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970M Pro3 VRM components

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wardog View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wardog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2016 at 8:24pm
mATX board depth has always been an issue, seemingly/especially with Users in Europe that pay a much higher price for energy than we(I) do here in the US.

Yet I see the conundrum of the manufactures too. Hmmm, do we build a board that sips, or can we build a board that does double duty, sip, and be able to OC and guzzle.

Getting both onto an mATX board is not a sliding scale of profitability for any manufacturer.

For ASRock, IMHO, mATX falls falls somewhere between their full sized ATX offerings and that of their sipping board offerings found on asrockrack.com.

And never mind the HTPC market is dwindling, so there is even more stress in keeping the mATX board cost down, even if it does mean placing lower performance parts on to keep the price in check for mATX boards that surely has/had represented small production numbers and a narrow populace inclined to want them.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PetrolHead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2016 at 9:03pm
I don't think power consumption of computers is a big thing even over here in Europe. In any case I think it is a reasonable assumption that anyone concerned about the power consumption would choose Intel instead of AMD ten times out of ten.

I don't know how much financial sense the 970M Pro3 made to ASRock in the first place. In any case I believe they could have made a better board and make more money off it as well. After all, they already had designs for better VRMs and regarding the VRM it doesn't really matter if the board is ATX or mATX (mITX is a different matter). The parts themselves can't cost much, so on the surface it would seem that even a modest price hike would cover the higher production expenses. In fact, I'm almost willing to bet that ASRock's engineers would have liked to make this board even better, but the marketing department shut them down. ;) I still wonder why not, though. A really robust board would also hold PR value, which shouldn't be underestimated. Since the market is filled with average motherboards, doing something special might benefit the brand in the long run even if the board itself would not be a financial success.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Xaltar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jan 2016 at 10:54pm
The "Pro" series of boards are all budget oriented while offering a few typically higher end features to make them more attractive. I guess you could call them ASRock's mainstream products, aimed at your average user. I suspect they chose not to reinvent the wheel with AM3+ boards so close to end of life for the socket. For the most part, if you look at sales figures, most new built AM3+ systems are built around cheaper FX CPUs like the FX 4k and 6k series. 

The FX 6K series still offer great value thanks to the very low cost + high core count and while those cores are weak by comparison to intel, gaming in particular utilizes them very well. Part of this is Jaguar cores in current gen consoles are not too different in performance and multi threading, at least from a coding perspective. This means that games coded and optimized for consoles will tend to run pretty well on FX CPUs. When you consider that games on consoles run on ~6 cores with the remaining 2 cores of their Jaguar APUs being reserved by the console itself for OS and other functions an FX 6k makes very sound sense to a gamer, especially on a budget. The FX 6k is about the sweet spot for ASRock's 970 based boards and shouldn't need more than the power design they provide with them.

I do agree that the marketing should have been more transparent as to the limitations of these boards. Personally I would have marketed them as "gaming" products designed for the newer FX 6k CPUs with a TDP max of 65w. I skipped the entire FX line and went intel after my Phenom II x4 955 which is still going strong as a spare PC. I was never impressed with the performance of the FX line, it simply isn't worth the TDP overhead imo. I am really looking forward to Zen, AMD seldom make the same mistakes twice and I suspect Zen may just kick intel in the britches.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parsec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2016 at 12:52am
I just read that MSI just released a new AM3+ board. 970 and SB950 chipset, 4 + 1 VRM, no heat sink, rated for 125W processors.

Yet another legendary board?

Meanwhile, my ASRock Z170 board has a 12 phase CPU VRM with 20 capacitors, 12 inductors, and two heat sinks. My 91W TDP processor at stock speed draws 45W of power from the VRM running a stress test.

The MSRP of this board was ~$279 when released, down to $209.99 with rebate now. Expensive for an ASRock board, but it has many modern features, dual BIOS, three PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 ports, dual LAN chips, USB 3.1 built in and an USB 3.1 add on card with front panel mounting.

This is not about superiority, but getting what you pay for. AMD needs to get themselves out of budget board land, IMO.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PetrolHead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2016 at 7:50am
I guess MSI wants to hold on to its reputation of having weak VRMs. :D Not a good market strategy, if you ask me.

It should be noted that the Intel architecture is a bit different and comparing the VRMs between Intel and AMD is not straightforward. In the Skylake architecture the CPU TDP has been lowered at the expense of putting more stress on the VRM. For the OC enthusiasts this is apparently good news in the sense that cooling the CPU becomes easier, but then the VRM section naturally needs to be able to handle the extra load (http://www.overclock.net/t/1572028/z170-vrm-discussion-thread#post_24367959). Edit: I take it all back!

I wonder what the overheads are on those Intel boards. As is the case in many other products, the cheaper motherboards are likely the ones with the smallest profit margins and the pricier motherboards have more air in their price tags. So, a top-of-the-line motherboard will not cost more only because it's of higher quality, but also because it's "top-of-the-line". Another thing that can be expected to affect customer behaviour is the observed "norm" in pricing. Since Intel's CPUs are generally pricier than AMD's, an Intel customer can be expected to be prepared to pay some extra for the motherboard as well. It could be argued that while on AMD's side you pay for optimistic promises like "octa-core CPU" or "supports FX-9xxx CPUs", on Intel's side you pay extra for brand image. Neither really offers the optimal value for money.


Edited by PetrolHead - 24 Jan 2016 at 9:07am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wardog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2016 at 8:18am
Originally posted by PetrolHead PetrolHead wrote:

In the Skylake architecture the CPU TDP has been lowered at the expense of putting more stress on the VRM. For the OC enthusiasts this is apparently good news in the sense that cooling the CPU becomes easier, but then the VRM section naturally needs to be able to handle the extra load


UMmmm, you might want to re-read that.

me thinks you've been lurking in the forest for too long now  Stern Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PetrolHead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2016 at 8:26am
Originally posted by Xaltar Xaltar wrote:

I skipped the entire FX line and went intel after my Phenom II x4 955 which is still going strong as a spare PC. I was never impressed with the performance of the FX line, it simply isn't worth the TDP overhead imo. I am really looking forward to Zen, AMD seldom make the same mistakes twice and I suspect Zen may just kick intel in the britches.


I share the sentiment that the FX CPUs do not really impress with their performance. This is why I'm going to wait for Zen before I upgrade my CPU. Of course it would be nice to see what an FX-6350 or an FX-8350 could do, but in practice they would offer no adavatage over my Phenom II X6 1090T in normal use and at the moment my GPU is the only thing holding my system back. If I had a better GPU, then some games could benefit from the newer CPUs, but not really enough to make the investment sensible.

That being said, I really like AMD's FX architecture and what (I think) they have tried to achieve. The same goes for the APUs. If I had unlimited funds, I'd get myself an A10-7870K (or the A10-7890K that's going to become available soon) just for the heck of it. Overclock it to bits, pair it with a discrete GPU and then find something that supports HSA... It would also be interesting to know how robust those 4+2 phase VRMs are, as they seem to be the best you can get with an FM2+ socket.

I am also looking forward to Zen and I'm really hoping it won't turn out to be a flop. What's more, I really hope that motherboard manufacturers would finally make some mATX motherboards that are as good as their ATX flagship boards.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PetrolHead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2016 at 8:33am
Originally posted by wardog wardog wrote:

UMmmm, you might want to re-read that.

me thinks you've been lurking in the forest for too long now  Stern Smile


That's actually what was said in the post that I linked. And I quote:

"VRM design still does matter. The FIVR adds to the TDP of the CPU, rather than on the VRMs. For us enthusiasts that was always bad because that made a hot CPU even hotter, and one key purpose of a good motherboard is to have good VRMs for overclocking. Either way, I"m glad it's gone."

I guess the logic is that the old motherboards that had good VRMs could have handled even more, but the CPU temperatures were holding the overclockers back. Now that some of the load has been transferred from the CPU to the VRM, the CPUs themselves can be pushed further. I haven't overclocked Intel's CPUs so I don't know if that logic is sound, and of course this is only true if the new VRMs can handle their workload as well as the old ones did theirs. If not, then I'd assume there's a risk that the VRM becomes the bottleneck instead.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wardog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jan 2016 at 8:56am
But they were discussing the removal of FIVR and in turn adjustment from BIOS options. FIVR adjustments that most wound right up there as the cause for additional heat.

VRMs can't and don't directly contribute to a CPU running cool, or hot. CPU temp is directly relational to the voltage being applied to the CPU, and the physical CPUs ability or not to dissipate.

Fully Integrated Voltage Regulator(F.I.V.R.) removal by Intel from Skylake, as you're well aware the "Regulator' now not in the internals of Skylake, will lower TDP if only because of even more dissipation required to dissipate the heat of the F.I.V.R. .

No F.I.V.R. in Skylake = Lower TDP


Edited by wardog - 24 Jan 2016 at 8:57am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PetrolHead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jan 2016 at 9:06am
Hmm. You are of course absolutely correct. I don't know where I got the idea that that some of FIVR's workload would now be transferred to the actual VRM as added stress.

I really need to stop reading this sort of mildly technical stuff at 3 am...


Edited by PetrolHead - 24 Jan 2016 at 9:08am
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