ASRock Gaming K4 X370 Motherboard Review

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Introduction

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AMD “Ryzen” compatible boards have slowly been trickling down the pipe to the point where every manufacturer has at least one or two available for purchase at your favourite retailer. Unfortunately, AMD and their timing weren’t exactly great… but that’s a story for another day – or has it already passed? Today, however, we have a motherboard presented to us that comes from ASRock, namely the Gaming K4 X370. It is of course, as the name depicts, aimed at the gaming segment, and offers a variety of connectivity options to please the vast majority of you. A few of the key features that spring to mind are of course its dual M.2 support, both USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C at 10 Gbps, Intel LAN and much more that will be covered further down.

One thing that did immediately strike my attention was the fact that it is a red and black board. Whilst most other manufacturers have ventured further and further away from it, such as the infamous ROG products from ASUS or the Classified line from EVGA, ASRock has chosen to resurrect the colour scheme somewhat – it has always been the Fatal1ty brand, though. For me, personally, there’s a little too much colour on the board. I have become a fan of minimalist designs as of late, but it may be the most drop-dead gorgeous motherboard to some of you out there. I can’t fault ASRock to sticking to their branding, as that would be unfair.

Given that this motherboard is priced at around £150 ($150 USD), what can we expect in terms of performance and overall stability? I’m hopeful that the 12-phase VRM system will be able to maintain a steady overclock on our CPU sample, but I shall leave it that for you to find out later on. Without any further time wasting, here are the specs of the board before we jump into the good stuff.

Specifications

  • Gaming Armor
    Power
    – Hi-Density Power Connectors (24 pin and 8 pin)
    Memory
    – 15μ Gold Contact in DIMM Slots
    VGA Card
    – 15μ Gold Contact in VGA PCIe Slot (PCIE2)
    Internet
    – Intel® LAN
    Cooling
    – XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsink
    Audio
    – Creative Sound Blaster™ Cinema 3
  • Unique Feature
    ASRock USB 3.1
    – ASRock USB 3.1 Type-A Port (10 Gb/s)
    – ASRock USB 3.1 Type-C Port (10 Gb/s)
    ASRock Super Alloy
    – XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsink
    – Premium 45A Power Choke
    – Nichicon 12K Black Caps (100% Japan made high quality conductive polymer capacitors)
    – I/O Armor
    – Matte Black PCB
    – High Density Glass Fabric PCB
    – 2oz Copper PCB
    ASRock Steel Slots
    ASRock Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
    ASRock Full Spike Protection (for all USB, Audio, LAN Ports)
    ASRock Live Update & APP Shop
  • CPU
    – Supports AMD Socket AM4 A-Series APUs (Bristol Ridge) and Ryzen Series CPUs (Summit Ridge)
    – IR Digital PWM
    – 12 Power Phase design
    – Supports 95W Water Cooling
  • Chipset
    – AMD Promontory X370
  • Memory
    – Dual Channel DDR4 Memory Technology
    – 4 x DDR4 DIMM Slots
    – AMD Ryzen series CPUs support DDR4 2933+(OC)2667/2400/2133 ECC & non-ECC, un-buffered memory*
    – AMD 7th Gen A-Series APUs support DDR4 2400/2133 ECC & non-ECC, un-buffered memory*
    – Max. capacity of system memory: 64GB**
    – 15μ Gold Contact in DIMM Slots

    *Please refer to Memory Support List on ASRock’s website for more information.
    Please refer to below table for DDR4 UDIMM maximum frequency support.
    A-Series APUs:

    UDIMM Memory Slot Frequency(MHZ)
    A1 A2 B1 B2
    SR 2400
    DR 2400
    SR SR 2400
    DR DR 2133
    SR SR SR SR 1866
    SR/DR DR SR/DR DR 1866

    Ryzen Series CPUs:

    UDIMM Memory Slot Frequency(MHZ)
    A1 A2 B1 B2
    SR 2667
    DR 2667
    SR SR 2667
    DR DR 2400-2667
    SR SR SR SR 2133-2400
    SR/DR DR SR/DR DR 1866-2133

    SR: Single rank DIMM, 1Rx4 or 1Rx8 on DIMM module label
    DR: Dual rank DIMM, 2Rx4 or 2Rx8 on DIMM module label

    **Due to the operating system limitation, the actual memory size may be less than 4GB for the reservation for system usage under Windows® 32-bit OS. For Windows® 64-bit OS with 64-bit CPU, there is no such limitation.

  • BIOS
    – 128Mb AMI UEFI Legal BIOS with GUI support
    – Supports “Plug and Play”
    – ACPI 5.1 compliance wake up events
    – Supports jumperfree
    – SMBIOS 2.3 support
    – CPU, VCORE_NB, DRAM, VPPM, PCH 1.05V, +1.8V, VDDP, PROM 2.5V, Voltage Multi-adjustment
  • Graphics
    – Integrated AMD Radeon™ R-Series Graphics in A-series APU*
    – DirectX 12, Pixel Shader 5.0
    – Max. shared memory 2GB
    – Supports HDMI with max. resolution up to 4K x 2K (4096×2160) @ 24Hz / (3840×2160) @ 30Hz
    – Supports Auto Lip Sync, Deep Color (12bpc), xvYCC and HBR (High Bit Rate Audio) with HDMI Port (Compliant HDMI monitor is required)
    – Supports HDCP with HDMI Port
    – Supports Full HD 1080p Blu-ray (BD) playback with HDMI Port

    *Actual support may vary by CPU
  • Audio
    – 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec)
    – Premium Blu-ray Audio support
    – Supports Surge Protection
    – Nichicon Fine Gold Series Audio Caps
    – 120dB SNR DAC with Differential Amplifier
    – TI® NE5532 Premium Headset Amplifier for Front Panel Audio Connector (Supports up to 600 Ohm headsets)
    – Pure Power-In
    – Direct Drive Technology
    – PCB Isolate Shielding
    – Impedance Sensing on Line Out port
    – Individual PCB Layers for R/L Audio Channel
    – Gold Audio Jacks
    – Supports Creative Sound Blaster™ Cinema 3
  • LAN
    – Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
    – GigaLAN Intel® I211AT
    – Supports Wake-On-LAN
    – Supports Lightning/ESD Protection
    – Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
    – Supports PXE
  • Slots
    AMD Ryzen series CPUs
    – 2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 Slots (single at x16 (PCIE2); dual at x8 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE4))*
    AMD 7th A-Series APUs
    – 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 Slot (single at x8 (PCIE2))*
    – 4 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 Slots
    – Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™ and CrossFireX™**
    – Supports NVIDIA® Quad SLI™ and SLI™**
    – 1 x M.2 Socket (Key E), supports type 2230 WiFi/BT module
    – 15μ Gold Contact in VGA PCIe Slot (PCIE2)

    *Supports NVMe SSD as boot disks

    **This feature is only supported with Ryzen Series CPUs (Summit Ridge).

  • Storage
    – 6 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s Connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 10), NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug
    – 1 x Ultra M.2 Socket (M2_1), supports M Key type 2230/2242/2260/2280 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)*
    – 1 x M.2 Socket (M2_2), supports M Key type 2230/2242/2260/2280 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen2 x2 (10 Gb/s)*

    *Supports ASRock U.2 Kit
    Supports NVMe SSD as boot disks
  • Connector
    – 1 x COM Port Header
    – 1 x TPM Header
    – 1 x Power LED and Speaker Header
    – 1 x AMD Fan LED Header
    – 2 x RGB LED Headers*
    – 1 x CPU Fan Connector (4-pin)**
    – 1 x CPU Optional/Water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)***
    – 2 x Chassis Fan Connectors (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)****
    – 1 x Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)****
    – 1 x 24 pin ATX Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector)
    – 1 x 8 pin 12V Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector)
    – 1 x Front Panel Audio Connector
    – 1 x AMD LED Fan USB Header
    – 2 x USB 2.0 Headers (Support 4 USB 2.0 ports) (Supports ESD Protection)
    – 2 x USB 3.0 Headers (Support 4 USB 3.0 ports) (Supports ESD Protection)
    – 1 x Dr. Debug with LED

    *Supports up to 12V/3A, 36W LED Strip

    **The CPU Fan Connector supports the CPU fan of maximum 1A (12W) fan power.

    ***The CPU Optional/Water Pump Fan supports the water cooler fan of maximum 1.5A (18W) fan power.

    ****The Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fan supports the water cooler fan of maximum 1.5A (18W) fan power.
    CHA_FAN2 can auto detect if 3-pin or 4-pin fan is in use.

  • Rear Panel I/O
    – 2 x Antenna Ports
    – 1 x PS/2 Mouse Port
    – 1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port
    – 1 x HDMI Port
    – 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
    – 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A Port (10 Gb/s) (Supports ESD Protection)
    – 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C Port (10 Gb/s) (Supports ESD Protection)
    – 6 x USB 3.0 Ports (Supports ESD Protection)* 1 x Fatal1ty Mouse Port (USB 3.0) is included
    – 1 x 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)
  • Software and UEFI
    Software
    – ASRock F-Stream
    – ASRock RGB LED
    – ASRock Key Master
    – ASRock APP Charger
    – ASRock XFast LAN*
    UEFI
    – ASRock Full HD UEFI
    – ASRock Instant Flash
    – ASRock Internet Flash
    – ASRock Crashless BIOS
    – ASRock Easy RAID Installer

    *These utilities can be downloaded from ASRock Live Update & APP Shop.
  • Support CD
    – Drivers, Utilities, AntiVirus Software (Trial Version), Google Chrome Browser and Toolbar
  • Accessories
    – Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
    – 4 x SATA Data Cables
    – 1 x ASRock SLI_HB_Bridge_2S Card
    – 3 x Screws for M.2 Sockets
  • Hardware Monitor
    – Temperature Sensing: CPU, CPU Optional/Water Pump, Chassis, Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fans
    – Fan Tachometer: CPU, CPU Optional/Water Pump, Chassis, Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fans
    – Quiet Fan (Auto adjust chassis fan speed by CPU temperature): CPU, CPU Optional/Water Pump, Chassis, Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fans
    – Fan Multi-Speed Control: CPU, CPU Optional/Water Pump, Chassis, Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fans
    – Voltage monitoring: +12V, +5V, +3.3V, CPU Vcore, VCORE_NB, DRAM, PCH 1.05V, +1.8V, VDDP
  • Form Factor
    – ATX Form Factor: 12.0-in x 9.6-in, 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm
  • OS

    – Microsoft® Windows® 10 64-bit*

    *For the updated Windows® 10 driver, please visit ASRock’s website for details.
  • Certifications
    – FCC, CE, WHQL
    – ErP/EuP ready (ErP/EuP ready power supply is required)

Closer Look

As I mentioned previously, and from what you can identify in the pictures below, the ASRock Gaming K4 X370 sports a red and black theme, something that has always been a go-to favourite of many. Being a gaming orientated board, you’d expect there to be plenty of features, gimmicks, as well as something(s) that you may not wish to have on your motherboard – for example I know that LEDs are very much in the love/hate boat. Thankfully, you can disable the LEDs if you wish, so let’s get down to the board and see what it really has to offer you for your money.

The total count of fan headers provided on the ASRock Gaming K4 X370 motherboard is coming in at five. Three of them are mostly aimed at the CPU cooling portion of the motherboard, but they can of course be used elsewhere too. There’s a single CPU fan header, PWM (4 pin) based, an optional CPU/water pump header that is also PWM based, two chassis fans headers dotted around the board to provide you with some chassis fan options and another optional header that can be used as a fan or water pump header. All of them support PWM and can be controlled via the UEFI to give you your optimal setup; whether you prefer cooling power or silence, the choice is entirely yours.

So, starting off in our usual fashion, let’s take a quick look at the VRM of the Gaming K4. As we can see, it has a 12 phase design, which is looking like it is a 9-phase design for the CPU itself and the other three that remain are destined to service the memory controller and other components within the CPU itself. There are two different capacitors on the motherboard which are both aimed at providing you with better power delivery. The combination of 820uF and 100uF capacitors will store power efficiently and help to compensate for any droop when under load. Aiding the power delivery are of course the 45A rated chokes, for a total of 540 Amps under normal temperature conditions. Keeping things cool under the hood is what they consider to be their extra large heatsink, which I’ll be honest, looks no different to any other board… hey ho, maybe it is slightly bigger and therefore they can claim it is extra large.

The DIMM slots appear to be powered by two of the 45A chokes and the matching capacitors which we saw earlier near the CPU area. 45 Amps are more than enough power for any sort of DIMM configuration that you can think of. There are of course four DIMM slots, with the specs rating up to 2933 MHz (and above, mileage may vary) when overclocked. Continual UEFI updates coupled with microcode changes are allowing vendors to unleash much higher memory clocks which in turn means that your CPU is running much faster internally as well. Remember: Infinity Fabric – the interconnect between the two CPU cores – runs at the frequency at which your memory is operating. Faster memory relates directly to faster internal CPU communications. Also within the shot are the two USB 3.0 headers to give you a total of four USB 3.0 ports within your chassis or, more likely, on the front of your case.

Six SATA 6 Gbps ports are available and they allow for RAID 0, 1 and 10 to be configured if you would like a little more redundancy or speed out of your storage devices. Within the same shot, we can see the slower of the two M.2 slots, the LED debugging unit, front panel connections and the two RGB headers located just to the right of the LED debugger. These have become commonplace on almost all motherboards in the higher end of computing, and it’s a good thing that they have. It makes troubleshooting so much easier when you’re unable to POST, be it due to a failed component or a failed overclock, it has been proven to be one of the most useful tools out there. I for one am glad to see it on this motherboard.

Last, but not least, we have the PCI-E configuration. I’m so glad to see that the legacy PCI slots are not present here (although, are there any on Ryzen boards?) and have been replaced with PCI-E only options. As you can see, there are two PCI-E x16 lanes, which run at x8/x8 when both populated – it’s something more limiting from the Ryzen CPU itself rather than the motherboard. Furthermore, we have four PCI-E x1 lanes for your additional components such as a WiFi card (even though there’s an M.2 slot for it), sound card, or even more USB ports if required. Tucked just above the top PCI-E x16 lane is also the ultra-fast M.2 port which is linked to the PCI-E 3.0 lanes rather than the slower port which is linked into PCI-E 2.0 lanes. It should give you the maximum bandwidth from any NVMe drive currently on the market.

The onboard sound is provided to you by a Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 3 chipset, which is a little different to the usual Realtek setup that we are used to seeing on motherboards in this price bracket. It should give you great audio, both clear and loud, and not struggle to hit every beat that is playing. To the right of the image, above the PCI-E slots, is an M.2 WiFi slot, which has the cutouts available for use in the IO. The card/antenna is sold separately, though.

As for your connectivity options at the back of your rig, ASRock has not left you short of anything. There’s everything ranging from the legacy PS/2 ports through to the latest and greatest USB 3.1 Type-C connectors available. Going in a left to right fashion, we have the following available:

2 x Antenna Ports
1 x PS/2 Mouse Port
1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port
1 x HDMI Port
4 x USB 3.0 Ports
1 x USB 3.1 Type-A Port (10 Gb/s)
1 x USB 3.1 Type-C Port (10 Gb/s)
1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
2 x USB 3.0 Ports
HD Audio Jacks: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone (Gold Audio Jacks)
1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port

Let’s move on to find out just how the Gaming K4 X370 did in our test suite for Ryzen motherboards…

Test Bed Specs

Motherboard: ASRock Gaming K4 X370
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1700 @ Stock
RAM: Crucial Ballistix Elite 16GB @ 3000 MHz
Storage: Crucial MX300 525GB
Graphics: ASUS GTX 1060 STRIX 6GB
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64 bit

AIDA64 

CineBench R15

PCMark 8

3DMark

Ashes of The Singularity

Company of Heroes 2

Tom Clancy’s: The Division

Thief

Total War: WARHAMMER

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for a slightly more budget orientated gaming motherboard for your new AMD Ryzen system, or you’re looking for one that has that older red and black theme, you’ll be hard pushed to find a board that competes with the ASRock Gaming K3 X370. Let’s glance over our three key aspects of our reviews, and then you can be the final judge as to whether or not this is the product for you.

Performance

Judging by the results alone, you can tell that it packs a fair punch and is able to hold its own when it comes up against the big boys. It does not come in the top results in every single benchmark, but it does very well for the majority of them. You have to remember, like I always say, that the results are often within a margin of error and they will absolutely not cause you any form of displeasure when using such a product.

Design

The design is in my mind a little bit dated as the whole red and black theme came to an abrupt ending with users wanting more monochrome look in their system. Do you remember back in the day when you had blue PCBs with pink and green DIMM slots, and then they were coupled with orange PCI-E lanes on top of all of that? I do, and I am rather glad that it has become normal to have a single colour set to work with rather than a mismatch of anything and everything going. However, the looks of the product come under one design aspect, and the other is the component layout as well as the choices made for said components. Overall, I’d be hard pushed to say that it was anything but a quality product, and the layout has been thought out well enough to allow for multi-GPU systems to not require water cooling as there’s a single slot gap between the GPU lanes. As things get more efficient, the need to water cool becomes lower, unless you’re doing it for the visual aspect or indeed the silence aspect. Thankfully, the majority of us using an M.2 SSD will find that their SSD is not going to bake beneath their GPU(s), but rather it should still have some active airflow to keep the drive temps in order.

Value

Pricing the motherboard is the final checkpoint on our list, and I can say that for the £150 or so that it costs, you most likely won’t find a much better product. Yes, there are plenty around which offer similar price/connectivity/performance ratios, but the K4 should not be discounted if you are on a tighter budget when trying to build yourself a new Ryzen machine. The Gaming K4 has more than enough connectivity options to give you access to the latest and greatest technologies, ranging from USB 3.1 Type-A/Type-C to ultra-fast storage options available in the M.2 form factor, as well as being able to cater to the RGB craze.

Final Thoughts

The ASRock Gaming K4 X370 represents good value for money and has performance numbers to back it up. Whether or not you are looking to jump on the Ryzen boat and join in with the many others who are tired of constant socket changes that Intel brings about when they change something tiny on their platform, then this might be one for you to consider. With all of the above in mind, I feel that a gold award is fitting and that ASRock has done a good job with this board.

awards-gold

I’d like to finish off by thanking ASRock for providing us with a sample for this review.

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value

Summary

Pros:

+ Good performance/price ratio
+ Has that red and black theme for those that still want it
+ Great PCB layout
+ Great component selection
+ Good connectivity options available
+ Dual RGB LED headers

Cons:

- No included Wi-Fi card

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5 COMMENTS

    • 2

      Only joking, there is a couple of small feature differences and slight component choices..all in all, the K4 represents better value for money

  1. The VRM analysis is completely wrong. There would never be a board with 9 + 3 phases, lol.

    This board has a 4 + 2 phase controller with each phase having double the components. Therefore it resembles 8 + 4 phase design, but in reality it’s a beefed up 4 + 2.

    • He technically did say “looks like” 😛 – Quite a lot of boards feature doubled up VRMs, but in reality, it’s not going to matter too much unless you are extreme overclocking; XOC tends to flag up flaws a lot quicker than any other!

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