Overall, this is a fantastic motherboard. This shouldn't come as a big surprise to anyone since it is largely a clone of the Intel-based AORUS Z270X-Gaming 5 model, which is a motherboard that we really liked. There is no reason to start from scratch when you have a great base upon which to build and improve.
The AX370-Gaming 5 has very good storage and networking connectivity, fantastic USB connectivity, excellent onboard audio, the best RGB LED lighting that is currently available, strong overclocking capabilities, a user-friendly layout, a rich software suite, and a ton of little add-on features like additional buttons and headers that are extremely useful.
Ultimately, our only real point of contention is with the PCI-E limitations that GIGABYTE have created due to their lane splitting. You cannot occupy the PCI-E 2.0 x16 (x4 actual) slot with an x4 device otherwise you disable all of the PCI-E x1 slots. This seems like an inferior design compared to what ASRock did with the X370 Taichi, whereby you could choose between the PCI-E x4 slot or a secondary M.2 slot, and the PCI-E x1 slots worked no matter what. While we are on the subject, we are slightly disappointed that this model only has one M.2 slot. While this platform is realistically limited to only one full-speed M.2 slot, we do like the idea of having a slower secondary slot for storages purposes.
When it came time to overclock, everything went surprisingly smoothly. Perhaps it is because we waited to do this review until a mature BIOS with the latest AMD AGESA CPU microcode was available, but the F5 BIOS proved to be absolutely trouble-free. Since we had already established the frequency limits of our particular Ryzen 7 1800X sample, all we had to do was select the proper multipliers, apply the appropriate voltages, and then save and reboot. The AX370-Gaming 5 had no problems running our 1800X at 4.1GHz with 1.40V, and it was also had no issues running our 16GB G.Skill memory kit at DDR4-3200 14-14-14. We were even able to apply that Intel-focused memory kit's XMP profile, and it worked without any manual intervention.
Since this motherboard has no external BCLK chip, there was no way to push the memory frequency any higher since the DDR4-3200 setting is the platform limit at the moment. In our opinion, the lack of BCLK control on this motherboard is really not a big deal since the processor can already be overclocked at 25MHz increments and memory stability above DDR4-3200 is rather poor anyways. Having said that, if BCLK control is a must-have feature for you, and you prefer a black-on-black colour scheme, the AX370-Gaming K7 that we mentioned in the introduction is an easy recommendation.
The RGB Fusion LED lighting feature that GIGABYTE have added to this model is without a doubt the best that we have ever seen that any non-AORUS motherboard. Not because of how many colours it can display or the type of lighting effects that it supports, but because of how many lighting areas there are. There are LEDs near the onboard audio section, under the chipset cooler, directly below the two primary PCI-E x16 slots, and there's even a few near the power chokes around the CPU socket. The most impressive is the unique patterned light strip next to the memory slots, as well as the RGB LEDs in-between the actual memory slots that create a unique look that we have never seen before. We have reviewed a number of motherboards with lighting features, and these AORUS models do it best.
Another thing that these AORUS motherboards seem to do exceptionally well is post excellent audio numbers. The AX370-Gaming 5 follows that tradition, but it does so with a significantly different onboard audio implementation. This is only the second motherboard that we have ever tested that has two audio codecs. This is apparently done so that gamers can use headphones and speakers at the same time, which still seems odd to us, but we are not hear to judge that part. The part that matters is that this is only the third motherboard that we have ever reviewed to receive an overall rating of "Excellent" in RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA). Ironically, the ASRock X370 Taichi was the second, and the AORUS Z270X-Gaming 5 was the first.
While some people may lament the absence of onboard Wi-Fi, given this model's gaming aspirations we can view the addition of Killer E2500 LAN controller as a worthwhile substitution, especially for those who take the time to make proper use of its included networking management utility. It is not a feature that everyone will make use of, but it is there for those who want to. There's a lot of that going on with this motherboard. We also love the four onboard power/reset/CLR_CMOS/OC buttons, but then again we use a test bench. There are a grand total of eight 4-pin PWM fan headers, two of which are of the high amperage variety that can handle water pumps, which is way more than most motherboard offer.
There are six onboard temperature sensors, and two onboard thermal sensor headers, which is useful since GIGABYTE have included two thermal probes in the accessories bundle. Speaking of accessories, we love the addition of the pricey high bandwidth SLI HB bridge. We also love the DualBIOS feature and the fact that it features two different switches, which allow you to select which BIOS chip to use and whether both chips are identical or can run different BIOS versions or just different settings.
In conclusion, we definitely enjoyed our time with the AX370-Gaming 5. The latest BIOS versions have definitely significantly improved this model since the Ryzen launch date - same goes for every other AM4 motherboard - and we did not encounter any oddities at all. As long as you do your homework and buy a validated memory kit, you should have a great experience with this fully featured product. Overall, the GIGABYTE AORUS AX370-Gaming 5 is an excellent foundation on which to build a Ryzen gaming system.
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