CPU & Motherboards

GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI AM4 Motherboard Review

Introduction

Ryzen has been an integral part of AMD’s resurgence into the mainstream consumer CPU market and has revitalized AMD’s position once again as a viable option versus Intel for performance. AMD still retains some of its edge over Intel with Ryzen such as soldered IHS and forward-compatible sockets. This means that your older X370 board can happily adopt a 2nd-gen Ryzen and continue to work, saving you money and the hassle of shopping for a new board. This does present a problem for motherboard vendors: how do you sell a new motherboard knowing your older one works just as fine. Well that’s a task that each motherboard vendor has to dance around to.

For this release, GIGABYTE is once again dressing up its product a little bit differently. As with most of their new motherboard generations, each and every release will almost always feature a new redesign and the X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI is no different. As the flagship of their X470 lineup, this motherboard features some heavy serving of GIGABYTE’s top end features. The X370 Aorus Gaming 7 was a beautiful motherboard and while X370 itself was still in its infancy, GIGABYTE has managed to learn a few things since then and improve on the new X470 AM4 mobos including AMD’s mandate to improve VRMs.

GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI AM4 Motherboard Review

About Zen+ Architecture

As mentioned earlier, the 2nd-generation Ryzen processors are based on the Pinnacle Ridge chips which uses the Zen+  architecture. Zen+ is more of a refinement to the existing Zen architecture and AMD hopes to bring the true Zen2 architecture in a future release. Still, Zen+ offers plenty of changes which makes the new Ryzen processors quite a different beast than they’re predecessors.

The biggest change for Zen+ is the transition to the 12nm process. This allows AMD to push clocks further for similar or lower voltages as compared to the original Zen. It also marks the first time AMD is on a smaller node than Intel. The smaller process allows AMD to achieve higher clock speeds, better overclocks and voltage reduction.

To compliment the Zen+ architecture, AMD employs faster cache and improved memory controllers to reduce latency on the new chips. L3 and L2 cache both receive significant improvements in latency performance along with both L1 and DRAM. Memory clock support also gets higher clock support with 2nd-gen Ryzen chips supporting DDR4-2933 JEDEC and up to DDR4-3400.

AMD updated the SenseMI logic on the new Ryzen processors. XFR and Precision Boost now get a new version in which AMD aims to improve performance on the chips further. Precision Boost 2 now drops the 2-core/all-core target in favor of an all-core boost based on an algorithm that factors in temperature, current and voltage. XFR2 (eXtended Frequency Range) now boosts clocks when temps are very good. XFR2 will boost all cores above the rated boost clocks vs. the best cores on the previous implementation. AMD mentions that under ideal cooling, XFR2 can give around 7% performance increase without any manual overclocking.
The X470 chipset is predominantly similar to the X370 chipset that preceeds it. It features same feature set but offers lower power draw. The X470 spec also prescribes board maker to stick to a higher CPU VRM standard.

Pinnacle Ridge is an SoC (system on chip) and has both northbridge and southbridge functionality built into the processor. Socket AM4 chips have memory and PCIe, USB3.0 and SATAIII ports. The actual chipset serves more of a connectivity purpose, allowing more I/O options like SATA, USB3.1 and PCIe lanes (Gen2) to be added on the board.

AMD is including a new storage solution with X470 dubbed StoreMI. StoreMI allows combining storage into one large volume which is invisible to the user, fusing your HDD, SSD and RAM to serve as a high-speed volume. X370 owners also have access to StoreMI via a BIOS update but under a different app name. StoreMI is non-destructive and can be rolled back to traditional partitions without any data loss. StoreMI is free on X470 and is offered for a fee (FuzeDrive) on the older X370 chipset.

Closer Look

GIGABYTE continues the packaging style from the previous AORUS branded motherboards, this time around it features a slight abstract lineart slightly embossed in the front. Just aesthetic touches but otherwise you’d want to focus on the model name as GIGABYTE also has the X470 AORUS GAMING 5 which has a similar front. No glamor shot on front as well featuring the motherboard. On the back we get a detailed rundown of the features that the board has.

GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI AM4 Motherboard Review

Normally GIGABYTE decks out their high-end boards with a bit more gear but in this release, we have a rather standard loadout of SATA cables, RGBW extension wires, thermal probes, M.2 mounting screws, an SLI  bridge, thhe AORUS badge and the magnetic WIFI antenna.

GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI AM4 Motherboard Review

A user manual, driver disc, cable straps and a sticker sheet is also included in the package.

We commented on how aesthetically pleasing the previous generation of AORUS motherboards were and we’re not gonna lie, this gen dissappoints a bit. The orange on silver and black doesn’t really work and it just looks messy and out of place. Take that away and you’re left with the angular mess which is pretty much all the heatsink in this thing. It’s just as well thought-out as the previous ones. The layout is reminiscent of previous motherboards though and although it looks busy, there’s really a very good layout here in terms of components and placements. Surprisingly, the rear of the board shows us of what could’ve been with a black and orange brace holding down the new VRM heatsinks. It’s very clean and while the PCB-like line art is still messy, the orange just pops and looks great.

GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI AM4 Motherboard Review

We see a pre-installed I/O shield at the back which a nice touch and has become quite common nowadays but mostly on high-end motherboards. Hopefully it catches on and becomes a standard. Going back to the I/O we see GIGABYTE shifting their DIY onboard buttons to the rear IO panel. A clear CMOS button is also at the backk. Just below that are the WIFI antenna connectors which supports up to WIFI-AC and also Bluetooth 5 connectivity. We also have a set of USB3.0 ports, USB3.1 Type-A and Type-C ports, a pair of legacy USB2.0 ports, an Intel-powered LAN port and GIGABYTE’s DAC-UP USB3.0 ports. We also have an SPDIF out and multi-channel supported audio output jacks.

GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI AM4 Motherboard Review
GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI AM4 Motherboard Review

Arguably the most notable feature of this board is the VRM heatsinks. Featuring stacked fins and made of aluminum, this is one daring implementation and one that we’d like to see GIGABYTE retain. GIGABYTE utilizes 10+2 power delivery design on the X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI powered by their choice of components (International Rectifier PWMs) which are very good.

The motherboard requires an 8-pin ATX12v power connector as well as a 4-pin EPS12v connector. As mentioned earlier the onboard buttons have been moved to the rear IO but the OC button does remain in the upper right corner of the board.

GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI AM4 Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE uses reinfored and LED lit DIMMM slots on this motherboard. There is a debug LED display just beside the slots which is curiously not normal for GIGABYTE.

GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI AM4 Motherboard Review

The lower half of the board shows us two M.2 heatsink-covered slots, a large PCH heatsink and LED-lit, reinforced PCIe slots.

GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI AM4 Motherboard Review

Sound is powered off a ALC-1220-VB chip supported by an ES9018Q2C DAC.

 

 

GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI AM4 Motherboard Review

Performance Testing

Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
Motherboard: GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI
Memory: Corsair Vengeance RGB DDR4-3600 2x8GB
Storage: WD Blue SSD 1TB
Graphics Card: ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Edition
Cooling: AMD Wraith Prism
Power Supply: Seasonic Platinum P1000
Display: ViewSonic VX2475Smhl-4K

Notice: As many already know, most motherboards will have varying frequency multipliers and this may affect performance overall. As this is part of their out of the box configuration we see it fit to use them as is. All data presented here in are with the default motherboard settings for stock performance. Overclocked performance will be indicated where needed. For non-Z series motherboards, all benchmarks are performed on DDR4-2133 default settings.

As always, we’ll let the numbers do the talking.

Rendering and Encoding

Arithmetic Benchmarks

System Benchmarks

Memory Performance

Temperature and Power Draw

In this test we’ll measure how much manufacturer-set BIOS settings affect temperature and power draw. As we’re dealing with pre-launch samples, more mature BIOS may change these over time.

We really don’t put too much stock on individual component temperatures as they will vary depending on usage and we do not benchmark using extreme loads anymore as they’re not reflective of real world applications. To stress the CPU, we use a 20-minute run of AIDA64 stress test. We recorded the peak CPU temps and cross-match HWINFO and AIDA64 readings. For power readings, we measure the peak system draw.

With other motherboards to compare with, its easy to see AMD’s standard seems to make things really tight as all our results are just a hair between each other.  In general, these are very good numbers and are quite impressive once you realize we’re only using AMD’s stock Wraith Prism cooler.

Power draw also is uniform across the board for our X470 motherboards. I believe overclocking or a future SKU should really bring out what AMD really intends for its new 2nd-gen Ryzen.

Conclusion

GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI AM4 Motherboard Review

The GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI is a worthy successor to its predecessor and while I may have very vocal reservations about the looks of this board, that improved heatsink does make me feel otherwise. Quality-wise, it’s a solid motherboard from feel to build. It’s got a good amount of features tacked on to add on top of the on-chip capabilities and offers an extensive range of connectivities and extras. The WIFI on this board is actually quite good with a 1733Mbps rating. It’s also got plenty of motherboard headers for the fans and RGB strips and you also get temp probes for monitoring spots on your build which you normally get to see on normal boards.

GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI AM4 Motherboard Review

I’ll probably end this review praising again its lovely heatsink but this motherboard is certainly way beyond that. While the looks is hit or miss, the quality and feature set are top notch and easily gives its direct competitor, the ROG CROSSHAIR VII HERO WIFI a good run for its money. If you’re torn between the two, my quick recommendation is that if you are a bit more on the performance-side, this is the motherboard to get.

If you’re looking to build a powerhouse workstation and want to try and squeeze AMD’s fairly limited Ryzen 7 2nd-gen chips, the GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI is our top recommendation.

GIGABYTE backs the X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI with a 3-year warranty. We give it our B2G Gold Award and B2G Recommend Seal!

 

 

 

 

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BossMac Suba

Owner and lead reviewer for Back2Gaming. More than 10-year of corporate IT experience as well as consumer IT journalism. His extensive skill set and experience in communicating complicated technical details into easily understandable bits. He's been with you since dial-up and the ISA slot. His favorite animal is the scapegoat.

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