This year promises to be an exciting year for PC enthusiasts, with AMD’s Zen architecture possibly providing competition to Intel. But for those who are interested in upgrading in the interim and wait for the newer platforms to mature, maybe something cheap to save up your budget will be good – like MSI’s B150M Mortar.
The relatively simple looking box and motherboard bely its moniker. Fortunately, its build is certainly better than its name as it is well-built. It has four DDR4 DIMM slots that use the DDR4 Boost technology to improve system stability, there’s support for the new Intel Skylake CPUs, six SATA 6Gb/s ports for lots of storage, and also an M.2 slot for WiFi rather than for SSD.
Current batches of the B150M Mortar’s box might have a typo on it; although the box shows only one PCIe x16, there’s actually two and there’s support for CrossFire. One of the slots has MSI’s Steel Armor to prevent it bending from heavier GPUs, but left out the other one which kind of defeats the purpose of having CrossFire support. Two PCIe x1 slots are also available so that you can have add-ons like extra USB ports.
Support for casing fan is very basic here with only two fan headers. For additional fans, you’ll have to get a casing with a built-in fan hub. Being a M-ATX motherboard, the B150 Mortar fits right at home with mid tower cases, and those with clear side panels will allow you to see the LEDs light up when the board is powered on. A nice bonus feature.
The Mortar has a good suite of software as well and the handy Click BIOS 5. New and improved, the Click BIOS 5 is easy to navigate and has the usual bevy of settings to better tune the system, or overclock it if want to. The other software we want to highlight is the MSI GAMING APP. With it, you can toggle your PC’s performance to high or low, adjust screen settings, control your MSI GPU’s LED lights, or even alter the DPI settings for your mouse without having to download a separate software. All these are done with a few mouse clicks.
The MSI B150M Mortar’s best strength is its versatility. With built-in ports for display and the Audio Boost feature, it can serve well as a HTPC. You could also use it to build a gaming or video rendering PC, since it has four DDR4 RAM slots, CrossFire and Intel Skylake CPU support. Best of all, you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to own it.
CHIP CONCLUDE: Skylake is still relatively new and there’s also AMD’s upcoming Zen to consider. But if need a more affordable system in the meantime, the MSI B150M Mortar is a great option.
(previously published in issue February 2016)