X370, B350 or A320: The AMD Ryzen is becoming ever more attractive to PC hobbyists for its significantly cheaper price than at release. We reveal which motherboard chipset you should get.
The Ryzen 1800X is the flagship of the new AMD processors. It will not be fun for users to use without a motherboard, though.
AMD Ryzen CPUs are a good choice for gamers, as the CPUs performed very well in tests. The performance is great, and the price is also appealing. For PC hobbyists, it is important to find useful combinations of board and motherboard, as well as RAM and graphics cards. AMD have three chipsets, on which basis users can choose matching motherboards. That would be the models X370, B350 or A320. This excludes boards for SFF systems (Small Form Factor) with an A300 chipset (X300 and A300). It is a less popular format, which is often found in office computers or mini PCs. The latter also applies for the A320. Although, through the focus on classical desktop systems, the chipset is, in our opinion, not left out.
The order of the chipsets corresponds to the descending request profiles of different users. The X370 is therefore tailored towards enthusiasts and the A320 to the simple average user. All motherboards for AMD Ryzen processors rely on an AM4 socket, just as with the previous generation of AMD processors and APUs (Advanced Processing Unit; Processors with integrated graphics). The X370 chipset does not support processors with integrated graphics, only the B350 and A320 can do this. It will be interesting when AMD releases processors from the Raven Ridge series in the beginning of 2018, which require video output on the board for each integrated graphics unit.
All chipsets have two SATA Express connectors and the supported RAID modes (0, 1, 10). There will also be support for the second generation of USB 3.1. The differences between the X370, B350 and A320 lie mostly in the features. There are gradations depending on the number of necessary connectors for USB devices and SATA drives. As such, you will have to decide when buying whether you want to use one or two graphics cards (AMD Crossfire/Nvidia SLI) or overclock the processor. The following table gives information about the most important parameters.
|PCI Express Gen3||1 (x16) / 2 (x8)||1 (x16) / 1 (x8)||1×16 / 1×8|
|USB 3.1 G2 + G1 + 2.0||2 + 10 + 6||2 + 6 + 6||1 + 6 + 6|
|SATA + NVMe||6 + 1 (x2) or 4 + 1 (x4)||4 + 1 (x2) or 2 + 1 (x4)||4 + 1 (x2) or 2 + 1 (x4)|
Two figures show how the available bandwidth (number of PCI express lanes) changes with the use of specific device quantities and combinations. In this way, if you connect many devices to your computer and need the best performance possible, direct yourself to the chipset portfolio above. If you want to use two graphics cards together (AMD Crossfire/Nvidia SLI), then the X370 is the only option, whereas overclocking Ryzen processors only works on X370 and B350. The A320 is enough for a common but still powerful system, which does not need to be overclocked. You can easily, for example, install an SSD, several large magnetic hard discs and a powerful graphics card. If you need overclocking and more drives, and in particular would like to use a M.2.SSD, but do not necessarily have to have the full PCI express bandwidth, the B350 is the best choice. Enthusiasts and optimisers who do not want to limit themselves, on the other hand, are better off getting the X370. It is important to note that the number of available connectors can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The AMD figures are the maximum supported amount. ‘’
It does not have to be the 276$ ASUS Crosshair VI Hero. Cheaper competitors are enough for most users.
Which manufacturer and which RAM?
If you have now found the right chipset for Ryzen, it is worth checking the offer from the manufacturer. Depending on the company, there will be more differences in installed chips for network communication or sound output. The number of connectors for PCI express expansion cards or USB devices can also vary. A market overview of all available motherboards is currently not possible due to the lack of test samples. For now, we leave it to cheap but recommendable tips for your combination. We base this on manufacturer experiences, specifications and current prices. The selection of Ryzen motherboards is great. Later and more comprehensive market surveys will be able to provide a better overview for interested buyers.
- MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon
- Asus Prime X370-Pro
Along with a second slot for an M.2 SSD, the MSI board also has RGB lighting and two additional USB 2.0 slots. This is more than enough for printers, mice and most keyboards, for example, while you can use two additional high-speed USB ports for fast USB sticks and external hard drives. As for further priceworthy recommendations, there are the following motherboards for your Ryzen PC:
- MSI X370 Krait Gaming
- Gigabyte AX370-Gaming K3
The MSI X370 Krait Gaming has almost the same features as the MSI X370 SLI Plus. The difference lies primarily in the design and the number of internal USB ports. The gigabyte board hits the mark with 2x USB 3.1.
- MSI B350 Tomahawk
- Asus Prime B350-Plus
Both motherboards provide enough PCI Express slots for expansion cards. ASUS allows you to connect more SATA hard drives and USB devices. Just as before, MSI has RGB lighting which will be interesting for RGB modders. As for further priceworthy recommendations, there are the following motherboards for your Ryzen PC:
- MSI B350 PC Mate
- AsRock Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming-ITX
The ITX form factor for living room PCs is popular. Along with its small dimensions, the AsRock also has integrated WLAN and Bluetooth. It is the same for the MSI PC Mate: a cheaper price and more than sufficient basic equipment for everyday users.
The A320 chipset meets the basic requirements. This chipset is ideal for small office and home computers or universal office machines for home offices. It does not need overclocking or connection miracles. The current offer contains, fittingly, a Micro ATX board.
- Asus Prime A320M-K
- MSI A320M Grenade
- AsRock A320M Pro4
The first two budget boards have, amongst other things, PCI express x16, an M.2 slot and 6x SATA, which are the most important basic features. USB Type C is available at AsRock.
Along with Adata, Corsair was one of the first manufacturers to have validated RAM for Ryzen. Pictured: Vengeance LPX RAM bars
Ryzen uses DDR4 memory. This had to be tested in mid-2017 and ideally be released by the manufacturer for Ryzen. This is because various RAM configurations and particular clock cycles could cause problems for AMD Ryzen systems. Corsair and Adata had Ryzen-validated RAM during their release. When buying, you only have to make sure that the motherboard manufacturer provides a BIOS firmware with an AMD AGESA 22.214.171.124 update. This mostly applies to the manufacturers recommended here – ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte and AsRock.