AMD Ryzen Motherboards Explained – What AMD AM4 Chipset To Buy

X370, B350 or A320 – Finding The Right AMD AM4 Chipset For Your Needs

Tomorrow, AMD will be launching the Ryzen 7 processor series and this is a hard launch with product availability happening that day. That means tens of thousands of the pre-ordered and newly released processors will be headed out or picked up by the DIY community. You’ll need a new AMD AM4 motherboard to go with one of those brand new Ryzen 7 processors, so you better know which one to get. The good news is that all AMD Ryzen CPU’s and Bristol Ridge APU’s utilize the AMD AM4 socket. The bad news is you’ll need to pick an AM4 board and there are the X370, B350, and A320 chipsets to pick from. Which of these AM4 chipsets is right for you?

Ryzen USB

The top chart above shows the built-in PCIe and I/O capabilities of Ryzen processors and then the lower section shows the features of each of the three main AMD motherboard chipsets that will be launching for the retail market.

MSI A320 PRO-VD Motherboard

MSI A320 PRO-VD Motherboard

AMD A320 Motherboard

If you want to build an AMD Ryzen system on the cheap and are okay with basic features the AMD A320 chipset powered boards might be right for you. These boards are aimed at budget builders and have one USB 3.1 Gen 2 port (10Gbs), two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (5Gbps) and six USB 2.0 ports. You also have two SATA III ports and 4 PCIe Gen 2 lanes that the motherboard makers can use for M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs, SATA Express (yawn) or re-purposed into other things that a motherboard maker might want to offer. The big downside to AMD A320 motherboards is that they are overclocking locked, so that means no overlocking is supported despite all Ryzen 7 processors being unlocked and overclocking friendly. With no multiplier or CPU voltage adjustment in the UEFI (BIOS) this is a platform that most gamers, enthusiasts and overclockers will skip right over. This is platform best suited for low-cost systems where someone will never be in the UEFI and are fine running stock clocks with just a single hard drive or two. AMD has announced that AMD A320 boards are coming, but has failed to announce a timeline for them. If we had to take a wild guess they will likely be coming closer to the AMD Ryzen 3 launch when AMD tackles the low-end processor market. Based on that information we expect these boards to be around $59.99 when they come to market later in 2017.

GIGABYTE GA-AB350-Gaming AM4 Motherboard

GIGABYTE GA-AB350-Gaming AM4 Motherboard

AMD B350 Motherboard

Not too many people have been talking about the AMD B350 chipset leading up to the launch of Ryzen 7, but this is should be the best selling platform for Ryzen. AMD allows CPU overclocking on the B350 motherboards and see it being the ideal platform for gamers that have a single-GPU video card setup. Compared to the bare-bones A320 chipset, AMD gave the B350 an additional USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) port and two additional PCIe lanes for whatever the motherboard maker would like to use it for. It would have been nice to get four additional PCIe lanes as most PCIe NVMe SSDs use the PCIe Gen II x 4 interface and 6 PCIe Gen 2 lanes on a board is a bit weird. This platform does not officially support multi-GPU configurations, so if you want to have the ability to run NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFire in the future you’ll need to invest into an AMD X370 board. As long as you don’t plan on running multiple graphics cards or PCIe NVMe SSDs, this platform should be fine for 95% of gamers that just use a single GPU with a 2-3 storage drives and maybe an optical drive and an add-in board like a sound card. The price range for ATX form factor AMD B350 motherboard will be $99.99 to $129.99 with Micro ATX boards being in the $79.99 to $89.99 range.

MSI X370 XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM

MSI X370 XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM

AMD X370 Motherboard

This is the flagship chipset offered by AMD currently for the AM4 platform. It has the most PCIe lanes at 20 and these boards will have dual PCI Express x16 slots for NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire multi-GPU configurations. Only the AMD X370 and X300 chipsets support two PCIe 3.0 x8 slots for graphics cards that have direct access to the processor. AMD doesn’t even support multi-GPU configurations on other platforms as they will not have the same PCIe 3.0 bandwidth and therefore AMD does not officially support it. The AMD X370 chipset offers four more 5Gbps USB ports and twice as many SATA connectors compared to the B350 chipset motherboards, so if you want to have the most robust AMD AM4 motherboard on the market you’ll want to look at one of the AMD X370 chipset based boards. Prices for these boards start at $144.99 and go all the way up to $299.99 (MSI X370 XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM), so get ready to open that wallet a little wider if you wanted the best.

Small Form Factor Boards 

AMD is making Mini-ITX motherboard fans to wait as these boards will not be coming out right now. Look for AMD X300 chipset based boards to come out closer to around the time Ryzen 5 series processors are launched, but well before Ryzen 3 series processors are released.

Quick AMD AM4 Motherboard Chipset Feature Recap: 

X370 B350 A320
Overclocking Y Y N
PCIe 3.0 x8/x8 (Multi-GPU Support) Y N N
PCIe 2.0 8 6 4
USB 3.1 2 2 1
USB 3.0 6 2 2
USB 2.0 6 6 6
SATA 6 4 4
RAID 0,1,10 0,1,10 0,1,10

 

If you are building an AMD Ryzen 7 system when they launch tomorrow you’ll only be able to find AMD X370 and B350 motherboards to purchase. Right now Newegg has 21 different AMD B350 and X370 boards available for pre-order or purchase. At CES 2017 there were just 16 AMD AM4 motherboards on display, so more are slowly coming to market. In fact, AMD believes that over 80 motherboards are planned and expected based on partner communications they have had. Current prices for AMD AM4 boards range from $79.99 to $299.99 and you’ll find boards from ASRock, ASUS, Biostar, Gigabyte and MSI readily available to purchase on March 2nd, when Ryzen CPUs launch.

Have fun reading the Ryzen reviews tomorrow and we hope that this chipset coverage helps those that go to buy a board tomorrow!


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  • Anirban

    @nathankirsch:disqus, there’s a wrong description about the SATA ports’ quantities from AMD. B350 has 4 SATA ports, right?

    The prices in India, Nathan… 😮 The price difference of x370 from MSI is $141.45! Tax.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e5cb962f6329c5e056e47a4e540d72cfb088da7f12ee1583ff045e19d229cd0e.jpg

  • Skip ASRock as they have the worst customer support in the history of mankind!

    These builds and numbers will be great to see. Let’s hope the competition is back!!!! and ASRock goes out of business soon or makes products that aren’t broken and then blames the consumer.

    http://forums.legitreviews.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=43923

    Yep, still pissed ASRock and hoping nobody buys anything from you ever again.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      They have bad reviewer support in the United States too. We get really poor e-mail responses to our questions, so I can only imagine what a normal consumer deals with.

    • davidus

      Mate, your link and the thread are from stone age,i.e. 2013. Have you considered the fact, that Asrock might have changed for good? Or are you like a certain friend of mine? That guy bought once a hard disk, which was pretty much DoA. RMA, received instantly a new one, again disk had error.
      Goes back to the store, the store explains that a whole batch was malfunctioning, but it was only this delivered batch, all others were fine.
      10 years later, and he still refuses to buy hard-disks from that company based on that experience…
      Btw, my experience with Asrock was so far way better than with Asus or Gigabyte, but thats just me.

      • They may have changed, but I have not seen anything to indicate it, especially when site reviewers say they have bad support also.

        A simple swap out of the MB they sent that was already bad would have solved everything but they decided to tell all the customers that had this exact problem that it was their fault and deal with it, so until I see/hear something different about ASRock I will continue to point people to other companies.

        No I am not like your friend as I know some things are bad from factory, it’s just when a company wont make it right that makes me mad and I stay mad.

  • DeusEx

    I bought the MSI one pictured in white.

    AMD INTEL and NVIDIA are rejuvenating the PC market.

    Same needs to be done to this site. Bring it back to its former glory nate!