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Overview of the Gigabyte GA-AB350-Gaming 3 Motherboard

At the announcement stage of new auxiliary components, AMD specialists emphasized the full readiness for overclocking the motherboards based on the B350 middle bridge, and not only for 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. Also, the number of supported devices with SATA and USB interfaces is reduced.

In the field of the processor power regulator there is a decent radiator, a thorough approach to designing the device also allows to fully understand the possibilities of such products. At the same time, there are no additional controllers here, so this fact inevitably affects the price.

A distinctive feature of the gaming boards is the increased attention to the sound and network subsystems, as well as to backlighting. Given not the highest rank of the product, the audio codec here is not equipped with an auxiliary op-amp, and the cFosSpeed utility is the bonus to the regular Etherneth adapter from Realtek. There are two pads for LED-tapes as well.

Features


Chipset: AMD B350
Processor socket: AMD AM4
Processors: AMD Series: Athlon X4, A6, A8, A10, A12, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7
RAM: 4 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400/2667*/ 2933*/3200* (OS), a maximum of 64 GB
PCI-E 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
Built-in video core (in APU): Radeon Series: R7, R5
Video sockets: HDMI 1.4, DVI-D
Connected fans: 5x4pin
PS/2 ports: 1 (keyboard/mouse)
USB ports: 2 x 3.1 Gen2 (2 connectors on the rear panel, B350)
4 x 3.1 Gen1 (4 sockets on the rear panel, CPU/APU/Athlon)
2 x 3.1 Gen1 (no rear connectors, B350)
5 x 2.0 (1 connector on the rear panel, B350)
Serial ATA: 6 x SATA 6 Gb / s (B350)
RAID: 0, 1, 10 (SATA, B350)
Built-in sound: Codec — Realtek ALC1220 (7.1, HDA)
S/PDIF: optical (output)
Networking: Realtek 8111G (Gigabit Ethernet)
COM:TPM: +
UEFI: AMI UEFI
Form factor: ATX
Dimensions, mm: 305x230
Additional features: Diagnostic LEDs (CPU, DRAM, VGA, BOOT), a pair of pads for connecting RGB LED, USB (DAC-UP 2) for connecting an external DAC, support for AMD 2-Way CrossFireX, fixing six temperature values

Packing and Equipment


The packaging design is no different from the products using the chips from a competing company – Intel. The presence of small icons in the lower right corner accurately identifies the product.

The description of the main features is concentrated on the back side of the box. Also there is a photo of the board and a small table with its features.

The equipment includes the following items:

  • • user guide that details and illustrates the UEFI subparagraphs (in English);
  • • multilingual quick installation instructions;
  • • disk with drivers and firmware;
  • • holster for convenient connection of G-Connector case sockets;
  • • case cover, supplemented with a sticker in black tones with a color and symbolic designation of all sockets;
  • • 4 SATA 6Gb/s cables, two of which have a L-shaped socket at one end;
  • • 5-wire extension for connecting LED strip.

Outlook


The board is more than a centimeter narrower than the ATX standard and therefore it has only seven points for mounting in the case. There are no auxiliary buttons on its surface, no probing areas or the indicator of POST codes. There is a simplified mechanism for fast diagnostics – four red LEDs, the glow of each corresponds to a specific node that is currently being initialized.

The rear side is notable for the presence of a pair of elements from the voltage stabilizer for the CPU, there are also RGB-type LEDs soldered at the insulating gaps in the codec placement area. Both radiators use a reliable screw fastening system.

The cooling of the hub is taken care of properly, a massive ribbed radiator is chosen. It has no backlighting of its own.

The B350 provides four SATA ports. Two more are realized by the CPU resources.

For high-speed and compact M.2 products there is one free seat, its dimensions are up to size 22110.

For the case USB slots there is a pair of pads of the second generation and one – of the third.

The appearance of the expansion slots can be misleading. Only the upper reinforced PCI-E x16 has the resource of the PCI-E lines directly from the CPU, the other only works with the four coming from the hub. The third, the lowest one, has just the only line. Fortunately, all these facts are mentioned when marking the slots.

The network adapter is selected among the simplest models available today, but the sound is given more attention. There is a shielding cap on the codec and a group of special capacitors. The gap is equipped with backlighting, and there is a shoe just above the PCIEX1_1 socket for its needs. It will be most convenient to connect the processor (luminous) cooler there.

The main role in the backlighting goes to a special light-guide which occupies the space between two powerful RGB diodes.

An additional pin socket for five pins is located at the bottom edge. That small extension cord included in the delivery kit is meant for it.

Firmware chips, both main and backup, are located closer to the processor socket. There is enough space for a painless installation of the CPU cooling system.

The stabilizer is based on the 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 for the CPU NB (SOC) Voltage. The tested power assemblies ON Semiconductor NTMFS4C10N are used (one element is meant for each channel), as well as NTMFS4C06N (two – for CPU channels, one – for each Uncore voltage channel).

The radiator used is exactly the same as in the previous model. There are no problems with a clamp footprint, as well as with the area of the thermal pad used. Maybe a couple of assemblies on the back of the board can bother a bit.

The configuration of input-output slots on the rear panel is good as for mainstream mainboard.

UEFI Features


The firmware updates opportunities have seriously changed. The outlook and structure is no different from the motherboards, where Intel products are used as hubs. There is a basic mode of settings for selecting XMP profile or going to the fan setup page. In fact, it just provides information about the system components. And here the complete absence of proprietary profiles for overclocking is seen at once.

Full-scale mode allows making basic settings. There are lots of versions for interface localization.

The main section is M.I.T. contains the main toolkit used for overclocking the system. Its opportunities are, frankly speaking, basic. There is no mechanism for resisting a drop in voltage at all.

Smart Fan 5 is a real evolution of the mechanism for monitoring fans from Gigabyte specialists. On each of the five slots an auto-detection of the connected device is working. There is also a choice as a reference temperature of one of six indications, they are placed here as well and are clearly seen. Eight profiles for storing settings are quite useful.

Proprietary Software


An interesting situation has developed with a set of programs. on the manufacturer’s webpage containing the product features description, as well as on the box, there is a bonus cFosSpeed indicated, but utilities downloading section it is for some reason absent, though the installer can be found on the proprietary disk. The whole software set looks like this:

Proprietary: APP Center (3D OSD, @BIOS, Ambient LED (RGB Fusion), Auto Green, BIOS Setup, Cloud Station, Color Tempertaure, EasyTune, Fast Boot, Game Boost, Smart Backup Time Lock, System Information Viewer, V-Tuner, USB Blocker, USB DAC-UP 2)
Network: cFosSpeed Internet Accelerator Software, TriDef SmartCam (license for 90 days), XSplit Gamecaster + Broadcaster (premium license for 14 days)

APP Center helps find the latest versions of utilities and drivers, download and update them. Previously uninstalled programs can be installed here as well.

@BIOS helps find a firmware fresh version on the web and replace the start screen image.

BIOS Setup is a shortened version of the system settings for the most timid users.

The automatic login to the UEFI environment is implemented immediately after the system reboot, but it is not so convenient to use, as it is necessary to perform lots of unnecessary operations.

Game Boost work principles have not changed.

In addition to standard backlighting schemes Gigabyte developers suggest the possibility of creating scripts with complex effects. Some of them can already be downloaded from the product webpage, and RGB Fusion will help to import them painlessly. Illumination management using a separate mobile application is also announced.

USB DAC-UP 2 will help to increase the voltage level on the rear panel ports.

The mechanisms of EasyTune do not complement the UEFI features. There are no LLC profiles, except that one ready profile for overclocking the system is available allowing to increase the frequency to 3.8 GHz. The processor temperature in idle mode is 13 degrees, obviously, the board slightly understates this value.

SIV is interesting firstly with the ability to calibrate the fans. There are flaws on the System Alert page (the lower threshold for the CPU voltage is too high) and under the Record heading (one cannot switch between the three tabs).

Sound management is entrusted to the proprietary Realtek utility. Everything looks standard as for the ALC1220. The material flow is quite good, but models with the onboard OpAmp sound much more confident. There are no problems with the cFosSpeed performance, despite the soldered network card from Realtek. The demos of TriDef SmartCam and XSplit Gamecaster can be used if necessary.

Conclusions


The product leaves a double impression of itself. The excellent fan control system, as well as the availability of six independent temperature indicators that can be used to compile the algorithm of the PC cooling system, are to be noted. Unusual backlighting and careful elaboration of its settings is also an important positive factor. The perfect audio codec is a distinct advantage as well.

The fact of the UEFI new settings introduced and the operation of memory modules at a frequency of 3200 MHz from the usual series, not the notorious representatives of Samsung B-die, should be separately noted.

Unfortunately, CPU overclocking is limited by the UEFI features (there are no LLC profiles, the set of opportunities for changing voltages is basic). The power subsystem is designed exactly to work on the default settings, although even in this case the manufacturer went on a trick and automatically lowered the CPU Voltage level related to the nominal value.

However, using a very powerful (and noisy) blowing-in fan, the Ryzen 7 1800X is still able to be overclocked. Perhaps the radiator modification and its subsequent forced ventilation will somehow help to reach certain heights in overclocking.

As for the work in the normal mode, in most applications the processor works no worse than in the system based on the more expensive system logic. It is this goal, apparently, the developers have tried to achieve, and therefore, they have coped with it successfully.
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  • 12 June 2017, 15:35
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