If you live in North America, chances are that Biostar is not the first name that pops into your head when thinking about motherboard manufacturers. While they have a significant presence in Asia, they haven’t really made a big splash on this continent, partially because they don’t make the flashy high-end motherboards that get everyone’s attention. Thankfully, sometimes you just have to make something unique to get a lot of attention, and that is why we are reviewing the Biostar X370GTN.
Biostar one upped everyone in the industry by not only announcing the first Mini-ITX AM4 motherboard, but by releasing it before anyone else had even announced their versions. Not only that, but at $110 USD / $150 CAD, the X370GTN is quite really affordable too. While we have a lot of experience with Intel-based Mini-ITX that are at least 50% more expensive than this AM4 model, it will be interesting to see what Biostar has been able to create with a low price point and tiny 7″ x 7″ piece of PCB.
When we look at the specs, the first things that stand out are the seven-phase CPU power design and the 4-pin CPU power connector. Could these prove to be limitations when overclocking? We are going to find out. When it comes to connectivity and expansion, this motherboard is quite similar to other pint-sized offerings. There are four SATA 6Gb/s ports, one full-speed PCI-E 3.0 x4 M.2 slot, two full-speed USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, one Type-A and one Type-C, up to six USB 3.0 ports, and one USB 2.0 headers, for a grand total of ten possible USB ports. When it comes to networking, there is one Realtek Dragon-powered gigabit LAN port and no onboard Wi-Fi, which is a slight disappointment but not at all unexpected given the low price point.
As you would expect, there is only one PCI-E x16 slot that will likely house a graphics card if you’re planning to use a Ryzen processor. However, this motherboard also supports AMD’s new seventh generation Bristol Ridge APUs and it will surely also support the upcoming Zen-based Raven Ridge APUs. If you do install an APU, your video output choices will be limited to DVI-D or HDMI 1.4.
The onboard audio solution is based on the Realtek ALC892 ten-channel codec, which is familiar to us since it was Reatek’s high-end audio codec all the way back in 2010-2011. The codec is helped along with a chunky pair of ‘Hi-Fi’ audio capacitors, a headphone sense amplifier, and the whole audio section is protected by a PCB-level isolation line that helps keep noise out of the audio signal. If and when you listen to music, you will able to be able to make the onboard RGB LED lighting dance to the beat. There is not only lighting into the single MOSFET cooler, but there are also two headers on which to attach 5050 RGB LED light strips.
Despite being small, the Biostar X370GTN appears to be competently equipped for its price. However, implementation is everything, and we are going to found whether Biostar had to cut any corners in order to be first to the market.