ASRock DeskMini A300 Review: STX Meets AM4

DeskMini A300 Firmware and Test Hardware

Dwelling in the enthusiast market has given us little exposure to AMD’s A300 Promontory chipset, so we really didn’t know what to expect of overclocking functionality. The DeskMini A300 lacks any CPU multiplier control, but does allow full DRAM overclocking within the limits of the CPU and motherboard stability, and offers similar flexibility to the APU’s integrated Radeon RX Vega graphics controller.

The system’s A300M-STX motherboard has only two DRAM voltage settings, 1.35V and 1.20V. And while either of those would get our memory to its DDR4-3000 rating, neither of those settings would keep it stable at higher settings. We also tried DDR4-3800 and DDR4-4000 modules from G.Skill and Corsair to no avail, so this appears to be the limit of board stability. Similarly, our graphics processor topped out at 1500 MHz using 1.20V, where 1.25V couldn’t push it to our next-higher 1600 MHz setting.

Users unable to reach their desired DRAM overclock are welcomed in firmware to optimize timings instead, via the A300M-STX’s expansive Timing Configuration submenu.

The A300M-STX’s CBS menu is similarly lacking in overclocking features, but users can choose a few power settings to optimize for better performance or lower power use.

The motherboard’s “Tool” firmware menu provides SSD Secure Erase and Instant Flash firmware updating, and its H/W Monitor menu offers manual fan configuration in addition to the expected factory-programmed curves.

How We Test

Unable to match the DeskMini’s exact configuration for a performance comparison, we built our comparison system using ASRock’s own Fatal1ty B450 Gaming ITX/ac as the baseline motherboard, and the DeskMini’s tiny CPU heatsink and fan as the baseline cooler. Differences include the larger board’s larger DIMMs and PS2 form-factor (aka full ATX) power supply, the later being the lowest-capacity 80 Plus Gold rated unit we had on hand.

Test Hardware

CPU Cooler
DeskMini A300 Optional Cooler
RAMKingston HX429C15PB3AK2/16  2x 8GB (16 GB) DDR4-2933 DIMM Kit
GraphicsRadeon RX Vega APU Integrated
SoundIntegrated HD audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
Graphics DriverGeForce 399.24

Here’s how the DeskMini A300’s A300M-STX overclock settings compare to those of the B450 Gaming ITX/ac.

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Photo Credits: Tom's Hardware

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4 comments
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  • scjhonson
    I have been seriously considering buying one of these. I have a Ryzen 5 2400g that I delided and applied liquid metal to, and the temperature improvements have been impressive. I wasn't able to squeeze any additional performance out of it, but it runs very, very cool now under stress testing using AIDA64, averaging 33 degrees C over ambient on the bench, overclocked to 3.95 GHz (@1.35v) on the CPU and 1575 MHz (@1.2v) on the GPU with a Noctua NH-L12S air cooler. Obviously, this cooler won't fit in the Deskmini A300, but I specifically delided this processor for this intended use and I am expecting only slightly less stellar temps even with a lesser cooler. I am just irritated that I won't be able to use my full overclock, plus it would be using slower memory than what I have on my bench build, so that is holding me back. I am still trying to decide if I want to build one of these...
  • neblogai
    Stock cooler (Wraith Stealth), which 2400G and 2200G come with, fits into the a300 once top shroud of the cooler is removed. It has better cooling capability (needed for full performance of the 2400G), and I think it is quieter too.
  • asmotan
    With the cooling solution for Deskmini A300, the following are the available options acknowledged in JP DIY community.

    Noctua NH-L9a-AM4
    This cooler fits perfectly in A300 like it was designed to do so.
    It is considered to be the best cooling solution for this rig but the price may sound little high.

    ID Cooling IS-40X
    This cooler also fits great in A300 but the performance is slightly below NH-L9a-AM4 and the fan noise may become bothersome when the system goes full load.
    Though pricewise, it's cheaper than Noctua.

    AMD Wraith Stealth
    Just as neblogai said, the stock cooler that comes with 2400G/2200G does fit by removing the shroud.
    However, it depends on which model you have.
    There happens to be 2 models, one with 7-fin fan and another with 5-fin fan.
    The 7-fin fan model does fit by removing the shroud but with 5-fin fan model, it does not even by removing the shroud.
    Though if you replace the stock fan with 80mm PWM case fan, the height will be lower than 45mm, which is a maximum height on A300, and will fit fine.
  • scjhonson
    I am in the middle of bench testing thermals on a delid 2400g right now using a NH-L9a overclocked to 3.95 GHz (@1.35v) on the CPU and 1575 MHz (@1.2v) on the GPU. It is averaging 38 degrees over ambient on the bench with the NH-L9a, or about 5 degrees hotter than NH-L12S over a 3.5 hour run. Just for grins, I also ran a quickie bench test on a BeQuiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 which managed to average 25 degrees over ambient during a 30 minute run. Testing has me expecting about a 10 degree jump when I place this bench motherboard into my smallest case. Now that I have an idea what to expect, lets see what things look like when I plug the delid 2400g with NH-L9a combo into the Deskmini A300W (once Newegg finally gets them back in stock)...