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Review of the Gigabyte B660M DS3H AX DDR4 microATX motherboard based on the Intel B660 chipset

15.12.2023 11:18

Yes, Intel 7xx series chipsets were recently released. Despite the fact that motherboards based on the B660 chipset are not very different in functionality from their B760 successors, they are still on the market in large numbers. We continue to study such products because they remain very popular even after the prices have been reduced after a year of being on the market.

This means that for those who plan to purchase a Core 14xxx processor and already have a motherboard based on the 6xx series chipset, in most cases there will be no need to change the board (just update the BIOS). The 6xxx and 7xxx series chipsets support three generations of processors: 12xxx, 13xxx and 14xxx.

Table of the main differences between the B660, H670 and Z690 chipsets.

PeculiaritiesB660H670Z690
Compatible with Intel processors12/13/14 Gen Core12/13/14 Gen Core12/13/14 Gen Core
PCIe version (CPU)4.0 & 5.04.0 & 5.04.0 & 5.0
Number of PCIe lanes (processor)202020
PCIe version (chipset)3.0 & 4.03.0 & 4.03.0 & 4.0
Number of PCIe lanes (chipset)14 (6 x 4.0 & 8 x 3.0)24 (12 x 4.0 & 12 x 3.0)28 (12 x 4.0 & 16 x 3.0)
DMI version4.04.04.0
Number of DMI linesx4x8x8
RAM generationDDR4 & DDR5DDR4 & DDR5DDR4 & DDR5
Number of RAM channels222
Maximum number of RAM slots444
Maximum RAM128 GB128 GB128 GB
Number of SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports up to488
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20Gbps) ports up to224
USB 3.2 Gen 2x1 ports (10Gbps) up to4410
USB 3.2 Gen 1x1 ports (5Gbps) up to6810
USB 2.0 ports up to121414
Built-in Wi-Fi supportWiFi 6EWiFi 6EWiFi 6E
Possibility of overclocking bus frequencyNoNoYes

Let me remind you of the main characteristics and features of the B660:

  • The connection between the chipset and the processor via DMI has been cut in half (compared to the Z690); this is a clearly noticeable step taken by Intel marketers.
  • The total number of PCIe lanes is 14: 6 PCIe 4.0 lanes and 8 PCIe 3.0 lanes, which is 2 times less than the Z690.
  • The B660 board has 4 SATA ports in addition to 14 PCIe lanes, while the Z690 has 4 SATA ports already included in its 28 lanes.
  • Supports up to 2 integrated USB 3.2 Gen2x2 ports (up to 20 Gb/s), each of which requires support from two USB 3.2 Gen2, as well as up to 4 USB 3.2 Gen2 ports (10 Gb/s) and 6 USB 3.2 Gen1 ports (5 Gb /s).
  • The total number of high-speed ports (High Speed In Out, HSIO) is 24.
  • Up to 12 USB 2.0 ports are supported.
  • 12th, 13th, and 14th generation processors provide an additional 20 PCIe lanes, including 16 PCIe 5.0 lanes and 4 PCIe 4.0 lanes. 12/13/14xxx processors support both DDR5 and DDR4.

Today we will look at the Gigabyte B660M DS3H AX DDR4 motherboard. This budget board is not part of Gigabyte's gaming series and is intended for small PCs, as it has a micro-ATX form factor.

Let's start, as usual, with packaging.

Gigabyte B660M DS3H AX DDR4 comes in a standard box. The kit is located under the board in a separate compartment.

Gigabyte B660M DS3H AX DDR4 comes in a standard box. The kit is located under the board in a separate compartment.

The scope of delivery is modest: in addition to traditional elements such as the user manual and SATA cables, there is a wireless antenna and a “plug” for the rear panel.

The scope of delivery is modest: in addition to traditional elements such as the user manual and SATA cables, there is a wireless antenna and a “plug” for the rear panel.

The software is not supplied, however, during the board’s journey to the buyer, it still manages to become outdated, so you will have to update it from the manufacturer’s website immediately after purchase.

The “plug” for the rear panel with connectors is included separately in the kit and is not installed on the board itself.

Form factor

The Mini-ITX form factor measures 170x170mm, micro-ATX up to 244x244mm, ATX up to 305x244mm, and E-ATX up to 305x330mm. The Gigabyte motherboard has dimensions of 244x244 mm, is made in the micro-ATX form factor, and has 8 mounting holes for installation in a case.

There is practically nothing on the reverse side, the textolite is processed well: at all soldering points, not only the sharp ends are cut off, but everything is well polished. There is no backplate.

Specifications

Traditional table with a list of functional features.

Supported processorsIntel Core 12/13/14th generations
CPU socketLGA 1700
ChipsetIntel B660
Memory2 × DDR4, up to 5000 MHz (XMP), up to 64 GB, two channels
Audio subsystem1 × Realtek RTL897 (7.1)
Network controllers1 × Realtek RTL8125BG Ethernet 2.5 Gbps
1 × MediaTek MT7921K (AMD RZ608)Dual Band (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/6 GHz) + Bluetooth 5.2)
Expansion slots1 × PCIe 4.0 x16 (x16 mode)
2 × PCIe 3.0 x1
Drive connectors4 × SATA 6 Gbit/s (B660)
1 × M.2 (M2A_CPU,CPU, PCIe 4.0 x4 for 2260/2280 format devices)
1 × M.2 (M2P_SB,B660, PCIe 4.0 x4 for 2260/2280 format devices)
USB ports4 × USB 2.0: 2 internal connectors for 4 ports (GL850G)
2 × USB 2.0: 2 Type-A ports (black) (B660)
2 × USB 3.2 Gen1: 1 internal connector for 2 ports (B660)
3 × USB 3.2 Gen1: 3 Type-A ports (blue) (B660)
1 × USB 3.2 Gen2: 1 Type-C port (B660)
Rear Connectors3 × USB 3.2 Gen1 (Type-A)
1 × USB 3.2 Gen2 (Type-C)
2 × USB 2.0 (Type-A)
1 × RJ-45
3 minijack audio connectors
2 antenna connectors
1 x HDMI 2.1 out
2 x Display Port 1.4 out
1 universal PS/2 connector
Other internal elements24-pin ATX power connector
1 8-pin EPS12V power connector 1 M.2 slot (E-key) is occupied by a wireless network adapter 1 header for connecting 2 USB 3.2 Gen1 ports 2 connectors for connecting 4 USB 2.0 ports 4 connectors for connecting 4-pin fans and pumps ZhSO 2 connectors for connecting backlight adapters (1 connector of non-addressable RGB tape, 1 connector of addressable ARGB tape) 2 connectors for connecting a control adapter from the front panel of the case 1 TPM connector for connecting security devices






Form factormicroATX (244×244 mm)

Main functionality: chipset, processor, memory

Scheme of operation of the chipset + processor combination.

In fact, although support for DDR4 memory up to 3200 MHz is formally stated, motherboard manufacturers are actively promoting XMP profiles that allow the use of frequencies up to 6000 MHz. This board, in particular, supports DDR4 frequencies up to 5333 MHz.

Intel Core processors of the 12/13/14th generations (compatible with the LGA1700 socket and supported by B660) have 20 I/O lanes (16 PCIe 5.0, 4 PCIe 4.0) without USB and SATA ports. Interaction with the B660 is carried out through the Digital Media Interface 4.0 (DMI 4.0 x4) channel. All PCIe lines of the processor are directed to PCIe expansion slots and the M.2 port. Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) is used to interact with the UEFI/BIOS system, and the Low Pin Count (LPC) bus is used to communicate with I/O devices that do not require high bandwidth (for example, fan controllers, TPMs, old peripherals).

The B660 chipset, in turn, has a total of 24 I/O lines, which can be distributed as follows:

  • Up to 12 USB ports (including up to 2 USB 3.2 Gen2x2 ports, 4 USB 3.2 Gen2 ports, up to 6 USB 3.2 Gen1 ports, up to 12 USB 2.0 ports, with USB 2.0 lanes also used to support 3.2 ports, and each USB 3.2 Gen2x2 port requires support from two USB 3.2 Gen2);
  • Up to 4 SATA 6Gb/s ports;
  • Up to 14 PCIe lanes (8 version 3.0 and 6 version 4.0).
Gigabyte B660M DS3H AX DDR4 supports 12/13/14th generation Intel Core processors made for the LGA1700 socket.

Gigabyte B660M DS3H AX DDR4 supports 12/13/14th generation Intel Core processors made for the LGA1700 socket.

To install memory modules, the Gigabyte board has four DIMM slots (Dual Channel). In the case of two modules, it is recommended to install them in connectors A2 and B2 (marked in dark gray). The board supports unbuffered DDR4 memory (non-ECC), and the maximum memory capacity is 128 GB. XMP profiles are supported.

To install memory modules, the Gigabyte board has four DIMM slots (Dual Channel). In the case of two modules, it is recommended to install them in connectors A2 and B2 (marked in dark gray). The board supports unbuffered DDR4 memory (non-ECC), and the maximum memory capacity is 128 GB. XMP profiles are supported.

DIMM slots do not have a metal frame, which protects them from both physical damage and interference.

DIMM slots do not have a metal frame, which protects them from both physical damage and interference.

Peripheral functionality: PCIe, SATA, various “baubles”

We've looked at the potential possibilities of combining the B660 with Core processors and now we'll analyze how these possibilities are implemented on this motherboard.

The B660 chipset has 14 PCIe lanes and 4 SATA ports. To determine the distribution of lines to support various elements, it is necessary to take into account that out of 14 lines, 6 lines operate according to the PCIe 4.0 standard, and 8 lines operate according to the PCIe 3.0 standard:

  • SATA_1/2/3/4 ports occupy 4 PCIe 3.0 lanes.
  • M.2 slot (M2P_SB) uses 4 PCIe 4.0 lanes.
  • PCIe x1_1 and PCIe x1_2 slots use 1 PCIe 3.0 lane each.
  • Realtek RTL8125BG (Ethernet 2.5Gb/s) requires 1 PCIe 3.0 lane.
  • MediaTek MT7921K (AMD RZ608) (wireless) uses an M.2 slot (E key) and requires 1 PCIe 3.0 lane.

Thus, a total of 12 PCIe lanes (4 PCIe 4.0 + 8 PCIe 3.0), including 4 SATA ports, are already in use. Communication with audio codecs is carried out via an HDA connection, which does not require the use of USB 2.0. Also, one USB 2.0 port is used to support Bluetooth (if there is an M.2 slot (key E)), and another 1 USB 2.0 line is used on the GL850G hub. You can find out more about this in the USB ports section.

Now about the operation of processors in this configuration. The 12/13/14th generation CPUs have a total of 20 PCIe lanes, of which 4 PCIe 4.0 lanes are allocated to the M.2 port (M2A_CPU).

The remaining 16 PCIe 4.0 lanes go to a single PCIe x16_1 slot, which means there are no switching options or multiplexers for these purposes.

The PCIe x16 slot does not have metal reinforcement.

The motherboard also contains 2 more “short” PCIe slots, but already connected to the B660 chipset, from which each is assigned 1 PCIe 3.0 lane.

The motherboard allows you to mount a CO of almost any size.

Next up are storage devices.

In total, the board has 4 Serial ATA 6 Gb/s connectors + 2 slots for drives in the M.2 form factor.

All 4 SATA slots are implemented via the B660 chipset and support RAID creation.

The motherboard has 2 M.2 form factor slots.

The second M.2 (M2P_SB) receives data from the B660 chipset (PCIe 4.0), and the first M.2 (M2A_CPU) receives data from the CPU (PCIe 4.0), and both only support PCIe modules.

Both M.2 slots support module sizes of 2260/2280, RAID can be organized on them, and M2P_SB can also be used for Intel Optane Memory.

The M2A_CPU slot has a heatsink. Second slot M2P_SB without cooling.

Peripheral functionality: USB ports, network interfaces, I/O

Let's repeat: the B660 chipset is capable of implementing no more than 12 USB ports, of which there can be up to 6 USB 3.2 Gen1 ports, up to 4 USB 3.2 Gen2 ports, up to 2 USB 3.2 Gen2x2 ports, and/or up to 12 USB 2.0 ports.

We also remember about 14 PCIe lines (+ 4 SATA), which are used to support drives, network and other controllers (I have already shown above what and how 12 out of 18 lines are spent).

So what do we have? There are a total of 12 USB ports on the motherboard:

  • 1 USB 3.2 Gen2 port: implemented via B660 and represented by a Type-C port on the rear panel;
  • 5 USB 3.2 Gen1 ports: all implemented via B660 and 2 are represented by an internal connector on the motherboard for 2 ports; 3 more are represented by 3 Type-A ports (blue) on the rear panel;
  • 6 USB 2.0/1.1 ports: 4 are implemented through the Genesys Logic GL850G hub (it uses 1 USB 2.0 line from the B660) and are represented by two internal connectors on the motherboard (each with 2 ports); 2 more are implemented via the B660 and are represented by 2 Type-A ports (black) on the rear panel.

We also have 2 controllers using USB lines:

  • M.2 slot (E-key) for wireless communication devices (1 USB 2.0 line);
  • Hub for 4 USB 2.0 ports Genesys Logic GL850G (1 USB 2.0 line)

So, through the B660 chipset, dedicated 1 USB 3.2 Gen2 and 5 USB 3.2 Gen1 are implemented.

= 6 high speed ports. Don't forget that every high-speed USB port is equipped with a USB 2.0 port, that is, 6 USB 2.0 ports are also occupied. Plus 2 dedicated USB 2.0 ports and 2 USB 2.0 ports for controller support. A total of 10 USB ports are implemented.

Well, 12 HSIO (PCIe lines and SATA ports) allocated to support other peripherals.

In total, the B660 in this case has 18 (12+6) high-speed ports out of 24.

The USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port on the rear panel is equipped with a controller from Realtek, which is responsible for power amplification, so that mobile devices can be charged through this port (even in fast charging mode).

Now about networking matters.

The motherboard is equipped with communication means normally. There is a high-speed Realtek RTL8125BG Ethernet controller capable of operating according to the 2.5 Gbit/s standard.

The motherboard is equipped with communication means normally. There is a high-speed Realtek RTL8125BG Ethernet controller capable of operating according to the 2.5 Gbit/s standard.

There is also a comprehensive wireless adapter on the MediaTek MT7921K (AMD RZ608) controller, through which Wi-Fi 6 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax) and Bluetooth 5.2 are implemented. It is installed in the M.2 (E-key) slot, and its connectors for screwing in external antennas are located on the rear panel.

There is also a comprehensive wireless adapter on the MediaTek MT7921K (AMD RZ608) controller, through which Wi-Fi 6 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax) and Bluetooth 5.2 are implemented. It is installed in the M.2 (E-key) slot, and its connectors for screwing in external antennas are located on the rear panel.

The plug, traditionally put on the back panel, is not put on in this case, but is supplied separately in the kit.

The plug, traditionally put on the back panel, is not put on in this case, but is supplied separately in the kit.

Audio subsystem

On this motherboard, the sound is controlled by a very old Realtek ALC897 audio codec. It provides audio output up to 7.1 at resolutions up to 24-bit/192 kHz.

On this motherboard, the sound is controlled by a very old Realtek ALC897 audio codec. It provides audio output up to 7.1 at resolutions up to 24-bit/192 kHz.

The audio circuits of the board use “audiophile” Nichicon Fine Gold capacitors. The audio path is located on the corner part of the board and does not intersect with other elements.

The audio circuits of the board use “audiophile” Nichicon Fine Gold capacitors. The audio path is located on the corner part of the board and does not intersect with other elements.

All audio connectors on the rear panel have the usual colors of the connectors. Output in 7.1 format is provided only through the front panel of the case; there is also output via S/PDIF, which is presented in the form of an internal connector.

All audio connectors on the rear panel have the usual colors of the connectors. Output in 7.1 format is provided only through the front panel of the case; there is also output via S/PDIF, which is presented in the form of an internal connector.

Power, cooling

To power the board, it has 2 connectors: in addition to the 24-pin ATX (it is on the right side of the board (on the left in the photo), there is also an 8-pin EPS12V.

To power the board, it has 2 connectors: in addition to the 24-pin ATX (it is on the right side of the board (on the left in the photo), there is also an 8-pin EPS12V.

The processor power supply circuit is made according to the 6+1+1+1 scheme (9 phases in total, 6 on VCore, 1 on iGPU, on VCCIO and on VCCSA).

The processor power supply circuit is made according to the 6+1+1+1 scheme (9 phases in total, 6 on VCore, 1 on iGPU, on VCCIO and on VCCSA).

Each phase channel for Vcore, iGPU, VCCSA and VCCIO has a super ferrite inductor set of NTMFS4C06/4C10 MOSFETs from On Semi at 69A.

Each phase channel for Vcore, iGPU, VCCSA and VCCIO has a super ferrite inductor set of NTMFS4C06/4C10 MOSFETs from On Semi at 69A.

The power supply circuit for VCore, VCCIO and iGPU is controlled by the NCP81530 PWM controller from On Semi, designed for a maximum of 10 phases.

The power supply circuit for VCore, VCCIO and iGPU is controlled by the NCP81530 PWM controller from On Semi, designed for a maximum of 10 phases.

So we see that the power supply circuit is fully direct without doublers or parallel flows. And for one VCCSA phase there is its own PWM controller from On Semi.

So we see that the power supply circuit is fully direct without doublers or parallel flows. And for one VCCSA phase there is its own PWM controller from On Semi.

The power supply of the RAM modules also has a single-phase circuit.

The power supply of the RAM modules also has a single-phase circuit.

Now about cooling.

Not all potentially very hot elements have their own radiators.

Not all potentially very hot elements have their own radiators.

As we can see, the cooling of the chipset (one radiator) is organized separately from the power converters. The VRM section has only one heatsink covering only 4 phases along the rear output ports, the remaining 5 phases are without cooling. A very strange decision.

As we can see, the cooling of the chipset (one radiator) is organized separately from the power converters. The VRM section has only one heatsink covering only 4 phases along the rear output ports, the remaining 5 phases are without cooling. A very strange decision.

As I mentioned earlier, the “processor” M.2 slot has a heatsink, while the “chipset” M.2 slot has no cooling.

As I mentioned earlier, the “processor” M.2 slot has a heatsink, while the “chipset” M.2 slot has no cooling.

Backlight

The motherboard does not have built-in backlighting.

However, we remember about 2 connectors for connecting external lighting, and all this can be controlled in the comprehensive Gigabyte Control Center utility.

Windows software

All software can be downloaded from the manufacturer's website Gigabyte.com.

We again meet with the universal Gigabyte Control Center program, which incorporates all the utilities previously released separately by this company.

You can configure the operation of the board not only by frequencies or voltages, but also by regulating the operation of fans, and also by monitoring the status of installed SSD drives.

The downside is that this software is somewhat crude: GCC (even the latest version) may not work correctly on some modern motherboards, which manifests itself in inactive menu items or incorrect status monitoring information

BIOS Settings

All modern boards now have UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface), which are essentially operating systems in miniature. To enter the settings when booting the PC, you traditionally need to press the Del or F2 key.

We find ourselves in a general “simple” menu, where essentially there is only one information (with an easy selection of a number of options), so we press F2 and we find ourselves in the “advanced” menu.

Advanced settings are hidden in the Settings menu.

There are already standard positions for managing peripherals: managing USB ports, operating modes of PCIe and M.2 slots.

Monitoring and boot menu options are well known to everyone. In a separate menu you can configure the operation of the fan slots.

The range of overclocking options here is very modest; the board is not overclockable.

Performance (and overclocking)

We start everything in default mode. Then we load it with stress tests.

As a result of our auto-overclocking experiment, we managed to achieve a frequency of 4.8 GHz on all P-cores and 3.8 GHz on all E-cores. P-cores are responsible for high performance and have 2 threads each, while E-cores, or small cores, are energy efficient and have 1 thread each.

Considering the small size and simplicity of this motherboard, this auto-overclocking result can be considered very good, especially considering its focus on use in small PCs. All main system parameters, with the exception of the expected heating of the VRM converters, remained within normal limits, since half of them do not have a cooling system, which negatively affected the temperature.

Obviously, processors like the i9-13900K are not designed to fit on motherboards like this due to their segmentation, so simpler processors will run more efficiently and cooler on this board.

It is interesting to note that the power system in this mid-budget product is quite advanced, which made it possible to achieve good results during auto overclocking. However, the lack of cooling in the VRM causes the power elements to heat up excessively, which seems like a rather strange aspect of the design.

Conclusions

The Gigabyte B660M DS3H AX DDR4 motherboard is designed for compact PCs, where it will be compatible with Core i3/i5 processors, possibly even Core i7, but not Core i9. It does not impose restrictions on the size of the cooler, providing enough space for installation.

The board has 12 USB ports, including 1 fast USB 3.2 Gen2, as well as 5 USB 3.2 Gen1 ports. The only PCIe x16 expansion slot is connected to the processor via 16 PCIe 4.0 lanes. Additionally, there are two PCIe 3.0 x1 slots that are connected to the chipset. Of the two M.2 slots, one is connected directly to the processor, and the second is connected to the B660 chipset, both using PCIe 4.0 lanes. The second M.2 slot has no cooling. The VRM components have only one heatsink for 4 power phases; the rest are left without cooling, so using an overly powerful processor is not recommended.

This model also has 4 SATA ports and 4 fan headers. The processor power system is moderately powerful for a product on a budget chipset, but is potentially capable of supporting compatible processors with some margin for overclocking. Network capabilities include a fast 2.5Gbps wired controller and a Wi-Fi 6E/Bluetooth 5.2 wireless controller. Other benefits include the ability to connect RGB lighting devices.