news, happy ending
(And then repeat this in miniature within each section, to keep viewers hooked)
(Star wars episodes IV V and VI taught me this, thanks George Lucas)

0. Consistency.
Come up with tests you can repeat over many many boards so that you can give us nice pretty comparison charts.

1. The intended market for the product.
This changes how it's viewed entirely - Is it a board for everyone? For LN2 overclockers? Something in the middle? Is it a budget board that cuts every corner possible to be cheaper than everyone else?
Gamers, Overclockers, HTPC, silence fiends, etc etc.

2. Common features for it's platform
(Ex: Compare AM4 boards to each other, specific important differences from x570 vs B550)
You can break down the common features here, audio benchmarks, USB and NVME slot benchmarks, fan noise, etc etc.
All AMD boards have basic PBO controls and XMP, all intel boards have PL1 and PL2 controls, that sort of thing. Mention any odd limits or missing features
(Example: Intels love of locking down RAM speeds, vs AMD's love of unlocking RAM speeds even if they're very unlikely to ever work)

3. Compare common features to competition (x570 and b550 vs b660 and Z690)
Discuss PCI-E lanes, USB port speeds vs it's competition. Limit to current gen and one gen old, to keep it simple.
This sort of text is easy to copy paste and re-use, too
You can use this to show the previous points with comparisons to specific products, as well as competing chipsets from both teams and current gen vs last gen comparison.


4. Missing features. What does it lack? Is it missing SPDIF audio, or only has one fan header, does it just have a single 3.5mm audio out jack vs the 6-pack of 5.1 solutions?
Weak VRMs, weak cooling that requires noisy chipset fans?
There's a lot of possibilities here, that only experienced users would notice and general public viewers would really love to have pointed out before getting bitten after purchase.



5. What exotic features does this board have. Does it have overclocking specific hardware like more VRMs or active VRM fans, does it have PCI-E lanes that bounce around to give users freedom for 4x NVME slots (at the cost of SATA ports etc) while other boards are stuck with 2x slots.
BIOS flashback, thunderbolt, a better slot layout, anything that stands out as unique
Hell my B450-i has RGB lights inside it's analog audio jacks, and it's the most useless feature that gets so much attention since it lights up the wall behind it

6. VRM's and a discussion on why they matter.
Intels 10700 (non k) being a 65W CPU that uses 215W of power threw logic is out the window and it's never come back.
AMD's FX series started this with the FX 9590 and it's 220W TDP, causing major thermal throttling for unaware users on all but the best boards - this is not an intel only issue and could very easily go horrible on AM5 too
Even midrange CPU's are using enough power to thermal throttle boards at stock, and since TPU covers overclocking we'd need to know how they handle stock conditions and overclocked conditions. Even a simulated worst case (12 core ryzen with all core OC and higher than needed voltages lets you know how a 16 core would run, that an 8 core would never have issues, etc)
1661504352368.png
1661504435080.png


7. What drawbacks and flaws does this product have, vs others in it's price range (or cheaper) - explain them to the common user
What do you mean, this board goes online and installs software with no user consent as a massive security/stability risk?
What do you mean this board literally overheats and thermal throttles on a stock i5???)
(If it's a premium board, mention that performance wont change vs cheaper boards - you need better *everything* and be overclocking and tweaking to get that performance, the better boards unlock potential only - it's not automatic)

8. What does it do better than everyone else (especially what does it do better than more expensive competition)


9. And duh, software. Anyone who's seen my trouble shooting threads on logitech, corsair asus and gigabyte knows the nightmares i've ran into - any board features that *require* software, must have that software tested too.
What features will not work without this brands software package installed. How do they behave without it.

RGB ports? sure, but let's find out if it tanks cinebench to have the lighting off default rainbow.
OLED display? Sure, but how much CPU does it use to run that cat GIF, and does the real-time temperatures it displays match up with more popular software like HWinfo64?
Optional bundled of half a dozen random pieces of crap software that are pre-selected?
Give em a bonus test, install it all. Then re-do some CPU and gaming benchmarks and give the manufacturers the hell they deserve for bloating hardware down.
 
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I want to see more middle-/lower-end boards and fewer high-end ones reviewed. Halo products are technically interesting and the ones that the companies love to sample because they make them look good, but they are useless for the vast majority of consumers who can't afford such boards and thus won't be buying them.

I want to see board manufacturers called out for doing stupid unnecessary shit that negatively affects users, e.g. putting 4 NVMe slots on every fucking model at the expense of lanes for the 2nd and/or 3rd PCIe full-length slot. Some of us actually have PCIe cards, that aren't graphics cards, that we kinda want to use on the boards we buy.

I want to see board manufacturers called out for not adopting the latest and greatest tech. E.g. MSI is apparently not adopting USB4 on AM5 for... reasons? but you can bet they won't be charging any less for their boards as a result.

I want to see board manufacturers called out for not including a decent number of USB type-C ports on the rear panel. We got 1 with X370 and with X570 it's still only 1. Since AM5 + X670E can support up to 14 type-C ports, I'd consider anything less than 4 on such a combination a waste. For X670 3 ports minimum, for B650 2 ports.

I want to see board manufacturers called out for not including fan control in their BIOS. ASUS is the big one I know of and it's inexcusable to lack this feature when pretty much everyone else has it. I don't want to have to install yet another program to do this for me in my operating system, I want to be able to set it and forget it and have it applied on every boot.

I want to see board manufacturers called out for including stupidly overbuilt and expensive 20 bajillion phase VRMs and dual 8-pin EPS12V connectors and LN2/slow-mode OC switches. The vast majority of users will never need or use that shit and don't want to pay for what they don't use. Keep high-end, expensive overclocking features on high-end, expensive boards.
 
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Hi,
How easy they are to toast :laugh:
 

ir_cow

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Alright so far I have a good number of things that can be implemented thanks to all the recommendations provided.

Short Term:
MB Sensors visible in software
Max memory frequency 2x/4x Dual Rank & Single rank.
Motherboard Power Draw
Chipset Temps
BIOS features - What is missing
Fan Header (AMPs)
RGB Headers (AMPs)
USB charging capabilities
Socket manufacture (if written on it)
Missing features competitors have at a similar price point
Warranty Length and where the national / regional agree is located.
Infrared camera snapshot

Long Term:
Round Up Article - Overview comparison
Consistency (for easy comparison)
Detailed software coverage

I do have a few open ended questions to narrow down to specifics. You guys have to remember I am at constantly at war with time. I could spend months a a single review. All for a few people? It needs to be balanced.

1) In your opinion, is the motherboard power draw actually important? Are you looking for sleep, idle and load?
2) BIOS features - List out the things you want covered for AMD or Intel (both if they overlap).
3) Chipset temps - Is this important? If yes, why do you think so
4) budget overclocking - Would you suggest buying a budget MB (ASROCK B660 MB from video) with the purpose to put a 12700/12900 (non-k) in and overclock it? If so, is 100c on the MOSFETTs acceptable to you?
5) Would a Infrared camera picture be useful at all. It looks pretty, but the data isn't helpful. "Hot spots" are not in context. If a VRM heatsink is at 70c, but the MB is at 26c. That what does that tell you?
 
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1. No.
2. Overclocking, obviously. Fan control as I previously mentioned.
3. No.
4. Only if it's paired with a budget CPU.
5. No.
 
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Have to be a bit more specific.
How easy it is to find the relevant overclocking knobs and dials and how well they're labelled and explained. Special attention to how easy it is to find the most important things like enabling XMP, memory speed, memory voltage. I'm not talking about the "EZ mode" or "auto OC" in some BIOSes that is basically "baby's first BIOS" BTW.
 

Mussels

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1) In your opinion, is the motherboard power draw actually important? Are you looking for sleep, idle and load?
2) BIOS features - List out the things you want covered for AMD or Intel (both if they overlap).
3) Chipset temps - Is this important? If yes, why do you think so
4) budget overclocking - Would you suggest buying a budget MB (ASROCK B660 MB from video) with the purpose to put a 12700/12900 (non-k) in and overclock it? If so, is 100c on the MOSFETTs acceptable to you?
5) Would a Infrared camera picture be useful at all. It looks pretty, but the data isn't helpful. "Hot spots" are not in context. If a VRM heatsink is at 70c, but the MB is at 26c. That what does that tell you?
1. Idle matters a lot, and should be pretty quick to test. Sleep is finicky and would likely be easy to ignore.
Load is critical, since various boards have very different stock/PBO/PL settings and you'd want to know if a boards 1% performance lead came at 10% more wattage.

2. This would be tough, as things vary by name between brands. I'll bounce through my systems and see what I can come up with, and edit this.
i'm lacking modern intel systems and DDR5 systems so i'll have no ideas whats unique to them.

3. Absolutely, use HWinfo to measure your temps while running a stress test (CPU and GPU if possible)
Look at the fuss over x570 chipset fans, and the issues boards have with throttling VRMs - it's also a great comaprison point if two similar boards have very different temperature VRM's and chipsets, as the colder boards have a lot longer estimated lifespan.
Heck, even running PCI-E 4.0 GPU's and NVME drives increases the temps on my board - i had to replace the thermal pads in under a a year, because the poopy cooling dried it right out and sat at 3K RPM at idle.

4. That's the consistency thing, run with an achievable overclock at higher than needed voltages.
Focus on the wattage consumed by the CPU, to make some really good comparison charts tying CPU wattage with VRM temps - chipset temps are seperate, you really only need to report the max they reported

My 4.6 1.22v daily setting runs around 85W gaming, 113W in Cinebench R23 - far lower than the 140W max PBO can offer... so why not use PBO and give a result for 105W (stock) and 140W (PBO), and the resulting VRM temps - letting people know how they'll handle the entire range of AM4 CPUs? Any board that can handle the full 140W cold, will be great for overclockers - and anything that handles the 105W stock will be fine for overclocking 6 core CPUs, etc.

On intel it gets weirder with their PL1 and PL2 settings, but comparing stock settings, power unlimited settings and an all-core OC (something any board can achieve, like 4.8GHz with excess voltages) to target specific wattage ranges.

Due to needing time for the temp results, limiting it to pre-set wattage target(s) and stock would be the only viable method - a stock and OC'd result, more or less.


5. No, they're useless for most users and tasks. Users think heat is bad and don't understand a cold heatsink might be on top of a CPU that needs cooling, but the heat isn't transferring to it in the first place
 

Lei

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It would be good if it's white.
 

Mussels

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Thinking on the BIOS settings:

BIOS updates - How easy are they?
My asus x570 can BIOS flash from my NVME NTFS drive, yet a newer aorus x570s can only flash from FAT32 USB
(All the offline flashing tools here are massive points to talk about, too. I never want a board without that, again)

Fan control. See if setting custom fan percentages or curves is clunky or not.

Overclocking is its own field, and you need to adjust it to the intention of the board.
An intel B series or AMD A series chipset, you don't expect much - so voltage or overclocking of any kind is a great plus, but they shouldnt be missing basic fan control options either.

Any overclocking boards need comparisons for things like static voltages, or do they have voltage offsets too?


My ASUS board has per-CCX overclocking as well as the standard ones, and when used keeps the default idle and power down methods active - so even though its the same overclock in the end, thats a big win for boards that have it.
Alternatively, the V2 of this board has a feature that almost no AM4 boards have - per CCX for all core loads, with a threshold setting for stock PBO for low thread count. That lets you get the best of both worlds, and should be a massive talking point for boards that include it.

On the intel side they do love locking the B and H series boards down, so focus on what they do have and mention what they don't. Bonus points for anything more than average or the bare minimum
(My antique 1155 boards let me overclock non K chips by boosting the all core clocks to 200Mhz under the ST boost, which is amazing no matter the CPU used)

Anything that simplifies overclocking or makes life easier, is worth a plus here.
Most of my AM4 boards have a mouse clickable boot override setting on the very first BIOS screen, which is fantastic for OS changes, or reinstalls without the clunkiness of changing the boot orders manually.

Same goes for features like MSI's easy memory overclocking try-it, with preset timings and suggestions for various clock speeds, or anything that overall makes common tasks easier - and for an overclocking or enthusiast board, those ARE common tasks. No one buys a high end mobo to pair it with DDR4 2133, so memory settings and how easy it was to fire up high speed RAM counts here.


Oh and if boards have fancy unique features, test them. My gigabyte AX370 has a 10Gb USB-C port at the rear and i bought it for that early USB C love... and it's pure shite. Slower than the Ryzen CPU's 5Gb ports, and crashes out charging a phone or using a VR headset on it.
Don't let them get away with marketing a feature like higher bandwidth, higher power delivery or extra connectivity without a basic test on it.
 
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Oh and if boards have fancy unique features, test them. My gigabyte AX370 has a 10Gb USB-C port at the rear and i bought it for that early USB C love... and it's pure shite. Slower than the Ryzen CPU's 5Gb ports, and crashes out charging a phone or using a VR headset on it.
Don't let them get away with marketing a feature like higher bandwidth, higher power delivery or extra connectivity without a basic test on it.
I second this. Although compatibility may "vary" depends on what chip the device uses, it's annoying when you buy a computer/board/laptop that says it supports 10Gb/20Gb USB-C only to find out its implementation is subpar or outright borked.

Like how I have a Kingston XS2000 that supports 20Gb and reviews report it can pretty much max out that speed out of the box with sequentials, both read and write. However I could only replicate that on my brothers Gigabyte Gaming 7 X470 10Gb USB C with ~900MBps read and write. On the other hand, my Dell 10th Gen Laptop with 10Gb USB-C (and Thunderbolt 3) does ~900MBps reads but ~200MBps writes. My other brothers Asus B660 board also for some reason does the same with its 20Gb USB-C port, it goes all the way up to ~1900 MBps reads, but writes at ~200MBps. Clearly something is wrong somewhere with specific manufacturer implementation of USB 10Gb and above. If I wanted such low writes, I would go get a cheaper SATA SSD and put it in a cheap USB 3.0 enclosure.
 

Mussels

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Memory 2x32GB DDR4 3600 Corsair Vengeance RGB @3866 C18-22-22-22-42 TRFC704 (1.4V Hynix MJR - SoC 1.175V)
Video Card(s) Galax RTX 3090 SG 24GB: Underclocked to 1700Mhz 0.737v (375W down to 250W))
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VR HMD Oculus Rift S + Quest 2
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I second this. Although compatibility may "vary" depends on what chip the device uses, it's annoying when you buy a computer/board/laptop that says it supports 10Gb/20Gb USB-C only to find out its implementation is subpar or outright borked.

Like how I have a Kingston XS2000 that supports 20Gb and reviews report it can pretty much max out that speed out of the box with sequentials, both read and write. However I could only replicate that on my brothers Gigabyte Gaming 7 X470 10Gb USB C with ~900MBps read and write. On the other hand, my Dell 10th Gen Laptop with 10Gb USB-C (and Thunderbolt 3) does ~900MBps reads but ~200MBps writes. My other brothers Asus B660 board also for some reason does the same with its 20Gb USB-C port, it goes all the way up to ~1900 MBps reads, but writes at ~200MBps. Clearly something is wrong somewhere with specific manufacturer implementation of USB 10Gb and above. If I wanted such low writes, I would go get a cheaper SATA SSD and put it in a cheap USB 3.0 enclosure.
USB 4 is very close to hitting with some insane speeds, initially it'll be hard to find but the joys of testing a 40Gb/s NVME enclosure will be fun
 
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For a start I want to see every IO element tested way beyond what is done now.
I want to know before hand if filling every nvme and pciex slot and usb port causes issues or reduces performance, no one does this and I have fell foul of it three times.
All I see is base function test reviews personally, one GPU one SSD, arse IMHO.

And it ties into others issues like usb3.2/4 etc.
 

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5 a thermal camera will only give you pretty colorful pictures that will wow the uneducated reader. If you use thermography on different Surface types simultaneously, the results will be completely wrong. A shiny reflective metal Surface will look much cooler than the surrounding plastic for example.
 
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For a start I want to see every IO element tested way beyond what is done now.
I want to know before hand if filling every nvme and pciex slot and usb port causes issues or reduces performance, no one does this and I have fell foul of it three times.
All I see is base function test reviews personally, one GPU one SSD, arse IMHO.

And it ties into others issues like usb3.2/4 etc.
is Memory covered in that, all slots populated had cause issues in the past.

5 a thermal camera will only give you pretty colorful pictures that will wow the uneducated reader. If you use thermography on different Surface types simultaneously, the results will be completely wrong. A shiny reflective metal Surface will look much cooler than the surrounding plastic for example.
Yea RGB always wow's readers.:laugh:
 
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is Memory covered in that, all slots populated had cause issues in the past.


Yea RGB always wow's readers.:laugh:
I really did mean every IO connection simultaneously used , IN use and investigations of.
With bridge chip's, architectural differences etc some of it will again be largely standard across platforms and relatively demonstrable.
 

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I really did mean every IO connection simultaneously used , IN use and investigations of.
With bridge chip's, architectural differences etc some of it will again be largely standard across platforms and relatively demonstrable.
This one might be hard to pull off or give funky results. I can batch script to test all drives at once with DiskSpd but to test all the usb ports, sata and nvme at once. That is a lot of drives and external enclosures I don't have. Who is accessing all this at once?
 

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I usually don't read motherboard reviews. Maybe because historically I purchased mostly budget ones in order to run the required CPU.

But have the MSI X570 Tomahawk WiFi mostly because of its good feedback and quite affordable pricing for the feature set.
 
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This one might be hard to pull off or give funky results. I can batch script to test all drives at once with DiskSpd but to test all the usb ports, sata and nvme at once. That is a lot of drives and external enclosures I don't have. Who is accessing all this at once?
I've experienced it, as I said.

Varying usb performance with a nvme pucked, and four nvme on the motherboard, some actually use the stuff they buy, fully.
 
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They are very good here at TPU as it stands, and I have little to add beyond what @BSim500 mentioned in their excellent post, but I would also like emphasis to be placed on parts that truly matter such as the CPU VRM area over gimmicks (looking at you, 2022 ROG boards), and depending on the segment, actually score against such superfluous "features".

I also believe it's time to begin pushing both motherboard manufacturers and processor makers to drop the outdated SATA standard in favor of including more modern M.2 slots for NVMe drives/more PCI Express lanes on desktop-grade platforms instead of making this an HEDT exclusive. It's easy to get a dock for SATA drives should one still need to access data from legacy HDDs. They are safer, faster, easier to install and greatly reduce the amount of cables required to assemble a system.
 
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I do have a few open ended questions to narrow down to specifics. You guys have to remember I am at constantly at war with time. I could spend months a a single review. All for a few people? It needs to be balanced.

1) In your opinion, is the motherboard power draw actually important? Are you looking for sleep, idle and load?
2) BIOS features - List out the things you want covered for AMD or Intel (both if they overlap).
3) Chipset temps - Is this important? If yes, why do you think so
4) budget overclocking - Would you suggest buying a budget MB (ASROCK B660 MB from video) with the purpose to put a 12700/12900 (non-k) in and overclock it? If so, is 100c on the MOSFETTs acceptable to you?
5) Would a Infrared camera picture be useful at all. It looks pretty, but the data isn't helpful. "Hot spots" are not in context. If a VRM heatsink is at 70c, but the MB is at 26c. That what does that tell you?
For me,
1. Not really. Most PCs are truly idle anyway.
2. XMP, PBO, undervolting, fan controls, saving the profiles.
3. Sort of, for longevity.
4. No.
5. Maybe with that picture we can see the VRMs are running to hot and throttle?
 

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I've experienced it, as I said.

Varying usb performance with a nvme pucked, and four nvme on the motherboard, some actually use the stuff they buy, fully.
To be clear on this, you are for example copying data from one M.2 to another M.2, while another one is writing data to SATA AND you are using the forth M.2 to copy data to USB device?

I can see normal use case for copying between two drives, but not all at once.
 
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