Already at the stage of the announcement of new auxiliary components (it’s already difficult to call them chipsets, and hubs are a word that has not yet come into use), AMD specialists emphasized the complete readiness for overclocking motherboards based on the B350 mid-level bridge, and not just the top solution — X370 . Its main simplification is the refusal to support NVIDIA SLI, that is, sixteen PCI-E processor lines cannot be divided equally. We also reduced the number of supported devices with SATA and USB interfaces, you can read more about this in the review of waiting for the revolution from AMD Ryzen.
As a test sample, we chose the GA-AB350-Gaming 3, the oldest of the five Gigabyte motherboards available on the retail market. There is a decent heatsink in the area of the CPU power stabilizer, a thorough approach to designing the device will also allow you to fully understand the capabilities of such products. At the same time, there are no additional controllers here, which inevitably affected the price.
A distinctive feature of «gaming» boards is the increased attention to the sound and network subsystems, as well as special lighting. Given the not the highest rank of the product, the audio codec was not equipped with an auxiliary op-amp here, and the cFosSpeed utility was attached to the regular Etherneth adapter from Realtek as a bonus. I will tell you more about the illumination a little further, now I will note the presence of two pads for LED strips.
|Model||Gigabyte GA-AB350-Gaming 3 (rev. 1.0)|
|Official product page on the Web||gigabyte.ua|
|Processor socket||AMD AM4|
|Processors||AMD Series: Athlon X4, A6, A8, A10, A12, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7|
|Memory||4 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400/2667*/2933*/3200*(OC), 64 GB maximum|
|PCI slots||1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16) — CPU
1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 (x4) — B350
1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 (x1) — B350
2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 — B350
|M.2||1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110) — CPU
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x2 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110) — APU/Athlon
|Integrated video core (in APU)||Radeon Series: R7, R5|
|Video connectors||HDMI 1.4, DVI-D|
|Number of connected fans||5x 4pin|
|PS/2 ports||1 (keyboard/mouse)|
|The port is USB||2 x 3.1 Gen2 (2 connectors on the rear panel, B350)
4 x 3.1 Gen1 (4 connectors on the rear panel, CPU/APU/Athlon)
2 x 3.1 Gen1 (no connectors on the rear panel, B350)
5 x 2.0 (1 connector on rear panel, B350)
|Serial ATA||6 x SATA 6Gb/s (B350)|
|RAID||0, 1, 10 (HOURS, B350)|
|Built-in sound||Codec — Realtek ALC1220 (7.1, HDA)|
|Networking||Realtek 8111G (Gigabit Ethernet)|
|Dimensions, mm||305 x 230|
|Additional features||Diagnostic LEDs (CPU, DRAM, VGA, BOOT), a pair of headers for connecting RGB LED strips, dedicated USB (DAC-UP 2) for connecting an external DAC, support for AMD 2-Way CrossFireX, fixing six temperature values|
|Retail price, $||126|
Packaging and equipment
The packaging design is no different from products built using chips from rival Intel. The presence of small icons in the lower right corner will allow you to accurately identify the belonging of the product.
The description of the main features is concentrated on the back of the box. There is also a photo of the board and a small table with characteristics.
The package included:
- user manual, which illustrates and describes the UEFI sub-items in detail (in English);
- multilingual quick installation guide;
- disk with drivers and proprietary software;
- «holster» for convenient connection of body connectors G Connector;
- a plug for the body, complete with a black sticker with color and symbol designation of all sockets;
- four SATA 6Gb / s cables, two of which have an L-shaped connector on one of the ends;
- five-wire extension cable for connecting the LED strip.
More than a centimeter in width, the board did not reach the ATX standard, and therefore it manages only seven points for fastening in the case. There are no auxiliary buttons on the surface, any areas for probes, an indicator of POST codes. A simplified mechanism for quick diagnostics is provided — four red LEDs, the glow of each corresponds to a specific node that is currently undergoing initialization.
The reverse side is notable for the presence of a couple of elements from the voltage regulator for the CPU, there are also RGB LEDs soldered at the insulating gaps in the area where the codec is located. Both radiators use a reliable screw mounting system.
Cooling of the hub was well taken care of, a massive ribbed radiator was chosen. It does not have its own backlight.
The B350 can provide four SATA ports.
Two more are implemented thanks to CPU resources.
For high-speed and compact M.2 products, there is one free seat, dimensions — up to size 22110.
Under the case USB sockets there are a pair of pads of the second and one of the third generations.
The appearance of the expansion slots can be misleading. Only the upper reinforced PCI-E x16 has a resource of PCI-E lanes directly from the CPU, the other works only with four coming from the hub. The third, the lowest, is completely content with a single line! Fortunately, when marking the sockets, they did not keep silent about this, it is referred to as PCIEX1_3 (the third in a row).
The network adapter was chosen among the simplest models available today, but more attention was paid to the sound. There is a shielding cap on the codec and a group of special capacitors. As I already wrote, the gap is equipped with a backlight, and for its needs there is a block located just above the PCIEX1_1 socket. It will be most convenient to connect a processor (luminous) cooler there.
The main role in the backlight went to a special light guide, which occupies the space between two powerful RGB diodes.
An additional pin connector for five pins is located at the bottom. It was for him that a small extension cord was prepared in the kit.
Both chips with firmware — the main and the backup — are located closer to the processor socket. There is enough space to perform a painless installation of the CPU cooling structure.
The stabilizer is based on a seven-channel PWM controller Intersil Corporation ISL95712. It has three built-in drivers, and four more are implemented by discrete models on the board. Four channels are responsible for the processor voltage, and three are for the CPU NB (SOC) Voltage. We also used proven ON Semiconductor NTMFS4C10N power assemblies (one element for each channel) and NTMFS4C06N (two for CPU channels, one for each Uncore voltage channel). Ideologically, the scheme is a complete copy (with the exception of the PWM controller) used in the Gigabyte GA-Z270-Gaming K3, which inspires optimism.
The radiator is also used exactly the same as that of the model indicated above. There are no problems with pressure print, as well as with the area of thermal pad used. Unless, a couple of assemblies, which ended up on the back of the board, may bother.
In my opinion, the configuration of the slots on the rear I/O panel is good for a mainstream category board. Some people may miss a symmetrical USB type C port or antenna stands for a wireless adapter, but such finesse should already be sought among more expensive products.