AMD Ryzen Preview: AM4 Motherboards and Ryzen CPUs

2017 is set to bring us some interesting new developments in PC hardware technology. Let’s talk about possibly the most interesting technologies on the horizon from AMD: The Ryzen CPUs and AM4 Motherboards.

AMD Ryzen CPUs are supposed to release between January and March 2017, which means AMD is only a month or two away from wide-scale availability of their new line of CPUs. At CES 2017, AMD revealed more information on the AM4 socket motherboards that are supposed to host Ryzen-based CPUs and also talked about Ryzen in a little more detail.

AM4 Motherboards

With the release of AM4 socket, all modern-day features will be available on the platform – M.2, NVMe, U.2, USB 3.1 Gen 2, PCIe 3.0 (AMD’s previous generation motherboards still used the PCIe 2.0 standard).

There will be five main tiers of motherboards – X370, B350, A320, X300 and A300. The latter two will be aimed squarely at the small-form-factor crowd. X370, B350 and X300 will allow overclocking, and A320 and A300 will be the barebones, most likely OEM-oriented motherboards.

Crossfire and SLI will only be available on the X370 chipset, though. Robert Hallock, AMD’s head of global technical marketing, stated that only high-end users use multiple graphics cards in their PCs, so they decided to not include multi GPU support for B350, A320 and A300 motherboards. Small form factor motherboards can’t support more than one graphics cards due to their size.

Ryzen CPUs

All Ryzen CPUs (formerly known as Zen CPUs) will be PGA (pin grid array) type CPUs, meaning the pins will be on the CPU and not the motherboard (unlike Intel, who have been using LGA or lan grid array for many years now). In AMD’s words, this brings down the cost of the motherboards. Pins on PGA CPUs are also generally considered sturdier, so they will hopefully be relatively difficult to bend or break.

Another important thing that came out of the event: All Ryzen CPUs will be unlocked and overclockable out of the box, which means buyers will only have to worry about their motherboard supporting overclocking. The AM4 socket will also be unified, meaning any CPU based on the Zen architecture will work on any AM4 motherboard, including the Raven Ridge APUs (Ryzen+VEGA on one dye), coming in the second half of 2017.

AMD also recently announced Freesync 2, which will bring in strict quality control for Freesync monitors (including low framerate compensation in as many models as possible) and allow bringing input latency down on 4K HDR monitors. More information on that will available once these monitors start shipping.

Hopefully, AMD’s new hardware will restore their competitive abilities against Intel. Time will soon tell.