At the end of 2020, I traditionally dealt with the construction of several computers for various acquaintances, several sets were rather cheaper, priced below CZK 20,000 including VAT. The availability of components in general has been and still is all sorts of, so the original plans have been slightly changed. Some kits were planned with the Ryzen 3 3300X, but these are long-term unavailable processors, and the Ryzen 5 3600 would increase the cost of the kit too much. My eye fell on AMD 锐 龙 5 3500X 处理器 (China Only), this processor is officially designed only for China, but many Czech e-shops offer it for some 3800 CZK with VAT. Basically, it is a cheaper Ryzen 5 3600 without SMT support, the power limit is about 65 Watts, AMD does not officially state this value and during testing I saw different values in various programs in terms of consumption, mostly in the range of 45-55 Watts.
The processor has six cores clocked at 3.6GHz, the maximum boost when using one or two cores is 4.1GHz, when using all cores the frequency drops to 3942 MHz.
I don’t directly review the processor, it is not officially sold here, but it can be interesting, Intel’s primary competition is the six-core Core i5-9400F, while the processor went on the market sometime in mid-2019 and the market has changed since then, so today the Ryzen 5 3500X is not so advantageous, mainly due to higher prices in e-shops.
I usually placed some cheaper boards with AMD B450 chipset in cheap sets, but again my eye saw an interesting board, Gigabyte A520 AORUS ELITE, this board is usually sold for some 2500 CZK with VAT and has several advantages over older boards with B450 chipset. In this price range, it is perhaps the only one with a better Realtek ALC 1200 audio codec, it also offers PCIe Gen3 in all slots and you can expect longer support in terms of new microcodes. Gigbayte did not spare even on USB ports, they have a big plus for the segment of four USB 2.0 ports, which are very suitable for slow peripherals such as mice and keyboards. The board also offers the Q Flash Plus function, which is not entirely common on cheaper boards.
The disadvantage of the cheaper AMD A520 chipset is the worse connectivity compared to the B450 / B350 chipsets, especially in terms of the number of ports, but this is not terrible. For the vast majority of users, connectivity is sufficient, and in addition, all PCIe ports from the chipset are now faster Gen3.
The tested motherboard was purchased from Softcom and it is not a test piece. Since the board has the Q Flash Plus function and can flash the BIOS from a USB device without the need for a processor, RAM, GPU and so on, I took advantage of it and flashed the latest BIOS F11i. This went without any problems, and for this feature on such a cheaper board, Gigabyte has a small plus for me.
The accessories for the board are very basic, we will find the AORUS logo, a DVD with drivers, a manual and two SATA 6Gb / s cables, the motherboard itself is also present. There is no back panel cover in the package, it is integrated, similarly to more expensive boards, which has recently appeared on an increasing number of boards.
The rear panel provides quite decent port equipment due to the price group. There is a PS / 2 connector with support for Y cables, three USB-A 5Gb / s and one USB-A 10Gb / s, there are also four USB-A 2.0, which are suitable for keyboards and mice. The board also supports AMD Renoir APU, the outputs here are DVI-D (only single link) and HDMI 2.1, which is nice, I would personally welcome DisplayPort, but for most users this set of outputs will suffice. Of course, there is also RJ45 with gigabit Ethernet, which is provided by the Realtek 8118 chip. The audio is then equipped with the Realtek ALC1200 codec and there are five 3.5 mm jacks and an optical output, this is again less common on cheaper boards.
The board itself then looks quite hi-end and shares some components (for example, a chipset cooler, which normally has a backlit AORUS logo, but the backlight of the logo is missing) with higher-order boards. It’s basically an A520 hi-end. As for PCIe slots, there is one M.2 22110 port that provides four PCIe Gen3 lines from the processor.
Furthermore, the primary PCIe x16 Gen3 is output directly from the processor. The other PCIe slots are then removed from the AMD A520 chipset, which complicates the situation as the A520 is a truncated chipset. There are four more PCIe slots, three are x1 Gen1 and the fourth is x16 physically, however it is electrically connected as x2 Gen3. The trolling is that we can effectively use only three additional slots. The last two x1 share connectivity with the x2 slot, so after connecting an additional card to the two lower x1 we will lose a larger x2. We can always connect one NVMe x4 disk, one x16 graphic and three x1 cards, or x2 and x1 cards instead of three x1.
Now let’s look at the power cascade, which is rather a weaker link, as the board under test is not some super hi-end for clocks, despite the fact that the A520 platform does not support CPU overclocking (only through BLCK, but it doesn’t make sense). In the upper left corner of the board we find a standard EPS12V osmipin and two heatsinks, which partially cover the plastic design cover AORUS. I think they could forgive him in Gigabyte, because he can retain some heat.
Gigabyte describes the power cascade as 5 + 3, but it does not explicitly boast of components. So I peeked under the heatsinks and on the PWM controller. Gigabyte used a Renesas RAA 229004 PWM controller here, which can control up to eight phases, and can be found on some other Gigabyte boards with B550 chipsets.
Each of the five phases for VCORE consists of three MOSFETs manufactured by ON Semiconductor, there are two MOSFETs 4C06N and one 4C10N, while 4C06N can push up to 69A and each 4C10N to 46A, however I am not sure how exactly they are connected and what are the possible limits. The manufacturer also states surprisingly high working and storage temperatures, -55 ° C to + 150 ° C. The three phases for VSOC are then composed of pairs 4C06N and 4C10N. The Gigabyte on the board also supports the new Zen3 processors, however when using the Ryzen 9 5900X / 5950X I would definitely blow the coolers of the power cascade.
As for the connector equipment of the board, we can find quite a lot here. In the upper right corner sit two RGB headers, a button for Q Flash Plus, a power ATX 24pin connector and a fourpin for the cabinet fan. In addition to the RAM slots, there are two more four-pin pins for CPU fans, but they are not very visible in the photo.
The main M.2 22110 slot lives directly under the processor and we do not find any heatsink in the package. Finally, the Kingston A2000 1TB SSD lived without a heatsink, which in this case does not matter much, as it is not a very melting SSD.
In the lower right corner we find four SATA 6Gb / s ports, which is definitely enough for the vast majority of users. There is also a large cooler for the AMD A520 chipset, which is manufactured by Asmedia. The heatsink is ready to backlight the AORUS logo with the help of RGB LEDs, but we will not find these LEDs on the board. Only the AORUS logo directly in the PCB next to the heatsink is backlit. In this corner lives a pin pin for the front panel of the cabinet, a 19pin pin pin with two USB 5Gb / s ports and two pin pin with a total of four USB 2.0 ports.
The rest of the pins are traditionally spread at the bottom of the board. We hope for another four-pin for the fan (the last one sits above the main PCIe x16 slot) header for serial port, TPM header (unnecessary in my opinion, all Ryzens have PSP and fTPM integrated), two RGB LED headers, LED_DEMO header (lights up after connecting an external source all RGB LEDs and RGB LED headers on the board) and a front audio header.
Overall, the board looks very promising due to the equipment. The disadvantage of the A520 chipset is the impossibility of overclocking, we can try to change the BLCK, but we will not get far. The AMD Ryzen 5 3500X boosts all six cores under load at some 3942 MHz. I got BLCK stably up to 103 MHz and the processor then boosted all cores to 4017 MHz, however I canceled this setting because I wanted to test the system in the standard setting and I wanted to supply functional and stable assemblies to end users. Maybe for my own LAN party PC I would leave it if it was stable.
The rest of the set looked like I added 2x HyperX KHX3200C16D4 / 8GX to the set of purchased memory, ie 2x8GB DDR4-3200 CL16-18-18-36 1T, fortunately XMP works normally on A520. The cooler was the super-game CoolerMaster Hyper 411R, which has a very special attachment to the AM4 socket, you have to use their plastic backplate, it would be much better if the cooler was screwed directly into the metal backplate, which is directly on the board. The SSD was a Kingston A2000 1TB, a Gigabyte AORUS GeForce RTX 2080 Ti XTREME graphics card and a Corsahir HX1200 power supply. I installed Windows 10 Pro v2004 on my computer.
The BIOS has a traditional Gigabyte interface, Gigabyte did not bother to remove some options for overclocking the processor, which can be confusing, as it is not possible to clock clocking by default on the A520 platform, only through BLCK, and to a very limited extent.
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