ASRock brings out a socket AM4 motherboard for professionals

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AMD’s Ryzen family has already gone through two generations of chips and motherboards, and has come out pretty strong against the competition from Intel, boosting AMD to around 15% of the CPU market. Where Ryzen was lacking was in options for creative professionals who wanted workstations based on the Zen architecture, but without the high cost of a Threadripper system. ASRock has heard our cries and gifted us with the aptly named X470D4U, an extended mATX motherboard for low-cost servers and workstations.

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The X470D4U is a very barebones board on the surface, lacking RGB headers, pump connectors, or USB-C ports. The extended mATX format is a bit unusual for motherboards these days, and that’s the first hint that ASRock might only sell the X470D4U to system integrators who will sell full systems to their clients. The AM4 socket is rotated 90° to the right, moving the four-phase VRM where the first PCIe slot usually is, with the two-phase SoC power delivery facing the I/O. Dual-channel RAM is still a feature, and moves to the top of the board, as does the 24-pin ATX connector.

This is all done in the name of cooling. ASRock expects this board to be in a chassis with two to three fans pointed to the back of the chassis, blowing cool air through the CPU heatsink, across the naked RAM, and the VRM heatsinks. By retaining the stock mounting, any cooler designed to use AMD’s mounting kit that they’ve maintained since socket AM2 will work on the board, and the manual for the X470D4U demonstrates a cheap top-down blower cooler being used.

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The X470D4U supports up to 64GB of ECC unbuffered DDR4 RAM, with four single-rank DIMMs peaking at supported frequencies of 2133MHz. For storage, there are two full-length M.2 slots for NVMe drives wired directly to the CPU that share four lanes of PCIe connectivity. There are seven SATA 3 ports with an additional one red SATA port for a Disk-On-Module (DOM) flash storage device. RAID arrays are supported, but only on the six SATA ports connected to the chipset.

The X470D4U hides a surprise in its PCIe slot configuration. The top-most slot is wired for sixteen lanes electrically, the bottom full-length slot is wired for eight lanes, and the middle one is wired for four. If you had to populate all three slots, they would split up into x4/x4/x4 links, which makes them ideal for PCIe SSDs or ASRock’s PCIe to M.2 daughterboard that will host up to four SSDs on one board, with each one grabbing one PCIe lane directly to the CPU.

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With the two Intel Gigabit network ports, the dedicated management ports, the on-board ASPEED graphics which supports all server operating systems, and the possibility of triple-slot PCIe SSDs, this is one mean little board that would be perfect for workstations that will make use of Ryzen and Ryzen Pro 2000-series chips, or a low-cost server that needs a lot of connectivity for storage drives. AMD has had motherboards designed for workstation use in their Ryzen Pro family for a while, but those are all made by OEMs for use in their own systems. The X470D4U is clearly designed for DIY configurations, for use as the backbone of a homelab or small office server.

ASRock has not made details regarding pricing or availability of the X470D4U at this time.

Last Updated: February 28, 2019

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