It’s hard to believe that the Ryzen 7 launch was three months ago but with the Ryzen 5 launch and the recently Intel launch, things have just been crazy. During that time though I have been constantly on the lookout for ITX boards. AMD spoke about their X300 and A300 chipsets at the Ryzen 7 launch but things have been suspiciously quiet about them for the last few months but a few motherboard manufacturers have been working on their own ITX AM4 boards using the X370 or B350 chipsets. Gigabyte has finished up their variation and it came in late last week. I immediately started in on testing to see just how feasible Ryzen is in ITX. So let's take a closer look at the Gigabyte AB350N Gaming WiFi and then see how it performs!

Product Name: Gigabyte AB350N Gaming WiFi

Review Sample Provided by: Gigabyte

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE

 

Specifications

CPU

AM4 Socket:

AMD Ryzen™ processor

AMD 7th Generation A-series/ Athlon™ processor

(Please refer "CPU Support List" for more information.)

Chipset

AMD B350

Memory

2 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory

Dual channel memory architecture

Support for DDR4 3200(O.C.)/2933(O.C.)/2667*/2400/2133 MHz memory modules

* Support for higher than DDR4 2667 MHz may vary by CPU.

Support for ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8 memory modules

Support for non-ECC Un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8/1Rx16 memory modules

Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules

Onboard Graphics

Integrated Graphics Processor:

1 x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096x2304@60 Hz

* Support for DisplayPort 1.2 version.

1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096x2160@24 Hz

* Support for HDMI 1.4 version.

Maximum shared memory of 2 GB

* Actual support may vary by CPU.

Audio

Realtek® ALC1220 codec

High Definition Audio

2/4/5.1/7.1-channel

Support for S/PDIF Out

LAN

Realtek® GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)

Wireless Communication module

Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, supporting 2.4/5 GHz Dual-Band

BLUETOOTH 4.2, 4.1, BLE, 4.0, 3.0, 2.1, 2.1+EDR

Support for 11ac wireless standard and up to 433 Mbps data rate

Expansion Slots

1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16

(The PCIEX16 slot conforms to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)

1 x M.2 Socket 1 connector for the wireless communication module (M2_WIFI)

Storage Interface

1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector on the back of the motherboard (Socket 3, M key, type 2260/2280 SATA and PCIe x4*/x2 SSD support)

* Actual support may vary by CPU.

4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors

Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 10

USB

Chipset:

  1. 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red) on the back panel
  2. 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports available through the internal USB header
  3. 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)

Integrated in the CPU:

  1. 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports on the back panel

Internal I/O Connectors

1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector

1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector

1 x CPU fan header

1 x system fan header

4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors

1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector on the back of the motherboard

1 x front panel header

1 x front panel audio header

1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 header

1 x USB 2.0/1.1 header

1 x CPU cooler LED strip/RGB LED strip extension cable header

1 x RGB (RGBW) LED strip extension cable header

1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header

1 x S/PDIF Out header

1 x speaker header

1 x Clear CMOS jumper

1 x chassis intrusion header

Back Panel Connectors

1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port

2 x SMA antenna connectors

1 x DisplayPort

1 x HDMI port

2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports

2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red)

4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports

1 x RJ-45 port

6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Side Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)

I/O Controller

iTE® I/O Controller Chip

H/W Monitoring

Voltage detection

Temperature detection

Fan speed detection

Overheating warning

Fan fail warning

Fan speed control

BIOS

1 x 128 Mbit flash

Use of licensed AMI UEFI BIOS

PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0

Unique Features

Support for APP Center

@BIOS

3D OSD

RGB Fusion

AutoGreen

BIOS Setup

Cloud Station

Color Temperature

EasyTune

Fast Boot

Game Boost

ON/OFF Charge

Smart Backup

Smart Keyboard

Smart TimeLock

System Information Viewer

USB Blocker

V-Tuner

Support for Q-Flash

Support for Xpress Install

Bundle Software

Norton® Internet Security (OEM version)

cFosSpeed

Operating System

Support for Windows 10 64-bit

Support for Windows 7 64-bit

Form Factor

Mini-ITX Form Factor; 17.0cm x 17.0cm

 


Packaging

The box for the AB350N Gaming Wifi is of course much smaller than the full ATX boards but it did does stick with the normal Gigabyte Gaming look. It has a black background and red trim and lettering with Gigabyte Gaming across the front in RGB. There are a few badges that show the boards features and the Ryzen logo as well. On the back, Gigabyte did their best with the small amount of space an ITX box allows to show the boards features. There is a photo of the full board and then with a few of the features, there are zoomed in photos as well. They also included a line drawing of the rear I/O that does a good job of showing what connection options you will get and below it is a very basic specification listing.

image 1

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Inside the board is up on top with a static protective bag around it and foam on the sides along with a cardboard tray that keeps it up above the accessories below the board. For documentation, they include a full user manual and inside they had two discs slipped in, one for the Wifi and the other with Gigabytes software and drivers. Also slipped into the manual was a small metal Gigabyte Gaming case sticker.

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For accessories, you get one bag of SATA cables with one of those being a right angled plug. You also get a wireless adapter for use with the built-in Wireless AC and Bluetooth adapter. The wireless adapter has one antenna and a base that it can rotate on. The base has a small magnet in it as well to stick to steel cases. Then you get a rear I/O cover of course. It is black out the outside to blend in with most cases and it has white labels for all of the connections. The back uses foam rather than sharp metal springs as well to keep things easy.

image 5

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Board Layout and Photos

If you guys haven’t figured it out by now, I love ITX boards. The full sized boards are great and the features you get on them are awesome. But I just love building crazy high powered PCs in small cases. AM4 on ITX is exactly that. With AMD having AM4 all the way through their product stack you can now upgrade all the way up to the 8 core 1800X if you want. This is a huge change from AM3 where there were never any ITX boards, you had to go with the much slower CPUs in FM2+ to go ITX on AMD or go Intel. The challenge with allowing AM4 to go ITX is fitting everything on the board, the socket itself is huge once you include the heatsink bracket and ITX isn’t very big as you can see from the photo of it in my hand. The AB350N Gaming Wifi is very similar to the AB350 Gaming 3 that I took a look at during the Ryzen launch with its B350 chipset and its red and black theme. While the red and black looks good, I would have preferred a more neutral color scheme. Or maybe just go with it all the way like they did with their Z270 ITX board, it included a metal rear I/O shield that made it the best looking Z270 ITX board in my opinion.

image 8

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Being ITX the cooling isn’t exactly over the top. In fact, the chipset heatsink is smaller than my thumb but it does have the same black heatsink with red trim and the Gigabyte Gaming logo that the B350 Gaming 3 had. For the power circuitry, the heatsink is low profile to not get in the way of CPU heatsinks and it is just a few inches long to the left of the CPU socket.

image 11

Starting up in the top left corner of the board, above the heatsinks Gigabyte packed in a bunch of their connections. This is normally where you would find CPU power connections but in its place is a single fan header, a USB 2.0 header, and a USB 3.0 header. Also with them are the front panel connections, all color coded. ITX boards are always a little weird for wire placement, I hope the front panel and USB plugs aren’t too far away for case cables. Next to them are all four of the SATA connections and then finally the 24 pin motherboard power is also on the top edge.

image 13

The CPU socket and the two ram dims are basically the only thing in the whole top right area, or really even more of the board than that. You get a standard AM4 socket with the two plastic clip hold downs on the top and bottom. For ram, the board has two DDR4 DIMMs and normally they push these closer to the CPU on Intel boards but these are on the far right edge. This should help with clearance for heatsinks but you will still most likely have to run lower profile ram coolers.

image 14

Down in the bottom right corner under the ram and to the right of the PCIe slot you would think the CMOS jumper would be in this area given they have the instructions printed there but if you look it is actually over on the left side of the board, making things a little confusion. Really the only thing in this corner is a RGB/W header. This can control normal RGB lighting strips or you can add newer RGB/W strips that have full RGB lighting with pure white LEDS as well. I love seeing this because the only thing that RGB struggles to do is a good white, you can normally see a rainbow effect if you look at the right angle.

image 15

So over on the bottom left, behind the rear, I/O is where you are going to find the rest of the connections. The white plug is for the front panel audio, this is right up against the Realtek ALC1220 chipset with those Chemicon Audio caps right below it. Next, to the audio header the third pair of jumpers is to clear the CMOS and then the four pin above it is for a boot speaker should you want it. The gray plug is for the board's second 4-pin fan header. Last but not least, packed right behind the rear I/O next to the heatsink is the 8-pin CPU power connection. This has been a big complaint from Computex and leaked images of this board as the CPU power is going to be hard to run and keep things looking clean. You can slip it up under your video card or you have to come from the top down, either way, it isn’t going to be as clean as a normal location, but I do get that it is hard to fit that big socket and still make everything accessible.

image 17

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Of course, this wouldn’t be a gaming ITX board without a full x16 PCIe slot to add a dedicated video card. The slot is red to match the rest of the red accents and it has a metal shield over it to help with interference and to also make the slot stronger. This is especially good for ITX LAN rigs that get transported often, the weight of a video card can rip the slot off if banged around.

image 16

The rear I/O on the AB350N Gaming WiFi isn’t too bad all things considering. There are DisplayPort and HDMI connections for future use with AM4 CPUs with dedicated GPUs, currently, there aren’t any out but we know AMD has plans to bring them out later. Then you have the integrated wireless and Bluetooth adapter right on the I/O with the two antenna connections facing out. The wireless is an Intel adapter but I didn’t see a model number visible or in the specifications. Then over on the right side, the 10/100/1000 NIC is a Realtek, I would have really preferred the NIC be an Intel. For audio you get a 6 2.5mm port array over on the right, I was surprised they didn’t do a 5+Optical though, when paired with an APU later this would be a good HTPC board but a lot of people would want that optical connection to hook up to their stereos. Then for USB, there are two USB 2.0s over on the left along with a legacy PS2 port. The four blue ports are all USB 3.1 Gen 1 and the two red ports are the much faster USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports. Sadly there wasn’t a Type C in the mix there. 

image 19

When you flip the board over we can better see that even though the board is black the copper traces under the first layer really show through giving it a little bit of a brown finish. The backplate for the AM4 socket really gives you scale to just how little space Gigabyte had to work with as well. Then down below the backplate, they did slip in an M.2 connection. It has full x4 PCIe lanes for the high-speed drives and SATA support for the slower SATA drives.

image 20

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BIOS

The BIOS for the AB350N Gaming Wifi was also very similar to the AB350 Gaming 3. There wasn’t any easy or simple mode to boot into. The first page you land on is the M.I.T. page where the overclocking settings are located. Like the Gaming 3, there aren’t a ton of options here but things did work well out of the box. I was able to set XMP and roll with it right out of the box. After that, I wasn’t initially able to adjust the times or clock speeds but that way my fault. When you click on an option you can type in a new value, it just doesn’t give you any indication that you can do this. The options were still a little limited, especially for advanced CPU clocks. But basic overclocking and memory settings were available (once I figured it out).

bios 1

bios 7

bios 8

bios2 1

bios2 2

The second page is the System tab, this is actually the normal landing page for most BIOS. You just get the BIOS revision information and the ability to set the language, date, and time.

bios 2

The BIOS page really should be called the boot page. The Gaming 3 had the same thing and it just makes no sense to me. This is where you set your boot priority and things like fast boot and other boot options.

bios 3

The peripherals tab gets you a few legacy USB options as well as NVMe and SATA settings pages that should really be on the chipset tab.

bios 4

So here are the rest of the SATA options. You can see a list of the connected devices as well as set the SATA mode. It feels like a lot of options are missing, but you do get what you need.

bios 5

The last page is the power page. Basically, this is where you set things like how your PC reacts to a power loss or different wake up options.

bios 6

Overall the BIOS on the AB350N Gaming WiFi is extremely simple. You get what you need but nothing else and I was a little surprised to not a BIOS update tool and some of the other tools that modern BIOS have. You have basic overclocking options to get a little more out of your CPU and especially to tune your memory although I think the interface could be changed to make it easier. It was the exact same way for the Gaming 3 so it's not like this is a one off setup for this board, Gigabyte has just kept things simple on their B350 boards. 

 


Test Rig and Procedures

Intel Z270 Test System

CPU

AMD Ryzen R7 1800X

Live Pricing

Cooling

Noctua NH-U14S for cooling

Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Paste

Live Pricing

Live Pricing

Memory

Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 2x8 16GB 3000MHz

Live Pricing

Storage

Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD

Live Pricing

Video Card

AMD RX480

Live Pricing

Power Supply

Thermaltake 850w

Live Pricing

Case

Microcool Banchetto 101 Test bench

Live Pricing

OS

Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Live Pricing

Motherboard Testing

Passmark Performance Test 9.0

Overall PCMark score

PCMark 8

We use the Home Accelerated benchmark and track the overall score

3DMark

We run the 2013 Fire Strike test on the performance setting

In Game Tests

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

In game benchmark, ultra setting, 1080p

Hitman 2016

Fullscreen with V-Sync turned off Detail, Texture Quality, Shadow Maps, and Shadow Resolution all set to their highest settings. Tested at 1080p in DX12

Subsystem Testing

Passmark

Passmark Advanced network test

 


Performance

As usual for performance testing, I did run the AB350N Gaming WiFi through a series of tests, just like all of the other AM4 boards that have come through the office. I do want to point out that you don’t see performance differences between boards anymore with almost everything integrated into the chipset. So most of these tests are just to confirm that things are working well and to show what you can expect with the AB350N, an 1800X, and an RX480 reference card. I should also point out that both the AB350 Gaming 3 and the AB350N Gaming WiFi were tested with the memory set at 2966 where the other boards had the memory at 2666MHz. The lack of BIOS options to manually set the memory forced me to use the XMP settings and at the time of the X370 tests, those XMP settings weren’t working.

Anyhow the board performed great in all of the synthetic benchmarks as well as the two gaming benchmarks. The network tests, on the other hand, didn’t turn out as well. The WiFi performance was on point with the Intel Wireless AC and Bluetooth adapter but the Realtek NIC underperformed in my test. This wasn’t a big shocker with the AB350 Gaming 3 having the same NIC and the same performance. You aren’t going to see slowdowns with most ISPs not getting close to these speeds, but local transfers will suffer. A decent Intel NIC would have been a nice improvement, especially with this being an ITX board that you can’t add a PCIe NIC in later.

3DMark

Motherboard

Overall Score

Graphics Score

Physics Score

Gigabyte AB350 Gaming 3

11125

12608

19034

MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium

11034

12515

18469

Asus Crosshair VI Hero

11055

12548

18508

Gigabyte AB350N Gaming WiFi

11336

12947

18730

PCMark 8 Home Accelerated Score

Gigabyte AB350 Gaming 3

4350

MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium

4309

Asus Crosshair VI Hero

4342

Gigabyte AB350N Gaming WiFi

4353

Passmark PerformanceTest 9.0 Overall Score

Gigabyte AB350 Gaming 3

5037.3

MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium

5049.7

Asus Crosshair VI Hero

4872.7

Gigabyte AB350N Gaming WiFi

5088.4

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Average FPS

Gigabyte AB350 Gaming 3

44.2

MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium

44.0

Asus Crosshair VI Hero

43.8

Gigabyte AB350N Gaming WiFi

42.8

Hitman 2016 Average FPS

Gigabyte AB350 Gaming 3

82.41

MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium

79.32

Asus Crosshair VI Hero

79.09

Gigabyte AB350N Gaming WiFi

80.13

Average Network Speed

Gigabyte AB350 Gaming 3

700.1

MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium

916.8

Asus Crosshair VI Hero

926.5

Gigabyte AB350N Gaming WiFi – Realtek NIC

704.3

Gigabyte AB350N Gaming WiFi – Intel Wireless AC

204.3

 


Overall and Final Verdict

So at the end of the day how does the Gigabyte AB350N Gaming WiFi add up? Well, obviously one of the biggest selling points is that it is AM4 and is Mini-ITX. Packing 8 core CPUs into that small of a form factor is difficult and should especially get interesting when you start dealing with the heat generated. But beyond being one of the first AM4 ITX boards to market I’m really digging a few of the features. Gigabyte included a good wireless card from Intel with Wireless AC support. The rear I/O has good connection options especially with the inclusion of the USB 3.1 Gen 2 plugs, though I really wish they would have made one a Type-C. You can also use this board with future APUs with the display connections. I also like the new RGB/W header that finally allows for the full range of colors including a good white when doing lighting.

That said the board did have a few downsides. On top of not having a Type-C connection, it also didn’t have an optical connection on the audio chipset. This isn’t a big deal for some builds but once AM4 APUs come out it will be more important for HTPCs and people looking to output to home stereos. The red and black theme looks really good but I think a more color neutral look would bet a better fit in 2017 and not limit buyers, especially with the RGB support already included. But the biggest downside is going to be the location of the 8-pin CPU power. You will need to make sure you have a plan to route that cable with the plug being in the middle of the board. Not a con really but I would have also loved to see them include a black I/O shield like on the Z270N Gaming 5, it would have made a big difference on the overall look of the board.

In the end, I think the pricing is really going to determine where this board fits in the market. I mean right now, I know SFF builders will be happy with anything. But later on, when everyone has ITX options on the AM4 platform I suspect this board is going to look like it lacks a few features. It is basically the AB350 Gaming 3 in a smaller form factor and with wireless built in. The AB350 Gaming 3 is a great board don’t get me wrong, but part of what makes it great is its good price point. So with an MSRP of $114.99, the AB350N Gaming WiFi is actually a good value and is priced close to the Gaming 3 with the extra cost of the WiFi bumping the price up $. I was told that there should be a small availability of the boards this week with more coming in later when the main shipments come in via sea. So SFF fans won’t have to wait very long to get started on their builds and it won’t even break the bank. It isn’t going to be the best overclocking although I had good memory support out of the hole and there are a few features I would love to have but I suspect this is going to be a popular board, especially for builds on a budget.

fv5value

Live Pricing: HERE

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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Deb0's Avatar
Deb0 replied the topic: #38382 26 Jun 2017 22:53
Seems like the AM4 socket real estate is the biggest issue with the board, pushing the the SATA and the ATX 24 pin into a weird spot (though depending on what ITX case you choose the positioning might actually be fore the best). Interesting choice to keep the Intel wireless from the Z170N/270N boards but change out the Intel Gbe wired connection for something Realtek and ingore the Type-C completely.

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