Word from MSI suggests that sales of their Gaming motherboard range are better than projected and there is an enthusiasm for the brand across PC building forums.  We reviewed the Z77A-GD65 Gaming motherboard here at AnandTech last year and have a couple more in to review in the near future, but today MSI is announcing the extension of the gaming range into the B85 chipset.  B85 is the cheapest PCIe 3.0 8-series chipset from Intel (before H81,  which loses even more features from Z87), and thus the aim for MSI is to bring the Gaming branding down to lower price points.  Other manufacturers are doing this with their gaming ranges, but MSI is being particularly aggressive by also focusing on the smaller form factors.  They are announcing this week the B85I Gaming (mini-ITX) and B85M Gaming (micro-ATX) as a result, complementing their B85-G43 Gaming (ATX).

There are few details regarding the B85M Gaming currently available, but the B85I Gaming already has its own page on the MSI website with detailed specifications and high resolution images.  Aside from the form factor MSI has equipped the motherboard with:

  • A Killer E2205 network interface
  • A mini-PCIe port
  • Audio Boost (an enhanced Realtek ALC1150 audio solution) with Sound Blaster Cinema
  • An enhanced polling rate USB port
  • An audio oriented USB port (smoother power supply)
  • VGA Boost (increases power limits for MSI graphics cards)
  • MSI’s Click BIOS 4, OC Genie 4, Military Class 4

As this is a B85 product, it is limited to DDR3-1600 memory, as well as no hardware RAID.  MSI offers their software RAID solution to compensate.  With the cheaper motherboards it is not always easy to get the features exactly as required, and the location of the 8-pin CPU power connector does cause some concern requiring cables over other components.  But the SATA, USB 3.0 and 24-pin ATX are all easy enough to get to.

While we were not furnished with release dates and times, we can extrapolate that they might be ~$5-10 more than the non-gaming counterparts.  The MSI B85I is currently $80, so I would assume the B85I Gaming will retail $85-90.  Similarly the MSI B85M-G43 is $75, putting the MSI B85M Gaming at $80-85.

Source: MSI

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  • etamin - Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - link

    I've never seen chipset RAID being referred to as "hardware RAID." Isn't it quite different?

    It looks like a solid mITX board, I've heard many good things about MSI's mobos this gen.
  • dakishimesan - Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - link

    If the disks in a software raid array were wiped, the raid array would disappear – unless the OS and related RAID software were on a different disk. Both Intel motherboard controllers, if this were wiped the raid array would still persist, with its settings stored in bios = hardware raid.
  • dakishimesan - Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - link

    * but with Intel motherboard controllers, if the disks were wiped…
  • etamin - Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - link

    That's true, but I've often heard of chipset RAID referred to as firmware RAID or fake-RAID. That was the distinction I was wondering about vs hardware RAID.
  • cpoole - Thursday, April 10, 2014 - link

    The difference lies in where the "striping" is calculated. In a Raid array data is not stored contiguously, it's spread out over both disks to minimize access and write times. In software raid the CPU and OS does everything, it remembers the two disks are raided, and handles all calculations (based on code in the OS kernel). A firmware/fake-RAID array is commonly seen in laptops; this is where the motherboard has a small microprocessor that will remember the fact that the two disks are RAIDed and will assist the CPU and OS in figuring out the calculations for how to stripe the data. Finally hardware raid has a full computational unit that will perform all addressing, striping, and other calculations needed for a RAID array and the OS and CPU are free to treat it like a single contiguous drive.
  • Marlowe - Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - link

    I wish it had WiFi like the Z87I Gaming AC. Then it would go well with an i3-4130 and a GTX 770 for a compact gaming pc. Not so sure about the performance of USB wireless dongles.

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