Gigabyte has released a number of X370 motherboards to support AMD’s Ryzen processors, and one of the early boards to see a release was the AORUS AX370-Gaming K5. As of this writing, this ATX motherboard has a BIOS (Version F23d) that makes it a viable option for any AM4-based processor, including Bristol Ridge (Excavator), Summit Ridge (Zen), Raven Ridge (Zen APUs), and AMD’s upcoming Pinnacle Ridge (Zen+) processors.
If Gigabyte’s naming scheme has you scratching your head, you’re not alone. This motherboard is similar to the
AORUS AX370-Gaming 5, but it lacks the dual Ethernet ports (the Killer
E2500 NIC is the one not found on our board), there are fewer USB 3.1 ports, and slightly fewer memory and CPU overclocking options. A close look at the VRM also reveals that the K5 version we’re looking at here has a less robust voltage regulation subsystem, but these relatively minor sacrifices get you an X370 motherboard with a solid feature set for roughly $30 less than the Gigabyte AX370-Gaming 5. The big thing this board has going for it compared to the Gaming 5 is the all-black shrouds, which look much more at home on the all-black PCB. To see if this board will make a worthy platform for your next AMD-based system, read on.
Review Sample Provided by: Gigabyte
Product given in exchange for work done to produce this review.
Under The Hood
For gamers and enthusiasts looking to build an AMD-based PC, there are really only two chipsets to choose from, and this motherboard comes with the more feature-complete of the two. Compared to the B350 chipset, X370 can take the PCIe x16 graphics interface and split it into dual PCIe 3.0 x8 slots for SLI or CrossFire. AM4 motherboards that support a third graphics card are few and far between, but these utilize a PCIe 2.0 x4 interface.
The chipset in the AORUS AX370-Gaming K5 has native support for up to two more PCIe 2.0 slots (up to 8 total), four more USB 3.0 ports (up to six total), and two more 6Gbps SATA ports (up to six total). Features the two chipsets share include up to two USB 3.1 ports, up to six USB 2.0 ports, and support for RAID 0, 1, and 10. Keep in mind, RAID support on AM4 is limited to SATA devices. If you want AMD’s NVMe RAID support, you’ll need to look to the Ryzen Threadripper platform. It’s important to point out that although a chipset supports the various links mentioned above, it’s up to the motherboard manufacturer to install the physical ports and slots associated with those features.
Every AMD Ryzen processor features an unlocked multiplier, which is a must for anyone who’s looking to eke out a bit more performance from the processor compared to its stock settings. As such, both the X370 and B350 chipsets have overclocking support. That being said, the options you find in the UEFI menu will vary between manufacturer and model.
AMD’s Ryzen processors feature integrated dual-channel DDR4 memory controllers and native support for DDR4-2667, though motherboards like this one can handle overclocked memory, using the board’s built-in MP profiles, up to Ryzen’s practical ceiling of DDR4-3200. This speed is the upper limit for two modules, but if you want to install four modules, don’t expect to be able to run it faster than 2,667MHz. There’s also up to 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes for graphics hardware. This motherboard, and many other AM4 boards on the market support both A-series APUs and Raven Ridge (Zen-based) APUs, which is why there are usually one or more display outputs on the rear I/O. (This motherboard features an HDMI port.) NVMe storage devices can tap into the processor’s four dedicated PCIe x4 lanes for up to 32Gbps of bandwidth on NVMe and SATA SSDs.
1. AMD Ryzen™ processor
2. AMD 7th Generation A-series/ Athlon™ processor
(Please refer “CPU Support List” for more information.)
|Chipset||1. AMD X370|
|Memory||1. 4 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 64 GB of system memory
2. Dual channel memory architecture
3. Support for DDR4 3200(O.C.) / 2933(O.C.) / 2667* / 2400 / 2133 MHz memory modules
* Support for higher than DDR4 2667 MHz may vary by CPU.
4. Support for ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8 memory modules (operate in non-ECC mode)
5. Support for non-ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8/1Rx16 memory modules
6. Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
(Please refer “Memory Support List” for more information.)
|Onboard Graphics||Integrated Graphics Processor:
1. 1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096×2160@24 Hz
* Support for HDMI 1.4 version.
2. Maximum shared memory of 2 GB
* Actual support may vary by CPU.
|Audio||1. Realtek® ALC1220 codec
2. High Definition Audio
4. Support for S/PDIF Out
|LAN||1. Intel® GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)|
|Expansion Slots||1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
* For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.
* Actual support may vary by CPU.
2. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
* The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot operates at up to x8 mode.
* Actual support may vary by CPU.
(The PCIEX16 and PCIEX8 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
3. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
* The PCIEX4 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX1_2 and PCIEX1_3 slots. The PCIEX4 slot operates at up to x2 mode when the PCIEX1_2/PCIEX1_3 slot is populated. The PCIEX4 slot operates at up to x4 mode when both of the PCIEX1_2 and PCIEX1_3 slots are empty.
4. 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
(The PCIEX4 and PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
|Multi-Graphics Technology||1. Support for NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ and 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ technologies
2. Support for AMD Quad-GPU CrossFire™ and 3-Way AMD CrossFire™ technologies
* Actual support may vary by CPU.
|Storage Interface||1. 1 x M.2 connector (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 SATA and PCIe x4*/x2 SSD support)
* Actual support may vary by CPU.
2. 2 x SATA Express connectors
3. 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
4. Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 10
* Refer to “1-8 Internal Connectors,” for the installation notices for the M.2 and SATA connectors.
|USB||ASMedia® USB 3.1 Gen 2 Controller:
1. 1 x USB Type-C™ port on the back panel, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support
2. 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A port (red) on the back panel
1. 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red) on the back panel
2. 6 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)
3. 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (available through the internal USB headers)
1. 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports on the back panel
|Internal I/O Connectors||1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
3. 1 x CPU fan header
4. 1 x water cooling CPU fan header
5. 2 x system fan headers
6. 1 x system fan/water cooling pump header
7. 1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector
8. 2 x SATA Express connectors
9. 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
10. 1 x front panel header
11. 1 x front panel audio header
12. 1 x S/PDIF Out header
13. 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 headers
14. 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
15. 1 x serial port header
16. 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
17. 1 x CPU cooler LED strip/RGB LED strip extension cable header
18. 1 x RGB (RGBW) LED strip extension cable header
19. 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
20. 1 x OC button
|Back Panel Connectors||1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
2. 1 x HDMI port
3. 1 x USB Type-C™ port, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 support
4. 3 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red)
5. 6 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports
6. 1 x RJ-45 port
7. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
8. 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)
|Form Factor||1. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm|
The Gigabyte AX370-Gaming K5 comes in a black plastic-coated cardboard box with a rough texturized surface. The top of the box features a large silver AORUS fist-pumping/squawking raptor logo taking up 3/4ths of the box top.
Below the logo is the motherboard’s model name in large-font; Gigabyte-exclusive feature logos for RGB Fusion, Smart Fan 5, and VR Ready; as well as plain text descriptions for Socket AM4, USB 3.1 Gen 2, and NVMe PCIe 22110 M.2. There’s also a Ryzen logo and a gray tag on the right side of the box that signifies that this is an X370 AM4 motherboard.
This information is largely duplicated on the three of the narrow sides of the box, with the fourth side listing a few features in more than a dozen languages. On the back of the box, you’ll find full-color graphics for a bunch of this motherboard’s signature lighting, cooling, audio, and connectivity features, including RGB Fusion, the Realtek ALC1220 codec, Smart Fan 5, Intel Gigabit LAN, 2-way SLI and CrossFire multi-graphics, and USB 3.1 Gen 2.
There’s also illustrations for Gigabyte tech and other feature highlights including the TURBO B-Clock IC, USB DAC-UP 2, DualBIOS Technology, Long Lifespan Solid Capacitors, Anti-Sulfur Resistors, Dual Armor DIMM and PCIe Metal Shielding, 110mm NVMe M.2 SSDs, and PCIe graphics slots spaced far enough apart that two dual-slot cards have a gap for ample airflow.
On the lower-left corner are a specifications box and a diagram of the rear I/O panel showing ten USB ports, a single PS/2 port, an HDMI port, RJ-45 Ethernet jack, a riser with five audio jacks and an S/PDIF connector.
A Closer Look At The Gigabyte AORUS AX370-Gaming K5
The Gigabyte AORUS AX370-Gaming K5 features an all-black PCB, a handful of anodized black aluminum heatsinks, matte black plastic shrouds over the rear I/O and the onboard audio components, and RGB LEDs peppering the board from top to bottom. It’s an attractive board that looks good with or without the LEDs lit, particularly if you prefer the neutral aesthetic.
Those LEDs, referred to as RGB Fusion, support up to 16.8 million colors and two distinct lighting zones. LEDs light up the VRM, audio shroud, the two PCIe graphics slots, the diffusers between the memory slots, and under the swappable accent overlay on the right-edge of the motherboard. All told, there are seven lighting effects and support for two 12V independently-programmable RGB, RGBW, and even UV-LED light strips. The software also lets you rearrange the locations of the RGBW signals and pins, letting you plug in a variety of third-party LED strips.
This motherboard also features another series of LEDs, labeled CPU, DRAM, VGA, and BOOT (refers to the OS). These Diagnostic LEDs aren’t just for show, however, they offer at-a-glance clues to problems that may crop up when your PC becomes unbootable. If one or more of the LEDs located in the lower-right corner of the board remain lit during the boot sequence, then you can assume that the corresponding component needs some attention.
There are a total of five fan headers on the motherboard, and all of them are four-pin hybrid connectors, meaning you can install voltage- or PWM-controlled fans/water pumps. From the BIOS, these headers can be configured manually, or set to auto-detect the correct operating mode. Two of these headers, those labeled CPU_OPT and SYS_FAN3_PUMP, support 24W (2 Amp x 12 Volt) water pumps, and they also come with the requisite over-current protection.
To make sure all these fans can keep up with the heat output of your screamin’ components, Gigabyte installed six internal temperature sensors on the AX370-Gaming K5. There is a sensor under the CPU, two under the VRM, one under the chipset, another near the topmost PEG slot, and the last one is in the bottom-left corner of the board.
The audio subsystem on the Gigabyte AX370-Gaming K5 consists of a single Realtek ALC 1220 multi-channel High Definition audio codec that supports 120dB SNR HD audio. The non “K” version of this motherboard features dual codecs, one for the rear I/O and another for the front I/O. As long as you stick to the rear audio ports, you’ll get full access to some pretty solid-sounding audio hardware, 114dB SNR recording capabilities, the Smart Headphone Amp feature that can detect the impedance of your headphones or headset to deliver maximum volume and crystal clear audio to your device of choice, and hardware decoding of DSD128 (Direct Stream Digital-Double Rate) audio files, which can support up to 128 times the typical CD sampling rate.
The capacitors dedicated to audio processing tasks have been upgraded to high-end Chemicon audio capacitors, which can provide the backbone to support high resolution and high fidelity audio whether you’re playing games, listening to music, or watching TV or movies.
Gigabyte’s Gadget Guru
On the rear panel, you’ll find two yellow USB ports on the same riser as the PS/2 port. These are Gigabyte’s second-generation USB DAC-UP. Although they’ll function as USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and support a theoretical bandwidth of up to 5Gbps for any device you plug in, these are specially designed to be isolated from the rest of the USB circuitry, which results in low interference noise for sensitive external audio hardware, such as digital-to-analog converters.
That’s why “DAC” is the operative abbreviation here. Although the number of enthusiasts who are likely to hook up a DAC is rather small, Gigabyte contends that these ports also suffer from less voltage drop when running devices with longer cables. From the AX370-Gaming K5’s BIOS, you can set the output voltage to Normal, Disabled (for audio devices that utilize dedicated power source), and three Voltage Compensation levels that add 0.1V, 0.2V, or 0.3V to the port’s output. The clean, low-interference signal delivered over the DAC-UP 2 ports can also benefit VR headsets, mice, keyboards, gamepads, headsets, and external HDDs and SSDs. The front panel USB 3.0 ports also support user-adjustable voltage.
The rear I/O panel also features four USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports that can support theoretical data rates up to 10Gbps and one of these is a reversible Type-C port (the rest are the more common Type-A). These four ports are red, making it easy to find them if you have a device that supports the latest revision of the USB standard. Of course, all of the USB ports on this motherboard are backward compatible.
Get Serious About Storage
For consumers, nothing beats NVMe M.2 SSDs. Well, nothing except an NVMe RAID, but that’s not possible on AM4 (yet). This board features a single PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot, which offers theoretical bandwidth up to 32Gbps.
SATA-based M.2 devices also work in this slot but, are limited to that protocol’s 6Gbps peak bandwidth. This slot resides beneath the primary PEG slot and can accommodate up to 110mm M.2 SSDs. Another modern storage technology you’ll find support for on this board, albeit one that doesn’t get many headlines these days, is SATA Express. SATA ports 4, 5, 6, and 7 can support either four independent 6Gbps SATA devices or two SATA Express devices.
Born To Overclock
Most of the early AM4 motherboards to hit the market featured a fixed 100MHz BCLK that you couldn’t change. With this motherboard, however, Gigabyte installed its Turbo B-Clock Advanced Performance Tuning IC, which is just a fancy name for a chip that lets you actually add a few MHz to the B-clock. The official range of the clock-gen is 100 to 300MHz, but you aren’t going to get that far without some exotic wizardry and a silicon lottery-
winning processor. This feature isn’t of much use to the casual overclocker, but for those who want to really fine-tune the system performance, and don’t mind having to fiddle with PCIe clocks past a certain frequency, then this is a top-notch feature on such an affordable board. For our overclocking, we took the path of least resistance and just raised the multiplier and layered on a bit extra core voltage from within the BIOS. It’s true, Gigabyte includes its one-touch OC button here as well, but we’ve never been a huge proponent of these types of automated overclocking features. We tested it, and it spent an hour repeatedly restarting the PC before we disabled it again and got on with our lives.
Layout, Slots, & Extras
Gigabyte has been peddling its Ultra-Durable features for as longs as I’ve been testing their boards, so it’s no surprise to see this feature once again on the AORUS X370 Gaming K5. The Dual Armor DIMM and PCIe Metal Shielding features, which consist of metal braces surrounding the plastic DIMM and PCIe slots, are somewhat new additions to Ultra-Durable. The former prevents the board from flexing alarmingly when you go to install DRAM modules, and the latter help prevents heavy graphics cards from shearing off the PCIe slots. You may not ever have had this happen to you, but for those who ship PCs or travel with them, traditional un-braced PCIe slots can be pretty fragile. As an added bonus, these braces also help prevent electrostatic discharge. The motherboard’s multitude of resistors have also gotten Gigabyte’s Anti-Sulfur treatment, which keeps them pristine and fully functional for the life of the board.
One of the things we really like seeing on this board is the dual-BIOS chips. Gigabyte DualBIOS (UEFI) Design virtually guarantees that any shenanigans you get up to with the primary BIOS won’t leave you high and dry should problems arise. If the BIOS becomes inaccessible for any reason, you have but to switch to the backup BIOS, and you’re in business again, ready to flash the stock or an updated BIOS back onto the main chip.
One of the things this board lacks is onboard buttons, for power, reset, or clearing the CMOS. The Gaming 5 motherboard this board shares so many features with also features a pair of BIOS buttons on the PCB. In the lower-right corner of the Gaming K5, you will find traditional clear CMOS header.
The layout on this ATX motherboard is fairly standard. The eight-pin CPU power connector is very close to the top-left corner of the board, which is fine as long as your enclosure doesn’t force you to install fans or a radiator in the top panel, which can make reaching this plug a real pain. the 24-pin ATX power connector is to the right of the quartet of DIMM slots, where you’d expect it to be. We appreciate the Gigabyte includes a front panel USB 3.1 (Gen 1) header on the board, but it’s spaced evenly between the 24-pin ATX power and the bank of SATA and SATA Express ports. This means you’ll end up routing it through either the upper or lower cutout on the case’s motherboard tray, which makes it tricky if you’re going for a super clean aesthetic. Fan headers are nicely sprinkled all over the board, so you can always find one for a fan or pump when those components are installed in all the usual places.
The M.2 NVMe slot is underneath the primary PEG slot, so expect to have to remove your dual-slot graphics card to access this. The topmost PCIe slot is also an unrestricted x16 lane 3.0 slot, whereas the middle runs at x8, and the bottom at x4. There are also three x1 slots, which all operate as PCIe 2.0 slots. If you plan to run two graphics cards on the board, the top two x16 slots will operate with eight lanes each. The M.2 slot doesn’t share bandwidth with the primary PEG slot, so that’s ideal.
The VRM MOSFETs come with fairly decent aluminum heatsinks that have thermal pads that actually make contact. This is particularly important because this motherboard features a rather barebones 4+3 phase voltage controller for the core voltage, which will generate a good amount of heat across a rather short bank of components once you begin to overclock the processor.
This is more than adequate for the eight-core Ryzen 7 1700X we used for our test system, and we even tested it with the much more power-hungry Ryzen 7 2700X, with no ill effects. The SOC VRM, which is the bank of components north of the processor, also features a beefy heatsink, and this is more than adequate for anything you’ll end up doing with this motherboard.
Those who plan to install a large CPU air cooler will be pleased to see that there’s a decent amount of space between the DIMM slots and the CPU socket. To make matters even more favorable, the primary DIMM slots are DDR4_2 and DDR4_1, which leave the DIMM slot closest to the CPU socket bare if you’re only running two DIMMs for dual-channel (as you should).
RGB Fusion App
To take full control of the lighting, Gigabyte offers its RGB Fusion App. The easy-to-use utility lets you manipulate the colors, effects, and speed of the effects as you see fit. The RGB Fusion software also supports an Advanced Mode, which lets you tailor some lighting effect behavior, choose your preferred colors, and adjust the transitions in each zone. We particularly like the Intelligent modes, which can alter the system colors depending on CPU load, temperature, networking performance, and more.
The RJ-45 port on the rear I/O panel is backed by Intel’s I211-AT GbE LAN Controller. But Gigabyte has thrown in cFosSpeed Internet Accelerator Networking software, which is capable of managing network traffic to yield better latencies, ping times, and responsiveness in a LAN environment. Without intelligent traffic shaping, file sharing and peer-to-peer connections will tend to take priority over multiplayer online gaming, multimedia streaming, and VoIP applications, and your experience will suffer as a result. The cFosSpeed utility gives the highest priority to traffic related to online gaming, assigns VoIP and multimedia streams a medium priority, and keeps file sharing and P2P connections at the bottom of the list. You can assign priority yourself, or let the software do the optimization automatically, in the background. If dual NICs is a feature you want, look to the AORUS X370 Gaming 5 instead.
Smart Fan 5
Gigabyte lets you tap into the fan settings, even tweak fan curves, right from within the BIOS menu. Alternatively, you can use the Smart Fan 5 software from within Windows. Gigabyte has redesigned its Smart Fan 5 utility to be more intuitive and functional than ever.
There are tabs across the top edge of the utility’s interface for automatic modes, Advanced modes, and System Alerts. You can create your own fan curves for each header, tie specific headers to your choice of temperature sensors (minus the CPU fan), or you can take the path of least resistance and just switch between Quiet or Full Speed modes depending on your workloads.
UEFI BIOS & More
There are a lot of Gigabyte’s App Center utilities that we didn’t have time to fully explore, but we did want to mention the @BIOS utility, which makes updating the firmware of this motherboard extremely effortless. As stated above, the Smart Fan 5 functionality you get in Windows, including the ability to define custom fan curves, is also accessible from within the BIOS menu. UEFI overclocking features are all fairly straightforward, and getting your memory to run at or above its rated specifications shouldn’t be too much of a chore thanks to the detailed menu options Gigabyte offers for tweaking timings, voltages, and other settings. Of course, your success is highly dependent on the memory modules you’re using. There are profiles you can save and load from the UEFI menu, which is nice for the trial-and-error endeavor that overclocking often becomes.
We’ve mentioned it before and we’ll do it again, we prefer to do our overclocking from the BIOS, so we didn’t dig into Gigabyte’s Easy Tune software or graphics card optimizing V-Tuner utility, but it’s nice to have for those who do prefer the Windows-based overclocking experience.
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 7 1700X (Retail)|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master Master Liquid ML240L RGB|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte AORUS AX370-Gaming K5 VS. ASUS PRIME X370 Pro|
|Memory||Crucial Ballistix Elite 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4-3466 @ 3200MHz 16-18-18-35 (XMP 2.0)|
|Storage||Samsung 960 EVO 500GB M.2 NVMe SSD|
|Case||Phanteks Enthoo Pro Tempered Glass Edition|
|Drivers||Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.3.2|
|Video Card(s)||Sapphire NITRO+ Radeon RX Vega 64 Limited Edition|
|Monitor||Acer XG270HU 1440p 144Hz TN panel|
|Operating System||Windows 10 x64 Pro with latest updates|
For this review, I used a first-generation Ryzen 7 1700X, set to its stock clocks. My overclocking results, which we’ll dig into later, were validated using the Cinebench and a handful of the compression tests, which proved very memory sensitive on this system. The 16GB kit of Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4-3466 memory was not stable above 3,200MHz, with 16-18-18-35 XMP timings. Incidentally, the ASUS PRIME X370 Pro I tested this motherboard against ran identical hardware (processor, NVMe M.2 SSD, and memory), but wouldn’t run the kit any faster than 2,666MHz. Rather than attempt the level the playing field, I let Gigabyte run with the faster memory, as memory clock is a valid consideration when it comes to choosing an AM4 motherboard.
Although there are instances where one motherboard outperformed the other, it is rare that you would notice these differences tangibly. The only exception to this is for the benchmarks that show an advantage due to the faster memory. In every other case, performance between these two systems is close enough that we’re not able to recommend one over the other from a raw numbers perspective.
I used a Cooler Master Master Liquid ML240L closed-loop liquid cooler to keep temperatures in check. I installed the latest working BIOS, which was version F22 when I performed my testing, which brought support for AMD’s Ryzen+ processors. All current updates and drivers available at the time of the review were installed. Each test was conducted at least three times for accuracy, then averaged, with the exception of PCMark 10, which already does three passes.
- SiSoft SANDRA
- Aida64 Engineer
- PCMark 10
- CineBench R15
- x.264 FHD
- x.265 HD
- 3DMark Firestrike (Default)
- Unigine Superposition (1080p Extreme)
- Sniper Elite 4 (DX12 Max preset @ 2,560 x 1,440)
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Vsync off, Unl.fps, Ultra @ 2,560 x 1,440)
SiSoftware’s SANDRA suite offers a number of benchmarks designed to test the performance of various system components. For our purposes, we ran the Processor Arithmetic and Processor Multimedia tests and combined them into a single graph. The first test is designed to measure arithmetic performance or determine how good the processor is at churning out calculations. The Multimedia test scores the processor on how quickly it manages to generate a picture of the Mandelbrot fractal, using 255 iterations for each data pixel. Although we tend to lump SANDRA’s tests into the synthetic category, this test is a real-world application for putting the processor’s SIMD instructions to work. Although all four tests are represented in a single graph, the scores of each test use different units. For instance, the Dhrystone and Whetstone Processor Arithmetic scores are in GIPS (billions of instructions per second) and GFLOPS (billions of floating point operations per second), respectively. The Processor Multimedia tests, on the other hand, represent their scores as Megapixels per second. As you can see, the faster memory in the Gigabyte system made a bit of a difference in SANDRA’s processor tests.
SANDRA’s Memory Bandwidth test is a fairly straightforward test that does what it says, reporting its results as Gigabytes per second (Gbps). The 3,200MHz memory had an advantage in both the Integer and Floating Point bandwidth tests compared to the 2,666MHz memory in the ASUS system.
The AIDA64 suite has various benchmarks for CPU, FPU, and memory testing: CPU Queen is an integer benchmark that tests branch prediction and misprediction penalties. CPU PhotoWorxx tests the SIMD integer arithmetic execution units of the CPU and the memory subsystem. CPU ZLib is a compression benchmark that tests the combined CPU and memory performance.
CPU AES is a multi-core encryption benchmark that uses Advanced Encryption Standard data encryption. CPU Hash is an integer benchmark that measures performance using the SHA1 hashing algorithm. FPU Julia measures single precision FP, FPU Mandel measures double precision FP, FPU SinJulia measures extended precision FP while FPU VP8 is a video compression test utilizing the FPU Julia fractal module. In these tests, the two systems appear to trade blows but still perform similarly.
Using AIDA64, memory performance is benchmarked, including latency tests as well as read, write, and copy speeds. Here, Gigabyte’s memory bandwidth advantage unsurprisingly gave this board a leg up on the ASUS board with slower memory
PCMark 10 mimics real-world workloads such as web browsing, image editing, video conferencing, and graphics rendering. The benchmark breaks the tests into three categories and gives a final score as well. These scores were very close, but the AORUS X370 Gaming K5 came out on top yet again.
MAXON’s Cinebench R15 offers a processor test for the CPU and an OpenGL test for the GPU. We relied on the single-thread and multi-thread CPU-centric tests, then performed our overclock and reran those tests to see what kind of gains we achieved. The Single Thread scores, at stock clocks and when overclocked, were both within the margin of error. We were surprised to see the ASUS board seemed to offer better stock performance from the R7 1700X, while the Gigabyte board did better when overclocked.
x264 is a popular free software library for encoding video streams into the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format. x264 FHD measures how efficient a system is in encoding H.264 video and produces results in frames-per-second.
H.265/HEVC video encoding is the future of video able to compress significantly larger resolution videos including 4K and make streaming feasible. The downside is that hardware support is still few and far between so processing requirement is steeper than current H.264/AVC standards. x.265 is an open-source implementation of the H.265 standard and x.265 HD benchmark tests the CPU’s ability to process an HEVC video
Handbrake is free open-source video transcoder that can convert various video file formats to compatible video files for other typical media viewing applications such as in an iPhone or Android tablet. A 1GB H.264 MKV file was converted using the built-in iPod Preset (5G Support), manually timed. The results are in seconds and the lower number is the better result. These three multimedia tests seemed to favor the ASUS system with its slower memory, suggesting that the Gigabyte system may have suffered slightly due to higher latencies.
7-zip is an open source (GNU) compression program utilizing LZMA method as the default. These scores were too close to call. Incidentally, 7-zip was the only test that would error-out while we were attempting to get the ASUS board to run with the memory clocked up to 3,200MHz.
WinRAR is a Windows version of a popular compression software created by Eugene Roshal in 1993, widely used for its flexibility. Like 7-zip, this utility has a built-in benchmark that measures the system’s compression and decompression capabilities. Once again, the results were too close to call.
CrystalDiskMark “is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows you to measure sequential and random read/write speeds.” It’s one of the most commonly used utilities for testing drives, and it shows just how adeptly AM4 motherboards handle NVMe M.2 drives like the Samsung 960 EVO we used. Because the storage drive is identical, it is no surprise that our scores were very closely matched.
Before proceeding with audio benchmarks, Deferred Procedure Call (DPC) latency must be first checked to make sure that the system is capable of producing usable results when the RightMark Audio Analyzer benchmark is performed. DPC is a Windows function that involves prioritizing tasks within the OS and high DPC latencies can be caused by several things including hardware device conflict. The DPC Latency Monitor graphically displays the latency level of the system in real time.
After leaving the system running for 15+minutes, the ISR and DPC routine execution times peaked at 36.81 and 376.09 microseconds, respectively, and are well under the 4,000 microseconds limit, at which point the system becomes unsuitable for real-time audio playback. RightMark Audio Analyzer tests using a short 3.5mm audio cable that goes in the rear line-in and line-out ports to effectively listen to the system’s own audio output. We run the 44kHz, 48kHz, 96kHz, and 192kHz tests at 16-bit and 24-bits, with all effects disabled. Here, the Gigabyte board’s performance was rather lackluster compared to the ASUS board, which features better isolation for its audio components. That being said, the Gigabyte motherboard still managed to produce Good to Very Good scores in most tests, so this won’t be a deal breaker unless you consider yourself an audiophile.
Wired Network Connectivity
Network testing was conducted with a 4-port Netgear ProSafe 5-Port GS105 Gigabit Switch and a pair of 6-ft long Cat5E cables connecting the server PC and the test motherboard. The server system consists of an Acer Predator Helios 300 laptop running an Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor with an Intel Gigabit NIC. Interrupt Moderation was disabled, running TCP and UDP tests.
Futuremark’s 3DMark is a semi-synthetic gaming benchmark that calculates both graphics and CPU-bound physics in a controlled series of tests and provides scores that can be compared with other gaming platforms. Unigine Heaven is a synthetic benchmark that is completely GPU bound for testing possible PCI-E graphics performance inconsistencies.
The Unigine Superposition benchmark is a graphics-centric utility designed to stress your GPU under heavy workloads. It was built on the updated UNIGINE 2 Engine. I ran the Superposition benchmark with the Sapphire NITRO+ RX Vega 64 LE at the 1080p Extreme and High settings, using the DirectX API. The test reports average, maximum, and minimum framerates, which I recorded after a single run. At the High setting, this card scored an average of 76.61fps, maximum of 96.07fps, and a minimum of 62.81fps. At the Extreme preset, the average, maximum, and minimum frame rates were 33.9fps, 40.51fps, and 26.63fps, respectively
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is CD Projekt Red’s expansive RPG starring Geralt of Rivia, a mutated -but still ruggedly handsome- witcher who is seeking Ciri, his all-but-officially adopted daughter as she flees the dangerous and deadly Wild Hunt. This game has been out since 2015, but it still puts a lot of stress on modern GPUs. If you were still unsure whether memory bandwidth really makes a difference, here’s some real-world proof.
Sniper Elite 4 is a third-person tactical shooter with optional stealth elements. The events of the game take place in 1943, in Italy. It’s the only game in our series of DirectX 12 games that can report scores with FRAPS, even though there’s no overlay. Here I recorded the average, maximum, and minimum frame rates, as I did with The Witcher 3. And just like that, the memory bandwidth advantage is completely gone in Sniper Elite 4
We covered the handful of overclocking features this motherboard sports in greater detail above. If you’re interested in pushing the limits of your Ryzen processor, this board will not let you down. If you are looking to try your hand at exotic overclocking, this board probably won’t cut it. The Turbo B-Clock overclocking feature is interesting, but not something we tend to rely on, at least not when the low-hanging fruit of an unlocked multiplier is ripe for the plucking like it is on AMD’s platform. To get our overclocked scores in Cinebench, we merely went into the UEFI menu, accessed the advanced settings, chose the M.I.T. tab, selected the first XMP profile to dial in the default timings, chose 3200MHz for the speed, and then set the CPU frequency to 3.95GHz, which we’ve found is a reliable everyday overclock on the Ryzen 7 1700X we use for testing. To get the system stable, we did add 0.25V to the Dynamic Vcore setting in the Advanced CPU Core Settings submenu.
Our thermals looked good throughout the testing, and the performance jump was satisfyingly tangible.
If you’re looking at jumping onto AMD’s platform right now, you’re probably wondering about whether this board has what it takes to handle the Ryzen+ processors. We have good news. Just before I published this article, I put the Ryzen 7 2700X into this board and booted it up. It managed an impressive 1,756 multi-threaded score and 177 single-core score at the processor’s stock settings, which include a base clock of 3.7GHz. When we overclocked the processor to 4.3GHz, it yielded a jaw-dropping 180 and 1,945 for the single- and multi-core scores, respectively. So yes, Ryzen+ appears to feel right at home in the Gigabyte AORUS X370 Gaming K5.
When you look up this board online, you’ll probably notice that it sits right between the AORUS X370 Gaming K3 for about little bit less and the AORUS X370 Gaming 5 for a bit more. But if you’re spending less than $150 for an X370 motherboard, then this model offers a good mix of high-end features, gorgeous aesthetics, and user-friendliness to make it the best option of the three. We detailed many of the differences between this board and the Gaming 5, so if you did want a little extra, then we’d upgrade rather to that one rather than take a step down.
Overall, Gigabyte has put together a solid X370 motherboard that competes well with the ASUS PRIME X370 Pro, our first AM4 board. The superior memory compatibility also gives Gigabyte’s AORUS X370 Gaming K5 an edge that many AM4 motherboard shoppers will appreciate having. For those who are looking at obtaining a Ryzen+ processor, we’re happy to report that affordable X370 motherboards like this one are a viable alternative to the high-priced X470 motherboards currently on the market, and yeah, that Wraith Prism cooler does look pretty nice against this all-black board.