We're sure we're not alone in experiencing issues with AM4 motherboards at the moment, and while motherboard manufacturers will no doubt be releasing new BIOS revisions regularly over the coming weeks, it's clear from retail website reviews that a lot of people are suffering stability issues.
Whether Ryzen has been a success or not is largely beside the point; if motherboards aren't stable, the platform is at risk of losing favour, even in the eyes of AMD fanboys. You wouldn't buy a car where the steering didn't work properly but the manufacturer would hopefully offer a fix further down the line. You'd buy one that worked perfectly from the outset.
This issue is even more important than optimising the various programs and games for AMD's new CPUs - stability is everything. Thankfully, the board we're looking at today has already had two BIOS revisions since AMD's Ryzen launch a couple of weeks ago and we're happy to report that it was perfectly stable out of the box, landing straight away at our usual 2,933MHz memory frequency - the default strap for a 3,000MHz memory kit.
Delving into some overclocking and there were no hints of the stability issues we've seen elsewhere. The Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 is also, as its name suggests, the first B350 chipset motherboard we've looked at, too. This is AMD's cut-back version of the X370 chipset that still allows overclocking of Ryzen CPUs, but does skimp on some features and has fewer SATA ports, USB ports and slightly more limited flexibility when it comes to mixing and matching SATA devices and PCI-E SSDs.
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Likely not a problem if you have a hard disk, M.2/SATA SSD and are rocking just a keyboard and mouse, which is probably most people reading this. On the plus side, you get an overclocking-capable ATX motherboard with plenty of modern features for just £117. Compared to most X370 boards we've seen and indeed Intel's Z270 boards, that's somewhat of a bargain, especially here in the UK.
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Thankfully Gigabyte hasn't skimped in too many areas, either. You get full Realtek ALC1220 audio - not some old throwback to 2014 as we've seen on some cheaper Intel boards, plus there are dual headphone amplifiers and a dedicated adjustable-voltage USB port for DACs.
There are only six SATA ports, but that's the going rate for many more expensive Intel boards as well. There are no additional mounting holes like we saw with the Crosshair VI Hero, so you'll definitely need to make sure your CPU cooler is either AM4-compatible or can make use of the usual two-prong AMD mounting bracket, which is the same on previous AMD sockets as it is on AM4. The layout is generally fine, although we'd maybe prefer to see the M.2 port in a different location as it will be hidden by your graphics card.
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While Ryzen CPUs lack an IGP, this won't be the case with AMD's next-gen APUs, which are also AM4-compatible. Hence, you'll likely see video outputs on some boards. The more premium offerings, like the Crosshair VI Hero, understandably lack them, but they make more sense on cheaper boards such as the AB350-Gaming 3. Another victim of the low price is USB 3.1 support - only Type-A ports are included, but they do at least bolster the USB count to seven, including the USB DAC port. You also lose Intel LAN as well - the Gigabit port here is Realtek-powered.
Chipset AMD B350
Form factor ATX
CPU support AMD Socket AM4 (Ryzen)
Memory support Dual-channel, 4 slots, max 64GB
Sound 8-channel Realtek ALC1220 Codec
Networking Realtek Gigabit Ethernet
Ports 1 x M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4 32Gbps/SATA 6Gbps (up to 22110), 6 x SATA 6Gbps, 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 6 x USB 3.0 (2 via header), 4 x USB 2.0 (4 via header), 1 x LAN, audio out, line in, mic, Optical S/PDIF out, HDMI 1.4, DVI-D
Dimensions (mm) 305 x 244
ExtrasRGB LED extension cable, isolated audio circuitry, steel-plated PCI-E slots