As part of our reviews, we got acquainted with many motherboards based on the AMD AM4 socket, studied the overclocking potential and speed of processors of different price categories. The limiting mode of component operation is often the basis for measuring performance, but not all users follow the same path. Today we will approach the issue from the other side, step by step studying the increase from freelance modes of functioning of the system components — the processor and RAM, for the latter we also use reduced secondary delays as another obvious step in the PC acceleration scheme.
About AMD Ryzen processors — Summit Ridge, Raven Ridge and Pinnacle Ridge
The desktop market segment using the AM4 socket today can offer two-, four-, six-, and eight-core products. The dual-core, four-thread AMD Athlon 200GE was first positioned as an initial, «office» product, but after the appearance of improved motherboard microcodes, it turned out that it can be overclocked! The integrated video core classifies the chip as an APU, this is the cheapest option for building a new, modern PC, information about the performance level of such a system can be found in our past materials.
Quad-core products are represented by both CPU and APU. The former use solder under the heat-distributing cover, have an L3 cache, but lack a video core. They are included in the “thousandth” series, two models have a 4p / 4p configuration, two more — 4p / 8p. APUs from the Raven Ridge series are deprived of both the L3 part, where the iGPU is located, and the solder, the low final heating made it possible to replace it with thermal paste. Pinnacle Ridge modifications are distributed according to the OEM model (devoid of packaging and branded cooler), the two products differ in the number of threads, distribution is still weak, and pricing is vague.
Six-core processors for mainstream builds are the most suitable, corresponding to today’s modern PC requirements. Both the Summit Ridge generation and the Pinnacle Ridge generation are available in stores. Products of the latest series received higher nominal frequencies and improved RAM response (reduced latency), and the price tag for them is set higher. The most affordable solutions on store shelves are the Ryzen 5 1600X and 1600. The latter has a cooler in the kit, while the former comes without it, leaving the buyer with the final choice of CO. It is assumed that accelerated versions (with index “X”) have better overclocking potential and this aspect will be important when overclocking the system to the limit. We proceed from the opposite, therefore we will once again consider the popular version of the Ryzen 5 1600, this time in the boxed version. It is very massive, thick, but not thick cardboard is used.
The batch of this instance is UA 1814PGT, which means this is the first Malaysian Ryzen that got into our laboratory, before that we met crystals made exclusively in China.
The complete cooler is voluminous and heavy; a four-point screw clamp is used. Before us is the AMD Wraith Spire model without backlight.
A comparison table of cooling systems gives an understanding of a very interesting offer, the cooler is powerful, eight-core models are also equipped with this (however, a backlit version is already offered there). It’s all about the evaporation chamber, which acts as its basis (that is, it is not a simple aluminum «blank»), which means that the buyer has the right to count on the highly efficient operation of CO.
Products with eight cores are the limit in the desktop PC segment (at the time of publication). The most powerful of these, the Ryzen 7 2700X, offers the best frequencies out of the box, so it rightly serves as the benchmark for the performance of the entire AM4 platform, while also being the best option (again, as of today) for the «prospect» to increase the power of the owner’s PC in some future.
DRAM. Choosing an inexpensive kit
The entire lower price segment of the market is saturated with various sets based on Micron chips, without exception. You can choose according to the nominal speed (XMP), appearance, brand preference and a number of other criteria, but it is almost impossible to find inexpensive kits on SK hynix, there is nothing to say about Samsung. However, I would warn against purchasing modules with a nominal frequency of 2400 MHz, there is a possibility of buying the earliest Micron chips — A-die, for them 3 GHz is an unconquerable mark in any overclocking scenarios.
For the test, it would seem that the familiar ADATA XPG Gammix D10 AX4U266638G16-DRG kit was involved, previously SK hynix M-die chips were hidden under this nomenclature. Details matter, and in this case, I would like to emphasize the importance of the delay scheme, since this manufacturer indicates it on their modules, using an individual sticker on each of the dies. Then, in the laboratory, we met with version 16-16-16 (-39), but now we have a variant that corresponds to the spirit of the times — 16-18-18, which is typical of a set on chips from Micron. Not all stores bother to indicate the value of CL, not to mention other variables, so finding the “right” Adata RAM kit is not a trivial task.
The serial number of the module has an obvious connection with the release date, the first four characters are the year and week of release, while the year is typed with a unit and a letter of the Latin alphabet, 1A corresponds to 2010 and further upwards. Using the Thaiphoon Burner, you can verify the veracity of the theory of the origin of the chips, SpecTek, a subsidiary of Micron Technology, is listed here as a manufacturer. There is no information about their revision, as well as a temperature sensor, obviously, more prestigious series are equipped with it.
Hidden under the heatsink are SpecTek chips manufactured in week 34, 2018 of the PP019 series, suffix 083E.
Using Laser Mark to Marketing Part Number Decoder, we get PRA1G8Z01AD8WE, with this we go to the Marketing Part Number Decoder page, where, by adding 083E, you can get comprehensive information about microcircuits.
The manufacturer used chips with a nominal ability to work in the DDR4-2400 16-16-16-39 configuration, it remains to find out their revision, the official website micron.com will help with this, where information about Die Rev is available at the request of Z01A. B. Well, we have very “ancient” elements in front of us, but it’s hard to believe that this product will leave the market soon, remembering the date of manufacture, which means that they can be found anywhere, and the cheaper the DRAM set, the greater this probability.
Even at the stage of the announcement of new processes, motherboards from MSI appeared on AMD’s slides, so it’s no coincidence that they turned out to be very successful, which is typical, in all price ranges. It’s not surprising to get good returns from expensive products, but getting quality work from inexpensive products is not common these days. The mainstream models, identified by the Tomahawk name, have actually set the benchmark for motherboard performance, and this is true of both the B350 and B450. The vendor’s range is plentiful and there are plenty of other boards offering the same solid VRM, accompanied by decent UEFI stuffing, while other «body kits» can be chosen according to one’s own requirements. The main advantage of all boards of the company is the availability of LLC profiles for both CPU and SOC voltages, this property is especially valuable for overclockers. There are also no problems with DRAM overclocking. We also received confirmation of these facts in the review of the entry-level board — A320M Grenade. The information presented is not something secret, today in Ukrainian retail it is almost impossible to find inexpensive devices of an outdated series, new ones, “400”, are also sold quite briskly.
For the initial models, the engineers of the largest manufacturer used developments that go back far in history — to the time of the FM2 platform (perhaps even further). On the example of Prime B350-Plus, we were convinced of the controversial implementation of the stabilizer, the existing LLC profiles, although they worked, could not provide a confident level of system voltages and RAM during overclocking required increased attention. The presence of a temperature sensor in the vicinity of the VRM is the prerogative of status models only. It was not the most expensive EX-A320M Gaming special series Expedition on the market. In the same place, we received full confirmation of the limited increase in the maximum frequency of DRAM; for high frequencies, you need to pay attention only to new products, besides, the middle or high price category.
The product range of this manufacturer is noticeably inferior to competitors, the situation is aggravated by its incomplete presentation on the shelves of our stores. However, if you wish, you can still purchase the necessary model. Conventionally, there are two product groups — high-level products and cheaper ones. All the latter, as one, are built on the ISL95712 PWM controller, LLC profiles either appear or disappear (depending on the firmware version), and on the simplest products, voltage control is either simplified to the point of absurdity or absent altogether. But even overcoming obvious difficulties, some of the questions will not be answered, so you have to be patient and wait for the next UEFI assembly to be released. An example in the lab was the AB350M. You can’t even dream about temperature sensors when the manufacturer saves even on the ability to control two types of coolers (both three- and four-wire). At the same time, higher-status devices, for example, Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming K4, have everything you need and are able to perform their functions correctly.
Product segmentation has also affected the lineup of motherboards from Gigabyte. The most prestigious ones are identified with the Aorus series, but today we will talk about cheaper models. As with the previous manufacturer, a huge part of the devices use the ISL95712 PWM controller, while there are variations with a reduced number of voltage channels relative to the full structure — 4 + 3 «phases». We came into contact with the implementation of such a scheme when testing the GA-AB350-Gaming 3. It is frankly not suitable for overclocking powerful eight-core models, and other devices of the available series did not fall into our field of vision. I also want to recall an important characteristic feature — the presence of two thermal sensors in the VRM sector at once, one for the CPU voltage regulator, the other for SOC Voltage. The readings of the sensors can be used both for observation (very convenient and useful in the case of overclocking events), and weave into the algorithm of the system coolers. In addition, so far in Ukrainian retail you can find a lot of boards built with the participation of hubs of the «three hundredth» series. And it would also be right to mention that the updated models use literally the same VRM scheme, only replacing the radiators with more massive ones.
The participant of this material will be the youngest Gigabyte ATX motherboard based on the AMD X370 hub — GA-AX370-Gaming. The wiring of the older «three hundredth» hub ensured the operation of eight SATA ports. There is no heat sink for M.2 devices, only the audio codec zone is backlit, its model is ALC892, op amps are not used.
An additional sticker was applied to the box of the test sample, announcing the readiness of the product to work with the latest generation processors, that is, the firmware version is one of the latest.
The board is in many ways similar to the GA-AB350-Gaming 3 model reviewed before, however, to many others, given their relationship in the VRM structure. As with all Gigabyte motherboards, two firmware chips are used. In the case of «overclocking» there is a transition to the backup, which adds inconvenience when debugging work. Users who first encountered the products of this manufacturer should be prepared for such “whims” by preparing profiles with settings somewhere on a flash drive, because the set of chips integrated into UEFI for each of the microcircuits is different, and switching between them takes a lot of time (after all, after it still needs to boot with safe settings). For this, a scheme of four steps with an interval of ten seconds (after each step) is suitable: 1) de-energize the PC (turn off the PSU); 2) hold down the power button on the system unit (a group of contacts on the board); 3) apply power to the system; 4) turn off the power again and at the very end release the button. After such a procedure, subsequent switching on guarantees a transition to work with another microcircuit.
The elements used, their placement, the method of fastening — we have already seen all this in the previous review, so I will not dwell on the details once again. The filling of UEFI in the field of overclocking capabilities also coincides — the three most important system voltages are available, SOC Voltage can only be increased, and LLC profiles are absent, thus leaving the user only the ability to adjust the CPU and SOC voltage levels using the compensation method (offset).