For AMD’s disruptive Ryzen processors, choosing the right motherboard is each simpler and extra essential than ever.
First, the excellent news: AMD’s getting rid of the frightful hodgepodge of motherboard platforms to unite across the AM4 socket with Ryzen CPUs, Radeon-bolstered APUs, and all different chips launched within the foreseeable future. Huzzah! However there are all kinds of chipsets obtainable for AM4 motherboards, and every unlocks totally different capabilities in your PC, from USB help to overclocking to what number of graphics playing cards you possibly can set up.
Do you have to purchase an X370, B350, or A320 motherboard? The place do X300 and A300 slot in? Let’s study what every AM4 chipset presents so you can also make the correct determination while you purchase a motherboard to your Ryzen processor.
Editor’s notice: This text initially printed on March 1, 2017, however has been up to date repeatedly with new data, most just lately to incorporate data on the finish about AM4 motherboard BIOS updates that add help for the primary Ryzen APUs.
Ryzen: Greater than only a processor
As you possibly can see within the graphic above, Ryzen—and AMD’s Bristol Ridge APUs—truly resemble a system-on-a-chip design greater than a standard CPU. AMD’s processors combine help for a lot of interfaces on-chip, together with SATA, USB, NVMe, and PCIe.
The totally different AM4 motherboard chipsets construct extra capabilities on high of that. Listed below are AMD’s slides describing every, although we’ll embrace our personal easy-to-read comparability chart later on this article.
One factor to notice: All the customary motherboard choices embrace help for 2 SATA Specific ports and, properly, SATA Specific by no means actually acquired off the bottom. However these lanes can simply be repurposed by motherboard makers for different makes use of, akin to conventional SATA III ports or M.2 help, so its inclusion isn’t nugatory by any means.
Right here’s the plain-English breakdown of what every motherboard presents past what’s obtainable within the Ryzen chip itself, beginning with the entry stage boards and dealing up from there.
These are your fundamental, no-frills AM4 motherboards, supposed for price range techniques and (presumably) inexpensive big-box PCs from the likes of Dell and HP. These motherboards help a single 10Gbps USB three.1 gen. 2 port, a pair of 5Gbps USB three.1 gen 1 ports (augmented by the 4 USB three.1 gen. 1 ports baked into Ryzen itself), and as much as six USB 2.zero connections. The A320 chipset additionally helps a pair of SATA III and SATA Specific connections, together with as much as 4 PCIe gen. 2 lanes for extra PCIe gadgets, akin to M.2 SSDs, third-party networking playing cards, and sound playing cards.
Crucially, whereas each Ryzen processor might be overclocked, A320 motherboards don’t help overclocking. So if you wish to squeeze extra oomph out of your CPU, look elsewhere.
The A320 motherboards choices obtainable embrace Gigabyte’s GA-A320M-HD2 ($70 on Amazon) and the MSI A320M Gaming Professional ($70 on Amazon). You could find ultra-budget boards beginning round $50.
That is positively the candy spot for PC avid gamers who keep on with conventional single-GPU setups. CPU overclocking is unlocked on B350 motherboards, and in comparison with the bare-bones A320 boards, this chipset packs in help for a further 10Gbps USB three.1 port in addition to two extra PCIe lanes for cutting-edge SSDs just like the ludicrously quick Samsung 960 Pro.
The kicker right here is that multi-GPU setups are not supported by B350. I’ve seen experiences of particular B350 fashions permitting AMD CrossFire multi-GPU configurations—however that’s not one thing it’s best to depend on. Right here’s what AMD has to say about it:
Solely AMD’s X370 and X300 chipsets help two PCIe three.zero x8 graphics card slots with direct entry to the processor. If multi-GPU setups are used on different socket AM4 chipsets, they won’t have the identical PCIe three.zero bandwidth, and people configurations will not be formally supported.
You’ll discover all kinds of B350 motherboards obtainable, together with well-regarded fashions just like the MSI Tomahawk B350 ($95 on Amazon), the Asus Prime B350 Plus ($80 on Amazon), and the Gigabyte GA-AB350 Gaming three ($110 on Amazon)—the latter of which starred in PCWorld’s budget Ryzen gaming build.
Right here’s the place the lofty 1 % of avid gamers will wish to intention. In comparison with B350 motherboards, the X370 platform provides 4 extra 5Gbps USB gen. 1 ports, twice as many SATA III connections, two extra PCIe lanes, and—crucially, as detailed above—twin PCIe three.zero x8 slots in a position to help CrossFire and SLI multi-GPU setups.
If you wish to load your PC with all the most recent and biggest applied sciences, AMD’s X370 motherboards are the way in which to go. Bonus: These high-end motherboards are likely to obtain BIOS updates a lot sooner than ones utilizing the opposite AMD chipsets, and BIOS updates have been essential to improving Ryzen performance whereas AM4 matures.
There are properly over 100 X370 motherboards obtainable, in accordance with Newegg’s listings. These premium boards command premium costs, with a fundamental board like MSI’s X370 Gaming Plus costing $130 on Amazon. The $190 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370 Gaming 5 has been a rock-solid mattress for our Ryzen system even by the platform’s early days, whereas totally loaded flagship boards just like the Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero and the ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming promote for $270.
The AM4 socket additionally features a pair of chipsets devoted to mini-ITX small-form-factor PCs: X300 and A300/B300. These SFF chipsets don’t add any additional performance on their very own, relying as a substitute on the capabilities built-in into Ryzen chips themselves. The key distinction between X300 and A/B300? The X collection focuses on avid gamers and fanatics, with twin PCIe three.zero slots and the flexibility to overclock your Ryzen processor.
We haven’t seen many motherboards based mostly on these 300-series chipsets launched since Ryzen’s launch. There are a small handful of mini-ITX Ryzen motherboards obtainable however they depend on the standard AM4 chipsets. The ASRock AB350 Gaming-ITX/ac ($115 on Newegg) and Gigabyte GA-AB350N-Gaming Wifi ($115 on Newegg) make the most of B350, whereas the Biostar X370GTN ($110 on Newegg) and ASRock Fatal1ty Gaming X370 Gaming-ITX/ac ($160 on Newegg) are powered by the high-end X370 chipset. Take note of the configurations although—these mini-ITX boards provide a diminished variety of RAM and PCIe slots, amongst different tweaks.
Do your homework!
You continue to wish to do your homework when you’re on the lookout for particular options in your Ryzen PC, akin to native Wi-Fi. AMD designed the platform for flexibility, and motherboards based mostly on the identical chipset might embrace barely totally different configurations—to not point out the same old grab-bag of additional options (akin to RGB lighting, fancy audio, and one-button overclocking) tied to particular person manufacturers like Gigabyte, Asus, et cetera. In case you plan on choosing up a Ryzen APU and utilizing its built-in graphics, you’ll wish to decide up a motherboard that features video outputs like HDMI or DisplayPort.
However now that you understand the fundamentals of what every AM4 chipset presents, you possibly can rapidly slim down your seek for the proper Ryzen motherboard for you.
Regardless of which motherboard you select, it ought to final you a pleasant very long time. In contrast to Intel, which tends to alter chipsets each different CPU technology, AMD’s planning to support the AM4 platform by 2020 on the very least.
Motherboards might be up to date to help new processor households if distributors select to take action. Forward of the launch of the first Ryzen APUs, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and ASRock pushed out contemporary BIOSes to help the chips (and probably next-gen “Ryzen+” CPUs), and Biostar launched a beta BIOS to help the Ryzen three 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G on their launch day. Take a look at PCWorld’s information on how to update your PC’s BIOS for nitty-gritty particulars on the method.