CPU & Motherboards

BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170S3H Motherboard Review

Price / Where to Buy:

US – Approx. US$84 – BIOSTAR HIFI H170S3H
PH – N/A

With many people still holding on to their older systems, upgrading to the new Intel Skylake platform is sometimes deemed as an expensive task especially with the increase in the component pricing. With new processor and memory, the motherboard only takes up more of the price. With this in mind, many budget-oriented brands have taken to themselves to deliver solutions that allow upgraders to easily transition to the Skylake platform.

BIOSTAR logo

We’ve reviewed BIOSTAR’s dual-type RAM motherboard, the BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170Z3, which supports DDR3 and DDR4 and noted how it serves as a bridge platform for upgraders. BIOSTAR has taken another approach in this scenario and has totally dropped DDR4 support in favor of DDR3. Again, another means of getting old system users to migrate to the new platform with minimal acquisition cost. Let’s take a look at the BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170S3H motherboard! Read on!

BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170S3H Motherboard Review
BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170S3H Motherboard Review

Features

  • Supports 6th Generation Intel® Core™ Processor
  • Intel H170 single chip architecture
  • Support 4-DIMM DDR3L-1600/ 1333 up to 32G maximum capacity
  • BIOSTAR Hi-Fi Technology inside
  • Support USB 3.0
  • Support PCIe M.2(32Gb/s)
  • Support SATA Express(16Gb/s)

Closer Look – BIOSTAR HIFI H170S3H

The BIOSTAR H170S3H is a micro-ATX motherboard and supports LGA1151 processors. It has 4 DIMM slots which take in DDR3L memory modules up to DDR3-1600 with a total of 32GB maximum capacity. The board has a 7-phase VRM design and is enough for the majority of the Skylake processors out now. The board sports all PCI-e slots with 2 full-length PCI-e slots the topmost one running full x16 and the bottom-most one running in x4. Two PCIe x1 slots are in-between.

For storage, a single SATA Express lane is present and a total of 4 SATAIII ports. An M.2 slot is also present.

Rear I/O includes legacy PS/2 support with dual-HDMI and DVI for video output options with USB3 and USB2 available.

Performance Testing

Test Setup

Processor: Intel Core i7 6700K
Motherboard: BIOSTAR HI-FI H170S3H
Memory: Kingston ValueRAM DDR3-1333
Storage: Kingston HyperX FURY 240GB
PSU: Thermaltake ToughPower 1000W
Cooling: Custom loop (XSPC Raystorm block, EK DCP 4.0, BlackIce Stealth GT 360 rad)
Monitor: LG 42UB820T UltraHD TV
VGA: GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti GAMING G1

We test the motherboard using DDR4-2133 and only show results from those testing. The board has been tested with HyperX Fury DDR3-1866 kits but to show maximum performance numbers, the DDR4 results were used.

Performance Testing – Synthetic

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Performance Testing – 3D Benchmark

3DMark Fire Strike

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Power & Temperatures

We check to see how motherboard makers tune their default BIOS settings and see how it impacts temperatures and power consumption. The system is left to idle for 30 minutes before readings are taken and load data is taken 30 minutes while AIDA64 stress test is running. Power readings are taken for the entire system from the socket. Power draw for the entire system is captured for this test via an outlet wattmeter and temperatures are recorded via Intel Extreme Tuning app.

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Conclusion

BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170S3H Motherboard Review
BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170S3H Motherboard Review

Let’s break it down for the BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170S3H:

Performance. Performance is essential what you’d expect from a memory-choked Skylake processor: on brute processor power only, the processor is not limited but when memory-dependent applications, DDR3 shows its age. Still, considering the application of this motherboard a bridge platform for HTPC and family PCs, its going to be understandable that some of the potential buyers aren’t too concerned with such details. What I’d like to focus on though is the choice of still using Realtek ALC887 audio chip. This is a Hi-Fi branded board and as such there should be a distinction between hi-fi and amplified. While on many fronts this board’s reinforced audio circuit is enough for plenty of applications, we’re just wondering why focus on using older chips.

Build Quality. The board’s build quality is decent and BIOSTAR opted to go with a silver theme rather than the dark brown + piano black + gold trims of the older Hi-Fi boards. This one is more subdued yet simple and pleasing. Again the question is the components and while overall the board does perform to expectations, the choices of going purely with an older audio solution is really bothering us.

Functionality. As a purely DDR3 board, we already know its pretty much limited by the memory, still on an overall usability standpoint it is well-equipped and will soldier on any situation without issues.

Bundle. The Hi-Fi H170S3H arrives in a vanilla package of manuals and SATA cables.

Value. At around $84, the BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170S3H is a solid-entry level offering although one has to really have some low-expectations in terms of performance to really appreciate the board. Overall though its a good product with a promising premise but will ultimately be supplanted when DDR4 becomes more affordable. As of now though, its still viable option for migrating older platforms to new ones particularly HTPC and home office PCs.

Price / Where to Buy:

US – Approx. US$84 – BIOSTAR HIFI H170S3H
PH – N/A

One thing worth noting though is the use of DDR3 memory here. While it can support and run DDR3 perfectly, the issue with using higher voltage memory may pose as an issue for some users and this ultimately scares potential adopters. Still, if you’re already sporting DDR3L, which are officially supported it can be a good situation for you but otherwise we still recommend just saving up the 30-50$ for the more modern kits of DDR4 RAMs.

As a motherboard though the BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170S3H delivers decent performance, albeit held back by DDR3, but for those more concerned about getting the immediate benefit of efficiency from the Skylake platform rather than memory performance, this motherboard is good enough for budget-limited consumers. Build quality on the board is really a good improvement overall and we praise BIOSTAR for their dedication in supporting upgraders.

BIOSTAR backs the Hi-Fi H170S3H with a solid 3-year warranty. We give it our B2G Value Award!

B2G_Best_Value

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BossMac Suba

Owner and lead reviewer for Back2Gaming. More than 10-year of corporate IT experience as well as consumer IT journalism. His extensive skill set and experience in communicating complicated technical details into easily understandable bits. He's been with you since dial-up and the ISA slot. His favorite animal is the scapegoat.

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