I recently bought myself a Ryzen 7 1700 to play around with overclocking and was struggling to find a motherboard to use. An X370 would be idea, but reading through reviews it seemed that the cheaper options came with sub-par VRMs and a myriad of other user reported issues. I wasn’t looking to spend the premium for the highest end models, either. From there I settled on the ASUS STRIX B350-f Gaming motherboard.
The B350-f boasts a fantastic stealth-like design with a very tasteful hint of RBG that can easily be disabled if you aren’t a fan. If you have an SLI setup, steer clear since it’s not supported, but if you have a single GPU or were lucky enough to own a crossfire setup before miners ruined the market this is a great motherboard to consider. And with a moderate price tag of $104.99 (after $20 rebate) I would place it firmly as the premium motherboard of the budget buyer.
The following review was conducted on my person machine. The processor is a Ryzen 7 1700 overclocked to 3.85Ghz with Corsair H100v2 All-In-One watercooler, 16GB of Corsair Vengeance 3000MHz DDR4, a 250GB Samsung SSD, a 2TB Raid-0 with Western Digital 7200RPM drives, an EVGA 650w power supply and an EVGA 1080Ti SC2 with a self-installed hybrid water-cooling kit.
Design & Features
The STRIX B350-f Gaming is an ATX form factor board featuring the B350 chipset and supports Ryzen and 7th Gen A-series/Athlon Processors. It has a slick design with large heatsinks over the VRM module. On my R7 1700 [email protected] overclock, I don’t see VRM temperatures above 65c (+/- 2c) running at full load, so not only do the heatsinks look cool but they are impressively functional as well.
The board supports up to 64GBDDR4 at 3200(O.C.), 2933(O.C.), 2666, 2400 and 2133 MHz with a Ryzen processor. If you’re an RGB fan make sure you get memory that supports Asus Aura (discussed later) so you can have all your RGB goodness working together.
Let’s switch gears and talk about port and headers, because you’ll find no shortage of either on this board. The first thing I noticed was that B350-f boasts 6 SATA 6Gb/s ports, which is great for users that have a lot of hard drives because they have a problem when it comes to never deleting games (*ahem*). If you’re looking to fill all these slots, however, make sure you have some SATA cables of your own because only 4 cables come included in the package. In addition, you have a spot for one M.2 Socket (in SATA or PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode) for blazing fast boot times.
There are 3 USB headers on the board, two for 2.0 and one for 3.0, which was also very welcome because it meant I didn’t have to give up my front I/O USB ports to connect my all-in-one water cooler, a Corsair H100v2. As far as ports go you’ll find 8 USB ports on the back I/O: 2 USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A, 4 USB 3.1 Gen 1, and 2 USB 2.0. I have no problem plugging in my excessive number of devices.
For the chassis fan enthusiasts out there (MOAR RGB!) you’ll find plenty of room for your spinners. You’ll get one CPU Fan connector and one CPU OPT Fan connector, three chassis fan connectors and, lastly, one AIO_PUMP connector.
Audiophiles can rejoice! The B350-f Gaming comes equipped with SupremeFX S1220A Codec module that presents you with impedance sensors, shielding from noise, dual headphone amplifiers and powers the 8-channel audio Optical S/PDIF port on the rear.
Lastly, the STRIX B350-f Gaming sports the latest Intel Ethernet Controller, and I have had zero issues with it on my 200Mbps line. Pings are low and system footprint is nigh non-existent. The only real downside for some will be the lack of on-board Wi-Fi support and Bluetooth. I know most mid-range boards don’t come with the latter but it would have been nice to save the $20 on buying a dongle for my gamepad.
The BIOS on this board isn’t anything to write home about. I much prefer the BIOS you find on an MSI or ASRock over the STRIX, but it’s not all bad. You are presented with a vast quantity of options to tweak to get everything working just the way you want, and if I could take QFan with me to every board I use I would be a happy camper. QFan allows the user to have complete control over the fans in their case and supports both DC and PWR modes. I have large and quiet 140mm fans in my case that I prefer to run at 100% and it took no time at all to get this set up. As anyone who overclocks know, control over the airflow in your case is a top priority to keep your thermals in control as you crank the voltage on the CPU up to its limits.
When it comes to overclocking the CPU and RAM, the BIOS has the offsets you’ll need to push the silicone to its limits. And for those timid and new people to overclocking there’s a wonderful tuning wizard that will do the work for you. It’s not the best overclock you can get, but it’s better than none. With my Ryzen 7 1700, using the tuning wizard overclocked me to 3.75Ghz @ 1.2v and automatically detected that my RAM was of the 3000Mhz variety. So, for those that are a little scared of messing around with the overclock settings, the tuning wizard is a great addition.
Lastly, the bios comes equipped with a backup feature so if you brick it in your quest to get the perfect overclock you don’t have to RMA your board. The BIOS can be restored to its previous state and you can try again to your hearts content.
AMD Master Application
For those that don’t like messing around in the BIOS for their overclocking, you can use the AMD Master Application. This application allows you to control the frequency and volts of your Ryzen CPU directly from Windows. You can have multiple profiles as well to switch between different overclocks. Maybe you have one that use for benchmarks, but dial things back for thermals when gaming. Either way, you can have up to five profiles to switch between a mouse click away. I didn’t spend a lot of time in this application, but I’m sure an entire article could be dedicated to it. It was great being able to test overclock stability without having to load Windows each time I made an adjustment to frequency and voltage. That’s not to say you never have to restart, however, as if you don’t give enough volts for your frequency you’re very likely to crash when you run a benchmark to stress your CPU.
The Bottom Line
The ASUS STRIX B350-f Gaming is a great board that hits its target market perfectly. It’s perfect for enthusiasts that enjoy quality parts and designs that don’t have the seemingly endless capital to buy boards in the $200+ range. Coming in at just over $100, the B350-f Gaming is a solid choice for your next build – RGB or not.
- Great price-to-features ratio
- Simple one-step overclocking for less-experienced users
- RGB on board and RGB Headers make disco-partying your rig a cinch
- Still some BIOS optimization that needs to be done
- No Wi-Fi limits users to hardline connection
- Not the best BIOS interface