Announcement of AMD Ryzen processors can be called one of the brightest events of 2017. AMD really managed to create a very successful processor, which you can read about in our reviews and tests. Ryzen processors are installed in the PGA AM4 socket, under which the famous motherboard manufacturers presented many new models. The first AM4 model, Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 from the Aorus line, entered our test lab. It will be interesting to compare the feature set with the current Kaby Lake platform.
In addition to Ryzen processors for Socket AM4, AMD introduced six chipsets. A320 is focused on the entry-level segment, B350 – on the mass market. The X370 chipset, which also supports NVIDIA SLI technology in addition to CrossFireX, is designed for enthusiasts. For systems of small form factor SFF (Small Form Factor), AMD has developed A300, B300 and X300 chipsets.
As you might guess by the name, the first AM4 motherboard in our test lab is based on the flagship chipset X370. On the ATX motherboard, Gigabyte not only installed four DDR4 DIMM memory slots, but also two mechanical PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, three PCIe 2.0 x1 and one PCIe 2.0 x16 interfaces.
As for the drives’ connection interfaces, Gigabyte chose two SATA Express, four SATA 6 Gb / s, one U.2 and one M.2. USB ports are represented by four USB 3.1 of the second generation, ten USB 3.1 of the first generation and four USB 2.0. For network connections, there are two Gigabit LAN ports, and there are two modern audio codecs.
In appearance, the GA-AX370-Gaming 5 is not much inferior to the LGA1151. The circuit board and interfaces here are also black. On the three passive radiators and the I / O panel casing, you can see white accents.
In addition to the motherboard, the buyer will receive the following accessories:
In addition to the motherboard Gigabyte has enclosed a large number of accessories. Note the I / O stub, the motherboard manual, the DVD with drivers and utilities. Also included is a multilingual installation guide, SATA stickers and four SATA cables. For two modern video cards NVIDIA Pascal there is a bridge 2-way SLI-HB, there are two temperature sensors that can be placed anywhere in the case. Not without the G-Connector and Aorus stickers. Finally, we found an LED extension cable and two cable fasteners-Velcro.
The distribution of the I / O interfaces from the AM4 platform is still more complicated than that of Intel Kaby Lake. SATA interfaces on the Intel platform are exclusively provided by the PCH chipset, but they are separated from the AMD AM4 platform. In addition to the 16 Gen3 lines, which are intended primarily for the video card, the Ryzen CPUs have four additional Gen3 lines, they are reserved for drives, but motherboard manufacturers can dispose of the lines at their discretion. The options are “2x SATA + 1x NVMe x2”, “2x SATA + 1x PCIe x2” and “1x NVMe x4”. In addition, Ryzen processors have built-in USB 3.1 Gen1 controller, which provides up to four ports.
The AMD X370 chipset provides four SATA 6 Gbps ports and two SATA Express interfaces that are complemented by two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, six USB 3.1 Gen1 and six USB 2.0 ports. Thus, the set of interfaces can include up to eight SATA 6 Gbps ports from the chipset and, at best, a M.2 slot with four Gen3 lines from the CPU. In addition, the X370 chipset provides eight Gen2 lines. In total, we get 20 Gen3 lines from the CPU and eight Gen2 lines from the X370 chipset, which can be distributed to devices. Another four Gen3 lines are used by the Ryzen processor to communicate with the chipset.
The number of power phases of the CPU is identical to the Kaby Lake platform. Ten phases are allocated to power the AMD Ryzen processor. Each phase is complemented by the International Rectifier IRIR53M PowerIRstage MOSFET. Two IR3599 Phase Doubler chips make it easier for the PWM controller to control four vertical phases. Additional power is supplied to the processor via the 8-pin EPS12V socket.
The PWM controller can control a maximum of eight phases in 8 + 0, 7 + 1 or 6 + 2 modes. In the case of the GA-AX370 Gaming 5, the IR35201 operates in 6 + 2 mode.
As with the modern Intel Kaby Lake platform, the AMD Ryzen platform supports a maximum of four DDR4 DIMMs. The maximum capacity of 64 GB is also identical here. Between the memory slots there are RGB LEDs for backlighting.
Under the DIMM slots, you can see two USB 3.1 Gen1 combs. To the right there is a 24-pin ATX socket, as well as buttons that improve the comfort of working with the motherboard. In addition to the power and reset buttons, CMOS Clear and OC are available.
On expansion slots, the Gigabyte motherboard for Socket AM4 is identical to the Intel model. Three PCIe x16 mechanical slots are equipped with Ultra Durable Metal Shielding, the top two slots are connected to the AM4 processor, and the lower one to the chipset, up to four Gen2 lines can be fed to it. Three additional PCIe 2.0 x1 slots share the lines with the lower PCIe x16 mechanical slot.
To connect SSDs and other drives, two SATA Express interfaces and four SATA 6 Gb / s are available, but there are one U.2 and M.2 (M-Key). Two SATAe interfaces can be used as the usual four SATA 6 Gb / s ports. SATA Express interfaces work through the X370 chipset, but the U.2 and M.2 ports are connected directly to the Socket AM4 processor. However, the user will have to choose between U.2 and M.2, since they rely on shared resources.
Interfaces from left to right, from top to bottom:
I / O panel pleases with a variety of colors and interfaces. The buyer will receive six USB 3.1 ports of the first generation and four ports of the second generation, Gigabyte divided them by colors. Four red ports support the standard USB 3.1 Gen2, four blue and two yellow – Gen1. The latter work as USB DAC connectors, they make sense to use when connecting USB audio devices.
You can also see two Gigabit LAN ports, one HDMI video output and five 3.5 mm audio jacks, supplemented with one Toslink.
Gigabyte has installed not one audio chip, but two. And the Taiwanese manufacturer has chosen modern controllers Realtek ALC1220. One audio chip is responsible for the I / O panel, the second for the front ports. Also on the board you can see six Nichicon audio and a headphone amplifier.
On the left photo you can see the chip IT8686E, on the right – IT8792E from ITE. The Super I / O controller monitors the voltages, temperatures and fan speeds. But the IT8792E allows you to update the BIOS even if the CPU and memory are not installed on the motherboard.
Two LAN ports require each controller. In the case of Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5, Intel I211-AT and Rivet Networks E2500 Killer are installed. Both support a maximum transfer rate of 1 Gbit / s. The user can choose between two controllers or use both.
Since Gigabyte provides four USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, without an additional controller it was indispensable. Chipset AMD X370 allows you to connect “just” two interfaces Gen2.
The two switches are not responsible for the audio subsystem, they are related to the BIOS. There are two BIOS ROM chips on the board, between which you can switch using the upper switch. Bottom enables / disables the Single BIOS function.
Of course, there was a diagnostic display that displays different error codes, which allow finding the source of the problem if the system does not work correctly.
In general, we liked the layout. All interfaces could be easily reached. The I / O panel cover can be removed if necessary. As for the connectors for connecting the fans, there are eight of them on the Gigabyte GA-AX370 Gaming 5: two FAN CPUs and six for the case fans. All connectors support fan control.
On the PCB there are also several RGB LEDs for beauty. Also, the backlight is on the I / O panel casing.
We tested Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 with the BIOS version F5d, which is called beta on the site. Since the AMD Ryzen platform is still quite fresh, new versions of the BIOS are published regularly, they gradually improve the work of the platform.
In the case of the F5d version, if you believe Gigabyte, the compatibility with DDR4 memory was improved, but the memory overclock settings did not change – we compared them with the BIOS version of F3n.
The UEFI interface was copied 1: 1 from the LGA1151 motherboard for the current Intel Kaby Lake platform. In UEFI, you can choose between Easy and Advanced modes. In the upper left corner you can see basic information, including the motherboard model and the BIOS version, the installed CPU, the clock speeds and memory capacity. The temperature of the CPU and system, CPU voltage is displayed. So the user immediately after the assembly can determine, for example, whether there are any problems with the cooling system.
In the “EZ OC” item, you can select the operating mode. In addition to the Normal mode, other options are available, for example, Eco and Performance. Also information is displayed about occupied DIMM slots with clock frequencies and busy SATA ports. If necessary, you can change the boot order by simply migrating. You can see the connected fans and their speeds. Using the Smart FAN function, you can set the fan performance curve manually.
Readers familiar with Gigabyte motherboards from previous generations will easily find similarities: Classic / Advanced mode is completely copied from old motherboards, except that the color is different. In the first menu item “MIT” the overclocking settings are available. There are six sub-items with the appropriate settings. The “System” tab displays information about the motherboard model, current BIOS version, time and date. You can also change the language here. In the corresponding BIOS item, you can find the boot process settings. All information about the embedded components of the motherboard along with the settings is made in the item “Peripherals”. But for the settings of the chipset Gigabyte decided to select a separate tab. Next is the “Power” tab with the power settings. The purpose of the last tab “Save & Exit” is clear by name.
Navigation through the UEFI interface is quite convenient with the keyboard and mouse. And you can adjust the sensitivity of the mouse. All settings worked correctly. The biggest limitation of the current BIOS version is the small number of memory latency settings, as well as the meager RAM overclocking capabilities.
In our AMD Ryzen 7 1700 test, we already complained about the overclocking problems of AMD Ryzen processors, although we were able to overclock it to 4 GHz. UEFI supports the Down Core function, which allows you to disable the CPU cores or the CCX (CPU Core Complex) module. In addition to the “Auto” mode (4 + 4) for 8-core CPUs, the following modes are available: 1 + 1, 2 + 0, 3 + 0, 2 + 2, 4 + 0 and 3 + 3.
Gigabyte on GA-AX370-Gaming 5 does not allow changing the base frequency. With regard to CPU voltage, the user can choose between Override and Offset modes. In Override mode, you can change the voltage from 0.80000 V to 1.80000 V. In Offset mode-from -0.15000 V to +0.35000 V. The pitch is rather small – 0.00625 V. All other functions are listed in the table.
In the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X review, we were able to overclock our CPU sample to a stable 4 GHz frequency on all eight cores. The same thing we got with the motherboard Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5. In the BIOS we had to set the voltage VCore 1.4375 V.
The theme of overclocking the memory is no less interesting, so we continued our overclocking tests. We used two DIMM slots with 4 GB of “G.Skill RipJaws4 DDR4-3000” type.
Memory manufacturers have already announced slats that are specifically designed for Ryzen processors and should demonstrate better performance with an integrated AMD memory controller than the modules we use. Of course, memory slots have support for XMP for Intel processors. XMP profiles on the motherboard Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 are quite predictably recognized incorrectly, this concerns not only delays, but also frequencies. The factor DDR4-2933 is followed by DDR4-3200, so the claimed 3000 MHz is not exhibited.
With manual settings, we were able to reach the G.Skill frequency of 2.933 MHz – a good result. The voltage of VDIMM was set at 1.35 V. However, the delays were not set correctly, despite the BIOS CL16-16-16-35, the motherboard exhibited CL16-15-15-35. There are fewer delays, but we have not received any problems. We will wait for further BIOS updates from the motherboard manufacturers, since there is no possibility to change the Command Rate.
With AM4 motherboards, Gigabyte also uses the “EasyTune” overclocking utility. It provides the ability to overclock the system directly under Windows.
In the automatic OC mode, the processor frequency increases automatically, which can be recommended for beginners. Alternatively, there are “ECO” and “AutoTuning” modes. If you want to make manual settings, all the necessary options are listed on the “Advanced CPU OC” page. Here you can adjust the base frequency, CPU multipliers and voltages. The next tab is devoted to overclocking memory, there is the possibility of adjusting the main delays. Finally, on the “Advanced Power” tab, you can configure the power and voltage subsystem parameters. If required, the selected settings can be automatically activated when the system boots.
We will use our standard test system with the Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 motherboard.
After integrating the memory controller into the CPU, the performance difference between the motherboards became negligible. This is not surprising, as the motherboard manufacturers have disappeared almost all the optimization mechanisms. In the past, they could optimize the chipset’s parameters to squeeze one to two percent of the performance from the motherboard, but this option also disappeared. We conducted our tests with memory modules in 2.666 MHz mode and 16-16-16-35 2T delays, and all motherboards that allowed adjusting memory latencies showed similar performance.
Although comparative tests of motherboard performance are not able to give such a difference, as before, they are still interesting. The fact is that the tests allow you to quickly assess how different vendors implement support for functions like Turbo, or rely on the trick of background overclocking. With the motherboard Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5, all functions worked correctly, automatic overclocking, we did not find.
But for tests we limited ourselves to only four applications, namely 3DMark 2013, SuperPi 8M, Cinebench 11.5 and SiSoft Sandra 2014 Memory Benchmark:
The level of performance is quite expected, we obtained close results for two AM4 motherboards tested in our laboratory.
We conducted load time tests. We measured the time in seconds that the motherboard required to initialize all components before Windows booted.
17.87 from boot is not a record time, but it’s still good enough for a completely new platform with a new CPU architecture. The MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium motherboard initialized components for 10 seconds longer.
Today, the issue of PC power consumption is quite relevant, and the difference in power consumption between motherboards is much more common than the difference in performance. On the one hand, it can be connected to the BIOS, where the power saving functions of Intel can be implemented incompletely or incorrectly. Or simply disabled by default. Or inactive integrated components, when they are replaced by additional chips or simply not used, do not shut down and continue to consume energy. The power plan also contributes to overall energy consumption, because it can give more power than required by the components. And the efficiency (efficiency) of the power system is also very important. If the efficiency is low, the system consumes more power from the power supply. The role of program management should not be underestimated, the entire food system should be balanced and coordinated to ensure acceptable efficiency.
Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 is equipped with a small number of additional controllers. Note two LAN controllers, a USB 3.1 Gen2 controller and two audio processors. All of them contribute to the overall energy consumption of the system.
We measured the power consumption of the system in idle mode for Windows, and also with the full 2D load of Cinebench 15 and Prime95 (torture test, full load). Below is the power consumption for the entire system.
In the first test run, we left all the default settings when most of the integrated components of the motherboard are active. We used the video card Radeon R9 380. As we already noted above, all power saving functions were enabled, we did not make any manual optimization.
In idle mode, our systems consumed less than 50 watts, in the case of the Gigabyte motherboard we received 48.2 watts. The MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium efficiency was slightly higher – 44.3 watts.
Under the load Cinebench processors AMD Ryzen demonstrate a good level of performance. But the power consumption is also increased to 152.3 watts for the whole system.
Under full load Prime95 (no difference, with or without AVX support) the system consumed 151.7 W, even less Cinebench. The same behavior we have received and in the case of the motherboard MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium.
The CPU-Z utility showed a voltage of 1.188 V under load.
Since most users do not need all built-in controllers, we ran another test run, during which only the LAN controller and the audio chip were activated from the integrated components. All additional controllers USB 3.0 and SATA we disconnected. The motherboard still set the voltage levels automatically, but we manually set all the energy-saving functions. We still used the video card Radeon R9 380.
In the BIOS, we could only turn off the LED backlight. But one this step has already allowed to save 1.6 watts in idle mode.
Under the Cinebench load, the savings were 0.9 watts.
Under Prime95 load, we received maximum savings, power consumption decreased by 2.1 W to 149.6 W.
The CPU voltage has not changed, which is quite expected.
AMD Ryzen processors have a modern 14-nm process technology. In idle mode, the system’s power consumption did not exceed the level of 50 W, which we estimate positively. If you load eight Ryzen 7 1700X cores, then the power consumption increases above the 150W bar – a tolerable level for the 8-core CPU.
On the motherboard Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 available four interfaces USB 3.1 Gen2. Two of them are connected to the X370 chipset in the native mode, two more are working through the ASMedia ASM1183 controller. There are three Type A and Type C ports on the I / O panel. They provide a theoretical throughput of 10 Gbps, so it’s not easy to find a drive that can load this bandwidth. In theory, there will be a fairly fast solid state drive M.2, but so far we have limited ourselves to two SSD SATA 6 Gb / s in RAID 0, which will load the new interface.
For the test, we took the external Akitio NT2-U3.1 snap-in, inside which we installed two 2.5 “SSD OCZ Vector 150s with a capacity of 480 GB each, SSDs operated at a read speed of up to 550 MB / s and write speeds of up to 530 MB / s. SSDs were combined into a RAID 0 array, which allowed loading the USB 3.1 Gen2 interface.
Controller USB 3.1 Gen2 chipset X370 showed excellent results in reading speed of 912 MB / s and a write speed of 869 MB / s. ASMedia ASM1183 controller also provided an excellent level of performance – 805 MB / s for reading and 781 MB / s for recording.
Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 provides ten USB 3.1 Gen1 ports. Six are located on the I / O panel, four more can be output through two combs. Six ports on the I / O panel are connected directly to the X370 PCH chipset, four internal combs to the CPU. For USB 3.1 Gen1 tests, we used the same solution as for USB 3.1 Gen2.
Both USB 3.1 Gen1 controllers in the CPU and the X370 chipset provide the same level of performance, taking into account the error. On reading, we got a speed of more than 430 MB / s, on record – 465 MB / s.
The Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 motherboard offers two SATA Express interfaces and four SATA 6 Gbps ports. All eight SATA interfaces work directly from the X370 chipset. For the tests, we took the SanDisk Extreme 120 drive, which was connected directly to the SATA ports.
We did not find any performance problems with the SATA controller. It works with the same level of performance as the controller in Intel PCH chipsets. By reading, the speed was up to 555 Mbytes / s, on record – up to 525 Mbytes / s.
On the Ryzen platform, we continued the M.2 tests. With the Ryzen processors, the slot must demonstrate a high level of performance thanks to four PCIe 3.0 lines with a theoretical throughput of 32 Gb / s. For testing the M.2 slot, we used the Samsung SSD SM961 with a capacity of 256 GB and 8 cm in length. Samsung indicates for its drive a reading speed of 3.100 MB / s and a write speed of 1.400 MB / s. SSD supports NVMe version 1.2, the connection is made to the AM4 processor via four Gen3 lines.
The performance of the four lines of Gen3 processor AM4 is clearly visible. The read speed of the solid-state module was 3.347 MB / s, the write speed was 1.516 MB / s.
We have already tested three Ryzen 7 processors from AMD – Ryzen 7 1800X , Ryzen 7 1700X and Ryzen 7 1700 . Of course, all these processors require the corresponding Socket AM4 platform. Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 was the first to enter our testing laboratory, the test of which we represent. Reviews of other models will be published later.
The power subsystem of the CPU of the Gigabyte motherboard consists of ten phases. For more convenient overclocking, Gigabyte provided integrated buttons on the PCB: power, reset, OC and CMOS Clear, there is also a diagnostic display. Two mechanical PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, a mechanical PCIe 2.0 x16 slot and four DDR4 DIMM slots are reinforced with an Ultra Durable metal base. At the DIMM slots, the gaps are also highlighted by the RGB LED. But that’s not all: on the printed circuit board are scattered numerous RGB LEDs, forming the backlight of RGB Fusion. The backlight can be controlled in the same UEFI.
The motherboard offers two SATA Express interfaces and four SATA 6 Gb / s ports, and one M.2 and U.2 ports are also available. But at the same time, you can only use one M.2 or U.2 interface. Two of the four USB 3.1 Gen2 ports (1x Type C and 3x Type A) are connected to the AMD X370 chipset in native mode, two more are via the ASMedia ASM1183 controller. Also, ten USB 3.1 Gen1 ports and four USB 2.0 ports are available to the customer.
There are two Gigabit LAN ports on the I / O panel. They are connected to two controllers, Rivet Networks Killer E2500 and Intel I211-AT. There are five 3.5-mm analog audio jacks and an optical digital Toslink output. The board has two Realtek ALC1220 audio processors for the main and front audio interfaces. Of course, the user can connect a large number of fans directly to the motherboard. Two W-Pump sockets and four sockets for fan casing can be added to the two FAN CPU sockets.
We ran our CPU sample without problems. But with the overclocking memory, the Ryzen platform still has problems, they are related not only to the early BIOS versions, but also to non-optimized memory modules. The same XMP modes, for example, are focused on the Intel Z270 platform. We were able to achieve high memory frequencies, namely 2.933 MHz, but in practice the delays were different from those specified in UEFI. We will wait for new versions of the BIOS, which should provide more options for configuring delays and Command Rate. On power consumption, the board showed itself well, it concerns both the idle mode and the load.
There remains the issue of price. In Europe, for Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 will have to give 222 euros. Before us is not the cheapest Socket AM4 model on the AMD X370 chipset. Of course, not all Ryzen systems need a high-end motherboard, so Gigabyte also offers less expensive models.
The motherboard Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 will be a good basis for the new AMD Ryzen processors, it provides a rich set of functions. Gigabyte started well in the market of Socket AM4!
The alternatives? The motherboard Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 entered our test lab one of the first, so there are not so many alternatives to AM4. However, we recommend looking at the same MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon and ASUS Prime X370 Pro.