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DBofficial
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X370 Motherboard Headache...

Sun Jun 04, 2017 3:21 pm

Ok so as a rising game streamer I'm having to improve my set up from an APU to Ryzen, however after deciding on an ATX board running the latest X370 chipset I have hit a wall... there are SIX on the market by MSI (my preferred trusted brand due to zero issues ever on their boards) but I can't find a SINGLE practical difference between them despite the fact that one is £130 and another is £275 and "enthusiast level". They all run the same cpus, same ram, same graphics cards, have the same top end speeds and so on... infact the only difference seems to be fluff things like leds, fancy encased parts and a few have slightly different onboard audio?

Am I missing something here?
https://www.msi.com/Motherboards/

You can click the AMD X370 chipset below and see the line up, normally i'd future proof but no board seems to have a future proof edge on each other at all? But until I pick one, I can't go any further with actually building the system.
 
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Sun Jun 04, 2017 4:14 pm

I have no idea if MSI actually gives these features enough technical detail or not, but I'd focus on (in order of decreasing importance):
1. Power delivery & the cooling solution for the power delivery system. An oversimplified but not entirely wrong way to look at it is "more phases is better" but there's a corollary: "more phases may not make a huge difference either".
2. Onboard peripherals. Is the onboard Ethernet controller any good? Is there wifi (there usually is) and if so is it any good? Same goes for the audio.
3. This probably goes without saying but making sure the PCIe ports are laid out the way you want, which may also be a factor of the board size.
4. Extra utilities like CPU or memory overclocking, fan speed profiles, etc. There's a pretty big dropoff in importance from points 1 - 3 to 4.
5. LED bling bling (which I actually look at as a negative feature that I don't want).
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Sun Jun 04, 2017 4:24 pm

for mobos i always buy enthusiast smack dab middle $/performance and mainly for peripheral needs

gfx cards i tend/try to go above enthusiast

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slowriot
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Sun Jun 04, 2017 5:26 pm

Most of the stuff already noted i.e. chipsets used for ethernet, wifi, audio, etc. Overclocking features, etc. Fan headers and their placement may be important to you.

One thing I noticed looking through MSI site is the difference in USB options. I'm big on having as many USB 3.1 ports as possible right now. Another was the that some models have only 1 M.2 slots while others have 2. I'd go with a model that has two. Having that as either something to take advantage of now or in the future would be big IMO for streamers who tend to push hard on their PCs storage systems.
 
DBofficial
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:24 am

slowriot wrote:
Most of the stuff already noted i.e. chipsets used for ethernet, wifi, audio, etc. Overclocking features, etc. Fan headers and their placement may be important to you.

One thing I noticed looking through MSI site is the difference in USB options. I'm big on having as many USB 3.1 ports as possible right now. Another was the that some models have only 1 M.2 slots while others have 2. I'd go with a model that has two. Having that as either something to take advantage of now or in the future would be big IMO for streamers who tend to push hard on their PCs storage systems.


Ah good call, hadn't noticed that due to everything being exactly the same on all boards, the one difference snuck by me.

I have it down to two boards now:
MSI X370 GAMING PRO CARBON - £173
MSI X370 XPOWER TITANIUM - £275

Both have 2 M.2 slots, both have same audio, same graphics card slots etc. Only differences I can see is the Carbon has HDMI 1.4, Titanium has HDMI 2.0, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 and a few extra connectors. Does this really justify over £100 extra? I must be missing SOMETHING surely?
 
DPete27
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:29 am

I can almost guarantee that the Titanium is more than you need by just looking at it's price. IF you have the money and don't want to take the time to decide what you'll really use, go with the Carbon. It's basically got everything the Titanium has for $100 less. Use newegg to compare (i made the list for you there) it's easier. The difference between the other 4 on that list is non-existent to me. I think you're just paying for different levels of bling. TBH, The Gaming Plus has everything I'd need.

PS, I'm not convinced that dual M.2 slots are absolutely necessary.
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DBofficial
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:44 am

DPete27 wrote:
I can almost guarantee that the Titanium is more than you need by just looking at it's price. IF you have the money and don't want to take the time to decide what you'll really use, go with the Carbon. It's basically got everything the Titanium has for $100 less. Use newegg to compare (i made the list for you there) it's easier. THe difference between the other 4 on that list is non-existent to me. TBH, The Gaming Plus has everything I'd need.

PS, I'm not convinced that dual M.2 slots are absolutely necessary.


Thanks for the input :) Honestly if I went with one M.2 slot, I could just go for the budget £115 MSI Gaming Plus board as it still has all the same stuff as Titanium, supports all the same cpus/gfx/ram, same USB's (one more than the Carbon in fact) can run dual graphics cards like they can etc.

This is why I have been so confused, so many different boards, vastly different costs and 0.1% difference that doesn't reflect the price difference.
 
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Mon Jun 05, 2017 11:05 am

DBofficial wrote:
This is why I have been so confused, so many different boards, vastly different costs and 0.1% difference that doesn't reflect the price difference.

Yep. Motherboard makers have gotten beyond ridiculous. If you look at just Skylake/KabyLake boards alone (Socket 1151), each maker has something like 60-100+ boards, with very little meaningful difference between them. I understand having low/mid/high/enthusiast level boards for different price ranges, but I can't see how such extreme segmentation helps their bottom line (or the quality control of each board and BIOS).
 
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Mon Jun 05, 2017 11:27 am

DPete27 wrote:
PS, I'm not convinced that dual M.2 slots are absolutely necessary.


For a streamer? I think its very important personally. Especially if a person is considering keeping this board anything longer than 2+ years. I'd consider a NVMe SSD to be a top priority in such a build right away and having the ability to add another down the line as also high up their.


Honestly if you're not seeing value in features like 2x M.2 slots you should be looking at B350 based boards instead anyway. There's not much here that X370 offers you if you're not putting high important on the expanded storage options or PCIe lanes.
 
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Mon Jun 05, 2017 11:42 am

Always buy the cheapest board you need. Motherboard manufacturers (all of them) do not have the best track record for implementing all their features flawlessly.

If you need extra M.2, get a PCIe adapter that is cooled properly and not jammed underneath a GPU.
If you need extra USB 3.1 connectors, get an adapter card that has more ports and doesn't add £75 to the cost of a motherboard for just a couple of extra.
If you need HDMI 2.0 instead of 1.4, surely you're not going to be using a dGPU so the ports on the motherboard are pointless anyway?

Motherboard firmware is all a bit rubbish.
Motherboard pricing is all a bit silly.
Motherboard software utilities seem to add cost and they're all a bit hideous, often Windows-only and rarely without bugs (often serious ones).

Keep the firmware and management side of things simple and make use of those 7 expansion slots by adding the things you NEED with a higher-quality add-in version of what you want IF and WHEN you need them. I've been doing this for 20 years and I have discovered that this is the best way to do things time and time again, without exception. Also, if your board has issues a year after the warranty wears off, you have to replace it with another all-the-bells-and-whistles £250 board. It's much better to just move your PCIe cards across to a basic replacement board than to be limited in what you can get because it *must* have all these extra features.
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DPete27
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:09 pm

slowriot wrote:
Honestly if you're not seeing value in features like 2x M.2 slots you should be looking at B350 based boards instead anyway.

Very true. Looks like you'd give up USB3.1 Gen 2 though, FWIW. My vote would still go to the MSI X370 Gaming Plus for $110 after MIR.
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:32 pm

The LAN chip also differs. Some are Realtek, more expensive boards actually use an Intel LAN chip which I found to be rather amusing.

The Egg wrote:
Yep. Motherboard makers have gotten beyond ridiculous. If you look at just Skylake/KabyLake boards alone (Socket 1151), each maker has something like 60-100+ boards, with very little meaningful difference between them. I understand having low/mid/high/enthusiast level boards for different price ranges, but I can't see how such extreme segmentation helps their bottom line (or the quality control of each board and BIOS).


Most definitely. One would think they would be spending more money to design, produce, sell, then support so many models than they make from having them. But I suppose not since the number of models has been steadily increasing with every new chipset generation for the last few years.
 
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:50 pm

slowriot wrote:
DPete27 wrote:
PS, I'm not convinced that dual M.2 slots are absolutely necessary.


For a streamer? I think its very important personally. Especially if a person is considering keeping this board anything longer than 2+ years. I'd consider a NVMe SSD to be a top priority in such a build right away and having the ability to add another down the line as also high up their.


Honestly if you're not seeing value in features like 2x M.2 slots you should be looking at B350 based boards instead anyway. There's not much here that X370 offers you if you're not putting high important on the expanded storage options or PCIe lanes.


What about power delivery and overclocking ability? Is there no meaningful difference between most B350 and X370 boards?
 
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:58 pm

Likely to be an insignificant difference in overclock-ability. However, taking the B350 gaming and the X370 gaming as MSI examples, clearly the X370 has a more robust power delivery circuitry. In general trend, yes, B350 boards tend to have less VRM phases than X370 boards. However, boards like the B350 Krait (a more $ to $ comparison to the X370 gaming) have the same 8+2 design as the X370 gaming. Certainly the price of the mobo has an effect on how many VRM phases you get regardless of chipset.
Last edited by DPete27 on Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: X370 Motherboard Headache...

Wed Jun 07, 2017 12:58 pm

Dysthymia wrote:
What about power delivery and overclocking ability? Is there no meaningful difference between most B350 and X370 boards?

Other than PCIe lanes... no. PCIe lanes which you don't need, BTW, unless you're running SLI/Crossfire, which isn't typically a good idea. Additionally, note that most (all?) video cards will run at full performance on only 8 lanes.

It's possible that a good X370 board will give a higher overclock... but then you have to ask if that's worth the price difference.

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