Intel's Core line of processors now offer gamers the most significant performance upgrade in years. For those of you who are looking to upgrade or assemble your own computers, Intel’s newest eighth generation Core processor paired with the 300 series motherboard is definitely the best combination. Compared to motherboards, choosing Intel's processors is a much easier task. When you take a look at the retailer’s price quote, the huge selection of motherboards really makes it hard to make up one's mind: when comparing products from the same range, most gamers look at the brands, appearance, price, and features, yet they often overlook the heat sink design. But the fact is, the heat sink design is a very crucial part of CPU's performance, for which the number of cores is ever-growing.
Upgrading heat sinks for multi-core processors is getting important
As for motherboards, other than comparing the prices, consumers usually also compare their features. In the past, even though the manufacturers dedicated a lot of effort towards heat sink design, most people didn't really pay attention to this aspect. Yet it is worth noting, out of all the reasons Intel's newest eighth generation Core processors offers a significant performance improvement, including optimized processor architecture and clock rate specifications, the most important reason of all is that for each Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 series processor, two extra physical cores are added—and more cores equal more powerful performance. Of course, to enable multi-core processors to continue to achieve maximum performance at a stable level, the power and cooling design of the motherboards plays a critical role.
The number of power phases for the motherboard is the key.
Designing a motherboard is very complicated, as it bears all the components of a computer. The quality of a motherboard is positively correlated to the performance efficiency and stability of the computer. As for the performance itself, the processor is the most important component; the motherboard not only transfers signals to the processor, but its most crucial function is to provide the processor with ample and stable electric power after receiving it from the power supply.
In addition to the processor socket of each motherboard, there is a power module. The power module is comprised of a PWM controller, transistor (MOSFET), choke, and capacitor, and is responsible for supplying power to the processor, in order for it to operate. Therefore, the quality of the materials used to manufacture power modules is very important. As technology advances and costs fall, the quality of materials used by first-tier motherboard manufacturers for products of the same range are not too far apart.
On the contrary, the number of power phases for the motherboard is the most significant for gamers. Usually, single power phase is comprised of two MOSFETs, one choke, and one capacitor; the more power phases there are, the lower the average current supplied to the processor via power phase . This enhances the life span and stability, and ensures the changes in instantaneous load are even more responsive. In addition, the power module will heat up during operation, so when there are more power phases, the temperature won’t be as high, due to lowered average load. Of course, the manufacturers attach great importance to the cooling of power modules, and have generally adopted extruded aluminum heatsinks in their mid-range products to control temperatures. In simple terms, a higher number of power phases on a motherboard will definitely be a positive asset for the processor.
MSI B360M MORTAR VERSUS ASUS ROG STRIX B360-G GAMING
We will compare two products from the same range, the MSI B360M MORTAR motherboard and ASUS ROG STRIX B360-G GAMING motherboard. These two motherboards both support Intel's newest eighth generation Core processors, in the same Micro-ATX standard size, and both have adopted the Intel B360 chipset. Price wise, the ASUS STRIX B360-G GAMING is a bit more expensive, yet there isn’t much difference between the two in terms of functions and features. It's worth mentioning that while both of these motherboards are equipped with two sets of M.2 expansion slots, both sets of M.2 slots on MSI B360M MORTAR offer the complete specification of PCIe 3.0 x4 speeds, but on the ASUS ROG STRIX B360-G GAMING, only one set of M.2 socket is equipped with PCIe 3.0 x4, while the other set has a reduced speed of PCIe 3.0 x2. This is a major point to consider for gamers who are using two high speed M.2 SSDs.
As for the processors's power modules and cooling, ASUS ROG STRIX B360-G GAMING is equipped with 6 power phases, whereas the 7-phase power of MSI B360M MORTAR
offers one extra phase. Both of these motherboards are equipped with heatsink to enhance PWM and MOSFET's cooling performance. Of particular interest here is that MSI B360M MORTAR motherboard has adopted the all-new extended heatsink design, which extends the flat heatsink towards the top of the I/O backplane. When compared with the conventional design, this offers a 26% increase in cooling area, which enhances the cooling capacity without affecting the convenience of installation.
The two products were tested under the same power conditions to measure the temperature performance of MOSFET. The ASUS ROG STRIX B360-G GAMING was measured at 74 degrees celsius, whereas the MSI B360M MORTAR was measured at 62 degrees celsius, which is a whopping 12 degrees less. This proves that the number of phases and the new extended heatsink design do actually allow the power module’s operating temperature to be maintained at a relatively lower level. This should be helpful for stabilizing the full speed (or even overclocked operation) of Intel’s eighth generation Core processors, which utilizes more cores and improves the overall performance efficiency for the computer system while extending its service life.
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Read More: Build Guide 2018: The Best High-Performance Intel B360 Compact Computer