ASUS’ choice of decking its mainline motherboards in black and gold is coming to bite it, as the company unveiled one of the first of its “Gamer” line of motherboards. Simply put, these are boards from its mainline Z87 and B85 series products, but with black and red color scheme, and not many of the goodies that its expensive ROG (Republic of Gamers) series comes with. It’s the idea of making entry-level and mid-range products more appealing to gamers that ASUS appears to have aped MSI on, even if MSI isn’t the original “black + red” motherboard maker. That said, the B85-Pro Gamer isn’t just a B85-Pro with fancy heatsinks. Its PCB resembles rather closely with that of the Z87-A.
To begin with, this slim ATX motherboard uses an 8-phase VRM to condition power to the LGA1150 socket. It’s wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots, and a single PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot. The other long x16 slot on this board is physically PCI-Express 2.0 x4, and wired to the B85 PCH. Three legacy PCI, and two PCI-Express 2.0 x1 make up the rest of the expansion area. Storage connectivity includes four SATA 6 Gb/s, and two SATA 3 Gb/s. Display outputs (which we doubt gamers would use), include DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI. ASUS worked on the networking and audio of this board. It features a rather premium Intel I217V GbE controller, and SupremeFX audio, with a 115 dBA SNR CODEC, electrolytic capacitors, a TI-made 300Ω headphones amp, and ground-layer isolation.
The feature-set of the B85-Pro Gamer includes GameFirst II, a network packet prioritization software that’s a carryover from the ROG series, “Gamer’s Guardian,” which is a combination of ESD dampening circuits along the rear panel ports, DRAM over-current protection, and high-grade black solid-state capacitors. Ai-Suite 3 is carried over from the rest of ASUS’ LGA1150 motherboard lineup. Since B85 lacks overclocking features, none of the OC tools from ROG lineup should be available, even if the UEFI BIOS setup should have a more ROG-like layout. ASUS didn’t reveal pricing, but we expect it to be competitively priced against MSI B85-G43 Gaming, and ASRock B85 Fatal1ty Killer.