ASRock AB350 Gaming ITX/AC

Introduction

ASRock Inc. is established in 2002, specialized in the field of motherboards. ASRock strives to build up its own brand. With the 3C design concept, “Creativity, Consideration, Cost-effectiveness”, the company explores the limit of motherboards manufacturing while paying attention on the eco issue at the same time, developing products with the consideration of eco-friendly concept.

 

Official product link:

https://www.asrock.com/MB/AMD/Fatal1ty%20AB350%20Gaming-ITXac/index.asp

 

Packaging and accessories

The motherboard comes in a small box with the Fatal1ty red and black design. The front side of the packaging features the name of the motherboard alongside three main features of the motherboard.

 

The back of the box presents in detail the main features of the motherboard and its specifications. The lower side of the box is populated by a diagram of the I/O panel next to a list enumerating all the connecting ports of the motherboard. The right side of the packaging lists the full technical specifications of the product.

 

Accessories

The product comes with the following accessories:
– 1x Manual
– 1x I/O Shield
– 2x SATA III Cables
– 2x Wi-Fi Antennas

 

 

Specifications

MODEL: Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming-ITX/ac
CPU SUPPORT: AMD Socket AM4 A-Series APUs (Bristol Ridge) and Ryzen Series CPUs (Summit Ridge & Raven Ridge)
SOCKET: AM4
CHIPSET: AMD B350
POWER DESIGN: 8 Power Phase design
FORM FACTOR: Mini-ITX Form Factor: 17.0 cm x 17.0 cm
INTEGRATED GRAPHICS: No
MEMORY: 2x DDR4 DIMM Slots
– Supports DDR4 3466+(OC) / 3200(OC) / 2933(OC) / 2667 / 2400 / 2133 ECC & non-ECC, un-buffered memory
– Max. capacity of system memory: 32GB
– BIOS: 128Mb AMI UEFI Legal BIOS with GUI support
– Expansion Slots:
– 1x PCI Express 3.0 x16 Slot (PCIE1: x16 mode)*
– 1x Vertical M.2 Socket (Key E) with the bundled WiFi-802.11ac module (on the rear I/O)
– 15μ Gold Contact in VGA PCIe Slot (PCIE1)
– STORAGE:
– 4x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s Connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 10), NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug
– 1x Ultra M.2 Socket, supports M Key type 2280 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s) (with Ryzen Series CPU) or Gen3 x2 (16 Gb/s) (with A-Series APU)*
NETWORKING:
– 1x Intel® 802.11ac WiFi Module (Free Bundle)
– Supports Bluetooth 4.0 / 3.0 + High speed class II
– Supports Dual-Band (2.4/5 GHz)
– Supports IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
PORTS:
– 2 x Antenna Ports
– 1x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard Port
– 2x HDMI Ports
– 1x Optical SPDIF Out Port
– 2x USB 2.0 Ports (Supports ESD Protection)
– 1x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A Port (Supports ESD Protection)
– 1x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C Port (Supports ESD Protection)
– 2x USB 3.1 Gen1 Ports (Supports ESD Protection)
– 1x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
– HD Audio Jacks: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone (Gold Audio Jacks)
AUDIO: 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec)
FAN HEADERS: x 3-Pin

Features:

– Premium Power Choke: ASRock’s premium power chokes effectively make the saturation current up to three times better, thus providing enhanced and improved Vcore voltage to the motherboard.
– Dual-N MOSFET: Combining two silicon dies into one MOSFET, Dual-N MOSFET provides larger die area and lower Rds(on), so the power supply for the CPU Vcore is more efficient.
– Nichicon 12K Black Caps: Compared to other counterparts on high-end motherboards that merely have lifespans of around 10,000 hours, ASRock applied Nichicon 12K Black Caps that offer 20% longer lifespans and provide more stability and reliability.
– Dual Band 802.11ac WiFi: No one has time for weak WiFi signals and sluggish internet! That’s why this motherboard comes with a 802.11ac WiFi (2.4G / 5G WiFi) module which supports wireless networks and Bluetooth v4.2.
– Creative Sound Blaster™ Cinema 3: Sound Blaster™ Cinema 3 is the latest software that is designed with SBX Pro Studio to deliver a holistic audio experience. Whether you’re gaming or watching a movie, Reality 3D technology lets you enable 5.1/7.1 surround sound for an additional layer of transience to your listening experience even with just a pair of headphones or stereo speakers.
– Intel® LAN: Intel® LAN provides the best throughput performance, lower CPU utilization, enhanced stability and is able to deliver ultimate network experience to users!
– PCI-E STEEL SLOTS: The advanced PCI-E Steel Slots packed with solid cover that prevent any signal interference with graphics cards. It also ensures the heavy graphics cards to be well-installed in the PCI-E slots safely.
– Ultra M.2 32 Gb/s (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3): The PCIe Gen3 x4 Ultra M.2 interface pushes data transfer speeds up to 32Gb/s. In addition, it also supports SATA3 6Gb/s M.2 modules.

 

Visual inspection

The ASRock Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming ITX/AC is using the same layout and PCB as the high end X370 Fatal1ty X370 ITX motherboard, the only differences between the two products being the X370 chipset and the features it brings such as a better WiFi solution. The overall design of the motherboard is in line with the Fatal1ty brand, using a black-red color scheme and having the dimensions: 170x170mm.

 

Just like the high end X370 Gaming ITX/AC motherboard, the Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming ITX/AC uses an 8-phase type power delivery in a 6+2 configuration.The the power delivery control a single regulator is installed, model ISL95712 PWM manufactured by Intersil. In addition, the capacitors installed around the power delivery area are manufactured by Nichicon and are the model 12K Black.

 

Alongside an 8-phase power delivery system, the MOSFETs are manufactured by Fairchild Semiconductor, using the model FDPC5030SG PowerTrench Dual N-Channel.

 

The heatsinks in the case of the Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming ITX/AC are simple in design and reduced in size. In the top left corner of the motherboard, there is the CPU 8-pin power connector. In addition, both the VRM and chipset heatsinks are held in place on the PCB with the help of two metallic screws for each.

 

The motherboard features 3 (three) 4-pin fan headers, two are in close proximity to the CPU Socket and the last one is on the lower side of the board next to the RAM slots. In addition, the motherboard features an LED header for synchronizing the RGB devices connected to it, this header is mounted alongside two fan headers at the top of the motherboard.

 

On the right side, there are the motherboard’s two DIMM slots that support DDR4 type memory with speeds up to 3466+(OC). The motherboard supports a maximum of 32GB of RAM.

 

Next to the RAM slots there are four SATA ports of the motherboard while lower there is an internal USB 3.0 connector right next to the ATX Power header.

 

The motherboard features a single metal reinforced PCIe 3.0 x16, the reinforcement helps support the slot when a heavy graphics card is used.

 

Below the CPU socket and next to the chipset heatsink we have the main chips of the motherboard, the Nuvoton NCT55620 PWM controller alongside the Intel WGI211AT Internet IC Controller.

 

The audio system has as its center point the Realtek ALC1220 codec while the capacitors used are made by Nichicon and are called Fine Gold.

 

The motherboard is equipped with one SATA M.2 slot for PCI-E NVMe M.2 SSDs, it is located on the back of the PCB and can support speeds up to 32Gb/s.

 

On the backside, we have the I/O panel.
The I/O panel is as follows (from left to right):
– 2 x Antenna Ports
– 1x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard Port
– 2x HDMI Ports
– 1x Optical SPDIF Out Port
– 2x USB 2.0 Ports (Supports ESD Protection)
– 1x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A Port (Supports ESD Protection)
– 1x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C Port (Supports ESD Protection)
– 2x USB 3.1 Gen1 Ports (Supports ESD Protection)
– 1x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
– HD Audio Jacks: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone (Gold Audio Jacks)

 

Bios

The bios utilizes a single simple interface, although most motherboards today use two Bios modes, the first one being the EZ Mode destined for casual users. The X370 Gaming ITX/AC offers no such mode, the bios being a classic style interface with all the functionalities and options available from the start.

 

 

Testing

The following system was used to test the motherboard:
– CPU: AMD Ryzen 1700X @ 3.6GHz
– RAM: Crucial Ballistix Tactical DDR4 16GB @2666MHz
– GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Founder’s Edition
– HDD: WD 1TB Blue
– SSD: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB
– PSU: FSP Dagger 600W
– CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9x65 SE-AM4
– Display: AOC i2769VM
– Case: ASRock M8
– OS: Windows 10 64-Bit (After April Update)

 

 

The processor was used with the stock turbo frequency of 3.9 GHz
The RAM memory was used at its default frequency.

 

Software used for testing the motherboard:
– 3D Mark – FireStrike, CloudGate, IceStorm.
– CineBench r11.5
– SuperPi mod 1.5
– wPrime v1.55
– Grand Theft Auto V
– Deus Ex Mankind Divided
– The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

 

The test results are as follows:

3D Mark

Overall Score

 

Fire Strike

 

Cloud Gate

 

Ice Storm

 

CineBench r15

 

SuperPi mod 1.5

 

wPrime v1.55

 

Grand Theft Auto V

 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

 

 

Deus Ex Mankind Divided

 

Final thoughts

The ASRock AB350 Gaming ITX shares the PCB layout and platform with the high-end version, X370 Gaming ITX/AC. The usage of the same PCB layout and platform across multiple motherboard is a great way to make a good product with lower costs for the end user.
The power delivery system is overbuilt for a AB350 chipset motherboard, the overall layout of the system includes polymer capacitors manufactured by Nichicon and part of the 12K Black series with a life span of more than 12,000 hours MTBF. The MOSFETs are manufactured by Fairchild Semiconductor and are integrated into the 8-phase power delivery system.
The AB350 chipset can handle any AM4 compatible CPUs, in this case, the motherboard was paired with the 1700X at both stock turbo frequency of 3.9GHz and with a slight overclock to 4.0GHz with a core voltage of 1.44V.

In conclusion, the AB350 Gaming ITX/AC is a good package that offers great components for both gaming and overclocking without the expense of having a X370 chipset but having the same benefits of the high-end motherboards in the series. The Bios interface is simple and offers all the options needed for the experienced and basic users. The overall performance of the motherboard paired with a 1700X is good, especially in gaming scenarios, in some synthetic benchmarks the motherboard is either ahead of the X370 variant or behind, these kind of lower performance differences will be sorted out through Bios updates and more stability fixes for most motherboards.

 

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