ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP £70
19th Jun 2012 | 10:30
Budget-priced and feature-rich, a welcome H77 debut from ASRock
With the usual big brand suspects rolling out motherboards based on Intel's H77 chipset, it's time for something a little different in the form of the new ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP.
In the past, ASRock had a reputation for quirky and rough around the edges - if competitively priced - motherboards. These days, ASRock still does things a little differently, but its boards are much more polished and still offer great value.
The ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP is a great example. Ostensibly it packs in pretty much everything the Asus P8H77-M Pro has, but brings a little more flexibility and expansion to the mix, thanks to its ATX rather than MicroATX form factor, and all for around £20 (about $30) less.
In fact, even compared to the Gigabyte H77M-D3H, which is a lot thinner on features, the ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP is cheaper, if only by £5 (about $7.50).
Priced at £70 (around $109), the ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP certainly looks like the most cost-effective way to get yourself a motherboard fully optimised for Intel's latest Ivy Bridge generation of PC processors.
Chipset - Intel H77
Socket - Intel LGA 1155
Graphics support - Intel integrated, PCIe 3.0, CrossFireX, Lucid Virtu MVP
USB 3.0 - Two ports plus header
Multimedia - VGA, DVI, HDMI, 5.1 sound, optical, S/PDIF
Like other motherboards based on the Intel H77 chipset, serious overclocking isn't an option with the ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP. Unfortunately, you don't have full access to the CPU multiplier. So, what we're looking for is solid performance at stock clocks.
That's pretty much what it delivers. Admittedly, it's a little off the pace by most of our benchmark metrics. But we're talking about fractions of a frame per second rather than anything you'll notice in the real world. There are one or two ways where you can see how ASRock has cut costs. But raw performance isn't one of them.
Professional rendering performance
Video encoding performance
Peak power consumption
ASRock likes to do things a little differently, and there's no change here with its first H77 board.
For starters, while the ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP's form factor is the full ATX width, it's a little shallower in depth. The PCB (printed circuit board) is also a little thinner than most motherboards.
Both of these measures, we would guestimate, help shave a few pennies off the production cost, and in turn help the ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP deliver more features for less money than the competition. But are there any downsides?
Put simply, ASRock gives you more features for less money.
You get a full-width ATX board with a few extra expansion options, a nice GUI-enabled UEFI Bios, an extra pair of SATA 6Gbps ports thanks to an add-in chip and all the standard Intel H77 goodness in a very affordable package.
Quantifying likely longevity with any brand new product is a tricky business, but the ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP's thin PCB isn't hugely confidence inspiring.
Strictly speaking, it's not the quickest Intel H77 motherboard out there, even if the performance gap is very small.
The ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP's funky form factor is just fine. It enables more expansion options in the form of a trio of legacy PCI ports and shouldn't present any installation issues.
As for the PCB, well, in the very long run, a thinner board is more likely to distort. In extreme cases, this can impact how the board operates.
Moreover, when it comes to things such as preventing interference and delivering a nice stable power supply, a thicker board with more layers is usually better. Then again, overclocking is not on the menu for any Intel H77 board, so those issues are a lot less critical than they might have been.
Instead, the fact that you get nearly all the features offered by more expensive H77 models, such as the Asus P8H77-M Pro, makes for a very attractive proposition.
That includes Lucid's Virtu MVP software and therefore support for running a discrete GPU in parallel with Intel's integrated graphics and Quick Sync video transcode feature.
It's also fun to see quirks such as mounting holes for older, though still effective, LGA775 coolers. Whether you make use of that sort of thing or not, it's a nice reminder that ASRock treads its own path rather than following the crowd.
Build quality doubts aside, the ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP is a lot of H77 action for the money.