Date: Thursday , July 26, 2018
ASUS is one of the most well known and influential motherboard manufacturers on the planet. ASUS is best known in DIY and PC enthusiast circles for motherboard manufacturing but the company has an ever diversifying product portfolio. ASUS also makes motherboards, monitors, routers, laptops, desktops, workstations, and even cell phones. ASUS also diversified its product lines even further by creating its Republic of Gamers brand. This brand targets gamers and computing enthusiasts.
ASUS recently added a STRIX moniker to its ROG motherboard lineup to create an "ROG STRIX" line. This falls under the flagship ROG "vanilla" motherboards and comprises the midrange to low end of the ROG motherboard family. Not that any ROG motherboard falls into a "low end" category. We expect to see more segmentation between ROG and ROG STRIX in the future as it pertains to feature set.
The ROG brand has been around for over 10 years now and with rare exception, each motherboard in the ROG lineup has been either a best-in-class offering of any brand or roughly equal with the best hardware out there. ROG is where ASUS pushes its technology envelope with features pioneered in that brand trickle down to the standard retail channel motherboards. Many features that hit the market first on ROG motherboards are standard on other brands' offerings now.
The ASUS ROG STRIX X470-I Gaming is based AMD’s X470 chipset for socket AM4 processors. This includes the Ryzen 1000 and 2000 series processors. The X470 chipset is virtually identical to the X370 chipset that preceded it with only a few minor changes at the feature level. X470 motherboards support AMD’s XFR2 and Precision Boost 2 features and uses less power than the X370 chipset did. The TDP is roughly half what the old one was. The difference is minimal when compared to overall system power.
The ASUS ROG STRIX X470-I Gaming is a mini-ITX form factor motherboard designed for use in small form factor systems. The motherboard is a feature-rich solution incorporating a high quality 4+2 phase power design with high quality solid capacitors. The capacitors can withstand a wide temperature range from -55c to 105c. Without the space for a proper debug display, ASUS employs a basic LED system in order to perform the same function the debug display serves. ASUS’ overcurrent protection feature is found here along with its SafeSlot feature. ASUS other features include Fan Xpert 4, Digi+Power Control, and more.
The packaging for the ASUS ROG STRIX X470-I Gaming is like that of any other ROG STRIX motherboard. Its basic and relatively tasteful and it keeps the motherboard intact during transit. Our sample arrived intact, with the following accessories: User's manual, M.2 mounting kit, I/O Shield, 4x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s), 2x M.2 Screw Package, 1x Supporting DVD, 1x ASUS 2T2R dual band Wi-Fi moving antennas (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compliant), 1x ROG Strix stickers, 1x Cable ties pack(s), 1x Extension cable for Addressable LED, and 1x Panel cable. The bundle isn’t anything special but is more than adequate.
There isn’t much you can generally say about a motherboard layout regarding most mini-ITX motherboards. However, ASUS’ knows the small form factor space well and its mini-ITX motherboards use vertical and horizontal space. To that end, ASUS’ combination audio and M.2 slot allows for a full featured audio solution to sit next to a high quality wireless solution. ASUS mounted the CMOS battery horizontally. There are three 4-pin fan headers. Each of these supports PWM and DC mode control. This includes the W_PUMP+ and AIO pump headers. There are four temperature sensors onboard to monitor various temperature zones. A dedicated circuit protects the fan headers from over current conditions. There are two RGB headers for RGB strips. Despite the limited PCB real estate, the ports are well thought out and placed logically.
The CPU area is as clear as it can be on any mini-ITX motherboard. The MOSFET cooling is well built and secured via screws rather than plastic push pins and tension springs. There is little clearance between the CPU socket and the RAM slots, but this is to be expected with any motherboard built for CPUs with an integrated memory controller.
One of the main concessions made for mini-ITX motherboards is a lack of PCB real estate for memory slots. There are two 288-pin DIMM slots, supporting a total of 32GB of DDR4 RAM. These slots require slots with a single locking tab for module retention. With only two channels and two slots, there is no need for color coding. Next to the DIMM slots are the four SATA ports which are a mixed bag in terms of placement. The two in front of the DIMM slots are fine but the two next to the chipset and PCI-Express slot are a pain to reach. These also leave cables hanging over your memory modules.
The chipset is cooled by a simple flat heat sink. However, ASUS chose to utilize vertical space above that chipset and mounts the audio solution and the primary M.2 slot. Above the M.2 slot is a cover that houses RGB LEDs for the ROG logo and serves as a heat sink for the M.2 slot. The expansion slot area is simple as there is only one PCIe slot. The slot typically uses x16 lanes. However, when using the second M.2 slot, the PCIe bandwidth of the slot is reduced to x8 lanes. The slot is reinforced as expected on modern motherboards. A steel bracket reinforces the slot and prevents PCB warping, bending and sheering.
The I/O panel area lacks the built in I/O shield that I’ve come to love so much on some other ASUS motherboards. The back panel offers and HDMI port, 4x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, 2x USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, 2x WiFi antennae’s. 1x RJ-45 port and three audio jacks. The audio jacks have black plastic cladding but contain embedded RGB LEDs inside for color coded. I would like to have seen a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port.