AMD Ryzen Review: Ryzen 7 1800X, 1700X, And 1700 - Zen Brings The Fight Back To Intel

New Chipsets, Motherboards, And Accessories

Since Ryzen is totally new and leverages DDR4 memory (versus DDR3 is previous-gen AMD desktop processor platforms), new chipsets and motherboards are in order. AMD has an array of new chipsets on the way with various feature sets, and its motherboard partners have a ton of product on the way as well. Socket AM4 also has different physical dimensions, so new coolers or adapters for existing coolers will be required.

AMD AM4 Summary

amd am4 summary2

AMD's new chipsets are outfitted with all of the features expected of a modern PC enthusiast platform. AM4 motherboards will use DDR4 memory as we've mentioned and feature PCIe Gen 3 connectivity, support for USB 3.1 Gen 2, NVMe, and SATA Express. We expect to see a deluge of AM4 motherboards at CES 2017 in a few weeks. Each chipset's main features and number of ports / connectors, etc. are outlined in the slides above.  The AX370 will be the foundation of enthusiast motherboards, with the B350 just beneath -- the only difference between the two is support for multiple GPUs. Other chipsets in the line-up pare things down from there or are targeted specifically for small form factors.

To test our Ryzen setup, we got our hands on a new Gigabyte motherboard, some Kingston HyperX memory, and a Thermaltake tower-type ContacSilent 12 cooler. Corsair and ASUS motherboards landed in the lab as well, but issues with the ASUS board and the timing of this launch didn’t allow us to include them in our testing. The Gigabyte Aorus AX370-Gaming 5 board was very well behaved, however, and proved to be rock-solid throughout testing.

The Gigabyte Aorus AX370-Gaming 5 packs in a slew of high-end features, including dual NICs (Intel and Killer), Sound Blaster audio, and all of the features inherent to the AMD X370 chipset itself.

This motherboard is part of Gigabyte's new Aorus family. Gigabyte has offered Auorus-branded gaming notebooks, components, and accessories for a while, but they are now using the name with their gaming-grade motherboards as well. All of the Aorus-branded motherboards feature a newly refreshed user interface for their BIOS, with “Smart Fan 5” – the latest generation of Gigabyte’s fine-grained fan controls. We should also mention that 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 overcurrent protection.

ryzen platform shot

Aorus gaming motherboards like the AX370-Gaming 5 are also 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.

gigabyte ryzen ax370 gaming 5 ports

The Gigabyte Aorus AX370-Gaming 5 is second from the top in Gigabytes’s AX370 line-up. A Gaming 7 model will also be available. The boards features Creative Labs Sound Blaster audio, with high-end caps and isolation circuitry, M.2 ports, U.2 ports, and plenty of SATA ports (with support for RAID), USB 3.1, and all of the IO you’d expect from a high-end board. The BIOS is loaded with overclocker friendly features too, and its accessory bundle is top-notch. The Gigabyte Aorus AX370-Gaming 5 includes all of the cables, multi-GPU bridges, software, and connectors to exploit numerous graphics configurations and all of the board’s standout features.
We should note that although the Kingston HyperX DDR4 RAM we used for testing is rated for 3200MHz operation, the AX370-Gaming 5 was limited to a max memory frequency of 2933MHz with the early BIOS installed on the board. We have seen memory speeds as high as 3400MHz on Ryzen, but this is an area that’s still actively being optimized, so maximum memory speeds and compatibility from board to board will be in flux for a while until the kinks are worked out.

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