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ASRock X570 Creator Review: Aqua-Free Thunderbolt 3

ASRock brings Thunderbolt 3 and next-gen connectivity to a more affordable price point.

(Image: © ASRock)

Our Verdict

What looks on paper to be a half-priced version of the X570 Aqua is really a completely different product. But the X570 Creator’s impressive feature set still makes it worth its price to those in the market for integrated Thunderbolt 3 and 10GbE.

For

  • Integrated Thunderbolt 3 with DisplayPort passthrough
  • 10GbE, Gigabit Ethernet & 802.11ax Wi-Fi
  • Excellent CPU overclocking at moderate voltage levels

Against

  • Half the SATA ports are on PCIe 2.0 controllers
  • All three PCIe x1 slots are 2.0 version
  • All PCIe 2.0 devices share bandwidth on a single-lane hub

As much as bells and whistles are impressive, ASRock’s recently released X570 Aqua is extremely expensive at $1,000. But the $500 X570 Creator ($480, with a $20 rebate as of this writing) is in many ways a similar board that’s half the price. It doesn’t have the exclusivity or open-loop cooling of the flagship Aqua, but it still has a full-fledged feature set. 

Specifications

SocketAM4
ChipsetAMD X570
Form FactorATX
Voltage Regulator14 Phases
Video PortsHDMI, DisplayPort IN, Thunderbolt 3
USB Ports10 Gbps: (2) Type-C (via Thunderbolt 3) 5Gb/s: (6) Type A
Network Jacks10GbE, Gigabit Ethernet, (2) Wi-Fi Antenna
Audio Jacks(5) Analog, (1) Digital Out
Legacy Ports/Jacks(1) PS/2
Other Ports/JackThunderbolt 3 (40Gb/s), BIOS Flashback
PCIe x16(3) v4.0 (x16/x0/x4, x8/x8/x4)
PCIe x8
PCIe x4
PCIe x1(3) v2.0
CrossFire/SLI3x / 2x
DIMM slots(4) DDR4
M.2 slots(2) PCIe 4.0 x4 / SATA
U.2 Ports
SATA Ports(8) 6Gb/s (four via ASM1061 controllers)
USB Headers(1) v3 Gen2, (2) v3 Gen1, (1) v2.0
Fan Headers(5) 4-pin
Legacy InterfacesSystem (Beep-code) Speaker
Other InterfacesFP-Audio, ARGB LED, (2) RGB LED
Diagnostics PanelNumeric
Internal Button/SwitchPower, Reset, CLR_CMOS / ✗
SATA Controllers(2) ASM1061 PCIe 2.0 x1, Integrated (0/1/10)
Ethernet ControllersAquantia AQC107 PCIe x4, WGI211AT PCIe
Wi-Fi / BluetoothIntel AX200 802.11ax (2.4 Gb/s) / BT 5.0 Combo
USB ControllersJHL7540 Thunderbolt 3 PCIe 3.0 x4
HD Audio CodecALC1220
DDL/DTS ConnectDTS Connect
Warranty3 Years

 

Nothing in our features table differentiates this board from the X570 Aqua that went before it, but we still need to dig deeper, as those identical features have been placed on completely different circuit boards.

(Image credit: ASRock)

The lack of a monoblock and color-matched cladding gives the less-costly X570 Creator a completely different look from its feature-matched predecessor. But it does have all the same ports and slots. In fact, the lack of the Aqua’s integrated I/O shield is the only thing that differentiates the Creator’s I/O panel.

(Image credit: ASRock)

The BIOS flash mode button, dual antenna connections for factory-installed 802.11ax module, six USB3 Gen1 and two Thunderbolt 3 ports, Gigabit and 10GbE ports, audio jacks with digital optical output, DisplayPort input and HDMI output are still present. The video input is for Thunderbolt passthrough via external graphics card linking, and the digital audio output supports DTS Connect to encode 5.1-channel streams from live audio sources. The biggest disappointment is that the two Type-A ports that appear color-coded for 10Gbps but are only wired for 5Gbps.

(Image credit: ASRock)

Unlike the X570 Aqua, the Creator fits completely within the confines of standard ATX. We looked around for crowded components and found nothing unusual, though the voltage regulator and socket are both closer to the I/O shield and the chipset is closer to the PCIe slots. The same onboard controllers are in similar positions relative to each other, but with less spacing between them. We even see the same internal DisplayPort pass-through connector, which is used for connecting specific ASRock graphics cards internally to the board’s Thunderbolt 3 outputs, located forward of the I/O audio connections.

(Image credit: ASRock)

Internal power and reset buttons are moved slightly rearward to make room for the X570 Creator’s shortened front edge by moving its legacy PC Speaker/3-pin spaced redundant power LED combo header, compared to the X570 Aqua. Farther up the board we see that the ALC1220 audio codec is moved further down than on the X570 Aqua, and that the ASM1187e PCIe 2.0 x1 to x7 smart switch is now closer to the battery. Builders are welcome to use up to eight SATA devices, but the fact that four of these ports share bandwidth with three x1 slots through that switch’s single-lane 5Gb/s interface might give them pause.

(Image credit: ASRock)

The X570 Creator’s installation kit adds an I/O shield compared to the X570 Aqua, since that one came pre-installed on the motherboard. The same four SATA cables, Wi-Fi antenna, legacy high-bandwidth SLI bridge, and link cable for DisplayPort-to-Thunderbolt passthrough are included.

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