After having read the glowing review of the Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming motherboard by Bit-Tech I had my heart set on the board for my new PC build. Now, this review won’t be your normal motherboard review you get on most PC-centric sites, I don’t have enough components to regularly test and benchmark things. So I will leave the more technical reviews to sites like Bit-Tech and OC3D. This review will be more just my experience of the board from a more casual perspective.
While I did have my heart set on this board, its RRP was very off-putting at £115, while this isn’t terribly expensive it does make it the most expensive B350 board on the market and a good £40 more than some other similarly specced boards. However, if you don’t mind waiting a little bit it does regularly drop to £105 on Amazon, and after picking up my R5 1600 for just £136.00 on Amazon I had money spare in my budget for a better motherboard.
Specification wise there is not a huge difference between B350 boards but the Strix had some appealing points that made me want to choose it, these include:
- Asus reputation & BIOS – ASUS seem to get away with charging a premium compared to other brands due to their reputation. It is generally regarded that their BIOS is the most user-friendly. I’m generally brand indifferent, but a good BIOS with excellent fan control is important to me.
- Ryzen has had some issues with memory compatibility and running it at the correct speeds. So hopefully ASUS and their excellent BIOS reputation would minimise this issue.
- Intel® I211-AT LAN – This seems to be the only board with an Intel LAN, while it probably won’t make much, if any difference between Realtek, I have had some LAN speed issues which I put down to one of the LAN controllers on my network. So, I wanted to have the best option to minimise issues with LAN speed.
- SupremeFX 8-channel audio with Optical S/PDIF out port – Again not a huge thing, but the audio on the Strix is generally regarded as better than its competitors. I used to use a DAC but have had to use that on something else, I will get a new one at some point but having decent onboard audio is always good.
- 6 x SATA 6Gb/s – I am a bit of a data hoarder, and this machine is for mixed use, and keep backups on the PC itself as well as my server. So, I have 5 drives in total, quite a few of the cheaper boards have just 4. When I do a big upgrade, this will get relegated to my server, so extra SATA ports are always good then.
- 6 x 4-Pin PWM Fans – I have 2 input fans, 1 output and the CPU. Technically 3 headers are fine, but I want an option to add more and control them independently
This may be disturbing to hear, but I don’t care about RGB, nor do I really care what the internals of my PC looks like. My main priority is having a silent PC, and in order to do that I have a Define R5 with no tempered glass and it is kept on the floor out of view next to my drawers. That being said, this is a good-looking board, and there are plenty of RGB options if that’s your thing.
Setting up everything is very simple, just as any build is. It is like expensive lego. Once everything was installed I booted up with stock settings and things seemed to work fine. I am a sucker for playing with new things so I installed the various ASUS software including AI Suite and Sonic Studio.
Once everything was up and running I restarted and went into the BIOS to try and get my RAM running at full speed. This was where I encountered my first issue. The PC wouldn’t boot with the correct D.O.C.P profile. I eventually had to run it at stock speeds. So I tried one of the automatic overclocking profiles that were relatively basic.
The PC booted fine but after a while, I would get a black screen. This led me to just run everything in stock. Unfortunately, it turned out that the PC would still black screen even at stock. It seemed like it was losing power, but then the CPU and fans were still spinning so it clearly wasn’t that. I checked my build and there was nothing obvious loose.
I then assumed it was a memory issue as I bought it from CEX. It is Corsair LPX 2400mhx and I ran some mem tests on it over 24 hours, everything turned up clean.
It seemed to be graphics card related, so I moved my 1070 to a different slot. I also deleted and reinstalled my graphics drivers. Same issue.
Finally, after researching on the net. This problem is quite common and there are various causes and solutions, but a common theme is a software, specifically things that affect the way your components work. The immediate culprit here was AI Suite so I uninstalled that, and voila everything works as it should.
After 24 hours of no black screens, I used the D.O.C.P profile to get the RAM running at full speed, again no issues. Lastly, I decided to try out AMD Ryzen Master for overclocking, 90% of my time on this PC is general office work so I don’t need a massive overclock. I also want my PC as silent as possible, so big overclocks don’t go hand in hand with that. Ryzen Masterworks absolutely great for on-demand overclocking and I can comfortably get my R5 1600 to 3.8Ghz without my CPU breaking a sweat.
Overall, the actual hardware of this motherboard seems great, it is well specced and works well when I don’t have AI Suite. But the fact that I had to delete AI Suite just to get the PC to work is pretty bad for the most expensive board in this category. Due to these issues I sort of wish I had saved £20 and gone for my second option the Asrock AB350 Pro4 or even the well-reviewed Asus Prime B350-PLUS.
If you want to get the most out of your CPU then this motherboard may offer some advantages, and it is a great board, but if you are on a budget, or more casual, just go for one of the cheaper options.
Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming Motherboard
Product Name: Asus ROG Strix B350-F Gaming Motherboard