ASRock has become the first AMD motherboard partner to release official BIOS updates for its X370 series motherboards that add support for AMD's current-gen Ryzen 5000 (Vermeer) CPUs. AMD originally told Tom's Hardware of potentially officially sanctioned modernizing of 300-series motherboard CPU compatibility in our interview with AMD's Corporate VP and GM of the Client Channel business, David McAfee, last week at CES 2022.
ASRock's newly published BIOS updates allow its aging X370 boards to support Zen3 CPUs like the Ryzen 9 5950X, Ryzen 9 5900X, Ryzen 7 5800X, and Ryzen 5 5600X. Specifically, the first motherboard to benefit is the ASRock X370 Pro. The sacrifice upgraders have to make is that ASRock removes support for AMD Bristol Ridge APUs (launched mid-2017). It must also be noted that while ASRock doesn't say it will remove support for previous-gen Ryzen processors, it recommends that you shouldn't update if you have a Pinnacle, Raven, or Summit Ridge processor.
As we ended 2021, there were multiple reports of lowly A320 motherboards getting BIOS updates that allowed them to operate with the latest Zen3 CPUs. This reignited consumer ire that had been smoldering ever since the launch of AMD 5000-series processors when it became clear that the 300-series chipset motherboards were being shut out from (officially supported) upgrades. Ingenious and enterprising PC users have sometimes used hacked BIOS files to work around what they see as an unjust restriction, but resorting to unofficial firmwares isn't usually the best idea for security, stability, and peace of mind.
With these BIOS updates starting to arrive, X370 motherboards and the lower-tier 300 series boards still aren't the best choice for AMD's current-gen processors. The platform upgrades users enjoyed with new 400- and 500-series of motherboards obviously aren't going to materialize with a new BIOS, and as AMD has warned, some of the top end Vermeer processors are "not going to deliver the performance the product is capable of," due to factors like PCIe Gen 4.0, PBO, SAM, and improved power delivery features on newer designs. However, users should retain the lion's share of performance improvements relative to prior-gen processors.
Now this update is out of the bag, ASRock's footsteps are likely to be followed by the likes of Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and others. As we saw last year, some of these other vendors were willing and quick to update their A320 motherboards for Ryzen 5000,
It will be interesting to see if other motherboard vendors follow the same method of completely dropping Bristol Ridge support to cram the necessary code in the BIOS to support Vermeer. If you still run an AMD 300-series motherboard and are hankering after a Vermeer chip, it might be worth keeping an eye open for updates over the next few weeks.