Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

BioStar Racing X370GT7 AMD AM4 Motherboard Review

BIOSTAR isn’t exactly a juggernaut of a manufacturer here in the U.S. Despite stiff competition, the big boys are blowing it bad enough at the X370 Ryzen motherboard game that BIOSTAR’s X370GT7 just might be one of the best AM4 motherboard options around. While we think it might actually be good, it still doesn’t make for a smooth ride.

Introduction

BioStar isn't a company we talk about a whole lot. The company was founded in 1986 and as such, the company is hardly new or what you'd consider a fly-by-night manufacturer. We have even reviewed several Biostar motherboards since 2006 and have generally had good experiences with those. The reason we don't talk about them or review them all that often is due to their minimal presence in North America. Many times, we have reviewed a motherboard and given it high marks only to be inundated with E-Mails from readers telling us that Biostar motherboards are unavailable wherever they look.

There isn't a whole lot of point in reviewing something that our readers can't actually get a hold of. (As of typing this, the "LED" version of this motherboard is available at Newegg for $160, which is a easy-going price for an AM4 motherboard.) We hope that this time will be different. Of course, it's no secret that AM4 motherboards have been a bit of a disaster in terms of memory compatibility and a few other issues. Finding a motherboard that behaves properly out of the box is difficult under the best of circumstances. Even premium tier motherboards aren't immune to the problems that plague the X370 platform. X370 motherboards have been difficult to get a hold of at times.

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Biostar's Racing X370GT7 is based on AMD's X370 chipset and designed for use with AMD's socket AM4 processors. The chipset is comparable to Intel's Z270 Express chipset and offers the basic features we expect in an enthusiast oriented chipset. Features such as DDR4, SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.1, M.2, and PCI-Express 3.0. Aside from that, there isn't anything special about this motherboard in a technical sense. Sure, Biostar is proud of its "Hi-Fi" audio solution but it's basically a standard issue Realtek ALC1220 audio CODEC.motherboard uses.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Specifications Overview:

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Packaging

Regarding packaging, the race inspired box art covers a standard motherboard box. Our sample arrived intact and with the following accessories: User's manual, driver disc, 4X SATA cables, I/O shield and a 120mm RGB LED, 4-pin case fan.

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Board Layout

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Aesthetics are where the X370GT7 stands out. The race inspired checkered flag embossed on the PCB is something I've never seen before. The heat sinks are more common place as they sport a carbon fire like pattern which goes with the racing motif. Ordinarily I'm not overly enthusiastic about aesthetic themes of this nature. The X370GT7 manages to pull it off nicely and though I might tire of it eventually, most of the theme would be covered up in an actual install and therefore, go unnoticed. All the headers and connectors are thoughtfully placed. The X370GT7 also sports 5X fan headers for your cooling needs. There is also the usual range of LED locations on the motherboard to make the thing look like a 21st Century take on a light bright if that's your thing.

The build quality is alright for the most part. The PCB is adequate in its straightness and the soldering joints are par for the course. That said, the heat sinks aren't the best made I've ever seen, nor are they secured particularly well. The perceived quality of the board is decent and fits with the $180 (MSRP) price point at the time of this writing.

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The CPU socket area is clear of obstructions. The CPU socket is flanked by 12 power phases and is cooled via aluminum heat sinks sporting a white / black color theme. The heat sinks aren't secured particularly well and rock back and forth easily if touched. The X370GT7 uses IR PowIRstage ICs from International Rectifier. IRs IR3555 PoweIRstage MOSFETs offer efficiency and longevity. Each phase is capable of 60A of power delivery making the X370GT7 quite robust in electrical terms.

The M.2 slot is close to the CPU socket area, which is strangely, a good place for it. Like MSI, Biostar employs a cover that's designed to act as a heat sink for your M.2 drive. This too has a carbon fiber design on it. Biostar claims a 5% reduction in temperatures over not having cooling protection.

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The X370GT7 has four 288-pin DIMM slots supporting up to 64GB of RAM. These slots are not color coded to denote proper dual channel mode operation. Dual sided locking tabs are used for retention rather than the single sided variety found on most newer motherboards. This isn't an issue of clearance but rather a design choice. In front of the RAM slots, you'll find the onboard power and reset buttons. Alongside those you will find a sport and an ECO mode button. These work in conjunction with the Racing GT Utility, which is Windows based.

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The chipset of the X370GT7 is cooled via a passive heat sink. It's low profile design ensures that it doesn't interfere with the installation of expansion cards. The machine work is only average and the finish is relatively durable from the look of it. That is to say, it never scratched or was marred during handling. In front of the chipset you'll find the six SATA 6Gb/s ports supported by the X370 chipset. There are no provisions for U.2 or additional SATA controllers. The heat sink itself isn't all that securely mounted. It shouldn't fall off, but it rocks back and forth easily thanks to the type of push pins used to secure it to the motherboard allowing for such movement to take place.

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The expansion slot area is thoughtfully laid out. The slots are spaced optimally for 2-way multi-GPU configurations. The CMOS battery is located in an area where its removal isn't hindered by the primary graphics card. Above the primary PEG slot, you will also find a PCIe x1 slot which is where I like to see this. Like all Ryzen compatible motherboards, the Biostar X370GT7 supports an x16/0, x8/x8 or an x8/x8/x4 PCIe lane configuration for the expansion slots. Unfortunately, AMD is still behind the times platform wise as the PCIe x1 slots are all Gen 2.0 capable only.

Also, the M.2 slot is above the PEG slot as well. This is what we've found to be the best placement for it aside from vertical or placement behind the SATA ports. Like MSI, Biostar has opted for a cover here. There is thermal tape that is included on the cover as denoted by the easily removed protective film. It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of this solution, Biostar claims a 5% decrease in temperature which I think is optimistic. Your mileage may also vary. A lot of drives have labels or covers of some sort on the drive's semi-conductors and therefore decent contact with them is hard to achieve without potentially invalidating your drive's warranty. Also unfortunate is that the location of the M.2 slot prohibits the use of longer 110mm drives.

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The I/O area is somewhat sparsely populated. You have a DVI-D port, HDMI port, and one DisplayPort along with 4x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 port and 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port. You also have 1x RJ-45 LAN port, 1x optical output and 5x mini-stereo jacks for analog audio output. The mini-stereo jacks are gold plated, but have plastic collars around the ports which aren't color coded. Lastly, there is a PS/2 mouse or keyboard port. Of course, the video ports are useless for anyone who opts not to use an APU with this board. And Ryzen does NOT support APU at this time.