So, You decided on the AMD Ryzen but want a motherboard that is flexible enough to fit in a smaller form factor. Well, if that is your main prerequisite then the X370 models are probably out of the equation since it’s too large to fit in a mini tower and outside anything related to a negotiable price.
The B350 chipset will be next best thing that should offer everything you absolutely need, with only a few features missing to curb costs. In response, Gigabyte has a solution with the AB350M-Gaming 3 Motherboard, serving as a Micro ATX option in their “GIGABYTE Gaming” family. A combination that puts it squarely in the niche market for cube-based or portable gaming chassis.
The AB350M is a flagship (of sorts) of AM4-derived Micro ATX boards around, but is still in line with the competition at $89, or roughly around $10 more on average. Fortunately, there are some bits kept from ATX motherboards to help justify the asking price.
Aspiring to prospects of gaming nirvana, the PCB styling is dressed in black with red accents featured predominantly on the PCI-Express and RAM slots. Besides the coloring scheme, everything else about the layout is straightforward with the only bit of flair being those red strips being red LEDs.
The AB350M has six SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors (RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 10), and a single M.2 connector for stick form SSD. Things continue to be normal with three PCI Express expansion slots (1x PCIeX16 3.0 standard, 1x PCIeX4, and PCIe x1), which gives you some freedom to add the necessary wireless card, sound card, or graphics card. Speaking of which, Two-way multi-GPU performance is possible but only if you are rocking Radeon graphic cards, GeForce users have to make do with a single unit.
Rear I/O ports on the AB350M are a thrifty arrangement of current and legacy inputs. The result is a garden variety platter of 2 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A (in red), 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (in blue), 2 x USB 1.1/2.0, HDMI, DVI-D, VGA, Ethernet, and even a PS/2 port for those who refuse to let go of the past. Other onboard connections are run-of-the-mill too; expect the common serial/parallel port headers, front USB headers for both 3.1 and 2.0, and CMOS jumper. Notice how I said this motherboard has USB 3.1 but not Type-C, this will be common among most Micro ATX AM4 motherboards in this tier.
The BIOS in particular is rich in options and the interface gets a fresh coat of paint for the casual/intermediate user to ease into, with the usual settings in their proper place and even visual system readouts within the Smart Fan 5 submenu. We doubt many will get lost navigating menus and there is very little to mess up since the motherboard grays out advanced presets if your components aren’t compatible.
You also use the GIGABYTE App Center if you cannot be bothered to dive into the BIOS or manual download driver updates, along with the EasyTune interface that forgoes all of that to change or automatically overclock you system with one click. Which is nice in eliminating a lot of the guesswork.
In our benchmark rundown, I paired the GA-AB350M similar to how most people would realistically build their rigs (or at least to the best of my abilities). For this we’re using a Ryzen 5 1500X CPU, GeIL EVO RGB 16GB DDR4-3200 memory, Kingston SSDNow UV400 480GB SSD, and a EVGA GTX 1070 SC GAMING 3.0 Graphics Card.
Running a suite of tools from Cinebench, Geekbench, and AIDA64 we see this configuration handles itself well among its closest competitors, cementing itself as one of the better choices before a regular-sized ATX motherboard. Its main competitor is the MSI B350 MORTAR Motherboard, which gains a small edge in almost every area, albeit negligible in real-world performance. On an unrelated note, MSI was thoughtful enough to include USB Type-C on their unit; actually, they are the only Micro ATX AM4 board to have it.
The Gigabyte AB350M-Gaming 3 Motherboard is a good start for Ryzen newcomers, especially if you are on the fence between compact, cheap, and capable. Low-cost AMD loyalist should also be happy because there’s just something attractive about a powerful system that’s unassumingly small, it’s like having your cake and eating it too.
We expect This is the first of many from Gigabyte and others moving forward. Expect this motherboard to drop in price to make way for some newer stuff this year, which should further sweeten the deal.