AMD’s newest processor is creating a buzz all over the tech world. AMD fans and gaming enthusiasts have been waiting a long time for a competitive product from the company. Now, with real-world performance to back up their usually tall claims, AMD seems on the right track.
Before launching a chip, however, processors need to have a ready-to-install and ready-to-purchase ecosystem. Since AMD is using the new AM4 socket for its new Ryzen chips and its subsequent APU releases, older motherboards will no longer suffice.
Collaborating with 5 largest motherboard manufacturers, namely, ASRock, Asus, Biostar, MSI, and Gigabyte, AMD is ensuring that the processor ecosystem is ready before the Ryzen launch. At CES 2017, they revealed 16 top-of-the-line motherboards using the new AM4 sockets.
AMD Chipsets for AM4 Motherboards
These motherboards are slated to release in 4 chipset variants – X/A/B300, A320, B350, and X370. The X370 chipset is an enthusiast level chipset, supporting overclocking and Crossfire/SLI, while the X300 will be the smallest (for desktop users with mini-ITX and the like), cheapest, most basic chipset, without overclocking capabilities. All these chipsets can take advantage of the technology built into the AM4 socket, such as:
Considering the fact that AMD has lagged behind Intel in implementing newer technologies for several years now, it is refreshing to see a powerful lineup of motherboards, waiting for an AMD processor to launch.
However, critics do argue that these capabilities still seem like AMD trying to catch up with Intel. Nevertheless, if AMD can offer slightly better or even the same performance at a lower price, the market will immediately become competitive again.
Intel monopolizing the processor market for the last few years has led to lackluster and incremental upgrades to processors, celebrated with so much pomp that it could be mistaken as the second coming equivalent for processors.
1. X370 Chipset – Enthusiast
This one is aimed at the overclocker and tweaker population of the PC community. Moreover, this is the chipset to buy if you plan to use multiple GPUs, as the other chipsets do not support their use. Furthermore, gamers and creators will love to know that these chipsets support both NVidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX. Add to this dual lane (2 x16) PCIe 3.0 capability, you get a board equipped to handle even the most demanding of customers.
Providing excellent control over base-level inputs, this chipset is bound to grant significant tweaking capabilities to the power user.
Confirmed products shipping with the X370 chipset and the AM4 socket:
ASRock X370 – Taichi
ASRock X370 Gaming K4
Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming K5
Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5
MSI X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium
2. B350 Chipset – Mainstream
Offering value for money, motherboards with these chipsets are expected to sell the most compared to all the other chipsets. Capability for handling multiple GPUs is absent on boards with this chipset. However, let’s face it, not everyone has the budget or use for multi-GPU systems. Additionally, the number of USB 3.1 Gen 1 I/O support reduces to 2 from 6 on the X370.
Apart from these, all the other X370 functionality carries over onto the B350 chipset, including, yes – overclocking support.
Motherboards with the B350 chipset:
ASRock AB350 Gaming K4
Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3
ASUS Prime B350-Plus
MSI B350 Tomahawk
3. MSI B350M Mortar 3. A320 – Essential
These chipsets will appeal to the plug-and-play gamer who wants nothing more than fitting in their shiny new Ryzen CPU and playing. With no overclocking support, these chipsets do not offer fine base-level control of the motherboard like the X370 and B350. As expected, they do not support multi-GPUs as well. In my opinion, motherboards with the A320 chipset will be priced at near the entry-level range. Confirmed products shipping with the A320 chipset:
ASRock A320M Pro4
MSI A320M Pro-VD
Complaints about the absence of small-factor motherboards in the AMD lineup are alleviated with the announcement of the X300 chipset. Specifically aimed at small factor desktops like the Mini-ITX, it offers minimal functionality, feature-wise, compared to the other chipset models.
Hence, people with small form-factor desktops can conveniently install the Ryzen CPU using one of the motherboards shipping with this chipset.
However, AMD failed to showcase any motherboards with the X300 chipset at the CES 2017, but I expect to see some products cropping up, as the launch window looms closer.
In addition to displaying a sizeable number of motherboards with the latest AMD chipsets at CES, AMD also presented However, AMD failed to showcase any motherboards with the X300 chipset at the CES 2017, but I expect to see some products cropping up, as the launch window looms closer. Wrap-Up In addition to displaying a sizeable number of motherboards with the latest AMD chipsets at CES, AMD also presented third party, AM4 supported coolers, which immediately excited the overclocking crowd attending the event. The AMD ecosystem seems solid as of now; I sincerely hope AMD Ryzen doesn’t do a Bulldozer.