ASRock X370 Gaming K4 ATX Motherboard Review

Firmware And Testing Configuration

Firmware

ASRock’s X370 UEFI options are consistent from product to product, and the main difference between the Taichi and the X370 Gaming K4 is the synchronization of the box art with the UEFI. However, this time around we'll provide a little more depth to the options. For starters, CPU frequencies are listed in the table or are accessible via the “+/-” keys in 50MHz increments.

If overclocking memory is your thing, DDR4-2933 and DDR4-3200 are the only other stock options for easy tweaking. Of course, BCLK overclocking might open doors to other frequencies, but that comes with the risk of harmful system side effects. Voltage biasing for the core is accessible by holding down the plus key or keying in the desirable voltage. Note that voltages are adjustable in increments of 6.25mV. For the DIMMs, voltage set points are adjustable by 5mV increments.

We'll stand by our “too many options” statement from the previous ASRock review. Sure, professional overclockers might find using the "disabling platform first error handling" or "freezing DF module queues on error" helpful, but do they really need "location of private memory regions," "disabling individual I2C interfaces," and "clear MCA at warm RST?" Give me a break. When the description lists specific address definitions or “no help string,” it doesn't need to be available to the normal user.

More recent versions of the UEFI let you disable SMT. In our overclocking quest, we used this to help debug stability issues, but we encountered a scenario in which the option would not reset itself without intentionally causing the UEFI to reset. This would only occur when booting with an incompatible memory configuration, which was frustrating.

Another addition in newer firmware versions is the ability to flash through the OS, which we found helpful while making a mess of things when overclocking.

Test Configuration

We haven't changed much. We did get our hands on some better memory—HyperX Predator DDR4-3200MHz—but we won't spoil the fun of our overclocking section. The Nocuta NH-D15 SE-AM4 returns as well. Special thanks to Noctua for supplying this and two more coolers to be investigated soon.

The biggest addition to the test suite are three 1080p monitors in portrait mode. Turning on Nvidia’s Surround mode while implementing bezel correction gets us a system resolution of 3460x1920. Not exactly 4K but darn close, and at least satisfies some of the concerns expressed about representing higher end gaming. Even if y’all don’t like it, it’s still pretty damn sweet.

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Test System Configuration

Sound

Integrated HD Audio

Network

Integrated Gigabit Networking

Graphics

NVIDIA

Chipset

AMD X370

Benchmark Settings

Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings

PCMark 8

Version 2.7.613
Home, Creative, Work, Storage, Applications (Adobe)

SiSoftware Sandra

Version 2016.03.22.21
CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography
Memory Bandwidth

DiskSPD

4k Random Read, 4k Random Write
128k Sequential Read, 128k Sequential Write

Cinebench R15

Build RC83328DEMO
OpenGL Benchmark

CompuBench

Version 1.5.8
Face Detection, Optical Flow, Ocean Surface, Ray Tracing

3D Tests and Settings

3DMark 13

Version 4.47.597.0
Test Set 1: Skydiver, 1920x1080, Default Preset
Test Set 2: Firestrike, 1920x1080, Default Preset
Test Set 3: Firestrike Extreme, 2560x1440 Default Preset

Application Tests and Settings

HandBrake CLI

Version: 0.9.9
Sintel Open Movie Project
4.19 GB 4k mkv to x265 mp4

LAME MP3

Version 3.98.3
Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3
Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)

Adobe After Effects CC

Release 2015.3.0
Version 13.8.0.144
PCMark driven routine

Adobe Photoshop CC

Release 2015.5.0
20160603.r.88 x64
PCMark driven routine (light and heavy)

Adobe InDesign CC

Release 2015.4
Build 11.4.0.90 x64
PCMark driven routine

Adobe Illustrator

Release 2015.3.0
Version 20.0.0 (64-bit)
PCMark driven routine

Blender

 Version 2.68a
BMW 27 CPU Render Benchmark
BMW 27 GPU Render Benchmark

7-Zip

Version 16.02
THG-Workload (7.6 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=9"

Game Tests and Settings

Ashes of Singularity

Version 1.31.21360
High Preset - 1920x1080, Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAA
Crazy Preset - 1920x1090, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA
High Preset - 3460x1920 Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAA
Crazy Preset - 3460x1920, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA

F1 2015

1920x1080, 2015 Season, Abu Dhabi Track, Rain
UltraHigh Preset, 16x AF
3460x1920, 2015 Season, Abu Dhabi Track, Rain
UltraHigh Preset, 16x AF

Metro Last Light Redux

Version 3.00 x64
High Quality, 1920x1080, High Tesselation
Very High Quality, 1920x1080, Very High Tesselation
High Quality, 3460x1920, High Tesselation
Very High Quality, 3460x1920, Very High Tesselation

The Talos Principle

Version 267252
1920x1080, Medium Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AF
1920x1080, Ultra Preset, VeryHigh Quality, VeryHigh Tesselation, 16x AF
3460x1920, Medium Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AF
3460x1920, Ultra Preset, VeryHigh Quality, VeryHigh Tesselation, 16x AF

We did collect some SLI data using a second GTX 970 GPU we have on hand, but unfortunately three of the four games we tested do not use SLI while in this multi-monitor configuration. If there are more games you want us to run, let us know in the comment section. How about some RAID tests or network performance?

This thread is closed for comments
20 comments
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  • Crashman
    Very nice, thanks Terk!
  • elbert
    Great review and the only question I have is on the temperature. Does those temps take into account AMD's reported 20c offset for the 1700x and 1800x? Only the 1700 was reporting correct temps a few weeks ago.

    Update: I see were the 20 offset was added in my second look over the review.
  • Midnitte
    Now if only the Tachi would ever go in stock...
  • Thelatestnewbgamer
    why is confirmed G.Skill memory being used. it easily hit's 3200mhz on the tai-chi board. i'm pretty sure this same stick of ram which is a samsung dimm and the Preferred memory manufacture of choice to use when building a high end ryzen system would run 3200mhz in this gaming k4 board,,,this ram was pulled outta my kaby lake i5 system...thanks for the review glad you mentioned the issue with ram compatibility and the generic speed the average user will get if using incompatible memory i imagine the scores would be awesome if you were able to hit 3200mhz @ 14-14-14-34
  • theterk
    An in-depth review of Taichi/Gaming K4 and whatever other board I review will be revisited and tested with two different types of 3200MHz RAM with whatever the latest UEFI version is for each product. Stay tuned! lots of more motherboard reviews coming.
  • damric
    Another THW review of a Killer board that doesn't include testing the Killer network software.
  • __Isomorph__
    terk, is there any advantage whatsoever to have VRM @ 16 vs 12 phases? and if no difference, then why the hell is it necessary for the Taichi to have a 16 phase VRM? most other boards i see out there from rival brands are at 8 or 10. please help me make sense of this cryptic nonsense.
  • turbotong
    #PLACEHOLDER_## comment about the #PLACEHOLDER_## article.
  • theterk
    @Isomorph, not all phases are created equal. A 16 phase board doesn't necessarily perform better than a 10 phase board.

    Ideally, more phases allocated to a particular voltage rail decreases signal noise, component wear, and in some cases increases redundancy. This is useful for overclocking since any noise induced by your workload or overclocking could potentially cause your system to crash. This also assists in spreading the heat produced by the VRMs to different components increasing the likelihood of stability.

    Obligatory link to an old article: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-motherboard-voltage-regulator-circuit/4/
  • pjgowtham
    Asus prime x370 pro review please :D??
  • CTPAHHIK
    Great review - thank you very much!!!
  • rugrat
    The lead sentence on my homepage RSS feed is:

    "Will the X370 Gaming K4 continue the Fatal1ty tradition regardless of the notion that Ryzen is..."

    I came here to finish that sentence,... It's not in the article. Now I'm going to wonder for the rest of the day,..."i wonder what the notion is about Ryzen."
  • Crashman
    112646 said:
    The lead sentence on my homepage RSS feed is: "Will the X370 Gaming K4 continue the Fatal1ty tradition regardless of the notion that Ryzen is..." I came here to finish that sentence,... It's not in the article. Now I'm going to wonder for the rest of the day,..."i wonder what the notion is about Ryzen."
    You're looking at the subtitle (I won't quite call it a Lede) for the article, which can be read on the "motherboards" category page:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/t/motherboards/
  • rugrat
    Thanks Crashman,...There's a heading and then a partial sentence that strikes me as part of the actual article. I guess I'm thinking of a "lead in" or first sentence of the article but subtitle works. Not being able to finish the subtitle myself brought me to the article,...alas, no happy ending.

    Thanks again for the link,...now I'll go and find the notion that Ryzen is....:bounce:

    "...terrible at gaming."!?...:heink:
  • Crashman
    112646 said:
    Thanks Crashman,...There's a heading and then a partial sentence that strikes me as part of the actual article. I guess I'm thinking of a "lead in" or first sentence of the article but subtitle works. Not being able to finish the subtitle myself brought me to the article,...alas, no happy ending. Thanks again for the link,...now I'll go and find the notion that Ryzen is....:bounce: "...terrible at gaming."!?...:heink:
    LOL, I guess it's fighting that notion. As is the editor. He's found that when you use a weak-enough graphics card, it can game as well as anything from Intel. The sad part is, "weak enough" is GTX 970. Yeh, we all need new graphics cards now :/
  • Ramin rostami
    BOYS do you know ryzen cpu is too smoot than intel 7700, very low latency in games and ..., very smooth in games because ryzen GRAPHIC CARD, mouse ,keyboard directly connect to ryzen cpu ! see am4 and 270 board diagram
    http://uupload.ir/files/7kxp_crosshair-diagram-1280x1024.jpg
    note= (in intel below picture intel has PCI3 out from cpu but it is cpu internal graphic out,not independant in )!!!!!
    http://uupload.ir/view/6fej_z270-diagram.png
  • __Isomorph__
    where do you get this notion from?

    i read and watched everything i could get my hands on re Ryzen, mobos, VRM and voltage phases, and i feel pretty comfortable now to say that there's been a lot of FUD that has been spread ignorantly or willfully about Ryzen.

    for those short on time, this video says it all loud and clear and is the mandatory watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylvdSnEbL50 .

    Ryzen is the superior CPU. and ASRock Taichi is the better mobo for stable OC'ing: https://level1techs.com/article/fastest-ryzen-1800x-system-world-2017-03-20


    1 said:
    Will the X370 Gaming K4 continue the Fatal1ty tradition regardless of the notion that Ryzen is terrible at gaming? ASRock X370 Gaming K4 ATX Motherboard Review : Read more
  • Crashman
    2449301 said:
    where do you get this notion from? i read and watched everything i could get my hands on re Ryzen, mobos, VRM and voltage phases, and i feel pretty comfortable now to say that there's been a lot of FUD that has been spread ignorantly or willfully about Ryzen. for those short on time, this video says it all loud and clear and is the mandatory watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylvdSnEbL50 . Ryzen is the superior CPU. and ASRock Taichi is the better mobo for stable OC'ing: https://level1techs.com/article/fastest-ryzen-1800x-system-world-2017-03-20
    1 said:
    Will the X370 Gaming K4 continue the Fatal1ty tradition regardless of the notion that Ryzen is terrible at gaming? ASRock X370 Gaming K4 ATX Motherboard Review : Read more
    It only did poorly in games at launch when a super-powerful graphics card was used. From launch day forward, we saw AMD fanboys using graphics-bottlenecked configurations to prove that Ryzen was just as good in games and better at a few other things. People were angry at Tom's Hardware for not skewing its configuration in this manner.

    Since then, there have been several software and firmware patches to improve the performance of Ryzen in places where it had done poorly. But the notion remains.
  • __Isomorph__
    ok but then what do you make of this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tfTZjugDeg

    when the scottish dude switches over to dual RX480 a whole new story unfolds and he concludes the shitty NVidia DX12 driver is to blame as we can see how on par with the 7700K Ryzen 1800X is, once it's the AMD DX12 driver who is in charge.
  • Oranthal
    309219 said:
    An in-depth review of Taichi/Gaming K4 and whatever other board I review will be revisited and tested with two different types of 3200MHz RAM with whatever the latest UEFI version is for each product. Stay tuned! lots of more motherboard reviews coming.


    What ram would you use with the Gaming K4 mobo at a budget of $150 or less for at least 16gb? What is the fastest memory you have gotten to work?