Building a PC around a new CPU is expensive at the best of times, and that’s triply true for AMD’s new Ryzen 7000 chips. AMD started with its high-end $300-plus chips, leaving midrange options until next year. The processors only support DDR5 RAM, which is still more expensive than DDR4 at the same capacities. And the first series of motherboards that include the new AM5 CPU socket are here, and they’re quite expensive.
The cheapest motherboard currently available from Newegg and Micro Center is the ASRock X670E PG Lightning, which despite being the cheapest motherboard available, is an X670E card that will support PCIe 5.0 GPUs when they arrive (even the new GeForce RTX 4000 series still uses PCIe 4.0). The motherboard lacks a few features we like to see – no onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, limited audio outputs, relatively small heatsinks for voltage regulator modules (VRMs) and other components – but she has four M.2 SSD slots of variable speeds and plenty of connections for case fans and front USB ports.
If that’s something you care about, the cheapest X670E card with Wi-Fi is also one of ASRock’s, the X670E Pro RS, available for $280 from Newegg and Micro Center.
As you move up in price towards the $500 mark, you start to see more additions that high-end cards are known for: larger heatsinks for VRMs and, often, large heatsinks metal one-pieces that cover more of the SSD. slots and make the board look a little neater inside a case with a side window. The Asus ROG STRIX X670E-F ($450), Gigabyte X670E Aorus Master ($500) and MSI MPG X670E Carbon Wifi ($480) are among this cohort, with their big flashy RGB heatsinks. Compared to lower-end cards, they also tend to have more rear USB-C ports and a higher ratio of USB 3.x ports to USB 2.0 ports.
Fans of small builds will be disappointed to see that there’s only one mini-ITX AM5 board available so far, and it’s quite expensive: the Asus ROG STRIX X670E-I Gaming WiFi (470 $) looks capable but also a little weird, with a weird an external hub called “ROG Strix Hive” and a protruding daughterboard for USB 2.0 port headers, front panel headers and some SATA ports that can be clumsy in some particularly small ITX cases.
The prize for “most absurdly expensive motherboard” goes to the MSI MEG X670E Godlike, which at $1,300 is almost twice as expensive as the next most expensive board. A towering black monolith, this card is covered in glossy heatsinks and attempts to justify its price by including a riser card for additional PCIe 5.0 SSDs and an onboard 10Gbps Ethernet port.
The prizes won’t be this ridiculous forever, or (hopefully) even for very long. This first wave of cards is heavily tilted towards the more expensive X670E variant (20 cards on Newegg, compared to just four X670 cards), which must meet PCI Express 5.0’s more robust signaling requirements for the graphics slot.
In October, AMD will also launch the B650 and B650E cards, which use only one chipset die while X670 uses two. These motherboards should bring AM5 support well under $200 while delivering good performance. Next year, as DDR5 prices drop steadily and AMD releases more midrange Ryzen 7000-series processors, it should be easier to recommend an AM5 version to budget-conscious buyers. AMD plans to support AM5 until at least 2025, so a card you buy now should also be eligible for at least a few new CPUs in the next few years.
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