Benchmarks & Final Analysis
This overclocking experience has us bewildered. On the one hand, version F5d lets us report voltages and temperatures accurately, in a way that neither of the ASRock boards did consistently. However, memory overclocking is only successful with the older F4 version, which maps both CPU thermal readings to the same elevated CPU Diode1 value.
Maybe it’s our sample, or still early UEFI versions, but what a painful process.
Synthetic Data And Applications
PCMark gives us consistent data across all three X370 samples, and each product is within half a percentage point of the average value. The Gigabyte AX-370-Gaming 5 trails behind the ASRock boards by a few points in the Sandra benchmarks. But overall, this board still performs right in line with the ASRock X370 Gaming K4. Cinebench behaves as expected, and Compubench results dance around the Gaming K4’s results.
Applications are another snooze fest with the Gigabyte AX-370-Gaming 5 performing right on par with the Taichi. The AX-370-Gaming ends up in the middle of the pack in the 3DMark test suite, including all three resolutions and workloads. Overall, the Gigabyte’s sample is within 1% of either ASRock sample.
Gaming At 1080p (And Quasi-4k)
With the number of presets and resolutions being reported in the charts, we’ll start splitting them apart as I go forward. Though we enjoy having a test matrix of data points, let us know in the comments section if we should drop any presets or resolutions.
F1 2015 is up first, and we see no surprises when comparing either 1080p or 3460x1920 at the ultra high preset. We observe a barely noticeable 3 FPS loss for the Gigabyte sample at 1080p, but at ~4k the 3-frame loss translates to a 10% defeat to the Taichi when comparing minimum frame rates.
The Talos Principle continues the trend for the Gigabyte AX-370 Gaming 5, which shows a lackluster 7.5% delta from the leader at 1080p. 3460x1920 shows promising results for the board, with a 0.5% edge over the Taichi at medium settings and a 1.1% lead at ultra over the ASRock X370 Gaming K4.
Metro Last Light Redux has some wicked frame stuttering during its benchmark, and each sample reports extremely high and low frame rates, regardless of vendor. To mitigate this, my highly-calibrated eyes attempt to find the smallest continuous string of frames to designate a minimum and maximum metric. 1080p resolution sees the most of this measurement anomaly, and for comparison’s sake, average framerates show that the Gigabyte again misses out on five frames compared to the competition. That lead shrinks to a virtual zero when resolutions increase and the benchmark begins to hammer at the Tumbler's GPU.
Ashes of the Singularity again thrashes this Ryzen 1700X and shows the CPU bottleneck that has plagued the Zen architecture. Regarding motherboard performance though, the Gigabyte AX-370-Gaming 5 shows similar results to the ASRock Gaming K4 sample at 1080p and matches the Taichi at the bezel-corrected 3460x1920 resolution. All-in-all, the AX-370-Gaming 5 performs admirably against the two other samples, but the data reflects that the product trails by up to three percentage points in the gaming department.
Thermals, Watts, And Efficiency
The Gigabyte AX-370-Gaming 5 employs a 6+4 regulator design, which competes with the 12+4 and 8+4 designs of the ASRock samples. At idle, the lowest outlet power draw recorded from our Kill-a-Watt was 73.7W, which translates to a 5W delta between the samples. That delta increases to 9W when running Prime95 on all 16 threads on the 1700X. Considering GPU power under full system load, the AX-370-Gaming 5 finally gets close to the Taichi’s result, but the Gaming K4 from ASRock still takes the cake. Again, at maximum system utilization, getting the GPU fully engaged for a longer duration requires all three monitors to be engaged and closely watching the power meter.
Our thermal comparison is only referencing the F5d UEFI version’s sensor output to the system, which reflects the expected delta between Tj and tCTL from previous articles. At full load with Prime95 engaged, the Gigabyte/Corsair combo can mimic the results of the Gaming K4/Noctua at the cost of increased CPU Vreg temperatures. This is a known issue with using AIO coolers since airflow is not directly targeted across the heatsinks on the Vregs but rather loosely guided in the general area. Given the similar performance between systems, we don’t find the need to test this sample with the Noctua solution, but if the comment section desires we will make it so.
Factoring in average performance and average system power, the Gigabyte AX-370-Gaming 5 takes a pretty significant blow in the efficiency department, by nearly 5% compared to the ASRock X370 Gaming K4. The Taichi comes out in the black this time while taking the average performance win.
Value, Verdict, Lessons Learned
Coming in $6 more than the average board price of these samples, this motherboard might lose the outright value prize, but it beats the Taichi when it comes to high end feature sets at reasonable prices. If outright gaming is not the end goal, the Gigabyte AX-370 provides an excellent mix of customization, storage, and expand-ability -- a combination required by the well-rounded enthusiast.
The AX-370-Gaming 5 probably has one of the more compelling feature sets of any motherboard on the market. The board layout is great, connectivity options are right where we want them, but the UEFI and performance of this one sample fall short of what we've seen with previous Gigabyte samples.
We'd call the overclocking experience a success from the processor’s viewpoint, but memory compatibility still has a long way to go. Gigabyte claimed that memory compatibility and validation are the chief concern, and maybe this one SK Hynix sample just hasn’t hit the company's lab yet given HyperX’s recommendations during our testing.
Maybe we'd have better luck with different RAM on F5d. Maybe an 1800X would go to 4.1GHz on this board, given our shorter duration OC success. One data point alone is not enough to overlook a product. In the grand scheme of things, this motherboard is a hardware success, and the software can be fixed in time.
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