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Asrock 970m + FX-8350 + Raidmax Hyperion

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Category: Media&User's Review
Forum Name: AMD Motherboards
Forum Description: ASRock AMD Motherboards
Printed Date: 24 Apr 2024 at 2:22am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 12.04 -

Topic: Asrock 970m + FX-8350 + Raidmax Hyperion
Posted By: Ebonclaw
Subject: Asrock 970m + FX-8350 + Raidmax Hyperion
Date Posted: 15 Oct 2015 at 8:56pm
When it became clear that my wife's PS4 was just not cutting it for playing MMO games, I decided I would embark on building my first PC from the ground up.  Though I have an extensive background in computer hardware, and have installed boards and things before, I'd never built a PC from the ground up before.  I won't go into detail on why I selected the FX-8350, but I will say that the choice of the chip and the form factor (she wanted something unique and compact) combined made the Asrock 970m the ONLY choice I had if I wanted to jam the fast and power hungry FX-8350 into a small case and still have it run cool with a 970 chipset.
The case, for reference, is a Raidmax Hyperion, which is a terrific little case, but this isn't a review on the case.  Here's what you came for:

It's outfitted with a 650w modular PSU, a Sapphire R9-380 4GB card, 8GB of Avexir Core Series DDR3, and a Zalman CNPS 8900 Quiet CPU cooler.

Here it is paired with the Asus MX279H 27" monitor.

In any event, beautiful pictures aside, I've had an overall positive experience building with this board.  I should note that I didn't choose this board because it was an Asrock board, nor did I try to avoid it, it simply was the only choice for a 970 chipset that would run an FX-8350.  To that end, I don't have any pro or anti Asrock agenda and can provide an honest, unbiased opinion of the product.

Since this was the only board, I looked at the additional bells and whistles that I was getting along with the board, because, like it or not, this was what I was buying, so I hoped I'd at least find some useful tools.  The price was certainly right, I just hoped I wasn't sacrificing higher end features, or worse, overall quality.
Well, it seems to have high quality audio, decent overclocking utilities, some useful software (like the Asrock rapid charge driver), a good complement of USB ports for a mATX board, a heatsinked VRM, about as many fan headers as I can hope to find on a board this size, a full 4 RAM slots, lots of SATA connectors......

So I ordered it.

The day after I ordered it I decided I would research it a bit more and discovered the requirement of the top down blower design, and after researching that further, I decided that I'd order the Zalman cooler noted above, I was angling for the widest blower I could find that would overhang the VRM and everything else near it without running into my ram.  As you can see in this picture, here's the result after mounting it.

Full system shot, at my workstation for software installation- I hadn't replaced the rear fan yet, so it's
not lit up as pretty.

Different angle, to see the full profile

The Zalman cooler basically covers nearly everything, including ram slot #4, but that's ok, as I wasn't planning on using it anyway.  

A few days later, the parts arrived.  I found the board to be well packaged, with good documentation, with the board itself being a solid and attractive black color to match nearly any system.  It's a sturdy board too, it didn't feel flimsy like some boards I've handled.

Anyway, after receiving and installing the board, the system fired up fine on the first boot, but I noticed the CPU was getting a little warm for my liking under load.  I found that the board had overvolted the CPU just a little bit and I backed off the voltage, stabilizing the temps.  I played around with the overclocking utilities a bit and eventually managed to wind up with a slight overclock (4.3 ghz), but I hadn't anticipated on being able to overclock an 8350 very much in a small case anyway.  To that end however, the system is very quiet, which is particularly valuable when it's sitting on top of the desk next to the user. 
I had some minor concerns about Windows 10 compatibility, since Windows 10 had just released, but these fears proved unfounded.  The only issue I ran across was AMD's Cool and Quiet needing to be disabled; it was creating some noticeable performance hangs.

Overall, the performance of the board has met my expectations, and the bonuses make me feel like I got a great deal of bang for my buck.  There are a few caveats however:

1)  The USB 3 header is in a really, really weird place.  I'm going to have to buy a USB header extension cable to make it from the front of the case to the header, and it will likely make the interior much less pretty.  :(  A bit odd considering I really had no complaints about the rest of the layout, as you can see it made for very clean connections and cable management.

2)  I wish the VRM was larger.  I realize it's a small board, so this may not have been technically possible, but I'm kind of surprised that the thing can run an 8350, and it makes sense why a top down blower would be basically required to run this CPU.  

These are really my only two faults with the board at this time, it's been a great purchase and I'm excited to see what a full size board from Asrock with a full VRM is capable of in my next system build when I upgrade mine, I have a feeling my the only complaints I had would not be present on a larger board, and it's honestly quite impressive how much juice and data is flying through a board this size and still posting good temps (I don't break 40c board temp or 70c CPU under load), so overall, an impressive feat of engineering to cram everything onto this little board and still support the 8350.  

Posted By: tag75
Date Posted: 16 Oct 2015 at 1:44am
sweet set up mate , nice

treat people the way you want to be treated

Posted By: parsec
Date Posted: 16 Oct 2015 at 2:43pm
I'll say this first, great photography makes a great system look even better! You have accomplished both in this thread. Clap

Great system build, I appreciate that you read the specifications for using an FX-8350 with your ASRock 970M Pro4.

Your use of a top down type CPU cooler for cooling the VRM heat sink as well I admire, your description of finding the Zalman is what more owners of boards and processors like yours should be doing.

All VRMs are not the same. We normally simply count phases, but that does not tell the entire story at all. Each "phase" is a large power transistor or two with support components in the same package, and other components on the board. These VR ICs can be had in varying output power capabilities. So a four phase VRM design can be equal to or more powerful than an eight phase VRM design, if the latter uses less powerful VR ICs.

I was not familiar with the Raidmax Hyperion case, but I am now. Externally it appears so understated and simple, but internally it is anything but simplistic.

You have my post for the fan's score!

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Posted By: Piddeman
Date Posted: 17 Oct 2015 at 2:55am
ASRock 970M Pro4? You mean ASRock 970M Pro3? I haven't seen Pro4 in mATX format :)

I really like your case OP! 

My PC.

Posted By: Ebonclaw
Date Posted: 20 Oct 2015 at 11:00pm
Thanks for the feedback guys!  The Hyperion's cable management is amazing, it's really hard to make ugly cabling in this system.  Raidmax catches a lot of flak for lower quality PC parts, but this case has been a very notable exception and I've been really happy with it.  I especially like the fact the PSU is mounted behind the motherboard tray, well out of sight which greatly helps reduce case clutter.  

There's a giant 200mm intake fan mounted to the front; it actually is mounted on the exterior of the case behind the front bezel that provides intake; it gets its air draw from the bottom.  It was a really tight fit, but it also creates to blue glow footprint and puts a little more light towards the front of the case.  The top two exhaust fans are actually white LEDs that came stock with the case and they mix well with the blue LED lighting from the fans/RAM.  The system looks spectacular in the dark, I don't know why I didn't take any lights out pictures.

I appreciate parsec's input especially in regards to the VRM, I learned something today and feel a little bit better about the small VRM, though I have no clue as to what the 970m's VR IC's strength is in relation to other products, but it seems like with proper cooling it will do the job reliably for a long time.

Now if we could just do something about that USB 3 header placement!

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