ASUS ROG STRIX X470-F GAMING ING
Stealth mode engaged
WHY, ASUS? WHY? We want to be kind to your products, honest we do, but with the current lack of innovation across your mid-range motherboard arsenal, it forces us into an unhappy position. Come on, you’re one of the biggest motherboard manufacturers out there right now, so let’s see a bit more development going on behind some of your prestigious products.
What’s the problem? Well, it’s a simple one, but one that makes our blood boil, and it all comes down to what can only be described as the ROG tax. Right now, the X470-F is available from Newegg for a rather pricey $212. Aesthetically, it’s a pleasing AM4, ATX mobo, complete with flashy RGB heatsink, swappable chipset stickers, and a fully specced out complement of connectivity for any and all devices you might have at your disposal. That said, it really ought to be—after all, it’s broken that $200 mark, and is by no means what we’d consider an affordable mobo. The problem lies with a product within Asus’s own arsenal. Namely the Asus Prime X470-Pro.
Side by side, the PCB layouts are almost identical. Power phases, capacitors, traces, fan headers, SATA ports, PCIe slots—you get the picture. Even the rear I/O is the same. The two are near mirror images of each other. The only differences being the fact that the Prime lacks an additional RGB header (yeah, wow, right?), and it doesn’t have quite as beefy an audio solution as the ROG. And the prices? Well, there’s a sizeable $47 difference between the two—the Prime X470-Pro comes in at a far more reasonable $165.
So, why buy the ROG? That’s a good question and, if we’re honest, that decision mostly comes down to aesthetics. Do you like the darker styling, the rear I/O plate being pre-installed, and the I/O cover being somewhat larger than that of the Prime? If so, perhaps the ROG is the choice for you, but we’re not convinced. After all, you can pick up an older X370 Crosshair VI for $12 less, and apart from the better power solution, improved audio hardware, and expanded connectivity, it also has that splendid styling. It’s a far superior mobo (though, granted, you’ll need to perform a BIOS update to get it to work with the latest Ryzen 2 series).
But enough railing—how does it do in our tests? Well, all in all, it’s pretty darn impressive. We saw excellent scores in both Tech ARP’s X264 test and the Fry Render benchmarks. Latency was far better than the other mobos we’ve seen so far, no doubt thanks to a newer BIOS, and CrystalDisk sequentials also performed solidly across the board, too. Unfortunately, there’s still no change on the overclocking front, although we didn’t expect much, and the lowest voltage we managed at 4.0GHz was 1.41V, placing it slightly worse than the Crosshair VI Hero.
Power draw is something of a problem, however, and is arguably what contributed to the high scores in both Tech ARP’s X264 and Fry Render, because under load it drew 315W from the wall. That’s a fairly substantial 35W more than the VI Hero and Gigabyte’s Gaming 7, showing signs again of aggressive overvolting by the BIOS to encourage XFR higher.
So, all in all, if you take the price shenanigans out of the equation, it’s a fairly well-rounded board. Yeah, it’s a bit heavy on the old power draw, meaning you’ll likely need to tweak the BIOS settings to get a nice balance between performance and temperature, but ultimately it performs well, is consistent, and admittedly (despite us criticizing it for a good three paragraphs) does look seriously good. The RGB lighting is subtle and isolated, and being able to swap out chipset stickers, although a bit gimmicky, is admittedly a neat addition.
We can’t let Asus rest on its laurels, though. If you want the performance, we recommend the Prime X470-Pro; if you want the looks, you could grab the ROG, although, in all honesty, a Crosshair VI would likely serve you better. And until those marketing teams change their stance on the ROG tax as a whole (which at most should be $25, even with the additional features), we have no choice but to mark the X470-F down. –
Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming
JEAN-LUC PICARD Impressive performance; strong BIOS; looks great.
ZAPP BRANNIGAN Price; power draw. $212, www.asus.com