It’s so refreshing to be able to write a review of an AMD motherboard in PC PowerPlay. After years with only Intel boards, it’s an absolute pleasure to write about Ryzen compatible boards like the new Asus ROG Strix X370-F Gaming motherboard. Based on the fastest Ryzen chipset, the X370, it’s the perfect example of how Ryzen delivers multi-core performance on a micro-budget scale.
Consider the fact that this is the top of the line chipset for Ryzen 7, yet only costs $299. Look at Intel’s new X299 boards in this month’s roundup, and you’ll see they start at $500 and keep going up from there. Yet this ATX board comes loaded to the brim with goodies, and Asus doesn’t feel the need to charge the Earth for it.
Eight SATA 3 ports will cost you twice this on an Intel platform, though there is only a single M.2 slot for your high-speed drives. At least it’s far away from the main PCIe lane, so shouldn’t suffer unduly from sweaty conditions. A total of three full-length PCIe x16 lanes are included, along with another three x1 lanes. AMD has taken a slightly different approach to Intel when it comes to PCIe lanes, offering 24 in total, but it seems that only sixteen of these run direct from the CPU to the graphics cards lanes. Four run to the chipset for communication, with another four for I/O. This means it’s SLI ready, but you’re not going to have many lanes left for the likes of high-speed drives or USB devices. This means if you do go for a twin Nvidia configuration, you’re going to be stuck with one M.2 device, provided it’s of the PCIe 3.0 x4 variety.
As an X370 board, it’s ready to overclock your Ryzen chip, and Asus has provided a wealth of options to do so. When it comes to audio, Asus is once again using its proprietary tweak of the ALC1220 chipset, which it calls the S1220A audio codec. This is found on its high-end boards, along with the usual audio upgrades such as better capacitors and amps.
Obviously there’s also support for Asus’ Aura lighting system, with twin RGB light headers and the rear I/O plate including RGB lighting. Intel Ethernet has been enhanced with Asus’ proprietary ‘LANGuard’ feature, which it claims will protect from electrical spikes delivered over your Ethernet. Unfortunately there’s no Wi-Fi, but that’s the norm at this price point.
This board is a fantastic basis for a mid-range Ryzen system, with a great price point balanced out by a robust feature set. When you do the figures compared to a Core-X system, it’s products like the Asus ROG Strix X370-F Gaming motherboard that prove why the Ryzen ecosystem is so economically attractive for multicore users.