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MSI H81M-P33 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £33

The MSI H81M-P33 is a very cheap microATX LGA1150 motherboard, but a very cramped design limits its appeal


Processor socket: LGA1150, Dimensions: 226x173mm, Chipset: H81, Memory slots: 2, PCI-E x16 slots: 1, PCI-E x1 slots: 1, PCI slots: 0, USB ports: 4x USB, 2x USB3, Video outputs: VGA, DVI


If you’re looking to build a powerful but small media centre PC or compact workstation, the MSI H81M-P33 microATX LGA1150 motherboard certainly looks tempting, particularly at this low price.

It has everything you need, although there are some design issues that compromise the board slightly. The first issue is around the back of the board, where the rear-facing ports are so tightly packed together, some of them become unusable if a device is plugged in adjacent. For example, the DVI port – which you’ll probably use if you choose not to install a PCI-E graphics card – is so close to the two USB3 ports, they both become unusable for all but the smallest of connectors. The same is true on the other side of these USB3 connectors: there are two more USB ports that, again, encroach on the USB ports if you plug in even a normal-sized USB connector.

The problem is made worse again by a bootup bug that resulted in error “9C” when we had USB devices connected in certain combinations: a USB disk and a USB keyboard and mouse plugged into various USB and USB3 ports meant our motherboard wouldn’t POST and left us scratching our heads.

There’s no relief mid-board, either: there aren’t any USB3 headers so you’ll be stuck with slow USB connectors even if your case’s front panel has USB3 connectors.

There’s a PCI-E slot that runs at x16 speeds for a graphics card. Even if you install a double-height card, the PCI-E x1 slot situated below it is not obstructed, so you’ll easily be able to fit a PCI-E wireless card or other expansion hardware, although it’s a bit of a squeeze.

There are two RAM slots for up to 16GB of dual-channel DDR3 memory running at a maximum of 1600MHz, which slot in snugly next to the processor and heatsink mounts. There are two SATA3 ports for high-performance storage such as SSDs, and a further two SATA2 ports for drives that don’t need the 6Gb/s transfer speeds offered by the newer specification.

Performance from our benchmark hardware was as expected, with our Intel Core i5-4670K managing an overall score of 100. The UEFI BIOS isn’t particularly complex to use, but if you decide to overclock the processor, you’ll be on your own because there are no automatic overclocking tools on this cheap board.

It’s hard to complain about the MSI H81M-P33 when you consider it’s very low price, but given the problems we had with USB connectors, there are better boards on the market for only slightly more. The Asus B85M-G is a better all-round motherboard.

Processor socketLGA1150
Form factormATX
Processor support4th generation Core processors (Haswell)
Processor external bus100MHz
Supported memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory speed1600MHz
Memory slots2
Maximum memory16GB
Motherboard power connectors1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 4-pin 12V
PCI-E x16 slots1
PCI-E x4 slots0
PCI-E x1 slots1
PCI slots0
Motherboard fan headers3
SATA II ports2
SATA III ports2
RAID supportNone
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000Mbit/s
Motherboard sound (ports)Realtek HD Audio (3x 3.5mm analogue ports)
USB ports4x USB, 2x USB3
USB headers4x USB
Video outputsVGA, DVI
Other ports2x PS/2
Cables included2x SATA
Motherboard clock adjustmentCPU/RAM
Motherboard voltage adjustmentRAM
Buying information
Price including VAT£33
WarrantyOne year RTB
Part code911-7817-019

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