Hot on the heels of AMD's big Ryzen announcement yesterday, ASRock is showing off a six-pack of AM4 motherboards. The two most affordable boards use AMD's B350 chipset, and the other four are centered around an X370 chipset. All models sport four DDR4 slots supporting speeds up to 2667 MT/s. Let's take a look at each model in detail.
The AB350 Pro4 can punch a buyer's ticket into the Ryzen party for less than $100. In exchange for nine portraits of Alexander Hamilton, you get an ATX motherboard with a pair of PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, six SATA ports, a PCIe M.2 slot, and a SATA M.2 slot. Networking is handled by a plain-old Realtek Gigabit Ethernet adapter. The AB350 Pro4 sports eight USB 3.0 ports, one of them with a Type-C connector. The board has HDMI, DVI-D, and VGA outputs, but those will only work with a Bristol Ridge APU, which is based on AMD's crusty old construction-core microarchitecture.
Stepping up to the Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming K4 adds another $10 to the bottom line, for a total of $100. Forking over a whole Benjamin gets you the same stuff that's in the B350 Pro4, plus a Sound Blaster Cinema 3 audio solution, steel-reinforced PCIe slots, RGB LED illumination for the chipset, and a header for adding RGB LED light strips. Of course, the Pro4's neutral color pallete is tossed aside in favor of a black-and-red aesthetic.
Buyers will need to fork over at least $140 to gain access to AMD's higher-end X370 chipset. ASRock's X370 Killer SLI/ac motherboard has the same type of M.2 slots as the lesser offerings, but the number of USB 3.0 ports balloons from eight to 12. The pair of PCIe x16 slots can be put to use with graphics cards in Quad CrossFire and Quad SLI setups, but we're not sure how you'd use more than two cards.
The networking section steps up from entry-level Realtek stuff to a bona-fide Intel Gigabit Ethernet adapter paired with an Intel chip offering 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity. The only display output is a single HDMI connector, but even that won't work if the CPU socket sports a Ryzen processor instead of an APU.
Another $5 could buy an entry-level foot-long sandwich, or a buyer could use it to step up to ASRock's $145 Fatal1ty X370 Gaming K4 motherboard. The extra loot converts two USB ports into 10Gbps affairs, one of them with a Type-C connector. The integrated Wi-Fi-and-Bluetooth adapter is lost in the bargain, though. There's a dedicated water pump header on tap, capable of delivering up to 1.5A of current. The Gaming K4 supports Quad SLI and Quad CrossFire configurations, but again, there are only two PCIe x16 slots.
The X370 Taichi appears to be destined for more serious systems, with 10 SATA ports alongside Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, courtesy of Intel networking controllers. The standard pair of PCIe 3.0 x16 slots are augmented by a PCIe 2.0 x16 slot. Again, the board boasts support for Quad SLI and Quad Crossfire. The port cluster has no display connectors, and ASRock makes no mention of support for Bristol Ridge APUs. The X370 Taichi sells for $190.
The top-of-the-line Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming has all of the bells and whistles present in the Taichi, but adds an extra Aquantia 5 Gigabit Ethernet port, offering up to 5Gbps of throughput when used with compatible equipment. The high-speed networking goodies and gaming features bring the board's price to $240.
All six boards are currently listed as out of stock on Newegg, which isn't terribly surprising given the popularity of all things Ryzen. We suspect availability will ebb-and-flow before and after Ryzen CPUs start shipping on March 2.
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