Looking for the right AMD AM4 motherboard for your new Ryzen PC gaming or workstation system? We're taking a look at 4 popular motherboards from the X370 chipset and telling you which one we feel gives you the best value for the money. All motherboards reviewed are under $200.
Before we get into that, those that are coming from an AM3+ system have a lot to like about the new AM4 platform. Not only are these motherboards receiving all the latest technology we've been waiting for, there's also been quite a lot of attention given to them by manufacturers. The designs, quality, and new features are finally on par with the Intel Z270 boards.
Without getting into too much detail upfront, here's a look at the boards we recommend followed by a guide to the AMD AM4 platform and its new chipsets.
Asus' Prime series of motherboards is the new standard for mid-range builders. It offers quality and plenty of options while throwing out unnecessary design options that increase cost. So, if you're looking to stick with a budget, but still want good performance and a solid overclock, the Asus Prime Pro is a good place to start looking.
We like that the color scheme is white and black and avoids the oversized I/O shield that you'll find on some of the more expensive boards. For most builds, we don't think people will mind. Personally, I still think it looks great. Safe slots are showcased on two of the PCIe slots to help protect your GPU and keep it held firmly in place. This is something you'll see on most motherboards at this price point. So, we definitely expect it here. It adds some additional metal to the molding and, more importantly, additional solder points to the board. The board also includes Asus' 5x Protection III which protects your hardware from electrical surges.
Aura Sync RGB lighting is included as well for those who want to add additional lights to the build. Of course, the stock R7 1700 comes with an RGB cooler; which you can synchronize along with other lighting effects you have.
Performance and Overclocking:
The Prime Pro includes 5-way optimization with auto-tuning and FanXpert. This allows you to quickly make your system efficient, stable, and cool while getting more performance out of your processor. For the most part with AMD's Ryzen CPUs your overclock will depend more on your cooling system and model. However, we were able to get a 3.9GHz overclock on this board without any difficulty and suspect it will go higher with better cooling.
Audio on these boards has gotten to the point that for the most part, I don't need an external DAC. The X370-Pro uses the Realtek S1220A codec that has a 120db signal-to-noise ratio line-out and 113dB SNR line-in. Overall, I found this to be exceptional.
The Asus Prime X370 supports dual channel memory up to 64GB at 3200MHz OC. It has multiple expansion slots for a multi-GPU configuration as well as multiple M.2 options. In addition, it has eight USB 3.0 and 3.1 options in the back along with an HDMI, DisplayPort, Optical, and 5 audio jacks.
The Asus Prime series of motherboards continues to be a consistent and solid option for mid-range builders. There's not a lot for eye candy here on the Asus Prime X370-Pro, however, the quality, features, customization, and performance make up for it. It's the perfect start to a custom AMD gaming PC.
ASRock Gaming K4
For the last few years I've been warming up to ASRock boards as they continue to improve their quality while offering more features for less money. In the under $150 price range, the ASRock Gaming K4 really shines with its aesthetics as well as options.
Overclocking the Ram and Processor
For memory, I wasn't able to get my 2666MHz memory over 2400MHz; however, this is more of an issue with the BIOS. For the CPU, I was able to get my 1700X to around 3.85GHz at 1.365 volts. This is where you'll have to be if you're wanting to use your overclock 24/7. There is only a single BIOS on this board, so keep that in mind.
There is only a single BIOS on this board, so keep that in mind. In the BIOS there's a ton of features which allow you to setup your Pstates how you like. Memory timings and XMP profiles can be modified here as well.
On the Rear I/O there are your standard jacks along with an HDMI, 6 USB 3, a USB 3 C, and a USB 3.1a. An RGB LED is already located on the heatsink for this build. This is something you don't get with a board of this price point, so it's something we thought we'd point out for those interested in aesthetics.
Audio is fantastic with the Realtek ALC1220, M.2 is supported, and even multi-GPU configurations. For those wanting to keep their system cool, there are also plenty of fan connector options here as well.
Overall, this board is cheaper, looks a bit nicer, and has a few more features than the Asus Prime-Pro X370 motherboard. However, performance seemed a bit more smooth with that board out of the gate. Other than that, the board itself is made well with quality components that should last you a long time. So, you'll have to decide which board works better with your budget.
MSI AMD AM4 X370 Pro Carbon Gaming Motherboard
The first mid to upper range motherboard we were drawn to was MSI's X370 Gaming Pro carbon. With Mystic Lighting that allows you to choose from 16.8 million colors and 17 effects controlled and synced through their gaming APP, this board brings the RGB craze to another level.
Military Class Durability:
Like any of the boards on this list it has steel protected GPU and RAM slots. This is likely to be the norm going forward. For anyone that's accidentally ripped out a PCIe slot, this will likely help.
The board itself is made of quality components and part of what MSI calls Military Class 4 Guard Pro. Ultimately this means there's some durability and flexibility in the temps and longevity of the components they've used.
A Good AMD AM4 X370 Board For Gamers:
This is a gaming X370 motherboard. As such, MSI uses 24 hour specific testing with eSports. In addition, you get the Gaming LAN with LAN protect which provides a solid overall connectivity experience.
In addition, the BIOS has extensive options for letting you tune your system to the performance specifications you're looking for. For tuning, there are extensive header options for designing your PC to stay cool.
Of course, the Carbon comes with support for up to 64GB of memory at 3200MHz OC, Turbo M.2, USB 3.1 GEN 2, and excellent sound quality with Audio Boost 4 with Nahimic 2.
Overall, the features, the blacked out design, the performance, and RGB capabilities of this board are what set it apart. That being said, there are cheaper options with similar performance if you don't care about aesthetics.
Gigabyte GIGABYTE GA-AX370-Gaming 5
Admittedly, the Aorus line, aesthetically speaking, is one of my favorite new lines to come out in a while. This board, the Aorus X370 Gaming 5, has steel reinforced slots along with a plethora of RGB options including a few between the memory slots. It's a solid black with white accent design, which fits most builds, and is built with quality components overall.
M.2 is located beneath the graphics card, which should make it a little hotter than we'd like, but overall, the placement of this board is solid. One small complaint we have is that RGB lighting cannot be controlled by area. It's an all or nothing scenario.
Dual BIOS options are nice for those of you who want a basic setup as well as an overclocked setup.Intel Gigabyte LAN and Killer are on the back so that's something you can choose between. USB DAC Up 2 is located on the Rear I/O as well. This is nice for those of you who want a faster charge through the USB on your computer as they run a bit more power through these. Other features on the back include HDMI, USB 3.1 C and A, 4 USB 3.0 and 2 USB 2.0, and gold plated audio jacks. Of course, this board also supports multi-GPU configurations and has all the controls you'll need for making your custom PC.
Overclocking and Performance
We used an 1800X for our performance review. So, keep that in mind in terms of raw numbers. We were able to get around 4.1GHz without too much trouble. Our memory was able to get to the 3200MHz speed. This resulted in some significant performance gains across the board. This was somewhat surprising to me; however; that's something to pay attention to if you're wanting to get max performance out of your Ryzen build.
Overall, this is the best performer we've got in the category so far. If you're looking for that, as well as a great looking design, this could very well be the board for you. We're not saying it's perfect, as the BIOS needs a little work still, but for those of you who are enthusiasts, that's something you'll likely be willing to work with.
Standard Options by Chipset
SATA / SATA Express
USB 3.1 Gen 2 + 3.1 Gen 1 + 2.0
There are a lot of new features that are finally coming to AMD motherboards with AM4. Some of these are across the board and some depend on chipset.
First of all, it's important to note that every AM4 CPU is compatible with any chipset on the platform.
Speaking of new chipsets, there are 5 new options including; the x370, B350, A320, X300, and A/B300. The X370 (enthusiast), B350 (mainstream), and X300 (SFF enthusiast) are for enthusiasts and gamers looking to overclock. If you're going to use a Crossfire or SLI setup, we recommend the X370.
For the X370, 8 SATA 3 options come as a standard along with 2+6+6 USB 3.1 Gen2+3.1 Gen1+ 2.0.
Overall, with the AM4 socket, we're seeing PCIe 3.0 support for up to 24 lanes, DDR4 speeds of up to 3200MHz, and, of course, M.2 support. It's fantastic to finally see AMD and motherboard manufacturers catch up to the Intel side.
Have a board that you like? Be sure to let us know by leaving a comment below.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.