CES 2017: Gigabyte Teases New AM4 Platform Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | January 11, 2017 - 09:31 PM |
Tagged: x370, x300, ryzen, gigabyte, CES 2017, CES, b350, AM4, a320

Last week AMD provided additional details on the chipsets and AM4 platform (JoshTekk article link) that will support the company's upcoming Ryzen processors. On tap are the X370, B350, A320 for enthusiast, mid range, and budget markets respectively and the odd-man-out and somewhat mysterious pinky sized X300 chipset specifically geared for Mini ITX and other small form factor motherboards. Gigabyte answered some of Josh and I's questions on what actual motherboards will look like and what features manufacturers would take advantage of when it unveiled (nearly) its full lineup of AM4 motherboards at CES 2017.

Except for an X300-based motherboard which was absent from their booth, Gigabyte teased four new motherboards using each of AMD's new chipsets. Specifically, there will be two Aorus-branded high end X370-based motherboards known as GA-AX370-Gaming 5, GA-AX370-Gaming K5, a midrange B350-based Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 motherboard, and a budget micro ATX A320M-HD3 using the lower end A320 chipset.

All four of the motherboards surround the 1331-pin AM4 processor socket with four dual channel DDR4 DIMM slots, six SATA 6Gbps ports, at least one M.2 slot, at least two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, and modern USB 3.1 external IO connections.

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Tech Report takes a look at Gigabyte's planned AM4 motherboard lineup.

The Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 is the company's highest end motherboard and is clad in silver and black with white heatspreaders and "armor" plating. Being part of the Aorus brand, the motherboard has RGB LEDs and is reportedly at feature parity with Gigabyte's RGB-lit Z270 offerings. Powered by a 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS, the Gaming 5 uses a 10-phase VRM along with large heat spreaders to facilitate overclocking. The board features three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots that are electrically wired as x16/x8/x4 with support for CrossFireX and SLI (though only AMD will let you go to three cards on the third x4 slot) and three PCI-E x1 slots. The storage subsystem includes a single U.2 port and two SATA Express connectors (part of the total six SATA 6Gbps, not in addition to).

External I/O includes:

  • 1x PS/2
  • 6x USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • 4x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (1 x Type-C)
  • 2x Gigabit Ethernet
    • 1x Intel
    • 1x Killer Ethernet 2500
  • 6x Audio
    • 5x Analog out
    • 1x SPDIF

Other little features like a BIOS code readout display and hybrid fan headers are part of the higher end boards but absent on the lower end ones.

Moving from the Gaming-5 to the GA-AX370-Gaming K5, the heat spreaders are scaled back and the color scheme is black and silver instead of white, silver, and black. Further, the power phases are less robust at seven phases, there is no LED display for error codes, no U.2 port, and no Killer Networks Ethernet. The slightly lower end board does keep the M.2 slot, SATA Express connectors, and PCI-E slots of the Gaming 5, however.

The Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 is where things start to noticeably change in the feature set. The VRM area is scaled back further with seven phases and a smaller heatsink. There is no U.2 or SATA Express, and one fewer PCI-E x1 slot than the X370 offerings. The motherboard does have three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (I am guessing still wired as x16/x8/x4 but AMD's slide from Josh's story is a bit unclear in this regard) but officially CrossFire and SLI are not supported according to AMD's slide. Around back, the board differs from the higher end models by including display outputs and lacking S/PDIF audio outputs. Specifically, the Gaming 3 board features:

  • 2x USB 2.0
  • 1x PS/2
  • 4x Video outputs
    • 1x VGA
    • 1x DVI
    • 1x DisplayPort 1.2
    • 1x HDMI 2.0 [updated 10:32]
  • 4x USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • 2x USB 3.1 Gen 2
  • 1x Intel Gigabit Ethernet
  • 3x Analog audio outputs (AmpUp! audio)

Finally, the lowest end A320M-HD3 is a micro ATX motherboard with four DDR4 slots, six SATA port, two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (likely wired as x8/x4), a single M.2 slot, and a PCI slot of all things. The all black board uses a 7 phase VRM and thanks to most of the connectivity being housed in the processor and A320 chipset, the PCB looks rather barren. This does have the positive effect of allowing AMD to still put four DIMM slots on the board and two PCI-E slots with room to spare. External I/O on this board is identical to the AB350-Gaming 3 above.

In all, it is refreshing to see an updated AMD motherboard platform with the latest storage and graphics connectivity options, and while SATA Express and even U.2 aren't as useful as they could be (not many products actually use those connectors, M.2 has really stolen the show here) the inclusion of native USB 3.1 Gen 2 is great as is the ability to use all six SATA 6Gbps ports along with dual graphics cards (things get dicer when adding PCI-E storage and/or using the 4th x16 slot which may reduce the number of available SATA ports but that is a bit beyond this article.) It is nice to see these features coming from AMD directly and not having to rely on third party chips for modern features as AMD's AM3 platform had to. Seeing the initial launch boards take advantage of the new features fully is promising as well though I expect to see different configurations in the audio, M.2, and external I/O departments from future Gigabyte boards and their competitors. 

I am curious to see how well the chipsets perform versus Intel's in the USB 3.1 and PCI-E storage departments as well as how overclocking will work with Ryzen and how far the AM4 platform boards will be able to push the new chips. It appears that AM4 has Zen off to a good start, and here's hoping that the AM4 platform will carry Zen into the future and help Ryzen, ahem, rise up to the task of delivering on all those performance promises from AMD!

For more photos and information on Gigabyte's AM4 offerings, The Tech Report got a first look at the boards last week and Gamer's Nexus shot some video footage of them on the CES show floor.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

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January 11, 2017 | 10:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Sweet, looking forward to the 6/12 version for $399 :-).

January 12, 2017 | 11:01 PM - Posted by Byebyemeow (not verified)

Lol 399? No way maybe 300 or so the intel equivalent goes for around 400...

February 13, 2017 | 03:31 PM - Posted by Asquared0310 (not verified)

looks like its gonna cost more like $260 :D

January 12, 2017 | 04:14 AM - Posted by PixyMisa

Looks like they all include an HDMI port. Hope we'll see a better range of video output options once the Zen APUs ship.

January 12, 2017 | 09:31 AM - Posted by ET3D (not verified)

The HDMI 1.4 spec is strange, given that Bristol Ridge supports 2.0 and Zen supposedly doesn't pack a GPU, I'm not sure where this comes from.

January 12, 2017 | 11:29 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Let me check my notes and double check. im out so might be a bit. i thought i read 1 4 but 2.0 would make more sense...


Edit: I will double check asap but from a quick look around sites are claiming it is 2 0. Sorry about that.

February 13, 2017 | 03:32 PM - Posted by Asquared0310 (not verified)

In the future zen will have onboard graphics ability while it still uses the am4 socket

January 12, 2017 | 10:51 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What about DX12's/Vulkan's explicit multi-adaptor and using more than one GPU on any AM4 board that does not support CF/SLI? The DX12/Vulkan APIs still should be able to use more than one GPU regardless of any CF/SLI support status from the motherboard's maker! Please ask AMD/Nvidia about this other graphics API based dual, or more, GPU usage with AM4 motherboards that do not have any CF/SLI support regarding using DX12's/Vulkan's explicit multi-adaptor on AM4 motherboards. I'm including Nvidia also as SLI is their technology, but these boards need to be tested for DX12/Vulkan API based GPU load balancing now that the new graphics APIs are advertising that explicit multi-adaptor feature set.

January 12, 2017 | 11:34 AM - Posted by CNote

"BIOS code readout display" thats the one thing I miss about my old ASUS P8P67 Deluxe. That and a power and reset switch. Then again that motherboard was $100 more than the one I have now.

January 12, 2017 | 01:19 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Intel NIC. Nice!

January 12, 2017 | 01:59 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Waiting for an equivalent of the GA-AX370-Gaming 5 or K5 but with TWO m.2 slots instead of just the one.

Seems the lesser board makers are more capable of this than Gigabyte :/

January 12, 2017 | 02:18 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Yeah they probably should have put a second m.2 instead of the third pcie x16 (electrically x4)

January 12, 2017 | 09:45 PM - Posted by PixyMisa

A PCIe x4 to M.2 adaptor is $20 on Newegg or Amazon, so that's probably your best option.

They should just give up on SATA Express. That would free up 4 PCIe lanes from the chipset for a second M.2 slot.

January 12, 2017 | 10:02 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Heh true :)

January 13, 2017 | 01:23 PM - Posted by CNote

I slapped a SM951 in a x4 board but my system doesn't detect it the same as if it was in the m.2 slot. Eh doesn't seem to change anything but can't see it on Intel rapid software.

January 12, 2017 | 02:23 PM - Posted by JohnGR

MSI says 20 models, Gigabyte shows models, ASrock shows models, even ECS shown one model, ASUS is hiding?

January 12, 2017 | 03:25 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

I have not seen any Asus AM4 yet. I may have missed it but afaik yeah they are silent on this.

January 14, 2017 | 04:53 PM - Posted by Gunbuster

Who asked for Aorus? I want to meet the guy who decided what Gigabyte needed was a workout obsessed eagle to shove an enthusiast brand behind.

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