New X470 Chipset and Motherboards

A Focus on Power

For our reviews, AMD shipped us two motherboards: the ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero (Wi-Fi) and the MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC. These will be two of the high-end halo motherboards to focus on the new X470 chipset.


Katamari loves motherboards. Or just loves sitting on my review samples. (ed: it's the latter)

The new X470 chipset is designed to sit above the X370 chipset, although looking at the specifications, users might be forgiven for not seeing a difference. Technically the X470 part has identical PCIe and SATA support to the older X370 chipset, and for a while AMD will be running both chipsets concurrently for the main motherboard manufacturers to use. Both sets of boards will be using the AM4 chipset, which AMD has guaranteed to support for several generations now.

AMD AM4 Chipsets
AnandTech
  DDR4 OC USB SATA PCIe
2.0
GPU XFR2
PB2
StoreMI TDP RAID
SATA
RAID
NVMe
3.1 3.0 2.0
X470 2933 Y 2 6 6 6 8 x8/x8 Y Y 4.8W 0,1,10
X370 2667 Y 2 6 6 6 8 x8/x8 N N 6.8W 0,1,10
B350 2667 Y 2 2 6 4 6 x16 N N 6.8W 0,1,10
A320 2667 N 1 2 6 4 4 x16 N N 6.8W 0,1,10 -
Embedded
X300 2667 Y 0 4 0 2 4 x8/x8 N N ? 0,1 -
B300 2667 N 0 4 0 2 4 x16 N N ? 0,1 -
A300 2667 N 0 4 0 2 4 x16 N N ? 0,1 -

The big change in the chipset will be in the power consumption. Currently the X370 chipset, built on a 55nm manufacturing process using ASMedia IP, runs at a 6.8W TDP (running at full load). For X470, we were told that this is the same process and IP, but the chip will now run at 4.8W peak and 1.9W in an idle mode. This is due to an improved power infrastructure within the chip, and AMD also claims that overall throughput is improved. The chipset firmware is also set to provide better memory OC support and stability.

The other factor in this is StoreMI, on the next page. This new feature technically does not require chipset support, however the free installer will check for the presence of an X470 chipset before providing a free license, otherwise the software will cost $20 and not have AMD branding.

All X470 boards, and X370 boards with the latest BIOS updates, will support the new Ryzen 2nd Gen processors. X370 motherboards that have had the BIOS updated already will have the ‘Ryzen 2000 Desktop Ready’ logo attached on the box, however X470 boards will automatically be covered.

AMD Boot Kits

For users in that buy an X370/B350/A320 motherboard that has old firmware, AMD has a support page to manage the issue. Users should first reach out to the retailer for a replacement board with an updated BIOS, but failing that, users with verified purchases can obtain an “AMD Boot Kit” – a short term loan of an A-series processor with which people can update the BIOS for their new processor.

AMD will supply the kit, free of charge, if the user can:

  1. Show a picture of the new 300-series motherboard,
  2. Show a picture of the new Ryzen 2000-series CPU,
  3. With model numbers / unique serial numbers in shot, and
  4. A copy of the purchase invoice.

This means that users who want to take advantage of the Boot Kit will have to buy retail components, and buy them second hand. The kit will have an A-series (Bristol Ridge) processor and a cooler, as well as a pre-paid return label for the hardware. Offering a kit like this for a motherboard BIOS update is relatively unheard of, as previously users would have to go through the retailer and pay for an RMA. However, one might suggest that AMD has enough A-series processors in stock for this to not be much of an issue, and the positive reaction from such a service outweighs the sending and return costs.

Users that need a Boot Kit can go to this link to find the official details.

X470 Motherboards

Each manufacturer has already announced a handful of new motherboards for the chipset, although it is clear this is not a full stack.

X470 Motherboards
Name Size Price Amazon Price Newegg
ASRock
X470 Master SLI/AC ATX - $150
X470 Gaming K4 ATX - $170
X470 Gaming-ITX/ac Mini-ITX - $180
X470 Taichi ATX - $230
X470 Taichi Ultimate ATX - $300
X470 Master SLI ATX - -
ASUS
TUF X470-Plus Gaming ATX $160 $160
Prime X470-Pro ATX - $185
Strix X470-F Gaming ATX - $215
Strix X470-I Gaming (Wi-Fi) Mini-ITX $210 $210
X470 Crosshair VII Hero ATX $280 $280
X470 Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi ATX $300 $300
Biostar
X470GT8 ATX - -
X470GTN Mini-ITX - -
GIGABYTE
X470 Aorus Ultra Gaming ATX $140 $140
X470 Aorus Gaming 5 Wi-Fi ATX $180 $180
X470 Aorus Gaming 7 Wi-Fi ATX $240 $240
MSI
X470 Gaming Plus ATX - $140
X470 Gaming Pro ATX $170 -
X470 Gaming Pro Carbon ATX - $190
X470 Gaming M7 AC ATX $260 $260
X470 Pro Carbon AC ATX - -

Most vendors will run the X470 and X370 chipsets side by side, with the X470 taking up some of the more premium offerings at this time.

ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero

The first board we opened was the ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero (Wi-Fi), with the box well and truly battered either by shipping or how it was stored.

At first glance we already see a few notable features: a combined 12-phase power delivery (likely 10+2) on the CPU, with dual M.2 slots and reinforced PCIe for x8/x8 SLI operation. The rear IO panel is pre-attached to the system with the shroud, and there is a small cable connecting the integrated LEDs on the motherboard.

The socket is the same as before: AM4 with 1331 holes for the processor. The latch mechanism is the same, as are the cooler dimensions.

ASUS has added a number of RGB headers on the board, as well as what looks like easy-to-use voltage read points or points to enable any 5V operation (such as cold-cathode lighting?).

With the two M.2 sockets, one will be PCIe 3.0 x4 from the CPU and the other is PCIe 2.0 x4 from the chipset. For other storage needs, there are six SATA ports as well.

Onboard are a variety of USB 3.1, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 ports and headers, although I found it quite amusing that ASUS decided to put ‘native USB’ on this header to signify that it is from the chipset and not from a controller. This has benefits for VR that requires native ports, allowing the user to put front panel connectors into the native USB headers.

Being a halo board, ASUS has put in its SupremeFX audio configuration. This is based on a custom Realtek ALC1220A codec, Nichicon audio capacitors, an EMI shield, PCB separation, and bundled software.

On the back we get ASUS BIOS Flashback button, such that users can upgrade the BIOS without the CPU/GPU/DRAM installed, a Clear CMOS button, the 802.11ac Wi-Fi, two USB 2.0 ports, a combination PS/2 port, eight USB 3.0 ports, two USB 3.1 ports (one Type-C), the gigabit Ethernet port, and the audio jacks.

MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC

By contrast, the MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC box was not bashed up, and showed the picture of the motherboard directly on the front. Normally we are used to seeing MSI and the ‘ACK’ moniker on some of its Gaming M7 motherboards with Wi-Fi, to indicate using a Killer network controller, but not here.

The first look at the board shows something a little less heavy on the styling than the ASUS, although MSI is still pushing a bit of an angled look. The obvious features are the DRAM supports, the multitude of chokes in the power delivery, and that dual-fingered chipset heatsink which hides two M.2 slots.

A close up of the DRAM ‘cover’ shows that this is how MSI is evolving its reinforced memory slot concept. We can argue if reinforcing memory slots is actually worth anything (it certainly helps PCIe), but here it can contribute to the aesthetic.

I’m counting 14 chokes on this motherboard, which would make it one of the biggest power delivery options on any AM4 motherboard. The power delivery heatsinks are not connected together, perhaps indicative of cost or MSI’s confidence in the power delivery efficiency. It is worth noting that MSI uses dual 8-pin power for the CPU here, compared to the 8+4-pin arrangement on the ASUS ROG.

One of the more esoteric features of recent MSI motherboards is this big knob, which goes all the way up to 11. This is MSI’s Game Boost overclocking feature, designed such that each twist gives a bigger overclock boost to the processor. In the past these features are often overly harsh to most processors, in an effort to encapsulate as many as possible, and in the past we’ve never been able to go much beyond the ‘2’ setting on air cooling. Luckily there are power/reset buttons right next to it.

MSI’s Audio Boost 6 branding for the audio is almost like the others: a Realtek ALC1220 codec with specialized audio capacitors, an EMI shield, and PCB separation. MSI’s add here is in the software, using a license from a company called Nahimic to offer various EQ adjustments and in-game benefits.

Like the ASUS, MSI offers a BIOS update feature without the CPU/GPU/DRAM installed. On the rest of the rear panel we get two USB 2.0 ports, a combination PS/2 port, four USB 3.0 ports, the 802.11ac Wi-Fi module, two USB 3.1 ports, the gigabit Ethernet port, and the audio jacks.

A couple of interesting things to note on the rear of the board - around the chipset heatsink area, MSI has placed this warning about keeping case standoffs away from the bottom of the board. Because most cases are designed to house all sorts of motherboard form factors, users that take older cases and do not remove the unneeded standoffs can result in short circuits and possibly ruined hardware. Although if a user doesn’t remove the older standoffs, I doubt they will bother reading the rear of the motherboard.

Here’s a handy addition to some motherboards: this tells you how many PCB layers there are. In this case, six. To put that into context, the cheapest motherboards usually have three or four, most mainstream boards will have six or sometimes eight, while high-end desktop usually require eight or ten. Money-no-object motherboards, like server systems, can have twelve. Additional features, like double copper or high-humidity protection, can add +50% each to the cost of the pure PCB.

Precision Boost 2 and XFR2: Ensuring It Hertz More StoreMI: The Way To A Faster JBOD
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  • jjj - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    I was wondering about gaming, so there is no mistake there as Ryzen 2 seems to top Intel.
    As of right now, I don't seem to find memory specs in the review yet, safe to assume you did as always, highest non-OC so Ryzen is using faster DRAM?
    Also yet to spot memory letency, any chance you have some numbers at 3600MHz vs Intel? Thanks.
    Reply
  • jjj - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    And just between us, would be nice to have some Vega gaming results under DX12. Reply
  • aliquis - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    Would be nice if any reviewer actually benchmarked storage devices maybe even virtualization because then we'd see meltdown and spectre mitigation performance. Then again do AMD have any for spectre v2 yet? If not who knows what that will do. Reply
  • HStewart - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    I notice that that systems had higher memory, but for me I believe single threaded performance is more important that more cores. But it would be bias if one platform is OC more than another. Personally I don't over clock - except for what is provided with CPU like Turbo mode.

    One thing that I foresee in the future is Intel coming out with 8 core Coffee Lake

    But at least it appears one thing is over is this Meltdown/Spectre stuff
    Reply
  • Lolimaster - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    Intel 8 core CL won't stop the bleeding, lose more profits making them "cheap" vs a new Ryzen 7nm with at least 10% more clocks and 10% more IPC, RIP. Reply
  • HStewart - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    I just have to agree to disagree on that statement - especially on "cheap" statement Reply
  • ACE76 - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    CL can't scale to 8 cores...not without done serious changes to it's architecture...Intel is in some trouble with this Ryzen refresh...also worth noting is that 7nm Ryzen 2 will likely bring a considerable performance jump while Intel isn't sitting on anything worthwhile at the moment. Reply
  • Alphasoldier - Friday, April 20, 2018 - link

    All Intel's 8cores in HEDT except SkylakeX are based on their year older architecture with a bigger cache and the quad channel.

    So if Intel have the need, they will simply make a CL 8core. 2700X is pretty hungry when OC'd, so Intel don't have to worry at all about its power consuption.
    Reply
  • moozooh - Sunday, April 22, 2018 - link

    > 2700X is pretty hungry when OC'd
    And Intel chips aren't? If Zen+ is already on Intel's heels for both performance per watt and raw frequency, a 7nm chip with improved IPC and/or cache is very likely going to have them pull ahead by a significant margin. And even if it won't, it's still going to eat into Intel's profit as their next tech is 10nm vs. AMD's 7nm, meaning more optimal wafer estate utilization for the latter.

    AMD has really climbed back at the top of their game; I've been in the Intel camp for the last 12 years or so, but the recent developments throw me way back to K7 and A64 days. Almost makes me sad that I won't have any reason to move to a different mobo in the next 6–8 years or so.
    Reply
  • mapesdhs - Friday, March 29, 2019 - link

    Amusing to look back given how things panned out. So yes, Intel released the 9900K, but it was 100% more expensive than the 2700X. :D A complete joke. And meanwhile tech reviewers raved about a peasly 5 to 5.2 oc, on a chip that already has a 4.7 max turbo (major yawn fest), focusing on specific 1080p gaming tests that gave silly high fps number favoured by a market segment that is a tiny minority. Then what happens, RTX comes out and pushes the PR focus right back down to 60Hz. :D

    I wish people to stop drinking the Intel/NVIDIA coolaid. AMD does it aswell sometimes, but it's bizarre how uncritical tech reviewers often are about these things. The 9900K dragged mainstream CPU pricing up to HEDT levels; epic fail. Some said oh but it's great for poorly optimised apps like Premiere, completely ignoring the "poorly optimised" part (ie. why the lack of pressure to make Adobe write better code? It's weird to justify an overpriced CPU on the back of a pro app that ought to run a lot better on far cheaper products).
    Reply

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