Today we are going to take a look at GIGABYTE’s X670 Aorus Elite AX, a motherboard loaded with features and the latest the new AM5 platform has to offer including wireless-AX, 2.5Gbit LAN, PCI-E 5.0 M.2, and two USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 type-C ports.
The motherboard is currently going for $289.
The motherboard box is very much like GIGABYTE’s previous designs and feels sturdy enough to handle the relatively heavy motherboard.
The accessory package consists of a WIFI antenna, two SATA6Gb/s cables, a G-connector, an Aorus case badge, an extra M.2 standoff and screw, and an EU regulatory notice. The motherboard should also come with a manual and if you prefer a digital one you can find it here.
The motherboard has a solid straight-forward look without too much decoration. There are virtually no built in RGB LEDs, except for the status LEDs located above the internal type-C connector, but there are plenty of RGB headers. The motherboard looks like it has plenty of spacing between the PCI-E slots incase you want to install a three or four slotted graphics card; GIGABYTE definitely had the RTX 4000 series in mind when designing the layout of the motherboard. The motherboard features five fan headers; each one is a hybrid PWM/voltage mode header with support for up to 2A (24W) of power. All the headers circled in blue are system fan headers and the two in red are the CPU and CPU_OPT (for watercooling) headers.
The motherboard features an 8-layer low-loss PCB, with 2x copper. There is almost nothing on the rear of the PCB, but you should still handle it with care.
The IO shield is integrated, which we really do appreciate. Q-Flash Plus technology is integrated into the motherboard (button and LED) through GIGABYTE’s own controller, so you should be able to flash the BIOS without a CPU installed. We find two antenna connectors for WIFI 6E (up to 160MHz Wireless-AX), an HDMI 2.0 port, four USB 2.0 ports (from a hub), six USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gb/s) type-A ports, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb/s) type-A ports, a single USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20Gb/s) type-C port, a 2.5Gbit LAN port, and the three basic audio connectors.
The PCI-E layout is as follows from top to bottom; x16 PCI-E 4.0, x4 PCI-E 4.0, and x2 PCI-E 3.0. All the ports are hard wired, and none of them share bandwidth with each other or any other ports such as M.2 or SATA. The top x16 slot is wired directly to the CPU while the x4 PCI-E 4.0 slot and x2 PCI-E 3.0 slots are wired to the second chipset.
The motherboard features four x4 M.2 slots; the top slot is a PCI-E 5.0 M.2 slot wired to the CPU, the top one of the three slots in a row is a PCI-E 4.0 slot wired to the CPU, and the middle and the bottom PCI-E 4.0 slots are each wired to either one of the chipsets.
The motherboard features four SATA6Gb/s ports, and one of the two USB 3.2 Gen1 (5Gb/s) headers is angled 90 degrees. There is also what appears to be a Thunderbolt 3.0 GPIO header on the motherboard for a GIGABYTE add-in card (AIC).
Here we find our internal USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20Gb/s) type-C header and our status LEDs immediately to the right of the header.
Here we find what I will dub the “fun zone”. There are two RGB LED headers and one addressable RGB LED header. One of the RGB LED headers is labeled CPU LED, and we believe it is meant for connecting to AMD’s built in RGB rings in some of their packaged coolers. There are also power and reset/multikey buttons, and the reset/multikey button has its own little jumper so that you can easily hook it up to an extra external button for the MultiKey function on the motherboard that allows you to reassign the button to work as a reset, basic RGB functions, direct to BIOS, or safe boot mode button.
We have our front panel headers in the typical location, and don’t forget you have the G-Connector for easy installation of the case headers. There is also a clear CMOS button and a clear CMOS jumper.
Here we find our second USB 3.0 internal header (USB 3.2 Gen1, 5Gb/s) as well as two USB 2.0 internal headers. These two USB 2.0 headers do not go through a hub like the four on the rear IO.
We have a third RGB LED header and a second addressable RGB LED header for a total of five RGB LED headers. We also find a TPM header and an eSPI header, but the eSPI header is for internal use. There is also a demo header so you can hook up the motherboard to a 5v power source, which is mainly used to power LEDs for retail and showcase displays of the motherboard.
The VRM on this motherboard is quite hefty at 16+2+2 phases, and it needs to be fed power. A typical 8-pin ESP12V connector is rated around 300W, but that depends on the gauge, connector build, and temperature. The 7950X can easily pull over 200W at stock, so GIGABYTE added in lots of phases and doubled up on the connectors. That being said, I have seen two of these connectors take more than 300W a piece in certain situations, so if you feel the wires from the PSU and the connector getting warm you might want to plug in an extra ESP12V power cable.
The VRM heatsink covers every single CPU power stage including each inductor. It features an 8mm heatpipe and should get the job done with a decent PCB and a large VRM area to dissipate heat over. We will find out in thermal testing.
The motherboard in the nude is pretty clean, and while we aren’t a fan of the capacitor silver finish we think it blends well with the rest of the motherboard.
Here is the block diagram of the motherboard, and as you can see most everything is directly connected to the AMD CPU or the chipset.
The VRM is in a 16+2+2 phase design. Starting from the top left corner of your screen you will see two MISC phases for the IOD (like PCI-E lane power), then 8+8 “Twin” design for 16 CPU power phases, and in the bottom right corner you find the two CPU SOC power rail phases.
The CPU main VCore PWM controller is the XDPE192C3B digital PWM from Infineon. We think it stands for Xtreme Digital Power for Enthusiasts, and while we are not sure if that is what XDPE stands for, the PWM controller has to abide by AMD’s SVI-3. In this case, the PWM controller outputs 8 PWM channels, which are each directly connected to two (8+8) Infineon 70A TDA21472 Smart Power Stages (SPS) in what is colloquially known as “twin” VRM design.
The Renesas RAA229621 is the PWM controller in charge of the two Intersil (part of Renesas) ISL99390 90A Smart Power Stages for the MISC voltage of the CPU package.
Here we see two ON Semiconductor NCP303160 60A Smart Power Stages for the CPU SoC voltage rail.
The memory VRM consists of the tried and true Richtek RT8120 with some ON Semiconductor 4C10N MOSFETs in a 2 low-side 1 high-side configuration. The Nuvoton controllers in the image above are for fan control, and not related to the DDR5 VRM.
Here we find two AMD Chipsets, which provide modern high-count relatively flexible I/O outputs that negate the need for tons of 3rd party controllers.
Here we have a Realtek RTL8125BG 2.5GBit NBase-T NIC for LAN. The WIFI on this motherboard was developed by AMD and MediaTek. Known as the AMD RZ616 or MediaTek MT7922A22M, the WIFI controller is capable of up to Wireless AX with support of 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz bands and up to 160MHz of bandwidth. The WIFI controller also supports Bluetooth 5.2 + LE.
Here we find the good old Realtek ALC897 with some Nichicon audio capacitors, both of which sit on an isolated area of the motherboard to reduce electrical interference.
Here we find a Genesys Logic GL805G USB 2.0 hub for the four rear USB 2.0 ports that originate from the CPU IOD (I/O Die). The Parade PS8209A
The first of two AMD chipsets provides a USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20Gbps) type-C connection, which is then routed to the PI3EQX2004 re-driver. The CPU outputs two USB 3.2 Gen2 (10Gbps) ports to a PI3EQX1004 re-driver for two type-A USB ports on the rear IO (the red ports). As you can see, Pericom (now owned by Diodes) is consistent with their naming schemes.
The ITE IT8851E is a USB Power Delivery controller (PD 3.0) for the type-C port on the rear IO.
Here we find an IT8851E (PD 3.,0) and a PI3EQX2004 (re-driver) combo for the internal USB 3.2 Gen2x2 type-C connector from the second chipset. It is the same combo as we found on the rear I/O type-C port.
The ITE8689E is the SuperIO in charge of the fan control and basic RGB LED functions.
The IT87501E is a chip that is typically found where GIGABYTE’s Q-Flash Plus goes.
Here we find a Winbond 256Mbit (32MB) BIOS ROM.
Overall we expected most of what we saw. In general, X670 and X670E motherboards are quite pricey, mostly due to the fact that they have two chipsets, require a very strong VRM, and require a higher quality PCB and extra chips for features such as USB 3.2 Gen 2 and Gen 2×2. Overall, the motherboard did really well when it comes to the basic implementation of chipset features, but we are happy with the balance of features and the trade-offs that were made for the price point of this product. We will examine the performance and features of the motherboard such as the BIOS more in depth in part 2 of this review, but for now we do recommend this product.