The MSI B350M Gaming Pro Review: Micro Size, Micro Price

The MSI B350M Gaming Pro targets the more budget conscientious gamer looking to use the B350 chipset, not just for an entry-level price, but also with a mATX form factor. While the appeal of the mATX form factor offers a smaller alternative to the regular ATX sized boards, the form factor usually allows for up to two graphics cards to be installed on the more premium boards; the MSI B350M Gaming Pro omits a secondary full-length PCIe x16 slot for a less bandwidth hungry and small PCIe x1 slot. Given the price point of around $80 at Newegg, the B350M Gaming Pro sits as not only one of the cheapest AM4 socketed mATX motherboards on the market, but as one of the cheapest AM4 offerings completely.

With its low price, MSI has gone with a relatively basic layout across the majority of the PCB, which is inline with it being a budget board with a ‘less is more’ mantra; this is especially attributed to this particular model primarily due to the price. The heatsinks feature a stylish and futuristic looking pattern with a red and black design, with silver accents around the edging. Another important aesthetic feature is the all-black PCB with a red pattern predominantly located around the socket; this pattern largely resembles circuit traces and tracks.

When motherboards get labeled up as gaming, this can usually signify multiple things such as the color scheme, usually red or with red accented heatsinks, as well as featuring high-end features such as uprated audio codecs and networking capabilities. This can also includes software marketed to give an advantage during gaming. In order to keep down costs, the B350M Pro Gaming makes use of the Realtek ALC887 audio codec which is commonly featured on boards in this price range. The codec is complimented by a quadruplet of Nippon Chemicon audio capacitors as well as featuring a degree of PCB separation. The networking is driven by a Realtek RTL8111H which consists of a single Ethernet port located on the rear panel.

The storage options consist of four SATA 6GBs ports controlled by the AMD B350 chipset with RAID 0, 1 and 10 arrays being supported. Also included is a single M.2 slot located directly below the single full-length PCIe 3.0 x16 slot which does itself feature the MSI Steel Armor slot protection. The M.2 slot supports PCIe 3.0 x4 capable drives, as well as SATA; a maximum of M.2 2280 (22 x 80 mm) are officially supported.

The board has a single DVI-D port, an HDMI 1.4 port and a VGA port giving users the facility to use older monitors. The rest of the rear panel houses the boards USB capabilities with a total of six. These are split into two USB 2.0 and four Type-A USB 3.0 ports; due to the budget nature of this board, there are no Type-C or USB 3.1 Gen2 ports present. The rest of the rear panel consists of a single PS2 keyboard/mouse combo port, a single LAN port and three 3.5mm audio jacks for the onboard audio.

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