Okay, so last week was a crazy one, at least here at the office. Testing and writing about the Ryzen 2000 series took up a lot of time then not to mention they also launched the X470 chipset. Well, I published our first X470 review and I finished testing other boards including the Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi that I’m going to take a look at today. We already know that the difference between X370 and X470 isn’t huge but I am curious to see what some of the companies have changed in the year gap between the chipsets. So today I’m going to see what Gigabyte has gone with their flagship gaming branded board and then see how it compares to the MSI board that I already tested.
Product Name: Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi
Review Sample Provided by: Aorus/Gigabyte
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE
Is it a hawk? (okay they tell me its a falcon) I’m not 100% sure but the Aorus logo is both up in the top left corner of the box as well as in the background covering most of the box. Behind that is a black background with a touch of orange. The orange goes well with the orange in the model name. Speaking of is this really the Aorus X470 Aorus Gaming 7 WiFi? Seems a little repetitive, it’s a sub-brand of Gigabyte so for my sanity I will be using the Gigabyte brand at the beginning and leaving the Aorus in the middle of the product name where they put it. Anyhow the rest of the front has a few small badges to show the Ryzen support, the AMD socket and chipset information, and a few of the boards features. On the back of the box, you have a full photo of the board that also shows the bottom as well to slip in a picture of the shield on the bottom. There is a specification listing, a short one but its something. With that, there is also a line drawing of the rear I/O. The rest of the back of the box is filled with photos up closer on some of the different features.
Inside the box, the Gaming 7 comes in a static bag like always. Then it sits in a cardboard tray that is floating up above the documentation and accessories. With the documentation you will find a large sticker sheet, Gigabyte has moved to a metallic like finish and with everything all together including Aorus branded cable tags. This is exactly the same as what Asus has been doing, part of me likes that you get these with Aorus branding in that orange but I also would prefer to see them do something unique as well. You get an installation guide along with the full user manual for documentation. Then tucked inside of those you will find two software discs. One has the drivers and software and the other is just for the included WiFi card. I think someday companies are going to need to start putting all of this on a USB drive, I know I never use a DVD drive in any of my builds. Not in the last 8 or 9 years really. Plus a USB drive (while costing more) would be an awesome usable piece of swag to get with a product purchase.
For accessories, the Gaming 7 is a high-end board so Gigabyte doesn’t skimp. You get two bags with two SATA cables. Then there are two thermal sensors that you can install and place around your case for even more temperature measurements. They give you two Velcro straps to help clean up your wiring with the Aorus branding on it. You also get a bunch of M.2 screws and standoffs. There is a front panel I/O cable helper and an all black HB SLI bridge as well. Then two RGB lighting cables, one is a splitter for normal RGB connections and the other is for addressable LED connections.
For the built-in wireless Gigabyte kept things simple and went with their normal antenna. They have been using this style for a long time. It can be mounted a few different ways or placed on a table standing up. It is magnetic and not too large.
Board Layout and Pictures
So the X370 Gaming 7 was a blacked-out board with orange lighting, not too much changed for the X470 but they did back away from the all blacked out look a little to bring back a little silver into the mix. The PCB is still black but on the heatsinks things aren’t as dark. With that, they also completely changed the cooling setup. The new boost clocks on the Ryzen 2000 series CPUs are part of the reason but it looks like Gigabyte went well beyond that, but I will get into that in a minute. The board comes in at 30.5cm x 24.4cm aka a full ATX form factor. This leaves room for a lot of features for us to go through so we better get to it.
For cooling the main changes are with the VRM heatsinks to the left and to the top of the CPU socket. In an interesting move, Gigabyte moved to a fin style heatsink for these. Most boards just use cast aluminum heatsinks with a lot less surface area. This is similar to how some of the low end or stock CPU heatsinks are cast with fins where better coolers use a sheet metal fin design. The rear I/O shield contrasts the light colored heatsink and has the Aorus branding in it. It doesn’t serve any cooling function like some boards now do though. The top VRM heatsink is connected to the left one with a heatpipe and it has the same design as well only with a black orange and polished aluminum design on top. The large low profile heatsink for the chipset is a cast design. It also has an aluminum cover over it for the styling. It doesn’t use black though, for this one they use the cast heatsink for black and bring in the silver and polished finish with the cover. There is just a touch of orange and then the Aorus hawk logo is cut into the cover with RGB lighting behind it.
The last two heatsinks are basic black cast heatsinks for both of the M.2 drives. These aren’t too thick but do have a slight bump design to add a little surface area. They have to be low profile to keep room for PCI devices but I think they did a good job getting a little functionality out of these and they look a lot better than the U shaped heatsink on the MSI board.
Starting up in the top left corner most of the space is taken up by the rear I/O and the VRM heatsinks/CPU Socket. The rear I/O has a great looking plastic cover that really adds to the look of this board. This is actually where most of the boards styling comes from in fact. It has the grey with orange trim on it as well as the Aorus logo in chrome. Behind that is black in a mechanical shape with an RGB light strip and then there is a gloss black and flat black design up at the top. Also in this area though is an RGB header down next to the left heatsink. Then between the two VRM heatsinks Gigabyte tucked two power connections for the CPU power here. You have an 8-Pin for the main power and an additional 4-pin as well.
Moving over to the top right there is a lot more going on. For starters, the four DDR4 RAM DIMMs take up a lot of the space. These have metal shielding around them as well as RGB LED strips in between each DIMM to light up the memory, something that only Gigabyte does. Up top next to the heatsink there are two 4-pin PWM fan headers for your CPU fans. Down in the bottom right edge, there are three more as well, two of those are system fans and the third is for a water pump connection, that one supports a higher amperage for better pump support. Also up in the top corner, there is an RGBW header and a digital LED header. The RGBW supports adding a fourth set of lights to LED strips to allow a proper white, I’m surprised this hasn’t taken off. Speaking of RGB the etched strip along the far right edge is also lit up. Next to it is the motherboard 24-pin power. Above that is the OC button to be able to bump on automatic overclocks. Then down by those fan headers, there is a tiny two pin header for an external temperature sensor that you can put on something else in your case to track its temps. Also here is the LED diagnostic readout and two switches. The switches are for the BIOS and DualBIOS.
Okay down in the bottom right there are just a few things on the right edge, most everything else is down along the bottom. First, they did slip a new USB 3.1 Gen 2 connection in right near the bottom of the RAM DIMMs. Then there are six SATA ports on the right edge that are all right-angled. I like that they also put a port numbering chart next to them as well. Just below those is a four LED array with a table as well to help you diagnose booting issues if anything hangs. From there the front panel connection is in the corner. They did include the easy hookup tool but I’m just happy there are easy to see color codes down inside of the plug and a table printed on the PCB below it for easy hookup without the manual. Also right here is the clear CMOS header for easy access, even if you have video cards installed. Next to that are two USB 3.0 headers. They aren’t 3.1 like most boards, but I’ll take two of these over one 3.1 for better support for cases with four USB 3.0 front panel plugs. Next to that are two more PWM fan headers but the right one is labeled for double duty if you need an addition higher amperage plug for a second water pump.
Down in the bottom left corner, the Gaming 7 has a lot going on. For starters, you have all of the PCIe slots. You get three x16 length slots and two x1 slots. With the M.2 slots, the x1 slots are accessible even with a card in the top x16 slot. So the top x16 slot is a full speed slot, the second one is x8 and the bottom is x4. All three have metal shielding around them but the top two also have LEDs built in around them just like the RAM has. Then you have two M.2 slots, both support x4 PCIe speeds, the top slot also supports SATA M.2 drives if you need it. The top slot also supports up to 22110 length M.2 devices and the bottom goes up to 2280.
Down along the bottom, there are two USB 2 headers to go with the 3 other USB headers available. Next to those is the TPM aka trusted platform module. Then there is a second RGBW jack for RGB and RGBW lighting and a second digital LED (addressable LED) header. Then last but not least is the front panel audio connection.
So most of the audio area is covered but you can spot the Nichicon gold caps down at the bottom. The red boxes are WIMA caps as well. This is paired up with the Realtek ALC1220-VB for audio processing and an ESS SABRE reference DAC. This gets you 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel audio. There is also a smart headphone AMP that auto detects impedance for the front panel connection so you have support for any impedance headphones.
For starters with the rear I/O, can’t say it enough how much I love when boards have the cover pre-mounted. It makes installation easier and for a few cases, it’s the only way you can have the rear I/O panel at all. Mainly some of the special In-Win designs like the D-Frame. Anyhow over on the left, you actually get a power button along with a button to clear the CMOS. If you tried to use this power button often though I bet you end up resetting the BIOS a few too many times because of how close they are together. Next to that are the two WiFi antenna connections, they are also a little close together but still usable. From there we have a lot of USB options. The blue ports are all USB 3.0. The two yellow over on the right are also USB 3.0 as well but they have clean dedicated power. This is cool for hooking up a DAC or sound card obviously, but can also be used for a mouse or keyboard that you are worried might have issues with lower voltage when you hook up a lot of USB devices. The red port is USB 3.1 Gen 2 as is the Type-C connection below it. Then the two black ports are old school USB 2 giving a total of 10 ports on the rear I/O, not bad. Above those is the ethernet, this is hooked to an Intel NIC. Then over on the right is the now standard 5+optical layout for audio.
Also new with this design is they now included a partial baseplate on the bottom of the board. Asus has done this in the past with full and partial bottom plates. They don’t always offer protection beyond no damage happening prior to the install and nothing grounding out on the bottom of the board but they do have to the overall strength of a board. In this case, the shield is only from the rear I/O to the CPU socket and around the top. Basically under the I/O and the new fin heatsinks. The shield also gives the rear I/O cover something to hook too. Beyond that, the chipset cooler is attached with screws not taped on and we can see from this side that the PCB is a good looking flat black.
As always, rather than trying to capture everything with photos I’ve gone through all of the BIOS options one by one and put it all together on video. It is a basic video with no voice over just for me to talk about a little here. So I booted right into the advanced mode, this is always a frustration for me. The whole point of an Easy Mode is to drop inexperienced users there first for simple adjustments. In advanced mode, you cant even see the option for getting to Easy Mode unless you mouse over the bottom. But you can see overclocking options on the MIT tab. This is great for most of us because it makes for quick overclocking, but someone who is inexperienced might mess things up.
So the MIT tab, like I said is all overclocking focused options. You first land on a menu that lets you pick from frequency overclocks, memory settings, voltages, PC Health, fan settings, and a miscellaneous tab with just a few basic options. This is where you are going to spend most of your time. The System tab next to this is what is normally the landing screen with a BIOS version and model name along with language and date settings.
The BIOS tab would be better named the boot tab. This is where you can set your booting options like boot priority, if things like LAN booting is turned on, etc. The Peripherals tab initially looks like it will just have trusted platform and NIC options but this is where you will find the AMD CBS options. This really should be in the MIT tab as this is where you get into the fine tuning of the Zen platform as a whole including how performance boost is handled. The FCH option has a lot of the chipset options like SATA and USB, it’s a shame all of these are buried as well. There are a few other SATA options in under Chipset like being able to see what drives are installed on each port and turning RAID on and off, but the FCH options should also have been in this area. The Power tab has a few more boot options as well as how to handle power loss.
I did also flip over to the Easy Mode to see what we missed out on. Everything is easy to read and available without any menus to go through. You can see temperatures and the CPU voltage. You have the option to turn on EZ OC modes as well as XMP memory profiles or drag and drop to change boot order on your hard drives.
Overall the BIOS for the Gaming 7 is PACKED with options but a lot of important options are hard to find. Some of the tabs could be combined and renamed and the Easy Mode was basically unused as well. Mouse movement went well so things have improved on that front.
Test Rig and Procedures
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X- Live Pricing
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12S for cooling - Live Pricing
Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Paste - Live Pricing
Memory: G-Skill Sniper 3400MHz CL16-16-16-36 8GB - Live Pricing
Storage: Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD - Live Pricing
Video Card: Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti - Live Pricing
Power Supply: Corsair TX750M - Live Pricing
Case: Dimastech Test Bench - Live Pricing
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit - Live Pricing
For performance testing, I’ve mentioned it a lot in the past but it’s always good to post up a reminder. The performance between different motherboards really isn’t big unless you have one company overclocking or underclocking the CPU. So most of the testing below is just to keep everyone on the up and up and make sure there aren’t any issues.
To start off my testing I jumped into 3DMark with both the Fire Strike and Time Spy benchmarks. Both the Gaming 7 and M7 that I have tested came out about the same in all of the results. PCMark was a little different with the Gaming 7 having a noticeably higher overall score as well as the three subscores. But then from there, Passmarks PerformanceTest 9 results were similar. The same goes for both of my in game tests. Now the network speed results were interesting, for two reasons. The Intel NIC performed well, especially compared to the Killer 2500e that MSI used on the M7. Then on the other side of things my wireless testing was a complete and total fail. Just turning on the wireless card on the Gaming 7 caused me bluescreens and errors. I thought it was a driver issue but I found that the wireless was dead and wouldn’t start in the device manager.
After publishing this review Gigabyte reached out to me about this issue. They explained that the wrong driver had been uploaded to their website but the correct one was on the included CD. Of course, no one including myself uses the disc and really you would try to download the up to date driver. I did retest though and with a wireless speed of 263.2 MB/s the wireless performance was good, but did not beat the MSI.
The last test I ran was taking a look at the VRM temperatures on the board. I was especially interested in this one because of the new heatsink design that Gigabyte went with. I used our thermal imagining camera for readings and I have included all of the images from around the board below and we have the results in the table above. So at the heatsink, the Gaming 7 was significantly lower than the M7 from MSI, like I said earlier this new cooling design is a huge improvement so this isn’t a huge surprise.
I did note the temperature around the CPU and around the chokes though, it seems that this is the hottest area of the board. I know they can’t get too close or there will be clearance issues with CPU heatsinks but I wish they could use a heatpipe to pull some of that heat over into the heatsink.
Down on the bottom half of the board, the chipset cooler does get a little warm but the hottest area is the spot directly to the right of the bottom x16 slot. This is because there is a cap and a choke down there.
The audio chipset also runs a little warm up under the plastic cover as well.
While I was at it I also got a few pictures of the RGB lighting on the Aorus Gaming 7. You can see the lighting that runs on the top and bottom of the PCIe slots. The M.2 slots also have lighting backlighting the heatsinks that I didn’t know about. The logo on the chipset cooler looks great but I was surprised again by backlighting around that cooler as well.
Overall and Final Verdict
For the most part, the changes I’ve seen between the X470 and X370 boards have been cosmetic. But with the X470 Aorus Gaming 7, they made one significant upgrade that makes a big difference across the board. In order to be able to handle the new boost clocks of the Ryzen 2000 series CPUs Gigabyte upgraded the VRM cooling. The switch from cast heatsinks to sheet metal fins might seem small but both visuals and performance were upgraded. This seemed to prompt the change from all black to a black with a silver look on the board as well. This new look is a nice change and looks great.
Obviously, performance was top notch as well, especially in cooling. But it was simple stuff like having 5 different USB headers inside and all of the USB connections on the rear I/O that are going to improve quality of life. I also like that you can change the entire look of the board by toying with RGB colors in the software. This is because the entire board is covered in lights. For some that might be a bad thing, but I like to at least have the option to customize things. You can also add RGB lighting to your case with the RGBW or Digital RGB headers as you get two of each. RGBW is normal RGB with a fourth color option for pure whites and digital is individually addressable lights that let you do crazy effects.
As for downsides to the board, there weren’t many. I think some improvements could be made in the BIOS, especially with Zen and Chipset based options being buried. The other issue was that our test boards wireless didn’t work at all. In fact, it caused my bluescreen and crashing issues until I was able to disable it. It is an Intel wireless NIC so performance should be solid, but I hope that failures are few and far between.
Overall I think Gigabyte is on to something here. This is a solid board that I think overclockers are also going to like. I personally love the orange trim, but I suspect some people won’t. As for the price, it comes in at $239.99 MSRP and right now you can save two bucks with a HUGE sale at Newegg on them lol. This is a higher end board but the Gaming 7 gives you higher-end features. In fact feature for feature this seems to be a good deal when compared to the Crosshair X470, hopefully, I will get that board in soon as well to tell for sure. I don’t always recommend Gigabyte boards as I have had some issues with them in the past but the Aorus Gaming 7 seems to be a good option for anyone looking for a higher-end X470 build now that the new Ryzen CPUs have hit the market. If you have X370 already, don’t bother with an upgrade though.
**Update, the issues with the wireless ended up being fixed with an updated driver. See the performance section for more details**
Live Pricing: HERE