If you’re in the market for a quality X670E motherboard, chances are you’ve balked at the prices of many of them. The electrical complexities of the platform, in addition to broader economic issues, have caused prices to rise to levels that would have been considered laughable a few years ago.
But let’s not forget that there are two versions of the X670 chipset. X670E includes one x16 or two x8 PCIe 5.0 expansion slots while the non-E version sticks with PCIe 4.0. However, both versions may include PCIe 5.0 M.2 slots depending on the motherboard. High-end motherboards are more likely to be X670E models. Part of the reason the X670E boards cost so much is because of the high-quality signaling required for both PCIe 5.0 expansion and M.2 slots.
PCIe 5.0 x16 for graphics cards means nothing right now, so if you don’t need to tick that feature (and you really don’t), an X670 board is a perfectly viable option. We have the Gigabyte X670 Aorus Elite AX for review. At $289 / £349 / AU$599, it’s priced much lower than high-end X670E boards. But does the Elite AX have to sacrifice a little or a lot to get in at that price?
As an X670 non-E board, it drops PCIe 5.0 slot support, however it retains a single PCIe 5.0 x4 M.2 slot. Not that you’d expect to save hundreds of dollars from that alone. It still has four M.2 slots, along with quality connectivity, I/O and VRM with capable cooling. The Elite AX is not a little cheap cheap.
X670 Aorus Elite AX specifications
Socket: AMD Socket AM5
CPU compatibility: AMD Ryzen 7000 desktop processors
Form factor: ATX
Memory support: Up to DDR5-6666 (OC), Up to 128GB
Storage: 4x M.2; 4x SATA
USB: Up to 2x USB 3.2 Gen2x2, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 10x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 8x USB 2.0
Display: 1x HDMI 2.1
Networks: AMD RZ616 Wi-Fi 6E; Realtek 2.5G LAN
Audio: Realtek ALC897 7.1 Channel HD Audio
Price: $289 / £349 / AU$599
The board is not what I would describe as beautiful. It appears to have various oddly matching metal highlights, as if Gigabyte scoured the factory for heat sinks to include. But they are not lacking in features. The heatsinks are efficient, especially the VRM, which would have been considered huge just a few years ago, although unfortunately Gigabyte chose not to include their excellent fin heatsink design in this model.
The primary M.2 heatsink isn’t as big and bulky as the ones you’ll find on high-end boards. Time will tell if it’s enough to keep a hot running PCIe 5.0 SSD cool, especially if it sits adjacent to a heat-pumping GPU. There are a total of four M.2 slots consisting of the aforementioned primary PCIe 5.0 x4 one, and an additional three additional PCIe 4.0 x4 slots that are cooled by a single large heatsink. There are four SATA ports to round out the storage complement.
And get this, there are no RGB LEDs on the board itself! We have definitely reached peak RGB. Although if you love lighting, the board includes a mix of RGB and ARGB headers, with five in total.
Other highlights include a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C header, power, reset and CMOS clear buttons, and a Thunderbolt 4 header.
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The board comes with a 16+2+2 phase VRM with 70A power stages. As you’d expect, it’s not as beefed up as boards at twice the price, but it’s hardly a secret that the average user simply doesn’t need to cram 1000W or more into a CPU. Throw in a Ryzen 9 7950X (opens in a new tab) with PBO enabled in the Elite AX and you will have no problem. Your cooling will hit that 95C operating temperature of the 7950X long before the VRM gets stressed.
Even if Zen 5 or Zen 6 CPUs take a step up in TDP, it’s hard to imagine the Aorus Elite AX struggling to power them.
So, the cooling, storage and VRM are more than enough to suit most users. Is the I/O missing then? Hardly. The Aorus Elite AX includes AMD’s RZ616 Wi-Fi 6E and Realtek 2.5G LAN. You’d expect to miss USB 4 at this price, but the rest of the USB count is stellar. You get a 3.2 Gen 2×2 type-C port, two Gen 2 ports, six Gen 1 ports and four 2.0 ports. That’s 13 rear USB ports! There’s an HDMI 2.1 port for use with the newly included Ryzen 7000 integrated graphics along with a BIOS flashback button.
The audio is nothing special, with an aging Realtek ALC897 codec running things. S/PDIF output would also be nice, but other than that, there’s not much to complain about in terms of connectivity.
Although benchmarks don’t reveal much unless something is particularly bad, it’s good to see that the Aorus X670 Elite AX consistently tops the various benchmark lists. Even if it’s just a percentage here or there, it’s always preferable to lead the pack, rather than trail it.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
Graphics: Zotac GeForce RTX 3080 Ti AMP Holo
RAM: 2x 16GB G.Skill Trident Z5 DDR5-6000 C30
Storage: 2TB Seagate FireCuda 530
Cooling: Cooler Master PL360 Flux 360mm AIO
PSU: Corsair AX1000
Overall, the X670 Aorus Elite AX feels like a mature offering. Not every motherboard manufacturer can say that for all their boards. We must remember that we are at the very dawn of the AM5 platform. There will be years of AGESA updates and tweaks to come. Comparing the first generation X370 boards at the time of Zen 1’s launch to now, I believe AMD is in a much better position this time around.
Like almost every other board manufacturer since the debut of UEFI BIOS interfaces, the aesthetic changes of the X670 Elite AX are minimal. If I have a criticism, it’s that it’s a tiny feature light. For most users this doesn’t matter. We’re not talking about Gigabyte’s extreme Aorus Tachyon here. Once you enable XMP and install your Windows, many gamers may never go back to the BIOS, and most of us really don’t need to.
The attractive price of the X670 Aorus Elite AX is a little shocking when you look at too many high-priced X670/E boards. It doesn’t have the full control functionality of high-end boards, but if you’re someone who’s running an M.2 drive or two and a GPU, then you’re missing out on next to nothing.
If you must have a PCIe 5.0 slot for a GPU, the Asrock X670E Pro RS (opens in a new tab) is an option well worth considering, although its VRM and cooling are not as good as that of the Aorus.
In fairness to the other manufacturers, they also have very competitive boards in this price range, and they should not be overlooked. But, if nothing else, the Elite AX shows that manufacturers are getting a little greedy at the high end of the market. If you absolutely must have USB4, 10G LAN or Thunderbolt, you will have to pay a lot more for it. For the mainstream market, a board like the Aorus Elite AX is where it’s at.