GIGABYTE GA-AB350-Gaming-3 Motherboard Review
GIGABYTE Gaming-3 Motherboard
The Gigabyte GA-AB350-Gaming-3 is a Socket AM4 Motherboard which supports AMD Ryzen & 7th Generation A-series / Athlon Processors.
This ATX form factor motherboard is based on the B350 chipset. Though considered scaled-back in comparison to the premium X370 chipset, the B350 does still allow for overclocking of Ryzen CPUs, but drops a few PCIe lanes and I/O ports, making it more appropriate for moderate builds.
Gigabyte GA-AB350-Gaming-3 Motherboard
At the time of publication the Gigabyte GA-AB350-Gaming-3 can be found online for $84.99 USD - an exceptional value in my opinion.
Contents of the retail box has everything you'll need to get started. Four SATA cables (two 90-degree angled and two straight), one Gigabyte G-connector for the front panel connections, an I/O shield, RGB (RGBW) LED strip extension cable, installation CD and users manual.
The color scheme is subtle, just a black printed circuit board with red highlights on expansion slots, DIMM sockets and heatsinks.
Those looking for extra aesthetic appeal, included is RGB FUSION with Multi-Zone LED Light Show offering 16.8M RGB colors, 2 light zones, 7 different lighting effects, along with an additional on-board light strip pin header.
For us Linux users, support for compatible software is still absent, however, the RGB Fusion features can be controlled from within the UEFI options (though much more basic).
On the back IO panel you'll find a legacy PS/2 combo port for a keyboard or mouse, a Realtek (8111G) Gigabit LAN Gigabit port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, two USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports (red) and a single USB 2.0/1.1 port. Realtek ALC1220 high definition audio jacks supporting 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel configurations, along with one optical S/PDIF audio out connector.
Display outputs are also present, with an HDMI 1.4 (up to 4096 x 2160 @ 24Hz) port and a DVI-D port available (up to 1920 x 1200 @ 60Hz). Keep in mind that current Ryzen CPUs negate Integrated Graphics Processor (IGP) support, this will be available in next-generation AMD APUs, but for now a discrete GPU is required.
There are a total of seven storage interfaces on the GA-AB350-Gaming-3. As shown in the photo above, a horizontal M.2 Socket 3 connector is directly below the PCIe x16 graphics card slot. This supports M.2 SATA SSDs and M.2 PCIe SSDs.
Two side-by-side SATA ports (grey) are located below the 24-pin power supply connector with an upright orientation. The additional four SATA ports (black) are located towards the bottom corner of the board, two of these are stacked with 90-degree orientation and the other two are side-by-side with upright orientation.
All six SATA 6Gb/s connectors offer support for RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 10. An M.2 PCIe SSD cannot be used to create a RAID array, refer to the manual for details.
Realtek ALC1220 is on-board to provide high-performance, multi-channel, high-definition Audio Codec with 120dB SNR. These Codecs offer crystal clear audio and features such as Smart Headphone AMP to combat low volume & distortion while wearing headphones.
Expansion slots on the Gigabyte AB350-Gaming-3 are one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, two PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (one running at x4 and the other at x1) and two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots.
The PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot running at x4 mode shares bandwidth with the PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots. So when populated, these PCIe slots will only operate at x2 mode.
For extra durability, PCI Express x16 slots are covered by stainless steel shielding. These safeguard against interference and also improve mechanical strength of each slot. Additionally there is a patented double locking bracket to aid with retention - this is excellent for bracing large GPU cards.
Speaking of GPUs, I should remind you that the B350 chipset only supports CrossFire multi-GPU technology (limited to PCIe x4 bandwidth), while the X370 chipset supports both AMD CrossFire and NVIDIA SLI technology.
Gigabyte DualBIOS features two physical BIOS ROMS (2 x 128 Mbit flash) mounted onto the motherboard. One chip acts as a primary BIOS, as a second chip acts as a backup BIOS and has the factory default BIOS version on it.
If your primary BIOS fails or stops functioning, the backup will automatically take over on next system boot with little or no down time. I personally have never encountered a situation where this feature was initialized, but welcome it's inclusion.
Present are four DIMM sockets, utilizing dual channel memory architecture, with support for up to 64 GB of DDR4 system memory. Though AMD AM4 Platform officially supports a frequency of 2667 MHz, according to Gigabyte, the AB350-Gaming-3 supports an AMD Memory Profile (AMP) of up to 3200 MHz.
For the duration of evaluation I have confirmed that the latest stable release of Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) successfully installs and operates under default conditions. All on-board feature sets have been tested to function correctly out of the box. I strongly suggest you update the motherboard BIOS to the latest release. At the time of this review, BIOS F9d 9/8/17 was current and offered update AGESA 188.8.131.52b which greatly improves Linux and Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) performance.
Compatibility Test Conditions
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 1700X
- Memory: Ballistix Sport 64GB Kit (4 x 16 GB) DDR4
- Distribution: Ubuntu Desktop 17.10 (64-Bit)
- Linux Kernel: 4.13.0-16-generic
- OS Install Options: Default
- BIOS Version: F9d
- BIOS Settings: Default
- Usage Test(s): Desktop, KVM
- Duration: 120 Hours
- Overall Result: Stable
- Recommended: Yes
ConclusionThe Good - Pros
- Linux Operating System compatible
- Excellent price point
- Shielding and reenforcement on PCI Express x16 slots
- 5 Fan / water pump headers supporting high current fans
- Diagnostic LEDs for CPU, DDR, VGA and HDD
- Realtek ALC1220 120dB SNR HD Audio
- Supports DD4 up to 3200 MHz
- BIOS 2 x 128 Mbit flash
The Bad - Cons
The Ugly - Issues
The Verdict - Opinion
The Gigabyte GA-AB350-Gaming-3 motherboard is favorable for moderate builds, offering equitable features at a very reasonable price point.