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Asus P8H61-M LE review

Chris Finnamore
23 Mar 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
67
inc VAT

An inexpensive Sandy Bridge motherboard with some useful tweaking features, but its specification is minimal.

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Specifications

LGA1155, microATX, Intel H61 Express chipset, supports: Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 (Sandy Bridge)

The first wave of Sandy Bridge motherboards were afflicted by a flaw in the chipset – the SATA2 ports could degrade over time. This won’t affect most people (who will simply use the SATA3 ports) and new revisions of these boards are becoming available, but this is the first ‘fixed’ motherboard we’ve seen.

A ‘B3 Revision’ sticker on the box proudly proclaims the P8H61-M LE is in full working order. Not that it makes any difference on this board, as it only has four SATA3 ports and no SATA2.

Asus P8H61-M LE ports

It’s a budget motherboard, in fact it's the cheapest we've seen to date. Its specification is pretty minimal – it has DVI and VGA but no HDMI output for the Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors’ integrated graphics, and only three minijack plugs for the sound card; if you want to run a 7.1 sound system you need to use your case’s front panel HD audio headphone jack to run the side speakers. Disappointingly, the board only has USB2 and not USB3 ports.

Asus P8H61-M LE

You have some room for expansion – with the usual four slots present on a micro ATX board - a PCI Express x16 slot, two PCI Express x1 and a PCI slot. If you fit a graphics card you’ll block one of the PCI Express x1 slots. Even at this price we were disappointed to see only two memory slots, which would make upgrading the memory later from 4GB to 8GB a costly proposition.

Setting up the board for a Windows installation is easy, thanks to Asus’s UEFI, which replaces the traditional BIOS. It’s entirely mouse-driven, and lets you drag and drop boot devices to define the correct order. The UEFI is divided into easy (EZ) and advanced modes – advanced is like a far prettier version of the classic BIOS, with different settings stored in different tabs, along with options to enable or disable system devices, play with the processor multiplier and adjust voltages.

The easy screen keeps overclocking simple – there are just three buttons labelled Power saving, Normal and Asus Optimal, along with a graph showing the noise/performance/power trade-off for each. Turning on Turbo mode didn’t make any difference to our benchmarks, though. We had more luck with Asus’ AI Suite software. This has an Auto Tuning mode, which runs a stress test on your system and pushes up the processor and graphics speeds according to what it thinks it can get away with. After a reboot the software informed us that the CPU was up 14% and GPU up 31%. Again, this made little difference in our application benchmarks, but Call of Duty 4 climbed from 8.6 to 10.5fps, and once we reduced the resolution to 1,024x768 and turned off anti-aliasing the frame rate went from 29.5 to a smooth 36.7fps.

Asus’s P8H61-M LE is a competent budget Sandy Bridge motherboard – its performance is similar to the Asrock H67M-GE, and we were impressed with its UEFI setup program and automatic graphics overclocking for Sandy Bridge processors. However, its specification is too sparse for us to recommend it over Asrock’s better-equipped board, specifically the two memory slots and lack of USB3 ports. That said, if you're looking for a Sandy Bridge board and every penny matters, then this could fit the bill.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
Processor socketLGA1155
Form factormicroATX
Size244x203mm
Processor supportCore i3, Core i5, Core i7 (Sandy Bridge)
Processor external bus100MHz (Sandy Bridge DMI)
Chipset north bridgeIntel H61 Express
Chipset south bridgeIntel H61 Express
Passively-cooled north bridgeyes
Integrated graphicsNo
Supported memory typeDDR3 1066/1333
Maximum memory speedPC3-10600
Memory slots2
Maximum memory16GB
Dual-channel supportyes

Buying Information

Price£67
Supplierhttp://www.novatech.co.uk
Detailswww.asus.com

Internal Ports

Power connectors1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 4-pin ATX
PCI-E x16 slots1
Dual graphics architecturenone
PCI-E x4 slots0
PCI-E x1 slots2
PCI slots1
Fan headers2
Floppy ports0
IDE ports1
Serial ATA ports4
RAID chipset (max disks)none

Features

Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Sound (ports)Realtek ALC887 (3x analogue out, 1x SPDIF out header)
USB2 ports / headers6/4
Firewire ports / headers0/0
Legacy portsPS/2, parallel header
Other portsVGA, DVI
Cables included2x SATA
Brackets includednone
Software includedNorton Internet Security 2011

Setup and Overclocking

Voltage adjustmentCPU/RAM
CPU clock max adjustmentN/A

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