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.


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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  • Cygni - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    Very interested in these boards if they can deliver on the stated 40% reduction in power draw. That should also make a nice impact on case temps.

    Paired with a 35w Haswell, DDR3L, and a high efficiency low watt power supply, you could create a very efficient, silent, and powerful computer for lots of uses. Heck, get a quiet videocard, and that can even be a powerful gaming system.
  • bznotins - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    Definitely looking forward to these boards for my next home server build. Most of the time it just sits at idle, so being able to shut off ports and save power will be fantastic. But also having power at-the-ready will be good for the few times it transcodes for streaming.
  • zero2dash - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    Are they not going to do white PCB's after all (as shown here:

    If so, that would be a bloody shame...that white PCB is gorgeous.
  • Computer Bottleneck - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    Using the ECO Center Pro software to shut off power to unused ports and slots, I wonder how much total idle power could be saved if the user was running a bare minimum set-up? ( 1 DIMM slot populated, 1 SSD or HDD, etc)
  • azazel1024 - Thursday, July 10, 2014 - link

    I am very interested. H97 means Broadwell support. A nice little Pentium Broadwell or maybe even Core i3 next spring and one of these could make a nice $150-200 upgrade to my server (G1610 based currently). I like the Intel NIC bit. I am currently running a couple of Gigabit CT boards to get good Intel dual NICs, so I could jetison one of them for more power savings. Just said it isn't dual on board NICs.
  • jardows2 - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I would like to see the option in the BIOS to shut off the ports, and not need an installed piece of software. That way you can use the power saving features regardless of the operating system installed.

    Hardware-wise, we finally have a board with minimal junk, but using quality components (such as Intel NIC) at a decent price. I like! I really am tired of all these motherboards packing on stuff that will never be used that makes no difference in quality just to add "value." Not a fan of the "ECO" branding - IMO it has been overworked to death, and is slapped on just to make you feel better about "saving the planet." I am not against the power savings, though. If it lives up to it's promise, this will be a winner!
  • bsim500 - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    Can you undervolt them? If not, then it probably won't draw less power than a regular board with adjustable voltage...
  • Blur_123 - Saturday, August 9, 2014 - link

    some people wondering if they can deliver on this 40% reduction - :O Did any press representatives get or publish a single shot of the ENERGY MONITORS that were clearly visible next to the sample ECO motherboards at the booth to show 'real world' figures of these things running? sheesh... miss the point much!

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