Asus has a bright new option for budget gamers with a Skylake compatible motherboard based around the B150 chipset. The Asus B150 Pro Gaming D3 is a cheaper alternative that sacrifices some expandability while still incorporating several enthusiast-friendly features.
Intel’s B150 chipset is a cheaper alternative to the Z170 which has received a lot more attention this year.
The Asus B150 Pro Gaming D3 features a LGA 1151 socket ready for up to Core i7 Skylake processors that is powered by the company’s “Digi+” VRMs. On the memory front, Asus has opted for four DDR3 slots supporting up to 64GB dual channel DDR3 modules at 1,866 MHz. This is a departure from most of the Skylake motherboards that have launched this year which use DDR4. Opting for DDR3 means slightly less potential performance but at welcome cost savings.
For storage, this motherboard has six SATA 6Gbps ports and a single M.2 slot for solid state drives (albeit limited to 2 lanes of PCI-E).
The lower-left of this budget board is dominated by a slew of expansion slots as well as Asus’ SupremeFX (Realtek ALC1150 codec) audio hardware. The B150 chipset powers a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot and the board further includes a second PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, two PCI-E x1 slots, and two PCI slots for legacy expansion cards.
To help this board stand out, the company has added LED lighting above the PCI-E slot and along the right edge of the board. These LEDs can be configured as a solid color, to cycle colors, or to respond to changes in CPU temperature or load (which could help accentuate a custom case mod or simply act as more "bling").
Rear I/O is decent with the following options:
- 2 x PS/2
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x VGA
- 4 x USB 3.0 (Intel B150)
- 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A (ASMedia)
- 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C (ASMedia)
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet (Intel)
- 5 x Analog audio (300 ohm headphone support, Realtek codec)
- 1 x S/PDIF
There are some limitations with this board, however. The major downgrade from Z170 to B150 is the number of PCI Express lanes from 20 on Z170 to 8 with B150. As such, when using the second physical x16 slot (max electrical x4) with a x4 or faster device the two physical x1 slots will be disabled. Further, when using the M.2 slot for your SSD in SATA mode, one of the physical SATA ports will be disabled. There is only so much bandwidth to go around here as well as the loss of overclocking ability with the cheaper chipset.
Naturally, Asus has not released specific pricing or availability for the B150 Pro Gaming D3. Expect it to undercut existing Skylake compatible boards, though. And if you have been thinking about upgrading, this is a cheaper upgrade path (you can re-use your DDR3 memory) that is an alternative to the Biostar board that can support both DDR3 and DDR4.