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Thread: AM4 boards roundup: iTX format

  1. #1
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    AM4 boards roundup

    AM4 boards roundup: iTX format

    At this moment there are three different chipsets being used in AM4 boards: the X370, the B350 and the A320. Still to come are the X300 and A300.

    The usual advantage of the X370 -SLI/Crossfire- falls away in the iTX scenario -my Antec ISK 110s do not even support a discrete video card-, so why would you want to spend extra money on it?

    The X370 chipset can connect up to six SATA drives (four when using Ryzen) and supports up to a massive ten USB 3.1 gen1 ports and two USB 3.1 gen2 ports.
    So far we've had the ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Gaming-ITX/ac and the Biostar Racing X370GTN with this chipset.
    If you don't have plans to make your tiny iTX into a hedgehog of USB connectors you can save money and go for a B350 board instead.
    It can connect up to four SATA drives (two when using Ryzen) and still supports up to six USB 3.1 gen1 ports and two USB 3.1 gen2 ports.
    So far we've seen the ASRock Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming-ITX/ac, the Biostar Racing B350GTN and the Gigabyte AB350N-Gaming WiFi. The Asus RoG Strix B350-I Gaming is announced

    The X370 boards: What do they offer, is the chipset fully utilized?
    Model SATA
    600
    M.2
    S600/
    Pcie3.0x4
    USB 3.1
    Gen2
    USB 3.1
    Gen1
    USB 2.0 NIC WiFi Bluetooth Video out Sound Power
    design
    phases
    ASRock Fatal1ty
    X370 Gaming-ITX/ac
    4x
    1x
    -
    2 Front,
    3 Rear
    1x Type-C
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    Intel
    I211AT
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC 7265
    867 Mbit/s
    4.2
    2x HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC1220
    6+2
    Asus ROG Strix
    X370-I Gaming
    4x
    2x
    (1x M.2 PCI-e 2.0 x4)
    2x Type-A
    2 Front,
    4 Rear
    2 Front
    Intel
    I211AT
    Dual Band Wireless
    4.2
    ROG SupremeFX
    S1220A
    6+3
    Biostar Racing
    X370GTN
    4x
    1x
    1x Type-A
    1x Type-C
    2 Front,
    4 Rear
    2 Front
    Realtek
    RTL8118AS
    -
    -
    DVI-D,
    HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC892
    5+2
    WiFi and Bluetooth don't come free and the Asrock board is by far the most expensive choice. How do these boards hold up against the B350 competition, as they do not fully utilize the advantages the X370 chipset offers?
    Model SATA
    600
    M.2
    S600/
    Pcie3.0x4
    USB 3.1
    Gen2
    USB 3.1
    Gen1
    USB 2.0 NIC WiFi Bluetooth Video out Sound Power
    design
    phases
    ASRock Fatal1ty
    B350 Gaming-ITX/ac
    4x
    1x
    -
    2 Front,
    3 Rear
    1x Type-C
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    Intel
    I211AT
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC 3168
    433 Mbit/s
    4.2
    2x HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC1220
    6+2
    Asus RoG Strix
    B350-I Gaming
    4x
    2x
    (1x M.2 PCI-e 2.0 x4)
    2x Type-A
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    2 Front
    Intel
    I211AT
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC
    4.2
    -
    ROG SupremeFX
    S1220A
    6+3
    Biostar Racing
    B350GTN
    4x
    1x
    1x Type-A
    1x Type-C
    2 Front,
    4 Rear
    2 Front
    Realtek
    RTL8118AS
    -
    -
    DVI-D,
    HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC892
    5+2
    Gigabyte AB350N
    Gaming WiFi
    4x
    1x
    2x Type-A
    2 Front,
    4 Rear
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    Realtek
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC 3165
    433 Mbit/s
    4.2
    Display Port,
    HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC1220
    4+2
    MSI B350I
    Pro AC
    4x
    1x
    2x Type-A
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    Realtek
    RTL8111H
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC 3168
    433 Mbit/s
    4.2
    Display Port,
    HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC887
    6+2+1
    USB Type-A is the old, well known always-wrong-the-first-time USB connection, Type-C is the always-right type. The two USB front ports, whether 2.0 and/or 3.0/1 are provided through headers on the motherboard.

    Did I hear jaws drop? There is nothing to justify the X370 models in terms of functionality -the B350 board do support PCIe express too-, they only cost more money! Someone smack some engineers for me....

    If this all is still too much for your needs -e.g. because it just won't fit all into your small iTX casing-, there's the A320 chipset.
    It can also connect up to four SATA drives (two when using Ryzen) and also supports up to six USB 3.1 gen1 ports, but only one USB 3.1 gen2 port.

    But: there are no iTX boards yet with the A320 (nor with the X300 or A300). It seems the mobo companies have decided that you're just gonna use a BIG iTX case, like the Bitfenix Prodigy. or the total and utter behemoth of iTX computing: the Thermaltake Core X1, that is even stackable when you go into custom loop liquid cooling and need room for a reservoir (why not try to add another iTX board instead?):
    Last edited by Dirk Broer; 06-07-2018 at 08:45 PM. Reason: Asrock USB 3.1 Type-C is Gen1...

  2. #2
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    you have pegged my interest Dirk





    Challenge me, or correct me, but don't ask me to die quietly.

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    Excellent write-up Dirk.

    I particularly agree with this "USB Type-A is the old, well known always-wrong-the-first-time USB connection,"

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    AM4 boards roundup: Micro-ATX (µATX)

    As with the previous form factor, there are three possible chipsets.

    A320 boards
    The most basic of the presently used chipsets, see the table with the iTX roundup.
    There are four boards that make the cut. The cut I've made is that I think a board should be upgradeable, so more RAM should be a possibility.
    All four major mobo maker have a board here: Asrock's A320M Pro4, ASUS' PRIME A320M-A, Gigabyte's GA-A320MA-M.2 and MSI's A320M Bazooka.
    All four are not expensive (between 68 and75 Euro here)
    • The Asrock board stands out for having two M.2 slots, Crossfire capability and having a heatsink for its VRMs.
    • The ASUS board has no heatsinks and only one case fan header. ASUS wants you to have a 35 Watt TDP APU or at most a 45 Watt Zen APU in her A320 board and no more it seems. It does have two M.2 slots and two PCIe 3.0x16 slots though, and one can buy a fan controller -one might even need one with this board.
    • The Gigabyte board is the only one with a USB 3.1 Gen2 port here, but has no VRM heatsink, no 2nd PCIe x16 slot and no 2nd M.2 slot either.
    • The MSI board is the only one of the four that includes light on the mobo (white), but offers no other redeeming capabilities.

    Based on the above I think the Asrock A320M Pro4 board would be my favorite A320 board, especially when I do not want to overclock -reportedly impossible on a A320 board.

    B350 boards
    A more elaborate version of the presently used chipsets, again: see the table with the iTX roundup.
    Here ten boards make the cut, amongst them now also a Biostar. Furthermore one Asrock board, four (!) MSI ones, two Gigabyte and two ASUS.
    The Asrock board, that is almost a twin of the A320 edition, again leaves the strongest impression with having the only full VRM heatsink of the bunch, its two M.2 slots and two PCIe x16 slots -be warned though that you can't use them all at once! The Asrock board is also much cheaper (75 euro) than the e.g. the Asus TUF B350M-PLUS GAMING (106 Euro), the Gigabyte GA-AB350M-D3H (97 Euro) or the MSI B350M Mortar Arctic (94 Euro).

    X370 boards
    There's a quick one: there's only the Biostar Racing X370GT3, and it costs some 120 Euro's.
    Biostar has another odd one out: the sole A320 ATX board, the Biostar TA320 BTC, where BTC stands for Bitcoin, as it is aimed at Bitcoin miners.
    Last edited by Dirk Broer; 01-22-2018 at 03:22 PM.

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    Two new iTX boards included in the overview (ASUS ROG X370 and MSI)

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    Do they read these posts at Asus, Biostar, Gigabyte and MSI?

    Fact is that the Socket AM4 B450 and X470 mobo's presently shown at Computex have better VRM cooling than the previous -A320, B350 and X370- generation.
    It can also be their own conclusion after comparing their VRM cooling solution with the Asock's Pro4 and Tachi models.
    MSI AM4 B450 mobo's at AnandTech
    Gigabyte X399 TR4 and B450 AM4 mobo's at Tom's Hardware

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    where do you guys find your VRM info if not listed on the mobo mfg's site? that german forum? or is there another source, too?

    also, does VRM count above 5 really matter much if you're not OCing? and what about cooling, too? mainly for OCers?

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    Quote Originally Posted by plonk420 View Post
    where do you guys find your VRM info if not listed on the mobo mfg's site? that german forum? or is there another source, too?

    also, does VRM count above 5 really matter much if you're not OCing? and what about cooling, too? mainly for OCers?
    I usually google on 'power delivery' or 'power phase', together with the mobo model. Some projects can really tax your system and some CPUs need more power than others.
    I really do think that a CPUs like Threadripper 2 -or the last 200+ watt TDP FX CPUs- are really better off with a stable power delivery -and so do the mobo makers.
    Last edited by Dirk Broer; 06-09-2018 at 02:17 PM.

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    AM4 mini-ITX roundup 2019 Q1 - Asrock, Asus, Biostar, Gigabyte, MSI

    The Asrock AM4 iTX-boards
    Model SATA
    600
    M.2
    S600/
    Pcie3.0x4
    USB 3.1
    Gen2
    USB 3.1
    Gen1
    USB 2.0 NIC WiFi Bluetooth Video out Sound Power
    design
    phases
    ASRock Fatal1ty
    X470 Gaming-ITX/ac
    4x
    1x
    Rear,
    1x Type-A
    1x Type-C
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    Intel
    I211AT
    Intel®2T2R
    Dual Band
    1733 Mbit/s
    5.0
    2x HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC1220
    3 CPU VCC (x2)
    +2 SoC VCC
    Fatal1ty B450
    Gaming-ITX/ac
    4x
    1x
    Rear,
    1x Type-A
    1x Type-C
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    Intel
    I211AT
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC 3168
    433 Mbit/s
    4.2
    2x HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC1220
    3 CPU VCC (x2)
    +2 SoC VCC
    ASRock Fatal1ty
    X370 Gaming-ITX/ac
    4x
    1x
    -
    2 Front,
    3 Rear
    1x Type-C
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    Intel
    I211AT
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC 7265
    867 Mbit/s
    4.2
    2x HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC1220
    3 CPU VCC (x2)
    +2 SoC VCC
    ASRock Fatal1ty
    B350 Gaming-ITX/ac
    4x
    1x
    -
    2 Front,
    3 Rear
    1x Type-C
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    Intel
    I211AT
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC 3168
    433 Mbit/s
    4.2
    2x HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC1220
    3 CPU VCC (x2)
    +2 SoC VCC
    ASRock A320M-ITX
    4x
    1x
    -
    2 Front,
    3 Rear
    1x Type-C
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    Intel
    I211AT
    -
    -
    2x HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC1220
    3 CPU VCC (x2)
    +2 SoC VCC

    No doubt a X570 model will soon come out, offering PCIe 4.0 and other performance tweaks. The top model for now, the X470, goes for around 170 Euro's here,
    the B450, X370 and B350 boards do some 110 Euro and the A320 board is nowhere to be found, except on the Asrock website. No vendor dares to sell it here.
    The X370 has gone from Asrocks website, so seems to be discontinued. I already wrote earlier that I think the X370 is total overkill in the iTX setup anyway.
    My advise would be to take the B450 board, based upon chipset capabilities and better CPU VRM cooling (but bear in mind that it will not support Excavator-based AM4 APUs and CPUs).
    If you want an Asrock AM4 iTX, the X470 isn't worth the extra money -or you would have to have a desperate need for the greater WiFi speed.

    Asus
    Model SATA
    600
    M.2
    S600/
    Pcie3.0x4
    USB 3.1
    Gen2
    USB 3.1
    Gen1
    USB 2.0 NIC WiFi Bluetooth Video out Sound Power
    design
    phases
    Asus RoG Strix
    X470-I Gaming
    4x
    2x
    (1x M.2 PCIe3.0x4)
    2x Type-A
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    2 Front
    Intel
    I211AT
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC
    867 Mbit/s
    4.2
    HDMI
    ROG SupremeFX
    S1220A
    6 CPU VCC +
    1 SoC VCC
    Asus RoG Strix
    B450-I Gaming
    4x
    2x
    (1x M.2 PCIe3.0x4)
    2x Type-A
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    2 Front
    Intel
    I211AT
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC
    867 Mbit/s
    4.2
    HDMI
    ROG SupremeFX
    S1220A
    6 CPU VCC +
    1 SoC VCC
    Asus ROG Strix
    X370-I Gaming
    4x
    2x
    (1x M.2 PCIe2.0 x4)
    2x Type-A
    2 Front,
    4 Rear
    2 Front
    Intel
    I211AT
    Dual Band
    Wireless-AC
    867 Mbit/s
    4.2
    -
    ROG SupremeFX
    S1220A
    6 CPU VCC +
    1 SoC VCC
    Asus RoG Strix
    B350-I Gaming
    4x
    2x
    (1x M.2 PCIe2.0x4)
    2x Type-A
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    2 Front
    Intel
    I211AT
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC
    867 Mbit/s
    4.2
    -
    ROG SupremeFX
    S1220A
    6 CPU VCC +
    1 SoC VCC
    It seems that adding 'ROG' to an ASUS product warrants an extra amount of money to be asked for it. The X470 board goes for just short of 200 Euro's here, the B450 board does 150 Euro's,
    the two 300-series board go at the moment for 140 Euro's, making ASUS by far the most expensive choice when choosing the mini-iTX format. And just as Biostar seems to think "WiFi? Why? No WiFI!"
    ASUS seemed to have thought "APUs? Why? No APUs, no video-out!" with the 300-series of boards, only to have come back to their senses with the 400-series.

    Biostar
    Model SATA
    600
    M.2
    S600/
    Pcie3.0x4
    USB 3.1
    Gen2
    USB 3.1
    Gen1
    USB 2.0 NIC WiFi Bluetooth Video out Sound Power
    design
    phases
    Biostar Racing
    X470GTN
    4x
    1x
    1x Type-A
    1x Type-C
    2 Front,
    4 Rear
    2 Front
    Realtek
    RTL8118AS
    -
    -
    DVI-D,
    HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC892
    4 CPU VCC +
    3 SoC VCC
    Biostar Racing
    X370GTN
    4x
    1x
    1x Type-A
    1x Type-C
    2 Front,
    4 Rear
    2 Front
    Realtek
    RTL8118AS
    -
    -
    DVI-D,
    HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC892
    4 CPU VCC +
    3 SoC VCC
    Biostar Racing
    B350GTN
    4x
    1x
    1x Type-A
    1x Type-C
    2 Front,
    4 Rear
    2 Front
    Realtek
    RTL8118AS
    -
    -
    DVI-D,
    HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC892
    4 CPU VCC +
    3 SoC VCC
    All three models still feature on the Biostar website, but the B350 board has has fallen off the price lists here. The remaining two board lack WiFi as compared to their competitors and have the over-the-top (for iTX) X370 and X470 chipsets.
    Why? You can't do crossfire or SLI on an iTX board, and there's no room for the other extra's that might be given chipset-wise too.

    Gigabyte
    Model SATA
    600
    M.2
    S600/
    Pcie3.0x4
    USB 3.1
    Gen2
    USB 3.1
    Gen1
    USB 2.0 NIC WiFi Bluetooth Video out Sound Power
    design
    phases
    Gigabyte Aorus
    B450 I Pro WiFi
    4x
    1x
    2x Type-A
    2 Front,
    4 Rear
    2 Front
    Intel®GbE LAN
    Intel® 2x2 Wave2
    Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
    1733 Mbit/s
    5.0
    Display Port,
    2x HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC1220
    4 CPU VCC +
    2 SoC VCC
    Gigabyte AB350N
    Gaming WiFi
    4x
    1x
    2x Type-A
    2 Front,
    4 Rear
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    Realtek
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC 3165
    433 Mbit/s
    4.2
    Display Port,
    HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC1220
    4 CPU VCC +
    2 SoC VCC
    A total redesign for the Aorus B450 I Pro WiFi by Gigabyte here. A far bigger CPU VRM heatsink and a complete relocation of components.
    On top of that they actually dropped the price of the B450 board here (116 Euro's), as compared to the B350 board (125 Euro)

    MSI
    Model SATA
    600
    M.2
    S600/
    Pcie3.0x4
    USB 3.1
    Gen2
    USB 3.1
    Gen1
    USB 2.0 NIC WiFi Bluetooth Video out Sound Power
    design
    phases
    MSI B450I
    Gaming Plus AC
    4x
    1x
    -
    2 Front,
    4 Rear
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    Realtek
    RTL8111H
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC 3168
    433 Mbit/s
    4.2
    Display Port,
    HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC887
    6 CPU VCC +
    2 SoC VCC
    MSI B350I
    Pro AC
    4x
    1x
    2x Type-A
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    2 Front,
    2 Rear
    Realtek
    RTL8111H
    Intel Dual Band
    Wireless-AC 3168
    433 Mbit/s
    4.2
    Display Port,
    HDMI
    Realtek
    ALC887
    6 CPU VCC +
    2 SoC VCC
    The better-looking 120 Euro's B450 model lost the heatsink on the SoC VCC VRMs and the Gen2 USB ports, as compared to the B350 model while that can be bought for 112 Euro's.
    What matters more to you?
    Last edited by Dirk Broer; 04-09-2019 at 12:32 AM.

  10. #10
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    It is great to see a lot more choice in the format, with more capability, which brings more competition.
    I saw a couple of prices on the old ones that really need to be refreshed as they are a bit out of whack compared to the more recent offerings.
    Although I guess they don't need to clear that stock if the take-up of newer versions is high enough.
    Generally, I suppose, prices are higher for an older version as the support grows older so maybe it was deliberate (Rhetorical ?).
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