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Asus B150I Pro Gaming Review - Armchair Empire

Asus B150I Pro Gaming Review

  • NA/10
    Overclocking - NA/10
  • 8.5/10
    Compatibility - 8.5/10
  • 9/10
    Performance - 9/10
  • 7.5/10
    Stability - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Expansion - 8/10
8.3/10

Our Rating

We Recommend the Asus B150I Gaming Pro For

Building a Mini-ITX machine takes effort and careful consideration. The motherboard is one key component where sacrifices are a must. It isn’t just the size but also individual elements of a motherboard that need to shrink down to fit a Mini-ITX case. Asus B150I Gaming Pro shrinks to fit a small cabinet but manages to retain a lot of its Gaming pedigree. This motherboard is perfect for folks who are worried about the temperature inside an ITX case and want complete control over every component.

ASUS Mini ITX DDR4 LGA 1151 B150I PRO GAMING/WIFI/AURA Motherboard
  • LGA1151 socket for 6th Gen Intel Core Desktop Processors
  • Aura: RGB lighting control for a customized look
  • Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Intel Gb LAN

Introduction

Mini-ITX form factor is just starting to gain support in the consumer market. Just a couple of years back, trying to build something so small and yet capable of gaming or hardcore computation was next to impossible without extreme amounts of DIY. Today, motherboards and individual parts are exclusively available for Mini-ITX cases.

The Asus B150I Gaming Pro motherboard is a Mini-ITX board that offers all features available in a full-fledged ATX motherboard. It offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, M.2 and several layers of protection for the ultimate gaming experience. Considering Asus’s track record with reliability and construction quality, the B150I is your best bet for a long lasting small form factor build.

Remember that all Mini-ITX motherboards offer only one PCIe slot for the graphics card. Hence, having built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is an absolute must as you otherwise have to use USB dongles for both.

Specifications

Just because the B150I is a Mini-ITX motherboard does not mean you have to sacrifice on connectivity and specifications. This board has everything a regular gaming motherboard does, though the numbers may vary.

It offers PS/2 connectors, DVI-D, SPDIF and HDMI outs for integrated GPU support and a total of 5 USB 3.0 (3 at the rear and 2 at the front) and 4 USB 2.0 (2 at the front and back respectively). It uses Intel Ethernet GameFirst LANGuard for superior gaming performance and for Wi-Fi relies on Qualcomm 2×2 Dual Band Wi-Fi. Qualcomm is also the chipset maker for its Bluetooth BT 4.1 module.

Being a Mini-ITX motherboard, the Asus B150I Gaming Pro offers a single PCIe slot rated at x16, for your graphics card though the card riser does not come inclusive in the packaging. You can get a flexible card riser for less than $20 though.

This motherboard packs in 4 SATA 6GBps ports and one M.2 Socket that takes in PCIe NVMe drives but using the M.2 socket disables the first SATA port. As for memory, it operates on a dual-channel 2 DIMM DDR4 2133 MHz configuration with a maximum capacity of 2 x 16GB.

Being a gaming motherboard, it has LED RGB lighting that works in eleven control schemes, controllable through the Asus software bundle. We did notice that the lights stay on even after the system turns off.

Our Review

The rigors of a motherboard compare to no other PC part. It has the most connections in your PC and naturally the maximum number of stress points. Temperatures can soar through the roof at specific locations, and without proper cooling, the life of a motherboard is cut short. All these issues are further complicated when you try and compact a motherboard down to half the original size.

Asus B150I is a fraction of the ATX size, and yet it manages to perform on par with its larger siblings. One key feature that allows it to run smoothly is its onboard temperature sensors. The sensors are spread across the motherboard and keep a tab on overall temperature readings as well as individual component readings. You can access the temperature readouts using the Asus control software as well as in the BIOS. This lets you place fans and use cooling solutions specific to your chassis design and overall setup.

The motherboard has reinforcements at the right places and does not flex or bend much. Yes, the compact nature of the board tends to cramp everything together, but it does not feel overloaded when you think of all the things it offers. A fantastic audio chipset from SupremeFX that delivers crisp sound quality as well as directional awareness in-game. A great LAN from Intel designed for uninterrupted gaming and Qualcomm Wi-Fi Bluetooth connectivity for wireless gaming – such a small board, should not give you so much!

Probably the best feature of this motherboard is its M.2 slot. This slot is hidden away on the back of the motherboard without interfering with the CPU cooler mounts, and it can take any M.2 card, including NVMe PCIe SSDs if performance is what you desire.

We particularly loved the RGB lighting of the motherboard that does not turn off when you shut down the system. It continues lighting in your chosen state much afterward and adds to the gaming aura of your Mini-ITX case. Some may not find this attractive, but to us, it adds to the whole gaming frenzy.

A key point of concern is the driver package. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi packages clash with each other, and we suspect it is due to Intel LAN and Qualcomm’s Wi-Fi drivers. The solution is to uninstall both and separately install the two. Asus could have made the process easier by including the correct drivers in the first place. As it stands though, you have to download the drivers for the LAN directly from Intel to eliminate this issue. Besides, it is best to download latest drivers and Asus software before deciding to put the board through its paces.

It is worth noting here that the B150I wasn’t our first choice among Mini-ITX builds. We wanted to try the MSI or ASRock motherboards, but our experience with the MSI B150 board wasn’t great. It was DOA, and for some reason, we always feel Asus does a better quality control than others. With Mini-ITX builds, quality and performance matters as temperatures can run into the high 60s quite easily.

Pros

  • The motherboard will survive for years in a cramped environment. It is built like a fortress.
  • Coupled with a Liquid AIO CPU cooler, the temperature readings from the built-in sensors of the board do not spike beyond 50 degrees C even on heavy gaming.
  • The efficient and well thought out design makes wire management a breeze.
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules eliminate the need for adding in separate USB dongles for both.
  • Maximum of 32GB memory support is sufficient for the next five years.
  • Amazing RGB lighting that can be controlled from an application to match the color scheme of your entire build, especially if you use STRIX graphics cards.

Cons

  • Included drivers are outdated and not correct. The Wi-Fi and LAN drivers clash because they are from two different vendors. You have to uninstall both and manually install the correct drivers.
  • Could have included the latest BIOS update as part of the package.

Conclusion

Asus is our top PC component, maker. Their products are always superior by construction and naturally last longer. Yes, they are a tad more expensive than others, but the extra you pay goes a long way in ensuring reliability. The Asus B150I Gaming Pro might seem like an innocuous Mini-ITX motherboard but it packs in a lot of gaming-centric features with a sturdy, rugged build that can handle the best components money can buy.

For less than $150, this is the best gaming Mini-ITX motherboard you can get if you aren’t interested in unlocked processors and overclocking.