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Asrock X370 Taichi Review

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mysticjbyrd View Drop Down
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    Posted: 28 Mar 2017 at 5:26am
I originally preordered the x370 K4 gaming, but after I realized I would also need a wifi card, I decided to wait for the Taichi.  The price of a good wifi card is $20-$30, so the actual cost difference to upgrade to the Taichi was minuscule.  However, little did I know, there would be motherboard shortages for the initial launch, and I ended up having to wait an extra three weeks for this board to come in.  But let me tell you, this board was worth the wait!  This is my first asrock board, but it probably won't be my last.  Here is my review,


VRM: StarStarStarStarStar

This board is sporting the same VRM as it's bigger brother, the Asrock Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming.  It has an amazing 16 phase, 12+4 after doubling, VRM with top tier IR Digital PWMs and dual stock mosfets capable of handling an impressive 300 Watts of processing power. 

The VRM is being cooled by a heatpipe, which is only provided on the highest end boards, and two large heat spreaders with a few fins to expedite cooling.  My only qualm, if you can call it that, is that I I feel more fins could have been utilized to further allow the dissipation of heat.  But it really isn't necessary, as thermal imaging posted below clearly shows. 

I have no reservations saying that this is the best VRM of any AM4 motherboard on the market!  To say this thing was overkill would be an understatement.  But hey, a stronger VRM isn't just about better OC's!   They also help to keep temps down, and extend the life of your hardware.    

The VRM on the memory is similarly overbuilt, and is utilizing a dual phase, doubled, design.


Audio:StarStarStarStarStar

ASRock Taichi is using the ALC1220 soundchip that yields 7.1 Channel HD audio with a 120dB SNR DAC.    The back IO has connections for 5 Jack and 1 optical inputs.   It also includes two amplifiers.  One integrated headphone amplifier, and another to amplify the front panel headphone jack.   They are also utilizing nchicon gold series audio capacitors in order to isolate the sound system from electrical interference, which can cause static sounds, thus further improving sound quality.   This is a superb sound system that is vastly superior to the 800 series found on other boards. 

This is currently the top of the line codec on the market for on board audio as far as I know, and is being utilized in all the high tier AM4 motherboards.  I hooked up my $80 sound blaster USB DAC, that I was using in my old build to prevent static, and I honestly cannot tell the difference in audio quality.  I am seriously considering selling my old DAC on ebay!


LAN: StarStarStarStarStar

The Taichi is using 1Gb/s Intel I211-AT chipset, which is a top tier LAN chipset.  This chipset is also being utilized on all the higher end AM4 boards. 

I cannot comment on this feature personally, as I am utilizing the wifi card atm, but I am sure it performs as advertised.

WiFi: StarStarStarStarStar

This is one of the reasons I bought this board.  It comes with a
Vertical M.2 Socket (Key E) with the bundled Intel® 802.11ac WiFi Module.   A lot of the other boards don't come with this vertical M.2 Socket, which is a large misstep imo.  The best part of this is that if it ever dies, and these network cards aren't known for their reliability, the fact that it's removable can be a lifesaver. 

As far as performance is concerned, I cannot complain.  It is a dual band wifi module that can connect via 2.4GHz and 5 GHz, which is quite nice.  My 25 Mbps connection isn't being throttled, and despite the modem/router being 2 rooms away, I always have 5/5 bars.  Reliability thus far has been rock solid.  I would say it's better than the USB wifi module I was using before.

A lot of people complain about latency issues and dropped signals with WIFI, but I have personally never had any real issues with it.  I haven't seen any real discrepancies with latency, and it doesn't hinder my ability to pvp whatsoever.


PCI-e & Sli/Xfire: StarStarStarStarStar

This board comes with 2 PCIe 3.0 x16, 1 PCIe 2.0 x16, 2 PCIe 2.0 x1, which is capable of supporting AMD Quad CrossFireX??and CrossFireX??and  NVIDIA® Quad SLI??and SLI.

Note that due to the current limitation of Ryzen's architecute, if If M2_2 is occupied, then the last PCI x1 slot, PCIE5, will be disabled.  Personally, I think it might have been better if they had disabled the first PCI x1 slot, in order to accommodate those with large air coolers, such as myself, but that might not have been possible. 

I have used both PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, and they both worked as expected.  The steel slots was a nice touch, and I saw a noticeable improvement in the amount my GPU sagged compared to my old motherboard.  The release mechanism is also well designed.  It has a straightforward, and it's easy to activate.

The box includes a ASRock SLI_HB_Bridge_2S Card, which is a high bandwidth bridge capable of 2k 120Hz, 4k, 5k, and Nvidia surround. 

I might try Crossfire when the RX 580 launches, but I still haven't made up my mind on that yet.  Still, it's nice to know that this platform supports x8/x8 crossfire.

Some of the cheaper boards, particularly the b350 boards, support x16/x4 crossfire, which isn't ideal.  If you want to utilize crossfire or sli, then you should upgrading to the x370 chipset.  Asrock's entry boards are only about $30 more than the B350 boards, so it's not going to break the bank, and you get a better board to boot.


Front & Back IO:StarStarStarStar

The back IO consists of everything you would typically find on a motherboard including: 2 USB 3.1 ports (1 Type-A, 1 Type-C), and 6 USB 3.0 ports, RJ-45, and 5 Jack + 1 optical Audio ports. 

There are no video outputs, APUs are not supported with this board.   I suppose you could consider this a con, but I don't see why anyone would buy a high end motherboard to install an APU onto it, so I am not going to deduct any points for this.

One nitpick that I can make here is that there could have added a USB 3.1 Header to the front IO.  It's not a huge issue, as most cases don't support this feature yet, but it would have been a nice addition regardless. 




Edited by mysticjbyrd - 28 Mar 2017 at 10:22pm
Is "God" able, but not willing to stop evil? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God???

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mysticjbyrd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2017 at 5:27am
RGB & Fan headers: StarStarStarStarStar

There are two RGB LED headers on the board that supports up to 12V/3A, 36W LED Strip.  I prefer a minimalistic look, so I am currently not using these headers, and I cannot comment on their functionality.  As far as placement goes, they look to be located favorable for cable management.

There are 5 fan headers.  Two of which can be used as a water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin).  CPU FAN1, CHASIS FAN1, CHASIS FAN2 can auto detect if 3-pin or 4-pin fan is in use.  I used 4 of these headers, and they were all well placed to allow for good cable management.


SATA: StarStarStarStar

There are a grand total of 10 Sata 3 ports.  These ports do light up, which looks quite nice.   I am not sure if these flashing lights tell me anything though.  It would be kind of neat if they worked similarly to a HDD LED, and showed activity.

Note, it is recommended that you put your boot devices in the first 8 Sata ports.

There were 4 SATA cables included in the box.  However, I wasn't a big fan of the design of two of the cables, which had an elbow shaped connector on one end.  The elbow didn't fit well into the motherboard, so you were forced to use it elsewhere.  The thing is it doesn't fit particularly well anywhere else either.  I ended up having to redo some of my cables, and using it on my DVD drive.  Maybe there are ideal in another case/situation, but I am not sure what that is.  They didn't work well in my Phanteks Enthoo Pro M though.


Dr Debug: StarStarStarStarStar
The Dr Debug is a great feature, which is not found on all boards.   In the past we used to have to count beeps, which was a real pain.  Luckily, I haven't had a reason to test it thus far, but it really gives me peace of mind that it's there.


M.2: StarStarStarStarStar
There is an M.2 and a U.2 socket on the board as well.  The Ultra M.2 Socket (M2_1), supports M Key type 2242/2260/2280 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s).   The M.2 Socket (M2_2), supports M Key type 2230/2242/2260/2280 M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen2 x4 (20 Gb/s).  However, again note, that using the M.2_2 socket will disable the last PCI x 1 slot.
 
Overclocking:StarStarStarStarStar

VRM:
I won't go into how truly exceptional this VRM is again, but I will refer you to this guide that breaks down the circuitry, and thermals of the Taichi.   Also, here is a AM4 Mainboard VRM list.

Base clock generator:
This is one of four AM4 boards to offer an external base clock generator, which if I am not mistaken is needed for Bclk overclocking on Ryzen.  Those four boards are the Fatal1ty Professional, Asus Crosshair, the Gigabyte K7, and the Taichi.  This type of overclocking is particularly intriguing as Ryzen sees a large boost in some workloads, like gaming, with faster memory speeds.  However, DDR4 support is currently lacking on Ryzen, which is to be expected of a new platform, and so Blck overclocking is a good alternative way to improve memory performance.

Note that using blck overclocking will force your PCIe-x16 slots to run at PCIe-2.0, rather than 3.0.  This shouldn't be a huge issue though as far as your GPU's performance is concerned, but it could cause instability in other areas.  So, you will want to do your homework before you attempt to do a Bclk overclock on your ryzen system.

uefi:

The bios is in a current state of flux, as is to be expected with a new architectual launch, but the uefi still host a ton of overclocking features.   Most notable of which is the ability to change p states.  Most board manufacturers are not currently enabling you to change this.

P state OC'ing is more complex than just changing the multiplier, but it enables you to keep using some features that would otherwise be turned off with a more simple OC, such as power saving features and XFR.

One of the biggest lacking features is a dual bios.  That would be a godsend on the off chance you did a bad bios update!

DDR Support:

Asrock currently has some of the best plug and play compatibility on the market as far as DDR4 support is concerned.

As always the QVL listings is your safest bet for day one usability.  However, note that these are only tested to work, and not necessarily work at the rated speeds.  The speeds on the box are OC'd speeds utilizing intel's timings, and they might not be supported atm.

Your best bet for overclockable memory will be with single rank DDR4 using Samsung B Die memory chips.  It's not particularly easy to find this information, as the memory manufacturers typically don't list it, but if you are diligent, you can find it.  I personally asked Gskill tech support for the information to ensure I was getting what I paid for.   However, sometimes the manufacturers cannot even say as to what you will get, as they might actually use multiple memory chips in the exact same products.

Overclocking Conclusion:
Long story short, as far as Overclocking goes, this board has everything you need!  You literally couldn't ask for anything else!  Well except, for a dual bios, and the ability to change DRAM subtimings, but no one has access to the latter atm.  I suspect there might be some sort of architectural limitation that will not allow us to change those.

I managed to get my 1700 to 4 GHz with 1.375v with default LLC.  Temperatures on my Noctua D15 are less than 70C under AIDA64.  I have my G-skill Trident Z DD4 4000 Kit currently running at 3200 MHz.  I plan to push the memory further and do some benchmark testing, but I will wait for more Bios updates.


Linux support: StarStarStarStar

If you are interested in Linux support, then the best I can do is send you over to here.   I personally don't have the qualifications to discuss this topic.

Pricing:StarStarStarStarStar

I managed to snag this bad boy up for $190, $175 after Mail-in-Rebate, on Newegg on the 2nd.  In fact, I got it just before Newegg figured out the price with the rebate was too good, and increased it $10.  So, unfortunately some of you guys might have to pay $185 for this board, but who are we kidding?  This board is worth every penny!




Edited by mysticjbyrd - 28 Mar 2017 at 10:31pm
Is "God" able, but not willing to stop evil? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God???

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Conclusion: StarStarStarStarStar

What can you say here?  Does this board have everything?  No, of course not, no single motherboard can have everything.  But what it does have is an absolutely amazing set of features for the price.  This thing oozes quality, and it looks damn fine doing it!  This is a straight up AM4 thoroughbred champion. 

The only really issue with this board is that Asrock isn't able to make enough of them fast enough!



Edited by mysticjbyrd - 28 Mar 2017 at 10:50am
Is "God" able, but not willing to stop evil? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God???

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parsec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2017 at 10:03am
Thanks for your fine review of the X370 Taichi! Thumbs Up

Some users might not agree with some of your conclusions, but you obviously are aware of the realities of using an absolutely new platform. This isn't an Intel system that has remained basically unchanged in its over clocking capabilities in many processor generations. Ryzen as a system in general, is not yet mature.

DDR4 memory compatibility, or more precisely the basic memory timings that are required by the Ryzen memory controller, is the biggest issue we are currently dealing with. For example, the Ryzen memory controller apparently "prefers" a Command Rate of 1T, while the standard JEDEC SPD data for DDR4 memory (tuned for Intel DDR4 memory controllers) is set to 2T. That seems to work for some existing DDR4 memory and the Ryzen memory controller, at the default/base DDR4 memory speed of (usually) 2133. But the XMP data for higher DDR4 memory speeds is universally set to 2T with existing DDR4 memory models. Manually setting memory parameters is virtually essential when using DDR4 originally designed for Intel systems.

The Ryzen memory controller has been said by AMD to not support "memory dividers" for DDR4 3000 and 3400 speed memory. Memory at those speeds will run at 2933, possibly 3200 actual for DDR4 3400. Given the information from CPU-Z's database, DDR4 3200 is the real world maximum current memory speed for Ryzen, with one entry at 3384. This is for all mother board manufactures combined.

The ASRock X370 Taichi has reached DDR4 3200 with G.SKILL F4-3200C14-8GTZ at 14-14-14-34-75-1T.

It also has reached DDR4 3200 with G.SKILL F4-3200C14-8GTZKW at 4-14-14-34-75-1T.

Do NOT expect these results with all G.SKILL DDR4 memory models.

The CPU VRM stage design on the ASRock X370 boards is at the level it should be, relative to previous AMD mother boards. The budget, sub $100 (really $150) AM3+ mother boards that AMD said were fine with any AM3+ processor, actually aren't fine if any over clocking or heavy use of the CPU will be done.

The SATA cables with the 90° connectors are meant to be connected directly to HDDs and SSDs, not the mother board. The drives will also need to be in vertically stacked drive bays, one above another, with enough clearance below the drive for proper cable dressing. Many new PC cases has done away with that design (Fractal Define S) so the straight type connectors on both ends are the best suited for these cases. The 90° angle SATA ports on a mother board must use the straight in type of connector, or I have seen some inverted 90° SATA connector cables that would also work.

I'm looking forward to testing M.2 NVME SSDs on a Ryzen board's M.2 port. ASRock Ryzen boards support using M.2 NVME SSDs as the OS drive. While some Ryzen boards have two M.2 slots, both are not the PCIe 3.0 x4 interfaces required by most M.2 NVME SSDs, and RAID is not supported with M.2 NVME SSDs so far with AMD's RAIDXpert software. RAID 0 performance would be reduced due to the unequal bandwidth of the M.2 ports.

Regarding the Ryzen BCLK, Ryzen processors that are semi-SOC type processors, with the SATA support as part of the processor itself, use a shared BCLK with the SATA ports and PCIe 3.0 interface. That causes instability with SATA drives and PCIe devices. BCLK over clocking will be limited on Ryzen systems with shared BCLK due to the shared BCLK.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mysticjbyrd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2017 at 11:04am
I appreciate the additional information Parsec, as I was not aware of some of those things. 

Cheers
Is "God" able, but not willing to stop evil? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God???

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Xaltar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2017 at 12:55pm
Great review Thumbs Up

Thanks for sharing your experience with us Approve 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vpz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 May 2017 at 1:00am
Great board, great memory support, really bad bios and support as you can see bellow.


http://forum.asrock.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=5098&title=x370-taichi-self-bricked

Edit: Figures, for some strange reason I can't properly hyperlink to the address of that specific thread, tiny url works like a charm...

Mods may want to have a word or two about this strange forum issue ?




Edited by vpz - 18 May 2017 at 1:18am
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