Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming Review

Manufacturer: Asus
UK price (as reviewed): £117.95 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): TBC

Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming ReviewIf anything, AMD's AM4 platform brings a huge amount of choice to the consumer. Not only is every CPU overclockable, which makes for some very interesting choices and sweet spots, but there are two overclocking-capable chipsets too - X370 and B350. The latter focusses on the budget end of the spectrum with boards being typically at least £40 cheaper than their closest X370 equivalents.

The extra cash buys you more features - ports, connectors, perhaps Wi-Fi, overclocking and testing tools, better power circuitry - and, as we're finding quite a bit, better optimisation on occasion too. With the latest EFIs as of early May, most X370 boards behaved as expected. However, some B350 boards were still a tad flaky, especially when it came to overclocked memory support (that's anything over 2,666MHz).

So, with solid efforts in the form of the Crosshair VI Hero and Prime X370-Pro, we're now looking at the first B350 sample from Asus - the ROG Strix B350-F Gaming. Interestingly, though, the Prime X370-Pro has received a small price cut and now stands at just £148. This means it's less than £30 more expensive than the ROG Strix B350-F Gaming.

Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming Review Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming Review
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Meanwhile, Gigabyte's excellent AB350-Gaming 3 costs about the same, so the ROG Strix B350-F Gaming has a few questions to answer; is it a better bet than the Gigabyte board, and is it worth the £30 or so discount over the Prime X370-Pro? This boils down to a few key areas, and the first is aesthetics. Arguably, the ROG Strix B350-F Gaming is better looking than both of those boards, with a moody look backed up by some chunky heatsinks. The Prime is a tad mainstream-looking but sports a couple of extra phases on the power circuitry and similar cooling.

Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming Review
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The benefits of the X370 chipset and higher price tag are also evident, though, as the Prime has more SATA ports, a USB 3.1 header, and an onboard USB 3.1 Type-C port, which is lacking on the ROG Strix B350-F Gaming. Apart from this, the two boards are relatively similar while the ROG Strix B350-F Gaming has some advantages over the Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 too. It has more fan headers, better cooling, and more CPU power phases, plus you get an additional 1x PCI-E slot and Asus' SupremeFX Realtek S1220A Codec.

Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming Review Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming Review
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As per usual, you get two CPU fan headers, with a further two including a dedicated pump header nearby and in a more convenient location than the Gigabyte board too. There's a single M.2 port that's compatible with PCI-E as well as SATA-based M.2 SSDs, and as this is located above the main PCI-E slot, you'll always have access to it unless you have a particularly massive CPU cooler.

Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming Review Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming Review
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The rear panel and PCB lack any overclocking or testing tools, which is a shame, but it's not just AMD boards that are seeing these features retreat to high-end boards - there's plenty of that going on with Intel hardware too. On the rear, there's also no Wi-Fi, but there is a handy eight USB ports, with four of those being USB 3.0 and two USB 3.1, while those video outputs are for AMD's APUs due out at some point - useless for Ryzen CPUs, of course.

Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming Review
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Being a ROG Strix board, RGB lighting is of course here, but it's not too garish and is limited to just the PCH heatsink with a bunch of LEDs that can be controlled individually, so that means that rainbow or scrolling effects are possible via Asus' Aura software, plus if you pair this with any of its other Aura parts then you can synchronise the lighting colours and effects. You also get a pair of four-pin RGB LED headers catering for your case's roof and base along with an extension cable.

Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming Review
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Specifications

  • Chipset AMD B350
  • Form factor ATX
  • CPU support AMD Socket AM4 (Ryzen)
  • Memory support Dual-channel, 4 slots, max 64GB
  • Sound 8-channel Realtek S1220A Codec
  • Networking Intel I211-AT Gigabit Ethernet
  • Ports 1 x M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4 32Gbps/SATA 6Gbps, 6 x SATA 6Gbps, 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 6 x USB 3.0 (2 x via header), 6 x USB 2.0 (2 x via header) 1 x LAN, audio out, line-in, mic, Optical S/PDIF out, HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2
  • Dimensions (mm) 305 x 244
  • ExtrasIsolated audio circuitry, steel-plated PCI-E slots, RGB LED extension cable

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