At Computex this year, the MSI booth featured a range of new motherboards branded ‘ECO’, with the emphasis on minimizing power output while still retaining a level of functionality. Today we received the official announcement for the range, which will initially encompass three models: the H97M ECO, the B85M ECO and the H81M ECO. Each of these models will be in the micro-ATX form factor, offering one PCIe 3.0 x16, two PCIe 2.0 x1 and one PCI slot. At this point in time all the PCBs are in black, rather than the white edition we saw at Computex which might come at a later date.

All three models use a simple power phase design without the need for a heatsink. As none of these chipsets support CPU overclocking, MSI only has to deal with TDP allowances. In our initial Computex coverage, reader TiGr1982 commented that these motherboards should throw up an image at boot if an S or T low power processor was not detected – it would be interesting to see if MSI would implement such a feature.

Each motherboard uses Intel NICs, USB 3.0 and six SATA 6 Gbps, except the H81 which uses two SATA 6 Gbps plus two more SATA 3 Gbps ports due to chipset limitations. The H81M ECO also uses only two DRAM slots, whereas the others have four. MSI is branding its ECO range as a 40% power saving, while retaining 100% performance and stability. The main feature to help this is their ECO Center Pro software, which allows users to switch off ports and slots not being used. For example, PCIe slots with no cards, or disabling USB ports/NICs/fan headers as required thus saving extra milliwatts.

MSI’s overclocking motherboards over recent generations have included an OC Genie button on board, and for the ECO range this turns into the ECO Button which helps reduce power usage. The button is also toggled in the BIOS, and MSI retains its Military Class rating for these new products.

The ultimate ECO board might be a severely stripped down mini-ITX motherboard with the bare essentials, with an integrated processor and DDR3L, however for custom build PCs there has to be that balance of configurability and power saving. MSI is focused on small business, data center and system integrators for its range.

I am currently awaiting release dates and pricing for these new models. Product pages are not available online yet, but I will update this post when I have links and information.

Addition:

Just got word of MSRPs for North America.  The H97M ECO will be $90, and the B85M ECO will be $75. It looks like the H81M ECO will be for SIs only or for other markets.

 

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  • Zap - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    "initially encompass three models: the Z97M ECO"
    Typo, supposed to be H97M ECO.

    "All three models use a simple power phase design without the need for a heatsink. As none of these chipsets support CPU overclocking, MSI only has to deal with TDP allowances."
    This completely makes sense. Extra power phases on boards with non-overclocking chipsets are just unnecessary. That said, hopefully calling it "ECO" doesn't raise the price, as some of the cheapest boards have had fewer power phases as well.
    Reply
  • Samus - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    "MSI is focused on small business, data center and system integrators for its range."

    Hmm, I never of MSI as more than the 'free board you get in a bundle.' They're like a step up from ECS and Biostar, but still behind Gigabyte, Asus, ASRock, Supermicro, Intel/Foxconn, etc.
    Reply
  • extide - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    While that may be your opinion, it is not fact. MSI are one of the "Big Three" along with Asus, and Gigabyte. ASRock comes in 4th, and then everyone else. Reply
  • revanchrist - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    You are obviously delusional. In terms of worldwide motherboard shipping volume since 2011, number one is Asus, 2nd is Gigabyte, 3rd is Asrock, 4th is MSI, 5th is Biostar, 6th is ECS. Reply
  • Morawka - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    asrock is bottom barrel. Reply
  • revanchrist - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Please stop smoking pot! Reply
  • fluxtatic - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Hey, don't blame the pot for a lack of intelligence.

    Seriously, though, go take a dig through Newegg's motherboards. Within the space of 15 minutes, you should have no problem coming up with enough bad reviews of each brand to scare you off any of them.

    I myself only bought Asus for years. I took a chance on a Sapphire E350 when they got back into motherboards. IME, that was a mistake. Then I needed another E350 and got an ASRock, as Asus had killed of their E350s by then. I was impressed enough that I'm leaning toward ASRock when I finally replace my wife's ancient desktop, which has an MSI board. I didn't think much of MSI, but that board has been chugging along for probably ten years with no hassles.

    Seems to me that ASRock is maybe taking a little less margin to steal some sales, while still producing product of a quality on par with Gigabyte and Asus. Asus and Gigabyte, while not coasting by any stretch, can get a little something more based on their reputations and the fact they've been #1 & #2 since forever.

    And hey, to each their own - you couldn't pay me to use an AMD graphics card, but obviously not everyone shares that opinion.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Historically ASRock was a company that had a well deserved reputation for really bad designs. But when the mobo maker market consolidated squeezing out a number of firms that made quality boards in low volume ASRock and the other surviving companies who had cheap/low quality reputations all snatched up entire engineering teams from the companies that went under and greatly improved their quality. None of the companies still in business sell horrible avoid at all cost boards like those that blighted the market 10 or 20 years ago. Some people either never got the news or are still nursing grudges from bad purchases though. Reply
  • emn13 - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Out of curiosity, what's wrong with AMD graphics cards? Reply
  • olafgarten - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    I feel the same way about AMD, the drivers are horrible, the cards aren't as powerful, and they are extremely ugly. Overall, I have found Nvidia cards to be more reliable, to last longer and just be less annoying.

    The last AMD GPU I had was in a laptop, it was a Toshiba laptop with an A10 APU, the APU was paired with a Radeon 8550M. Firstly, when I received the laptop, the GPU didn't display anything to the screen, I found after hours on the phone to someone at Toshiba, that the GPU memory was damaged. I got a replacement, and it was all okay for about a month when the screen had a purple tinge, I sent it back and was told the GPU was damaged, this being the second time, I told Toshiba that I didn't want that laptop anymore, and was partly refunded, I have since replaced that laptop with a similar model but with an i5 and an Nvidia GPU, it was about £100 more expensive, but about 5 months in, it still works.

    I have had similar failures with Desktop cards, maybe i'm just unlucky, but i'm not buying AMD again.
    Reply

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