The ASRock H81M is a micro ATX board supporting fourth-generation Intel processors on a Socket 1150 H81 chipset. It has a pair of dual-channel DDR DIMM slots with a maximum capacity of 16GB at 1600MHZ, Intel HD 4600 on-board graphics, 7.1 channel audio, two SATA3 6Gbps and two SATA2 3Gbps ports, with two USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 ports.
The multi-GPU features comes in the form of a pair of PCle 2.0 16x slots, with one at 16x, while the second, when occupied, is at 4x mode. There are also a couple of legacy PCI slots set between the two PCle slots.
Fitting a pair of GTX780s was easy enough, as the gap between is more than ample to accommodate them. In fact, you could probably get away with a semi-bespoke cooling system fitted to each, and they would still fit comfortably, The only problem, though, is that you’ll lose the use of the legacy PCI slots, but since the motherboard has a decent audio and gigabit LAN, unless you have a TV card, you won’t necessarily miss much.
As you can tell, this is a much smaller setup than the rest of the boards we reviewed before this month. In a way this makes the H81M a little more flexible in its uses. For example, you could easily make a mini gaming, under-the-TV setup, with enough power available for an all-encompassing media system. Likewise, there’s no reason why this board can’t find a place inside a bigger case or even as one of these new-fangled Bitcoin miners.
However, there going to be some lack of hardware availability purely due to the size of the board. This board only takes half the memory the other boards on test can and there’s a lack of USB ports and PCIe lx ports as well. Plus it doesn’t have anything like M.2 or SATA Express, and if you really want to be picky the H81M doesn’t have military class 4 components throughout either.
It does have solid caps, access to the ASRock cloud, Wake on LAN and ASRock XFast55 feature. So while it may lack many elements the bigger boards boast, there’s still plenty to smile about with this example.
There’s also one more feature that can sway users in favor of this board over the competition: the price. Although it lacks high-level technologies, the ASRock H81M comes in at just $60, which by any reckoning isn’t too bad for a board with SLI or CrossFire support.
The result as to whether to buy this board over another lies firmly with the user, then. What can you do with three graphics cards that you can’t do with two? And do you really need more USB 3.0 ports or M.2 or even SATA Express? Naturally, if you do, then you’ll look elsewhere, otherwise it might be worth taking stock of what you want from the system and opting for a cheaper alternative such as this.