Let’s take a look at the Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3, a mid-range motherboard with the new AM4 socket, based on the AMD B350 chipset, supporting Ryzen CPUs. Check it out!
The AMD B350 chipset is the mid-range model for the AM4 socket, used by the new Ryzen CPUs and the future seventh-gen APUs. The B350 differs from the high-end chipset for this platform, the X370, by the number of PCI Express 2.0 lanes (six, against eight on the X370), USB 3.0 ports (two on the B350 and six on the X370), and SATA-600 ports (eight on the X370 and six on the B350).
Another difference is that the B350 doesn’t support splitting the 16 PCI Express 3.0 lanes on two slots (x8/x8 configuration) like the X370. So, the B350 is aimed on single-VGA systems.
Both the chipsets support two USB 3.1 ports, and RAID 0, 1, and 10.
You can see the Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 motherboard in Figure 1. It uses the ATX form factor, measuring 12” x 9” (305 x 230 mm).
Figure 1: Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 motherboard
The Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 comes with one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, two PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (one of them working at x4 maximum speed, and the other one working at x1 only) and two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots.
The PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot that works at x4 speed shares its lanes with the PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots. So, it they are in use, this slot will work at x2 speed.
The motherboard supports CrossFire with up to two video cards, but it does not support SLI.
There is also one M.2 slot, supporting both PCI Express 3.0 x4 and SATA-600 SSDs.
The first two PCI Express x16 slots are covered by stainless steel shields, that work as a shield against interference, and also improving mechanical strength of each slot.
Figure 2: slots
[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]
AMD CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, that defines what memory technologies you can have and the maximum amount of memory that is possible. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
AM4 CPUs are compatible with DDR4 (up to 2,667 MHz, depending on the modules configuration) memory. According to Gigabyte, the AB350-Gaming 3 supports DDR4 memories up to 3,200 MHz.
The Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 has four memory sockets. You can install up to 64 GiB with this motherboard if you use four 16 GiB modules.
In order to enable the dual-channel mode, you must install two or four memory modules. When installing two memory modules, use the first and third memory slots to enable dual-channel mode.
Figure 3: memory sockets; install two or four modules for the best performance
[nextpage title=”On Board Peripherals”]
The AMD B350 chipset is a single-chip solution. This chip offers six SATA-600 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, and 10). The motherboard comes with those six ports.
Figure 4: the six SATA-600 ports
The AMD B350 chipset supports six USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 (also called USB 3.1 Gen1) ports, and two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports. There are also four USB 3.0 ports controlled by the CPU.
The Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 offers five USB 2.0 ports, one located at the rear panel (low-noise port) and four available through two headers located on the motherboard. There are six USB 3.0 ports, four on the rear panel and two available through a header. There are also two USB 3.1 ports (both Type A).
The Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 does not support FireWire or Thunderbolt ports.
Figure 5 shows the audio section of the motherboard.
Figure 5: audio section
The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by a Realtek RTL8111G chip.
In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel with two USB 3.0 ports (blue,) a shared PS/2 keyboard/mouse connector, DVI-D output, HDMI output, one low-noise USB 2.0 port (black,) two USB 3.1 Type A ports (red,) two USB 3.0 ports (blue,) a Gigabit Ethernet port, optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio jacks.
Figure 6: motherboard rear panel
The Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 has RGB (programmable) LEDs all around the motherboard. It also supports RGB LED ribbons.
In Figure 7, you can see the accessories that come with the Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3.
Figure 7: accessories
[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 has seven phases for the CPU. The voltage regulator uses an Intersil ISL95712 controller chip (digital design). Each phase uses one ON NTMFS4C10N and one ON NTMFS4C06N MOSFETs.
Figure 8: voltage regulator circuit
The Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 uses solid capacitors all coils on this motherboard are ferrite ones.
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 include:
- Socket: AM4
- Chipset: AMD B350
- Super I/O: ITE IT8792E
- Parallel ATA: none
- Serial ATA: six SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, and 10)
- External SATA: none
- USB 2.0: five USB 2.0 ports, one at the rear panel and four available through two headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen1): six USB 3.0 ports, four on the motherboard rear panel and two available through one header, controlled by the chipset
- USB 3.1 (USB 3.1 Gen2): two USB 3.1 ports, both Type A, controlled by the chipset
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): none
- Thunderbolt: none
- On-board video: controlled by the CPU (if using an APU); one DVI-D one HDMI connectors
- On-board audio: Produced by a Realtek ALC1220 codec (7.1 channels, 120 dB SNR for the outputs, no mode info available)
- On-board LAN: one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by a Realtek RTL8111G chip
- Buzzer: no
- Infrared interface: no
- Power supply required: EPS12V
- Slots: one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot (working at x16), one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (working at x4), one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (working at x1), two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, and one M.2 slot compatible with PCI Express 3.0 x4 and SATA-600 SSDs
- Memory: four DDR4-DIMM sockets (up to DDR4-3200, 64 GiB maximum)
- Fan connectors: two four-pin connector for the CPU cooler, and three four-pin connector for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: two BIOS chips, RGB LED lights
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: one
- Programs included: motherboard utilities and drivers
- More Information: https://www.gigabyte.com
- Average Price in the U.S.*: USD 110.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this article.
The coming of the new AM4 platform from AMD heated the competition between the main CPU manufacturers. The AM4 socket promises to be interesting from entry computers to high-end systems.
In this platform the B350 chipset is the mid-range model, being the obvious choice for a mid-range motherboard like the Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3, that actually comes with all the features most of the users will need, like six SATA-600, six USB 3.0 and two USB 3.1 ports. The high-end audio codec and the programmable RGB lights are the highlights of this motherboard.
One of this motherboard’s biggest limitations is actually a chipset limitation: the slot configuration. It brings only one PCI Express 3.0 x16, which makes it a good choice only for systems with a single video card. The fact it doesn’t bring any other PCI Express 3.0 slot (also a chipset limitation) can be a problem if you want to use a PCI Express 3.0 x4 SSD that uses the add-on card form factor. However, there is support for PCI Express 3.0 x4 M.2 SSDs. We also missed at least one type C USB port.
Anyway, if you want to build a computer based on an AM4 CPU, and will not use more than one video card, the Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 is a good choice.