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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.