Last month ASRock unveiled its full liquid-cooled motherboard, the X570 Aqua to celebrate the 50th anniversary of AMD. The motherboard comes with a motherboard water block and heatsink combination and is an exclusive production. Only 999 production units were made and were sold on a first-come-first-serve basis. In this article we will be reviewing this high-end motherboard.
Let’s get started!
X570 Aqua: The tl;dr review
Before we move onto a more elaborate review, let us start with two short lists of things we like and dislike about ASRock’s X570 Aqua board:
What we liked:
- The voltage regulators and PCH are kept cool.
- Comes with integrated Wi-Fi 6,10GbE and Gigabit Ethernet.
- Comes with an integrated DisplayPort and Thunderbold 3 port.
- Can handle overclocking incredibly well.
What we didn’t like to much:
- Only consist of version 2.0 PCIe x1 slots.
- The RGB lighting needs a software update to work.
- Has a single-lane hub supporting all PCIe 2.0 device bandwidth.
- Half of the SATA ports are linked with PCIe 2.0 controllers.
X570 Aqua: Water Cooling
Before discussing the specs of this motherboard, let us start with its most distinguishing feature. The X570 Aqua is a remarkable board for having most of its most important components fully covered by a large water block. Here is ASRock’s take on the liquid-cooled design:
“Coolant is split into three passages so that each area can be cooled separately without interfering with each other. This design also lowers the water resistancy inside the cooling block, giving faster water flow to maintain the best cooling efficiency.”
The most critical elements such as the CPU, VRM, and chipset are well covered by the water block ensuring maximum heat dissipation. Some areas however, like the DIMM slots are not covered.
X570 Aqua: Specs
The X570 Aqua has a AM4 socket and AMD’s X570 chipset. It has an EATX form-factor that is 10.5 inches deep and comes with a voltage regulator with 14 phases.
The X570 Aqua comes with three different video ports: An HDMI port, a Thunderbolt 3 port and a DisplayPort IN. It has 2 Type-C USB ports (that can transfer data at 10 Gbps) and 6 Type-A USB ports (bandwidth of 5 Gbps). It has 5 Analog and 1 Digital Out audio jacks and it comes with 1 PS/2 legacy port. The X570 also has one Thunderbolt 3 port and a BIOS Flashback button.
In terms of network connectivity, the X570 Aqua offers two Wi-Fi Antennas and an AQC107 Gigabit Ethernet. In addition to this, it also has an extra Intel Gigabit port. The AX1650 802.11ax interface gives the X570 it’s Wi-Fi 6 and BT 5.0 compatibility.
Expansion Slots & Memory
The X570 Aqua comes with 4 DDR4 DIMM slots for your RAM. These could easily support upto 64GB of RAM (16GB per slot). It also has 3 version-4.0 PCIe x16 expansion slots (for your Graphics cards, Video cards, Audio cards, fast SSD, RAID cards etc.) and 3 version 2.0 PCIe x1 expansion slots.
To connect to your storage drives, the X570 Aqua offers 8 SATA ports (each able to support a bandwidth of up to 6 Gbps.
The X570 Aqua has five 4-pin fan headers, one v3 Gen2, two v3 Gen 1 and one v2.0 USB headers. It also has a legacy system speaker (the beep-code speaker that made the sound in all old school video games). And finally the X570 comes with three internal buttons: One for Power, one for reset and a CLR_CMOS.
X570 Aqua: Design
The exterior of the X570 Aqua may look like it’s made of silver-coated plastic, but it is actually made up of Aluminum. While the frame is made of plastic, all the important parts on the inside are made of Aluminum.
RGB LED Lighting
The X570 Aqua comes with an ARGB LED and two RGB LEDs integrated into the board. However, in order to get these lights to function properly, a software update is required.
Who Is It Targeted To?
The $1000 price tag is a big discouragement. But the exclusivity of the 999 limited production units cancels this out. Given its full liquid-cooled design, PCB cover and top of the line specs, it is clear that the X570 Aqua isn’t being targeted at mainstream buyers. Instead, it is being targeted at enthusiast PC builders and modders. More specifically, it is being targeted at those enthusiasts who love building water cooled PCs using high-end components. So unless you have the components to go along with this monster of a board, it will most likely make for a very poor investment choice.
The ASRock X570 Aqua is one of the best high-end motherboards in the market today. Considering how most of the weak points of this motherboard don’t really concern the target market, and considering its limited production volume, the $1000 price tag doesn’t seem too steep for all that the X570 Aqua has to offer. For anyone building a high-end PC with AMD’s third-generation Ryzen CPU with other expansions, this is the board to get. That is, if they can get their hands on it. The X570 Aqua comes with a 3-year warranty.
Basic Things You Need To Know Before You Buy A Motherboard
We just presented ASRock’s limited edition liquid-cooled motherboard, the X570 Aqua. And chances are you may not get your hands on one of the 999 units that were produced, you might still be on the market for a motherboard. Question is, are you sure you know enough about motherboards to be judging one?
Yes? Great! No? Worry not!
If you’re building a new PC and are in the market for a new motherboard, you need to know some rudimentary facts about them. We’ve compiled this section to help you with that:
The CPU is the most important part of any computer. And it fits into the socket of the motherboard. When selecting a motherboard, if it has the right socket for your CPU. If you’re planning on getting the latest AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs, your motherboard should have an AM4 socket. For the latest Intel core-i processor, a LGA 1151v2 socket is needed.
Besides the socket, you will also have to keep track of the chipset. If you’re going to get the latest high-end CPU from Intel or AMD, you will be limited to option each (X399 for AMD chips and X299 for Intel chips). If you’re just looking to build a regular computer, you can explore cheaper options like X370 or X470 for AMD and Z370 for Intel.
Basically, all motherboards fall into one of three categories. The ATX is the largest, the Mini-ATX is the medium size and the Mini-ITX is the smallest. Depending on the size of your CPU case and other factors like how many expansion slots you’re looking for, select according.
You can find motherboards offering anywhere between two (in Mini-ITX boards) to eight (in HEDT boards) memory slots. For most mainstream users, two memory slots are more than enough. You can easily install 32 GB of RAM in two slots and even this is an overkill. Things can be different for more high-end users. Choose your motherboard based on your requirements.
The Expansion slots are where you fit in all of your RAID cards, Graphics cards and Storage drives. There are basically two types of expansion slots: PCIe x1 (for USB or SATA expansion) and PCIe x16 (for graphics cards, fast SSDs etc.). Most Mini-ATX/Mini-ITX boards will have enough slots (1 x1 slot and 1-2 x16 slots) to support all mainstream expansion needs. But if you think you need more, it’s better to go with a full sized ATX board.
The ports are the I/O terminals of the computer and your motherboard houses most of them. Check your basic connection requirements and see if the motherboard of your choice has those ports. For decent future proofing, cross-platform and backward compatibility, here are some of the ports you might want to look for: USB 3, USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 3.1 Gen 2, USB 2, USB Type-C, HDMI, Audio Ports, Thunderbolt 3 and PS/2 ports.
You can get a motherboard for less than $50. But if you’re planning to get a high-end CPU like AMD’s Threadripper or Intel’s Core-X, the corresponding motherboard can cost you well over $300. More high end motherboards can easily cost over $500 (like the X570 Aqua’s $1000 price tag). It all depends on added features (like built-in Wi-Fi, RGB lighting, built-in cooling system, number of expansion slots etc.). It all depends on what kind of PC you’re building and for what purpose. Choose accordingly.