Asus has been an avid supporter of mini-ITX motherboards for years and if you want a premium board for a tiny gaming PC that’s dripping with features then you usually can’t go wrong with the company’s offering. The ROG Strix X670E-I Gaming WiFi is the latest high-end option, this time catering for Ryzen 7000 processors.
At $470, though, this is one pricy example, but the same is true for many Socket AM5 motherboards. The ROG Strix X670E-I Gaming WiFi continues Asus’ tradition of blazing a trail with unqiue features, though, and for the first time there’s an external audio solution – the ROG Strix Hive.
This connects to a dedicated USB port on the rear of the motherboard and has allowed Asus to reduce the PCB space by removing the audio circuitry to an external box, complete with volume control dial, diagnostic LEDs and even USB BIOS Flashback functionality. Mini-ITX purists will no doubt dislike the need for extra external components, but with a single cable coming out the rear of the PC you can easily place the controller under your desk if you don’t intend to use it.
The benefits are a more spacious CPU socket compared to previous Asus mini-ITX motherboards and also a larger stack of heatsinks to cool the M.2 ports, one of which supports future PCIe 5.0 SSDs. This was able to keep most SSDs to 70°C, but those that run particularly hot such as WD’s SN850X and Samsung’s 990 Pro saw temperatures hit 80°C despite the heatsinks benefiting from a small fan. You’ll definitely want to make sure the board has adequate airflow.
Another fan helps to cool the VRMs, which hit 68°C during a lengthy stress test, which is one of the higher temperatures I’ve seen for an X670 E chipset motherboard, although the VRM fan wasn’t intrusive, didn’t spin up until relatively high temperatures and can even be disabled in the EFI fan control section.
As well as eight standard USB ports, there are two USB 4 Type-C ports. These don’t offer full Thuderbolt 4 compatibility, but offer similar power and data speeds. The board also includes WiFi 6E and a 2.5 Gigbit Ethernet port.
The The ROG FPS-II card shifts some components off the PCB to make space and this is where you’ll find the two includes SATA ports and USB 2 headers as well as the front panel connectors for your case’s buttons and ports. You don’t have to use it as there’s a power button header on the PCB, but you’ll lose out on all those features if you do decide to remove it.
The Realtek ALC4050 audio offered reasonable performance with a dynamic range of 99dBA and noise level of -95dBA – there’s been better from other boards from Asus recently but this is still a decent result for game and music audio performance.
The X670E chipset has proven to be pretty expensive and most motherboards won’t leave you with much change from $300 and most cost a lot more. That’s certainly true here but the ROG Strix X670E-I Gaming WiFi does at least pack in a huge feature set including USB 4 support, a unique external audio solution, fan-assisted VRM and M.2 cooling as as you’d expect from Asus, its EFI is excellent too.
However, lower M.2 and VRM temperatures would have been welcome as would a lower price and it will have to compete with cheaper B650 chipset mini-ITX motherboards too including its own ROG Strix B650E-I Gaming WiFi, which looks set to shave at least $100 off the price. Still, if you want the best and most lavish mini-ITX motherboard for AMD’s Ryzen 7000 CPUs, this is it.