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The AMD X470 Chipset And New AM4 Motherboards

We are not going to spend much time on the X470 chipset itself, because it’s actually the same piece of silicon as the X370 that launched last year…
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The new X470-based motherboards being introduced with AMD’s 2nd Generation Ryzen processors have been tweaked and tuned to provide more robust power and they will include AMD’s StoreMI technology as well. StoreMI is essentially a tiered caching utility to enhance storage performance and simplify storage volume management. Users can link a fast SSD with a hard drive, for example, and have one large, high-performance storage volume, with the combined capacity of both but performance more like the SSD. A portion of system memory can also be used as one of the tiers to further improve performance. StoreMI is a software tool, however, derived from Emmotus FuzeDrive for AM4 platform users. In terms of the X470’s actual feature set, it is identical to the X370.

To test our 2nd Gen Ryzen setup, we got our hands on a trio of new X470 based motherboards. During our initial briefing, we got some hands-on experience with all three, but performed our internal testing on the Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi. We’ll also be showing you the ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero WiFi and MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC.

Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi

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Like all of Gigabyte’s higher-end Aorus-branded gaming motherboards, the X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi is loaded with features, including dual NICs (wired and wireless -- both Intel), quality audio, RGB lighting, beefy coolers, and all of the features inherent to the AMD X470 chipset itself.
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As we’ve mentioned in the past, all of Gigabyte’s Aorus-branded motherboards feature a newly refreshed user interface for their BIOS, with “Smart Fan 5” controls – the latest generation of Gigabyte’s fine-grained fan controls. The boards have the ability to auto-sense what type of fan or device is plugged into a fan header and tune settings accordingly. For example, the headers can differentiate between a water pump and high-speed, PWM fan, and they support up to 2 amps per-header with built-in over-current protection.
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The X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi is outfitted with fully-customizable RGB lighting across virtually every segment of the PCB. The lighting can be configured via Gigabyte's “RBG Fusion” app for different modes (pulsing, color cycling, etc. -- 8 modes in total), and accented areas like the front edge near the DIMM slots have interchangeable overlays. Additional RGB lighting can be added via headers, that can all be synced and tweaked from within the RGB Fusion app.

There will be an array of X470-based motherboards in Gigabyte’s line-up; the X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi sits at the top. As such, it has the most extensive feature set, which includes, ALC1220-VB audio (114dB SNR) with an ESS SABRE DAC and WIMA Audio Capacitors, dual M.2 ports with included heatsinks / thermal guards, plenty of SATA ports (with support for RAID), USB 3.1 gen 1 and gen 2, dual BIOS (with a removable chip), and all of the IO you’d expect from a high-end board.
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There’s even a built in IO shield, so you don’t have to fumble around installing one on your case. Built-in power and reset switches, a POST code error reporter, and beefy heatsinks installed on the VRM and chipset, with direct-touch heat-pipes for more efficient cooling, round out the features. Speaking on the VRM, the X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi has a 10+2 digital PWM design.

The X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi’s BIOS is loaded with overclocker friendly features too, and its accessory bundle is top-notch. The board includes all of the cables, multi-GPU bridges, software, and connectors to exploit numerous graphics configurations and all of the board’s standout features.

MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC

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Next up is the MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC. Like most other X470-based motherboards, this one leverages all of the chipset’s inherent features, but MSI definitely kicks things up a few notches and puts their own spin on things. The MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC, for example, has customizable RGB LED lighting that can be extended with additional lighting strips, there are metal reinforcements on its expansion and DIMM slots for added strength and rigidity, slick-looking M.2 heatsinks, and Killer Ethernet.
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As you’d expect in an enthusiast motherboard from this generation, the MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC also features a mouse-friendly BIOS / UEFI that’s quick and easy to navigate, offering an extensive array of overclocking and performance-related options. MSI calls it their Click BIOS 5, and it sports everything from high resolution fonts to the latest version of MSI’s hardware monitor functionality. The X470 Gaming M7 AC also features some highly-durable Titanium chokes, in addition to high-conductivity polymer and / or solid capacitors throughout, to improve long-term reliability and overall efficiency. The board is outfitted with an all-digital PWM as well, to further improve power efficiency and smooth delivery.
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The MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC also offers easy overclocking by way of its OC Genie and Game Boost features as well, but the UEFI sports all of the overclocker-friendly tools we’ve come to expect from MSI for manual tweaking as well. The fan controls on the board are very robust and MSI has put in additional effort to isolate and shield the memory circuitry to ensure clean signaling and the highest possible overclocks. 

Other features of the X470 Gaming M7 AC include USB 3.1 Gen 2 type-C and type-A ports for quick-charging and straightforward connectivity of the latest mobile devices, Killer Ethernet 2500 powered gigabit networking with built in surge protection, CrossFire / SLI support, and a shielded M.2 slots.
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In addition to the aforementioned items, we should point out that the X470 Gaming M7 AC offers 8-channel audio by way of a Realtek ALC1220 codec with Nahimic 2+ Audio Enhancer support and MSI’s Audio Boost 4. Audio Boost 4 incorporates AMPs, gold-plated audio jacks, EMI shielding, and high-quality audio filtering caps designed to enhance the quality of the audio output on the board.

We found the layout of the X470 Gaming M7 AC to be top-notch and also really like the aggressive-looking grey, black, and metallic accents on the board. Your tastes may vary, of course, but we think the X470 Gaming M7 AC looks great. There is also plenty of IO on the board, including a PS2 port for true N-Key roll-over.

Included with the MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC you’ll find a wide array of accessories, like the 802.11ac Wi-Fi antenna, a multitude of cables, a rigid high-bandwidth SLI bridge, custom IO shield, driver disc, an assortment of documentation, and some handy labels meant for all of the assorted ports and headers on the board.

ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero WiFi

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Which brings us to the ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero WiFi. Like the other two we’ve shown you, ASUS’ offering is over-flowing with features as well, including a pre-mounted IO shield, addressable headers, an M.2 heatsink, digital power circuitry, high-end audio, and – of course – RGB lighting.

The ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero WiFi has built-in support for AURA SYNC LED lighting, which can be extended with additional lighting strips. The board also has metal reinforcements on its expansion slots, and heavy-duty metal heat spreaders and heatsinks on the chipset and VRM. Additional shielding covers the back panel I/O and front-end of the PCB as well. Extending out from the edge of the PCB, just above the top PEG slot, there is an M.2 heatsink, that matches the aesthetic of the other cooling hardware on the board.
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Like the others, the ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero WiFi has a modern, mouse-friendly BIOS / UEFI that’s easy to navigate and offers an extensive array of overclocking and performance-related options. The BIOS on this board sports everything from high resolution fonts to the latest version of ASUS’s hardware monitoring and fan control functionality. The ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero WiFi also features high-end capacitors and chokes throughout its design to ensure reliable operation over the long-haul and smooth clean power delivery and audio. The board is outfitted with an all-digital PWM as well, which ASUS calls its Extreme Engine Digi+, to further improve power efficiency and smooth power delivery to the processor, RAM, and add-in cards.
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The ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero WiFi is compatible with AMD’s Ryzen Master performance tuning utility, but the UEFI is outfitted with all of the overclocker-friendly tools ASUS is known for. The fan controls on the board are quite robust and ASUS has put in additional effort to ease configuration, by offering an array of auto-tuning options and presets that can be saved to individual profiles. Tweaking multiplier, voltages, and timings for virtually everything is supported as well.

Other features of the ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero WiFi include USB 3.1 Gen 2 type-C and type-A ports, Intel Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, on-board power and reset switches, a POST code error reporter, CrossFire / SLI support, and dual M.2 slots. In addition to the aforementioned items, we should point out that the ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero WiFi offers 8-channel audio with a Realtek S1220A codec and ES9023P DAC, and incorporates audio shielding, discrete power delivery, and high-end Japanese capacitors for clean sound.
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Over and above what’s actually built into the board or available through the chipset, ASUS throws in a wide array of accessories and integrated peripherals including a high-bandwidth SLI bridge, and a boatload of decals, documentation, cables, etc.

We found the layout of the ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero WiFi to be very good and also really like the overall aesthetic. During our initial briefings, this board was used to pull off some crazy overclocks as well – some of those 5GHz+ overlcocks with LN2 that leaked into the news were achieved on this puppy.

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