GIGABYTE AORUS AX370-Gaming 5 Motherboard Review

Author:Daniel Dobrowolski

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Thursday , April 20, 2017

At long last we've finally got a full retail AM4 motherboard on hand to put through its paces. GIGABYTE's AX370-Gaming 5 is probably one of the best bets on an AM4 system right now. Unfortunately, that path will have a few bumps in the road. We fill in all the gaps and let you know what to look for.

Motherboard Overclocking Software

GIGABYTE has included its App Center suite with the AX370 Gaming 5. The App Center is a common launcher for a host of utilities including EasyTune and more. For the sake of brevity, we will only cover the software that's of interest or some value to enthusiasts. This means we will be looking at EasyTune, System Information Viewer (SIV) and RGB Fusion.

A couple of years ago GIGABYTE went from having virtually the most dated and unreliable software package to having just about the opposite. GIGABYTE's current software suite is simple and very intuitive. It does just as much if not more than MSI's does while having an interface with no real learning curve to it. MSI's Command Center conversely is a mess. ASUS' AI Suite III on the other hand is a lot more robust, but it has a steeper learning curve and some interface issues I don't like. GIGABYTE shines in several areas. First and foremost, the layout of the software is simple and its organization of settings, placement of options, highlighting of changes and logical workflow to tuning make it easy to use.

The utility has just enough functionality to cover the needs of most people. There are some things it doesn't do very well or at all, but GIGABYTE took a less is more approach and I think their balanced design pays off. Hardcore enthusiasts are likely only going to use this out of laziness, or primarily for monitoring motherboard temperatures and possibly controlling fans. Real overclocking will probably be done in the UEFI over this and I think GIGABYTE knew that when they designed it. In contrast, some of GIGABYTE's competition lets you do virtually everything you can do in the UEFI via software and in some cases more. The problem with that is the interface is far more daunting to look at.

The application is laid out with tabs at the top denoting various categories and settings are shown for that once a tab is clicked on. The layout isn't too dissimilar to the UEFI itself and generally makes sense. The application does feature hardware monitoring shown in a basic form at the bottom of the application. This can be expanded on slightly, or a satellite window can be opened that has far more detailed information. The application also supports auto-tuning of the CPU speed but you needn't bother with that. On the Intel side the presets are pathetic enough but at least you get something out of them. The auto-tuning feature on any GIGABYTE motherboard has never given me anything beyond the most "extreme" preset value so you end up waiting through potential reboot cycles and the generation of a report to do something that can be done in two mouse clicks. Brace yourself because the preset in this case takes our Ryzen 1700 from 3.0GHz to a mighty 3.2GHz clock speed.

As I said, this application has a lot going for it in terms of the interface and the way the application feels. It does break up certain functions and places them in separate software packages accessed via the App Center. This is a design decision I only understand when there are certain functions that are not conducive to or are not sensible to add into the main tuning application. I don't mind the lighting controls being separate as an example, but I think fan tuning, monitoring, power controls and overclocking features are related enough that they should be lumped together. GIGABYTE disagrees with this sentiment as EasyTune only handles CPU and memory tuning with hardware monitoring. Power control and fan control are handled by the deceptively named "System Information Viewer." That is one aspect of that tools design but it's a small portion of it. The fan tuning is better than it ever has been with GIGABYTE more successfully duplicating some of its competitors than it has in the past.

Fan tuning looks like CPU tuning. There are presets and an auto-tuning mode. Fans can be controlled by PWM or DC modes. GIGABYTE now has reached parity with the competition in that you can control all the fan headers to the same degree. Alert thresholds for undesirable conditions can be configured from this tool as well. There is a recording function for monitoring the system and creating data that can be retrieved later in the event of a crash. After all, monitoring isn't useful when the system locks up. It's useful after the system is brought back online as an after-action item more than anything else.

Again, I think GIGABYTE has done more right than wrong with its software. I simply question the separation of SIV and EasyTune given the relationship their functions have.

LED Lighting Control

GIGABYTE’s RGB Fusion utility is new for its most recent product generation. Z170 motherboards often had RGB lighting as well but GIGABYTE’s older implementations were generally far more primitive and less capable than that of its competition. Today, RGB Fusion is at least the equal of the other tools out there and perhaps better in some ways. RGB Fusion has both a basic and an advanced mode. It’s controllable by zone, and there are many more zones than I’ve seen on other motherboards from other manufacturers. Visual effects can be applied to the RGB lighting as well. Up to 16.8 million colors can be configured per zone. Additionally, calibration is offered to match different RGB LED strips with the onboard lighting. Profiles for lighting can be exported and imported so you won’t have to reconfigure everything due to an OS reinstallation or anything like that.

I found the software to be more intuitive than ASUS’ Aura software or MSI’s solution. In one generation, GIGABYTE went from being the worst in this category to being the best I’ve seen so far. Admittedly, I only have experience with ASUS, MSI and GIGABYTE in this area at present.