As part of its announcements yesterday, AMD proudly boasted that it had strong support from its partners for the launch of its third-generation Ryzen CPUs. Specifically, the company said that it had "over 50" new motherboards on the way. Well, Asus is certainly doing its part—the company is releasing no less than ten different boards bearing the X570 chipset. The Republic of Gamers is here with both high-end Strix boards and premium Crosshair models, there's a TUF gaming board, a couple of more mainstream Prime offerings, and finally a Pro WS platter.
I'm not going to go over every single board in excruciating detail; if you're after that, Asus has a four-page article just for you. Instead, I'm just going to hit the highlights. Fully eight of the ten boards are standard-sized ATX boards, while one ROG Strix model is mini-ITX size, and the Crosshair VIII Impact is built for Mini-DTX. Experienced gerbils will be familiar with the sacrifices you make as you move down the product stack.
The top-end Crosshair VIII Formula has the works: a trio of PCIe x16 slots, Aquantia 5G Ethernet, 802.11ax Wi-Fi... and liquid-cooling for its gloriously overbuilt sixteen-stage power delivery hardware. Just as it's nothing we haven't seen before on a top-end motherboard, it's also exactly what we expect from same. The Crosshair VIII Hero is much the same motherboard, just meant for air-cooling. Compared to the top-end Formula, the Hero loses the LiveDash OLED and metal backplate, while the 5G LAN takes a hike in favor of a 2.5G chip. Don't worry; both boards have an Intel GbE controller onboard as well.
ROG's Crosshair VIII Impact is a tiny little thing. For those unfamiliar, DTX is a form factor created by AMD that is essentially mini-ITX with room for two expansion slots. There's still only one PCIe slot on the Impact, but the extra height—which would be required for a powerful graphics card, anyway—allows Asus to pack more stuff on the board. Said stuff includes virtually everything that comes on the Crosshair VIII Hero. There's only two DIMM slots, of course, and the pair of M.2 sockets have to go on a daughter card that plugs into that curious SO-DIMM slot. Otherwise, all you really lose going from Hero to Impact is four SATA ports and a couple of USB ports.
Moving over to the ROG Strix family, the Strix X570-E and Strix X570-F are once again nearly identical. The main difference in the two is that the X570-E comes with Realtek 2.5G Ethernet and an Intel GbE LAN chip as well as 802.11ax Wi-Fi, while the X570-F only sports the single Intel Ethernet controller. Otherwise, the X570-F downgrades some of its USB Type-A ports to "USB 3.2 Gen 1"—better known as USB 3.0. Given that both boards come with eight USB ports onboard and another seven for front-panel plug-ins, it's probably not a problem. Probably.
If you're a purist who prefers your mini-ITX boards to have proper mini-ITX dimensions, then you'll be pleased by the ROG Strix X570-I Gaming. This board is exactly what any gerbil expects to see when they hear "ROG Strix mini-ITX motherboard." It has gobs of RGB LED lighting, fairly aggressive (active) VRM cooling, and a pair of M.2 sockets—without using a daughtercard. It comes with the same SupremeFX S1220A audio that the rest of the ROG boards use, and Asus even found space for a dedicated AIO pump power header.
As we get down into the lower echelons of Asus' X570 motherboard range, the boards become harder to differentiate. The TUF X570-PLUS comes in both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi-less versions. It trades out the SupremeFX audio solution for a simpler setup based around the same Realtek S1220A codec, and it doesn't have as many USB ports (7+6) as the more expensive boards. Otherwise, though, it's pretty similar to the other X570 boards Asus is launching, with its dual M.2 sockets wired up to PCIe 4.0 x4, eight SATA 6 Gbps ports, and thirteen USB ports (7 onboard, six front).
We reckon most gerbils will opt for something like the TUF board, or perhaps one of these Prime models. The Prime X570-PRO is actually a little fancier than the TUF model; it can run its PCIe x16 slots in x8/x8 mode. It also has a front-panel USB 3.2 Gen 2 (read: USB 3.1) port, and an extra fan header. This writer is using a similar board from Asus' Z370 series, and I'm pretty happy with it. The Prime X570-PRO gets Intel LAN once again, but the Prime X570-P steps down to a Realtek GbE chip, like its TUF cousin. In fact, that chip is apportioned almost identically to the TUF board, although it doesn't have the option of Wi-Fi nor any USB Type-C connectivity.
Finally, Asus is launching a workstation-oriented board for Zen 2. The Pro WS X570-ACE is a no-nonsense motherboard with a downright industrial-looking aesthetic. It supports ECC memory, includes a U.2 port, and it can send eight lanes of PCIe 4.0 to each of its three PCIe x16 slots. One of its M.2 sockets has to give up two of its lanes as a compromise, though. The Pro WS X570-ACE includes a Realtek 8117 chip that provides Gigabit Ethernet and out-of-band management capabilities. Asus makes much of the board's extra durability and reliability features, like its shielded Ethernet ports.
Asus isn't talking pricing or availability on any of these parts yet. Normally we'd make some glib quip about how they'll probably run from around $130 to $400 or so, but these are the very first motherboards we've written about designed for PCI Express 4.0. It will be interesting to see if building the boards around that new high-speed interconnect adds any additional cost to the construction, and if so, whether or not that premium gets passed on to the purchaser.