Gigabyte offers a sneak peek at a future AMD motherboard at CES

AMD's second-generation Ryzen CPUs are only a couple months away from enthusiasts' desktops, and the company will be introducing new high-end motherboards using the X470 chipset to go with them. Although AMD's own press event revealed precious little about what to expect from X470, our meeting with Gigabyte at CES 2018 afforded us practically unrestricted access to one of those motherboards well ahead of its launch closer to this spring.

A strategically-placed piece of electrical tape prevented us from seeing the board's full name, but we can confidently say that this is the Gigabyte Aorus X470 Gaming 7 WiFi. The most immediately evident (and welcome) change on this board relative to recent Gigabyte designs is the return of stamped aluminum fins on its VRM heatsink.

Gigabyte said it's been listening to customer feedback regarding VRM cooling, especially regarding Z370 motherboards, and the decision to return to a finned heatsink on the X470 Gaming 7 is in part because of this feedback. The X470 Gaming 7 further runs a six-millimeter-diameter copper heat pipe over its VRM phases for even more effective heat transfer to the aluminum fins above.

Another interesting fact that Gigabyte revealed about its future motherboard design direction regards RGB LED lighting. The company says it's actually exploring the installation of fewer RGB LEDs on its motherboards overall in favor of more dynamic effects from the RGB LEDs that remain. In the case of the Gaming 7 WiFi, that means a pair of fully-addressable RGB LED arrays in the chipset shroud and audio shroud. Another RGB LED strip along the upper right corner of the board and RGB LEDs ringing the first two PCIe slots  remain a carry-over from current Aorus boards, but Gigabyte says that corner-mounted strip will likely be the next to go in its paring-back of blinkenlights.

In a cue taken from other high-end motherboard manufacturers, the Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi will have a built-in I/O shield shrouding its back panel. Gigabyte will include built-in power and Clear CMOS buttons (the latter of which can also be configured as a reset button in firmware) on the I/O panel, as well. This board will offer a wide range of peripheral connections, including six USB 3.0 ports, two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (one Type-A, the other Type-C), Intel Gigabit Ethernet, and an Intel Wireless-AC 9260 adapter with 2×2 MIMO support.

For cutting-edge storage connectivity, the Gaming 7 will offer one M.2 slot powered by four PCIe 3.0 lanes from the CPU and another powered by PCIe 2.0 lanes from the X470 chipset. Recent rumors pointing to PCIe 3.0 support from AMD's next-gen chipsets would appear to be incorrect, as Gigabyte confidently asserted that no such connectivity upgrade is forthcoming with the new chipset. Like the VRM heatsink, the metal M.2 shields on these slots are aggressively finned for heat transfer.

Other niceties for the Gaming 7 include a socketed BIOS chip that can be field-swapped (a move that Gigabyte says is much preferable to RMAing an entire motherboard in the case of BIOS corruption), a 10+2-phase VRM comprising International Rectifier's IR3553 integrated PowIRstages and an IR 35201 PWM controller, a primarily cosmetic backplate, a Realtek ALC1220 audio codec with an ESS Sabre 9018Q2C DAC, and more. This board will doubtless provide a high-end home for AMD's second-generation Ryzen CPUs when they arrive, and we're eager to take it for a test drive when they do.

In general, we're pleased to see that Gigabyte is responding to customer feedback and incorporating real heatsinks on this board's VRM, and that change appears to be part of a broader push to address the concerning VRM temperatures we've seen with some recent CPUs under some workloads. We'll be waiting to see whether this design philosophy extends to more Gigabyte motherboards as the year progresses, but we imagine a wide swath of enthusiasts will be pleased if it does.

Comments closed
    • deruberhanyok
    • 2 years ago

    PCI Express 2.0 on a motherboard chipset for an enthusiast platform in 2018 is a big let-down.

    • shank15217
    • 2 years ago

    So we still don’t know the difference between 370 and 470

      • derFunkenstein
      • 2 years ago

      Yeah, it’s too bad. That’s the kind of thing that’s up to AMD to disclose, rather than a board maker, but I’m curious.

      • Goty
      • 2 years ago

      All I’ve heard is slightly lower power consumption. The presence of two M.2 connectors on this board hints that there might be a few more PCI-E lanes on tap, but I doubt we’ll see much else. Speculation from PCPer is that the main reason for the chipset is to give mobo makers the chance to sell some more motherboard that they wouldn’t otherwise sell if they just stuck with X370. They also suggest that its possible we might see more PCI-E clock generators, which would be a nice thing to see if Zen+ doesn’t resolve some of the memory issues that Zen faces.

      • freebird
      • 2 years ago

      Can’t you count?!? 100.

      ;D

      Seriously though, not much. Probably just some signaling cleanup and new mobo designs to allow for higher memory speeds and/or CPU OCing… and the supposed lower power consumption of the chipset.

      It will be interesting to see a test of Ryzen 1xxx vs Ryzen 2xxx in a X470 motherboard to see if higher memory clocks depend on motherboard & Ryzen 2xxx, or just the motherboard.

    • Chrispy_
    • 2 years ago

    Holy hell, it’s finally happening!

    I’m not counting my chickens yet but that thing (under the plastic silliness) appears to be using [i<]actual heatsinks[/i<] instead of RGBLED-lit aluminium logo art. Here's hoping that the cheaper models of this board will forgo the large and pointless plastic bodykit, without compromising the heatsinks, too.

    • Anonymous Coward
    • 2 years ago

    I guess after you reach 100% teenager appeal, its time to try something new.

    I suspect the heatsinks could be more effective with thicker fins and larger air gaps. These look like they are designed for forced air.

    • albundy
    • 2 years ago

    it looks like the old board, but with different colors and a new chipset…which i have no idea what it actually improves on. the connectors and slots look to be all the same. so what’s actually new and improved?

      • Shobai
      • 2 years ago

      Perhaps DPete27 can chime in?

        • DPete27
        • 2 years ago

        Aside from reading the TR article and looking at the [url=http://www.gigabyte.us/Motherboard/GA-AX370-Gaming-K7-rev-10#kf<]X370 Gaming 7[/url<], I think the changes/improvements are pretty self-explanatory. Keep in mind that Gigabyte does not have the ability to decide what feature changes take place at the chipset level between X370 and X470.

      • mudcore
      • 2 years ago

      Which old motherboard? Guessing you’re referring to the AX370-Gaming K7 but that board is substantially different. The rear port layouts are completely different. The X370 one doesn’t have WiFi or the rear Clear CMOS/Reboot buttons. The old one has dual NICs. USB port layout is different, old one also has a combo PS/2 connector.

      Board itself… substainally different VRM cooling setup. M.2 heatsinks were not part of the board either. No socketed BIOS chip. Quite a bit of the other board components are different or in different locations. Especially around the audio components.

      Maybe you have a different “old board” in mind?

    • ronch
    • 2 years ago

    Awesome. But all I really want is a board with modest features. A nice B350 that does the job without eating too much power to run things I’d never use and keeps costs low is really fine by me.

    • just brew it!
    • 2 years ago

    Socketed BIOS is a nice (albeit small) touch too.

    Looks pretty good.

      • Bauxite
      • 2 years ago

      I prefer a true failsafe flash option, the proper designs even work on an empty board.

      • TwistedKestrel
      • 2 years ago

      It’s so cute!

    • christos_thski
    • 2 years ago

    Do these integrated backplates/shrouds mean that we don’t have to deal with the backplates-from-hell that won’t stick to the case, no matter what? They’ve been around for a while, and I’ve never got to asking that.

    PS: Yes. I’ve tried bending the shitty fins.

      • just brew it!
      • 2 years ago

      Yes. Would be nice if all motherboards did this.

      • thedosbox
      • 2 years ago

      Asus’ padded I/O shields were nice, but still suffered from this problem. I hope the move to integrated ones spreads towards more mainstream/sensible boards.

      • UberGerbil
      • 2 years ago

      I don’t think I’ve bothered installing an IO shield in any machine I’ve built for myself. On the first one I just forgot, and after that it was “what’s the point?”

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        I like it when I’m feeling aroudn without looking when I try to plug something in. Missing entirely and hitting the shield is much better than jamming the plug into the back of the machine from a “at least I didn’t cut off my thumb” perspective.

        • Chrispy_
        • 2 years ago

        They are actually of huge importance to the airflow, since you usually have a 120mm or 140mm [i<]right[/i<] next to the IO shield, and if your case is modern then at least one fans in the roof directly above it. In the case of a missing IO shield, there's nothing to stop the high-pressure air just ejected from the fans rushing back in through the large unfiltered gap to fill the low-pressure void these two perpendicular fans create directly in front of them. I would make a very vague guess that a missing IO shield reduces the effectiveness of the two adjacent fans by 30% or so, which isn't really going to matter in a six-fan system, but it will mean dust builds up faster and the fans will have to spin faster to maintain the same temperature, so it's not trivial if either of those things matter to you. Additionally, if you're like me and you try to maintain a positive air pressure in your case, you don't want any huge gaping holes in your case.

          • UberGerbil
          • 2 years ago

          [quote<]Additionally, if you're like me and you try to maintain a positive air pressure in your case, you don't want any huge gaping holes in your case.[/quote<] [i<]looks under the desk at my main system, which has been sitting with the side off the case for the past couple of months[/i<] Yeah, so about that...

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 2 years ago

      I have used an actual hammer to seat some poorly-sized I/O shields. Usually, pressing hard with your fingers or tapping with the back of the nut driver will get the job done.

        • Brainsan
        • 2 years ago

        I use a wide flat blade screwdriver to persuade stubborn shields. The blade fits nicely into the stamped groove of the shield.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 2 years ago

    This is all good. Glad I waited to upgrade my Ivy Bridge. What with all the virus crap and tech improvements. Getting there to upgrade. Looking forward to it!

    • DPete27
    • 2 years ago

    Seeing a LOT of good improvements here! Here’s hoping this trend continues.

    Is the backplate really only cosmetic? Seems silly to include it if it were, nobody sees it back there. Is the backplate plastic or metal?

    • Voldenuit
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]Changed doubtless to undoubtedly.[/quote<] Doubtless and undoubtedly mean the same thing.

      • Tumbleweed
      • 2 years ago

      “What a country!”

    • Welch
    • 2 years ago

    This board will undoubtedly provide a high-end home for AMD’s second-generation Ryzen CPUs when they arrive, and we’re eager to take it for a test drive when they do.

    Changed doubtless to undoubtedly.

      • trieste1s
      • 2 years ago

      Indubitably

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