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,

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