ASRock x370 Professional Gaming
With the Fatal1ty x370 Professional Gaming, ASRock has expanded its current lineup with a product for the higher end market. Equipped with everything you could desire, if you want to achieve maximum performance.
Memory slots: 4
Memory type: DDR4
PCIe 3.0 x 16 Slots: 2
PCIe 2.0 x 16 Slots: 1
PCIe x 1 Slots: 2
M.2 Slots: 2
SATA Ports: 8 + 2
USB 3.0: 6 + 4
USB 3.1: 1 Typ A, 1 Typ C
Audio connectors: 5 x 3.5mm Klinke, 1 x Toslink
Codec: Realtek ALC1220
Networking: 1 x 5 GBit, 1x 1 GBit
RGB: 3 Zonen auf dem Board + 2 Header
Features: Bluetooth & WiFi, Clear CMOS Button
Ausstattung (Aquantia 5 GBit Lan, WiFi, Bluetooth)
Speicherkompatibelität / -OC
After nearly 7 years, the name of Fatal1ty-branded line of mainboards should ring a bell for most of us. Targeted at gamers and enthusiasts alike, the main focus since the first generation was delivering the best performance possible for those groups. Even though the current Fatal1ty lineup for the AM4 socket is still a little smaller than the one for LGA1151, ASRock did not forget the Fatal1ty x370 Professional Gaming, the current generation’s flagship. With it being one of a few high-class mainboards in price, we should be able to see the philosophy more than clearly. We took a closer look to see if this is really the case.
The package contains, besides the manuals and I/O cover, two antennas, screws for the M.2 slots, two SATA cables, an installation CD and a SLI-bridge. On top of that you’ll get a postcard with the gaming logo. Whoever is waiting for further gimmicks, like key chains or something like that, will be disappointed.
Layout and features
The back directly showcases the first features the x370 Professional Gaming will have to offer: Integrated WiFi and Bluetooth, two Lan-ports – one of which is designed for up to 5 GBit/s – and gold audio jacks. With 6 USB 3.0 and two USB 3.1 (1 Type A, 1 Type C) the mainboard is equipped relatively well. Optionally there will be 4 additional USB 3.0 Ports available through the two headers on board. Last but not least there is a “clear CMOS” switch as well as a PS/s port.
Dr. Debug is yet another feature with a fixed place on quite a few iterations of Fatal1ty boards, that can come in quite handy when tuning the system to directly see the cause if the system fails to start-up.
In terms of storage media, the x370 Professional Gaming is yet again more than well equipped. With 10 SATA 3 6 GB/s connectors, 8 of which can be operated within a RAID and two additional ones, which come from a separate ASMedia controller, as well as an M.2 and an Ultra M.2 slot, this board offers everything you will need in the foreseeable future.
For an optimal sound experience, the x370 Professional Gaming employs the Realtek ALC 1220 Codec, which is complemented by the Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 3 software. Furthermore Nichicon Gold Series audio caps and a TI® NE5532 premium headset amplifier are used. Also advertised is the fact that the left and right audio channels use separate layers of the PCB. A feature that other manufacturers use as well to minimize interference and preserve the quality of the signals.
The two upper PCIe slots have been reinforced, so that in the long run longer and more massive gpus will not be able to bend them. A feature more and more manufacturers are employing.
While all fan connectors can be operated in both PWM and DC mode, there are two headers which are also declared as pump headers. Ultimately this means they can deliver up to 1.5 amps instead of 1 like the others. The best choice at this point would have been to place at least one of those near the SATA ports, or generally at the lower right end. CHA_FAN1 would have been a good choice for that, since in most cases the pump will reside somewhere down there. Due to the placement used on the ASRock x370 Professional Gaming, you have to consider either the placement of a pump or extensions for the connectors.
Let there be light!
Obviously, the x370 professional gaming does come with a colorful array of LEDs. However, ASRock pursues the principle of maximum freedom to the user. The Southbridge, I / O Armor, Sound Blaster Logo and the RGB headers can be individually set. This applies not only to the colors, but also to the light effects. Of course, the majority of customers will not make full use of this, but more freedom is generally not a bad approach. The choice of the general board design is a bit of a pity, though. Of course, red and black are the classic colors of the Fatal1ty series, but due to this possible color schemes variations will be a bit more restricted. Of course, the design of the board is no longer visible in absolute darkness and the red heatsinks do not stand out as well, but in every other situation is striking. Almost all other manufacturers have renounced their colors in recent generations and they didn’t do that just because they were bored with them. Red and black have also played a major role in the gaming section of MSI and ASUS, but both companies have already abandoned all their color accents in their (gaming) mainboards with z270 chipset.
Of course to ahve the best equipment and performance means nothing if you can’t achieve their maximum potential. Often, especially in the area of overclocking, there is no way past the BIOS. Its functionality and design can have a huge influence on the impression the mainboard leaves behind. Therefore we want to give an idea of what to expect from the x370 Professional Gaming. So here is an overview of all the settings.
As you can see, there are no really unpleasant surprises waiting for potential users. The oc-settings are quickly accessible and clearly arranged. In addition, the SMT settings are integrated as well, which otherwise would only be accessible within the zen-specific settings. On the whole, everything is relatively standard here and regarding the usability and tuning options, ASRock is on par with the competition. One thing, however, will most likely be missed by beginners: autotuning or oc-presets that deliver overclocking with just a single click. This is a bit of a pity, especially since ASRock would basically be able to do so. In BIOS version 1.6 it was possible to leave all voltage values on auto and only specify the desired clock. A stability up to 3.8 GHz could be achieved thanks to this method. Since version 2.0, the voltage is fixed and has to be set as soon as you choose to set the cpu’s clock to manual. A small rework from ASRock to include such a feature would therefore be a great addition. However, we can assume that this topic is already on the schedule, since the F-Stream Tuning app already has several modes to choose from in its latest beta version. (Right now they don’t do anything but them being there tells us that the plan is to include OC presets).
Other settings, especially zen-specific ones, are also quickly accessible and the menu is structured as a tree, almost identical to the competition.
A plus, in any case, is the Hyper BCLK Engine II, the built-in clock generator, which can be used to increment the base clock. Despite it being a plus, it created some kind of disappointment: Changing the base clock resets all the other settings (core clock and voltage, memory clock and timings). Adjusting just the base clock will leave you with all other settings left to tune again, too.
Another big plus is the automatic update functionality directly available within the bios. Besides updating your BIOS right away, you can download the latest drivers directly onto a USB stick.
If overclockers are among the main target groups, we just can’t ignore this point. According to the manufacturer, you should have everything available on the x370 professional gaming to achieve the best OC results. With 16 power phases and IR Digital PWM, significantly more stable currents are possible, whereby the former is also to guarantee lower VRM temperatures at same voltages. Since lower temperatures often means also more stable core voltages, we do get positive effects on stability. All this should be supported by the two-layer MOSFETs, which should be cooler due to a larger area, too. But of course, this is only information from ASRock itself and is not to be taken for certain until checked.
For our tests the x370 Professional Gaming was equipped with a Ryzen R5 1600 and 2 x 8 GB G.Skill Trident-Z RGB (F4-3200C14D-16GTZR). Our Ryzen seemed to hit a wall at exactly 4200 MHz, no matter the optimization attempts. For example, values of just under 4.2 GHz were possible in a variety of settings (100 x 41.75 up to 120 x 34.74 or 115 x 36.5), but a clock rate of over 4.2 GHz could not be reached in a single pass. Stability means that the system did run 30 minutes under full stress (Prime 95). An ASUS Crosshair VI Hero was also used to obtain comparative values (the same goes for future performance tests). Again, 4.2 GHz was not achievable, but all other possible variations were possible just below that value with exactly the same voltages. One little difference could be noted: The VRM temperature of the Crosshair VI was higher in every setting than that of the x370 professional gaming, averaging 4 Kelvin over all results.
As it turned out, the biggest problem finding the best settings was caused by the RAM. Considering that the modules used (G.Skill F4-3200C14D-16GTZR) are currently not supported by ASRock, clock rates of more than 3150 MHz are still quite remarkable. As with all current AM4 boards, it is always advised to take a peek at the memory QVL to save yourself unnecessary efforts and jump right in thanks to working XMP-Settings.
Since the performance of Ryzen processors scales rather strongly with memory speeds, we looked for the best combination of memory and cpu clocks attainable on the x370 Professional Gaming with the given hardware. This was:
- CPU: 4130.8 MHz
- RAM: 3168 MHz (14-14-15-34)
- Vcore: 1.52 Volt
- BCLK: 108
Therefore one can look forward to the update announced for may, which AMD will provide for all manufacturers and which will include possible memory clocks beyond 3200 MH for everyone. At the same time, ASRock is also expanding their list of supported modules by means of BIOS updates on a regular basis.
Pure performance values from benchmarks oftentimes have very little meaning, if they can’t be compared to others. In addition, they are difficult, sometimes even impossible to compare as different sources usually use completely different setups for their tests. But memory speeds and timing, disabled / enabled boost and for some benchmarks and/or games even the disks used can be of influence. The results are meaningless if you want to compare them to those of others, so much so that you can’t really say anything about the difference in performance of two mainboards without running them through the same tests with the same hardware at the exact same settings yourself.
Because of this, we used the already mentioned ASUS x370 Crosshair VI Hero, considered by many to be the best AM4 board so far and equipped it with the same components. Just to be clear: “Same” does not mean that two systems were set up with the same components and tested in parallel, but rather that all components from system 1 (except for the board) were put in system 2 after the first batch of tests were done. Therefore we can guarantee that cpu, gpu, memory and disks have the exact same performance across all tests. Both boards had the most recent BIOS with the latest AGESA updates installed.
- Processor: Ryzen 5 1600 @ 3.4 GHz (Boost deactivated)
- Mainboard: ASRock x370 Professional Gaming | ASUS x370 Crosshair VI Hero
- Memory: G.Skill Trident-Z RGB @ 2666 (16-16-17-35)
- GPU: Zotac NVidia GTX 780Ti AMP! Edition
- System disk: Samsung 850 Evo 256 GB
- Storage disk: Western Digital Blue 2 TB
- Power supply: Corsair VS 650
We ran all tests at least 5 times and the results listed here represents the average values of these measurements. For FPS data from games, the same scene was selected and the average images per second was measured over 10 minutes.
As you can see, there is no clear winner. The values are in some cases so close to one another, that they could be different measurements within the same set.
With the Fata1ty x370 Professional Gaming, ASRock has released a solid and, above all, well equipped mainboard. You’ll get a board that delivers the best gaming experience possible out of the box for your hardware. Concerning overclocking, you don’t have to worry about not being able to squeeze out the last MHz.
Thanks to the 5 GBit Lan port as well as WiFi and Bluetooth on-board, you are prepared for all eventualities. The zone-wise adjustable lighting is another plus, which is however somewhat weakened by the non-neutral design.
For anyone that is looking for the best performance (whether with or without OC), the x370 Professional Gaming should be one of the few boards to consider. Right now, however, you should pick memory modules already listed as compatible in order to avoid frustration. The lower VRM temperatures are definitely something that can make the difference when you are using a good chip. Otherwise, you’ll just have to think about a waterblock for your VRM at higher voltages.
For this stunning performance we‘ll give the absolutely deserved Gold Award