AsRock, you dissapointed me on Ryzen launch day. (How AsRock AM4 B350 boards failed to deliver on value.) – draft

AsRock AM4 B350

Let me begin by stating that the B350 is supposed to be a mainstream-oriented chipset. It is meant to provide 2017 niceties such as up to 2x NVMe, PCI-e 3.0, SATA 3, SATA Express, RAID support, USB 3.1 Gen 2, minor overclocking capabilities, while still being affordable at the approximately $100 pricepoint.
See AMD slide (Click to show)

Given that at time of writing (March 4 , 2017) the price of a USB 3.1 add-in card is around $20 USD, it stands that the launch-day AsRock B350 motherboards are poor value on top of sparse availability. The price delta to a better designed X370 board with USB 3.1 and better audio is less than $50. In addition, the cheapest ASUS board , the ASUS Prime B350M-A/CSM, has USB 3.1 Gen 2 support and so does the MSI B350M-GAMING-PRO, MSI B350M-MORTAR, MSI B350 TOMAHAWK, GIGABYTE GA-AB350-Gaming, ASUS PRIME B350-PLUS, GIGABYTE GA-AB350M-Gaming 3 , and GIGABYTE GA-AB350-GAMING 3.

Native USB 3.1 Gen 2 as per AMD

Super I/O & fan control
As per
fan control table (Click to show)

AB350 Gaming K4 & AB350 Pro4: Your CPU cooler must not run a 3 pin fan and neither can your CHA_FAN1 unless you want to forgo any control.
AB350M Pro4: no fan control whatsoever on CHA_FAN2

Form factor
Of these competitor mATX offerings , the GIGABYTE GA-AB350M-Gaming 3 and MSI B350M-MORTAR (a bit higher than MSI B350M-GAMING-PRO on MSI’s tiering and actually has 4 memory DIMM support) are available with heatsinked VRM and reasonable specs. The AsRock AB350M Pro4 , even without any detailed overview of the VRM cannot offer the same value as a motherboard due to lack of USB 3.1 , 3200MHz / 3000MHz memory support listed, , extra fan headers, among other things.

Asrock’s AB350M Pro4 had very much potential.

Other than USB 3.1 Gen 2, the major upgrade over older chipsets is NVMe for PCie 2.0 x 4 SSDs such as the Samsung 960 Evo / 960 Pro / 950 Pro.

Of all the B350 boards, the only board with the higher quality audio of the ALC1220 is the Gigabyte GA-AB350-GAMING 3 which also happens to carry 5 Hybrid Fan Headers. However the Realtek ALC892 is also a 7.1 surround codec ; with ELNA Audio Caps also (although Nichicon Fine Gold Series or the PCB isolation is not on every board).

Minor Overclocking
(it’s a B350 board not a X370): As far as VRM goes , provided the inductors / chokes were not skimped on (they appear smaller than the 45A or 60A offerings on the X370 boards) the mosfets should be able to handle 25-30A per phase for the board to be competitive with the GIgabyte and ASUS offerings (those boards have 4 phases so realistically based on the 4C09B / 4C10N / 4C06N Low RDS(on) mosfets used they can deal with about 120-150A at most based on 6W power dissipation). The Asrock B350M Pro4 for example touts 42A power chokes.

However, hardwareluxx’s VRM thread lists the Asrock B350 boards as using PK618BA (NIKOS / UNIKC) for the lowside mosfets so even doubled up to 6 CPU phases this means it is thermally limited.
PK618 datasheet: — footnote reads “Package limitation current is 26A”

The Gigabyte B350 boards apparently run 2 low side 4C06N per phase & a 4C10N high side mosfet per phase with 4 CPU phases
4C06N datasheet:
4C10N datasheet

PCie slot reinforcement , as Ryzen does not have an integrated GPU
What MSI gets right is the addition of the steel PCI-e reinforcement for graphics cards across their entire line ; ASUS boards without the steel reinforcement incorporate a reinforced plastic design.

Gigabyte’s GA-AB350-GAMING 3 does have a steel reinforcement for the PCi-e slot as does the Asrock Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming K4.

* disappointed (without the extra s)

6 thoughts on “AsRock, you dissapointed me on Ryzen launch day. (How AsRock AM4 B350 boards failed to deliver on value.) – draft”

  1. See no faults in anything you said… Other than..

    “PCie slot reinforcement”

    Is this even needed?
    It seems more like a marketing gimmick than anything else.

    I have had multiple boards over many years, all of which have been carried around with multiple GPUs installed.
    Never have I even damaged a PCIe slot, I have broken a clip one time trying to undo it with a pen while I still had my top card installed(AKA being lazy and stupid).
    But I have never broken a slot, even when one of my systems was knocked off the edge of the desk and the GPU snapped the slot took no damage.
    And still actually works to this day

    The only time I could see them being useful is if you forget to screw the card in.

    I don't know maybe I'm lucky, But it just seems like marketing to me.

  2. Thanks for sharing all of this. I had one on order when I came across your post. With others providing 4-5 3/4 pin support fan/water jumpers, ASRock did drop the ball. 3.1 is not a big deal to me, but I can see that as a problem somewhere down the road. The VRMs I'm not sure make a huge difference. I've seen the low end ASRock board pushing 3.9 on a 1700 running benchmarks on one YouTube channel. It could be a limiting factor, but how far would you expect a $90 board to go. Not to mention the heat and over clocking limits beyond that; and you'll need much more power to go beyond 3.9. Though, throwing in another $10-$20 for the Gigabyte gaming or gaming 3 gets an answer to all of your issues, CF would suffer since the 16x length 4x slot is PCIe 2.0 only and shares bandwidth with the chipset. I will need to think about a return of t he ASRock; especially with Gigabyte boards available again for under $110. Thanks again!

  3. I just got mine and decided to open it up. The B350 Pro4 actually has 4 fan jumpers. Have not checked usability with respect to SpeedFan or controlling through software. BIOS allows the 3 chassis fans to be controlled via MB/CPU temps. All four can be set of five speed ranges; custom being one of them, so programming fan speed changes in the BIOS should be available. Was able to clock a 1700 to 3.95 @1.35v on air and boot to windows 10 and complete Cinebench benchmark. Beyond that was unstable running benches, but I'm sure more voltage would have pushed to 4.0 and possibly 4.05/4.1. VRM heat sinks got toasty though when running 3.95 even at that voltage. Not sure if pushing it that far for a prolonged time would be good for the board, but it's good to know that it can. VRMs are tough critters.

  4. Apparently, the some of the specs used refer to the AB350M which is the mini-itx version of the board. It does have only 3 fan plugs and they appear to be as described. The AB350 has 1x4pin CPU, 1x4pin (PWM only), and 2x4pin (auto-detect 3/4 pin support).

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