ASUS H97-Pro GAMER

Thanks to some very clever engineering, gamers have never had it so good in terms of performance per buck. Products that were designed to cut features in return for a lower price tag have had said features re-enabled, while the price remains reasonable.

Take this motherboard from ASUS for example; built around the H97 chipset from Intel, it shouldn't be possible to overclock K-series chips on it, a feature that is meant to be reserved for the pricier Z97 chipset. However, ASUS’ engineers have pulled off some BIOS magic to unlock multiplier adjustments on this motherboard. This fact alone makes this board a potent partner for
overclocking Intel’s more affordable chips, such as the new Pentium anniversary chip. We should point out that ASUS isn’t the only company that has figured out how to do this, with the likes of ASRock also offering multiplier adjustment on H97 boards.


Unfortunately memory overclockers will have to look elsewhere, as this motherboard is locked into a maximum memory speed of DDR3-1600MHz.

As far as standard features go, the H97-Pro GAMER seems to be ably equipped. Expansion slots are covered by one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, one PCIe 2 x16 slot, two PCIe x1 slots and three more legacy PCI slots. It’s unlikely that budget owners will be running dual graphics cards, so the lack of SLI support probably won’t be noticed. It will handle AMD’s CrossFire solution though, just in case you want to add a second GPU down the track.

Four SATA 3 ports are included, supplemented by the inclusion of a single M.2 socket and SATA Express port. Note that only one of the two high-performance ports can be used at a time; enabling the SATAe port knocks out the M.2 socket, and vice versa. If you choose not to use either, the SATAe port doubles as twin SATA 3 ports, giving the board six in total. If you’ve got a bazillion different USB devices, you’ll be well served by the huge number of USB ports offered by this board, with six USB 3.0 and eight USB 2.0 ports.

ASUS has stuck with its Realtek powered SupremeFX audio solution, which is built around the ALC-1150 audio codec. It’s been beefed up with the inclusion of electromagnetic shielding, along with premium quality amps. We’ll be doing a closer investigation of motherboard onboard sound in the near future, but most gamers will find this solution adequate. Intel’s Gigabit Ethernet port
provides connectivity, and ASUS has layered its own GAMEFIRST II software over the top to shape traffic based on priority.

Overall this is a very solid offering for the price, though at $149 it's verging into mainstream motherboard pricing range. Regardless, the H97-Pro GAMER is an affordable option for those who want to build a gaming rig that doesn't cut too many corners.

PRICE $149

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