If you are an enthusiast gamer, curious about overclocking/tweaking or plan to use multiple graphics cards at some point, this is not the board you are looking for. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s go through why ASRock’s A320M-HDV gets our ‘Highly Recommended’ award.
For the most part, I tested ASRock A320M-HDV with a 2200G with 3200MHz DDR4 and no graphics card so as to use the board in the way that the manufacturer intended. This is a budget, entry-level board priced at $75 which is a great partner for an AMD Raven Ridge APU.
This is an honest, simple product that delivers exactly what is says on the box without trying to pretend it’s something else. ASRock has implemented AMD’s lower-end (but still highly capable) A320 chipset that will run AM4 CPUs or APUs up to 65W at stock settings. This includes the new Ryzen APUs with Vega 8 and Vega 11 graphics cores. The A320M-HDV has RGB, DVI and HDMI video outputs capable of running triple displays.
The A320M-HDV combined with a Raven Ridge APU (2200G or 2400G) makes owning an entry-level PC that can be used to play games, albeit at lower quality or resolutions (or both) more easily affordable than ever before. It’s also a good budget starting point for a family or student PC and allows for storage or graphics expansion later on without the need to change out motherboards or CPUs.
There are 4 SATA3 ports, 1 M.2 NVMe slot on the board and 2 DDR4 slots with onboard audio, LAN and 3 video-out ports (VGA, DVI and HDMI). This, along with the six rear USB ports should be more than enough to satisfy the technical requirements of the target market. Don’t overlook the PCIe 3.0 16x slot for a graphics card.
We’ve ascertained that the essentials are all included and the price seems very compelling so what’s the catch? It isn’t really a catch but there are some limitations of AMD’s A320 chipset that buyers need to be aware of, most notably, the A320 doesn’t facilitate overclocking. The Ryzen 3 2200G APU can benefit from an overclock to the Vega 8 graphics clock speeds for a sweet performance bump but you won’t be able to do that with this board. You can’t overclock the CPU either.
We can’t count this as a true strike against the A320M-HDV because it isn’t meant to be for overclocking or excessive tweaking. The B350 and X370 chipsets are the platforms required if you want to overclock your APU/CPU and these more serious alternatives, understandably, come at a higher price point.
The other compromise I noted when looking over the board was the lack of a Display Port connector to facilitate FreeSync to a compatible monitor. Again, this is a lot to expect from a motherboard that sells for $75.
Let’s look at the detailed specs…
|CPU||- Supports AMD Socket AM4 A-Series APUs (Bristol Ridge) and Ryzen Series CPUs (Summit Ridge and Raven Ridge)
- Digi Power design
- 7 Power Phase design
- Supports CPU up to 65W
|Chipset||- AMD Promontory A320|
|Memory||- Dual Channel DDR4 Memory Technology
- 2 x DDR4 DIMM Slots
- AMD Ryzen series CPUs (Summit Ridge) support DDR4 3200+(OC)/2933(OC)/2667/2400/2133 ECC & non-ECC, un-buffered memory*
- AMD Ryzen series CPUs (Raven Ridge) support DDR4 3200+(OC)/2933(OC)/2667/2400/2133 non-ECC, un-buffered memory*
- AMD 7th Gen A-Series APUs support DDR4 2400/2133 ECC & non-ECC, un-buffered memory**
- Max. capacity of system memory: 32GB**
- 15μ Gold Contact in DIMM Slots
*Please refer to Memory Support List on ASRock's website for more information.
**Due to the operating system limitation, the actual memory size may be less than 4GB for the reservation for system usage under Windows® 32-bit OS. For Windows® 64-bit OS with 64-bit CPU, there is no such limitation.
|BIOS||- 128Mb AMI UEFI Legal BIOS with GUI support
- Supports "Plug and Play"
- ACPI 5.1 compliance wake up events
- Supports jumperfree
- SMBIOS 2.3 support
- DRAM Voltage multi-adjustment
|Graphics||- Integrated AMD Radeon™ Vega Series Graphics in Ryzen Series APU*
- Integrated AMD Radeon™ R-Series Graphics in A-series APU*
- DirectX 12, Pixel Shader 5.0
- Max. shared memory 2GB
- Three graphics output options: D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI
- Supports Triple Monitor
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution up to 4K x 2K (4096x2160) @ 24Hz / (3840x2160) @ 30Hz
- Supports DVI-D with max. resolution up to 1920x1200 @ 60Hz
- Supports D-Sub with max. resolution up to 2048x1536 @ 60Hz
- Supports Auto Lip Sync, Deep Color (12bpc), xvYCC and HBR (High Bit Rate Audio) with HDMI Port (Compliant HDMI monitor is required)
- Supports HDCP with DVI-D and HDMI Ports
- Supports Full HD 1080p Blu-ray (BD) playback with DVI-D and HDMI Ports
*Actual support may vary by CPU
|Audio||- 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC887 Audio Codec)*
- Supports Surge Protection
- ELNA Audio Caps
*To configure 7.1 CH HD Audio, it is required to use an HD front panel audio module and enable the multi-channel audio feature through the audio driver.
|LAN||- PCIE x1 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
- Realtek RTL8111GR
- Supports Wake-On-LAN
- Supports Lightning/ESD Protection
- Supports LAN Cable Detection
- Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
- Supports PXE
|Slots||AMD Ryzen series CPUs
- 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 Slot (PCIE2: x16 mode)*
AMD 7th A-Series APUs/ Raven Ridge CPUs
- 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 Slot (PCIE2: x8 mode)*
- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 Slot
*Supports NVMe SSD as boot disks
|Storage||- 4 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s Connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 10), NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug
- 1 x Ultra M.2 Socket, supports M Key type 2242/2260/2280 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s) (with Ryzen Series CPU) or Gen3 x2 (16 Gb/s) (with A-Series APU)*
*Supports ASRock U.2 Kit
Supports NVMe SSD as boot disks
|Connector||- 1 x Print Port Header
- 1 x COM Port Header
- 1 x TPM Header
- 1 x Chassis Intrusion and Speaker Header
- 1 x CPU Fan Connector (4-pin)*
- 2 x Chassis Fan Connectors (1 x 4-pin, 1 x 3-pin)
- 1 x 24 pin ATX Power Connector
- 1 x 4 pin 12V Power Connector
- 1 x Front Panel Audio Connector
- 2 x USB 2.0 Headers (Support 4 USB 2.0 ports) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Header (Supports 2 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports) (Supports ESD Protection)
*The CPU Fan Connector supports the CPU fan of maximum 1A (12W) fan power.
|Rear Panel I/O||- 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard Port
- 1 x D-Sub Port
- 1 x DVI-D Port
- 1 x HDMI Port
- 2 x USB 2.0 Ports (Supports ESD Protection)
- 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Ports (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
- HD Audio Jacks: Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone
- Hi-Density Power Connector (8 pin)
- 15μ Gold Contact in DIMM Slots
- 15μ Gold Contact in VGA PCIe Slot (PCIE1)
- Intel® LAN
- 2oz Copper PCB
- Creative Sound Blaster™ Cinema 3
|Unique Feature||ASRock Super Alloy
- High Density Glass Fabric PCB
- Sapphire Black PCB
ASRock Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
ASRock Full Spike Protection (for all USB, Audio, LAN Ports)
ASRock Live Update & APP Shop
|Software and UEFI||Software
- ASRock APP Charger
- ASRock XFast LAN
- ASRock Full HD UEFI
- ASRock Instant Flash
- ASRock Easy RAID Installer
*These utilities can be downloaded from ASRock Live Update & APP Shop.
|Support CD||- Drivers, Utilities, AntiVirus Software (Trial Version), Google Chrome Browser and Toolbar|
|Accessories||- Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
- 2 x SATA Data Cables
- 1 x Screw for M.2 Socket
|Hardware Monitor||- CPU/Chassis temperature sensing
- CPU/Chassis Fan Tachometer
- CPU/Chassis Quiet Fan
- CPU/Chassis Fan multi-speed control
- CASE OPEN detection
- Voltage monitoring: +12V, +5V, +3.3V, Vcore
|Form Factor||- Micro ATX Form Factor: 9.1-in x 8.1-in, 23.1 cm x 20.6 cm
- Solid Capacitor design
|OS||- Microsoft® Windows® 10 64-bit|
|Certifications|| FCC, CE
- ErP/EuP ready (ErP/EuP ready power supply is required)
You can check out the ASRock product page here for more information.
The software included is also very basic and to be honest, you don’t really need it anyway. The ASRock Applications allow you to reboot to UEFI and keep drivers up to date – essentials that make life a little bit easier.
As mentioned earlier, the A320 chipset doesn’t support overclocking but people still ask if there is an easy way around it. Recently, I spotted a forum post somewhere with a member asking if Ryzen Master could apply an overclock on the A320 platform – effectively bypassing the BIOS – and, as expected, the answer is no. This is our first look at an A320 board so we thought we’d try it because we could. We attempted overclocking using Ryzen Master just to see what happened and the answer is … nothing. The application allowed us to try and set higher clocks and even apply them but they didn’t take. We didn’t get any errors but the settings just didn’t apply.
The BIOS is easy to navigate and feels a little light because of the lack of overclocking options but there are still a lot of options to tweak if you need to. If you are using a Raven Ridge APU, I’d recommend adjusting the Graphics Memory allocation to 2GB and make sure that the memory profile is using 3200MHz via XMP.
We didn’t have any issues with our test kit of GEIL EVOX 2x8GB 3200MHz DDR4. Remember that if you are using this board with a 2200G or 2400G APU you will need to ensure that you get a board listed as “AMD RYZEN DESKTOP 2000 READY” or make sure that the BIOS is updated accordingly.
Overall, the layout of the board is logical and I didn’t spot anything that made me cringe. When building this in our Fractal Design Meshify C Mini, we didn’t have any issues keeping cables neat, nor did we have to get creative at all when installing the components. I liked the placement of the M.2 NVMe slot above the main PCIe x16 slot so that it was away from areas of the board likely to get warm from a discrete graphics card. The front panel IO, fan and USB 2&3 headers are all around the edge of the board and easy to access. The SATA 3 ports are oriented with two vertical and two horizontal which can be handy depending on your case choice.
Owners of this board who pair it with either an AMD 2200G or 2400G Raven Ridge APU will receive a real bargain in terms of bang for buck. While Raven Ridge APUs require more expensive 3200MHz DDR4 Memory, the $75 price tag of the motherboard makes the RAM price easier to handle. The result is at least an entry-level gaming experience in most current and previous titles previously not possible with other APUs or integrated graphics.
The rear I/O has 3 audio 3.5mm connections which is basic, but functional. Most people are unlikely to miss the optical out and surround analogue audio jacks on the back. If you want to use analogue surround speakers, the front audio jacks can be configured accordingly – the cables will look messy but it is possible.
The front panel audio connections for headphone and microphone (headsets) worked a treat with our HyperX Cloud Revolver headset.
The LAN performance was fine and as per the specification. I was able to transfer files between our test system’s SSD and the SSD on another system at near Gigabit speed in line with other testing and allowing for margin for error of the cabling, connections and switch. The web-based LAN configuration software is also intuitive and functional, providing the ability to shape, count and prioritise traffic. I wasn’t expecting this to be included and doubt many in the target demographic will go to the trouble of using it – but kudos to ASRock for including the software as a handy utility.
I can’t fault the build quality or packaging. The board was well packed, the design is subtle, the installation media and included accessories are what I’d consider bare essential. There were no defects on the board or damage to the packing from transit. I didn’t notice any whine or other noise coming from the board. The A320M-HDV isn’t meant to be a premium board but it doesn’t necessarily feel like a ‘cheap’ board either in terms of build quality, which is a good thing.
ASRock advertise that they have implemented their Super Alloy High-Density PCB design with solid capacitors and ELNA audio capacitors in an effort to deliver durability at the lower price point. Without needing to implement extensive VRM heatsinks and cater for overclocking, the savings can be passed on to the consumer and the expected wear and tear should also be reduced.
- AMD Ryzen 3 2200G
- Fractal Design Celsius S24 water cooler (front mounted)
- 16GB GEIL EVO X DDR4 3200
- ASRock A320M-HDV MATX Motherboard
- Vega 8 2GB graphics used for most testing in line with the anticipated use case
- MSI GTX 1070 (for limited PCIe comparison testing)
- Samsung EVO 850 250GB M.2 SSD
- WD Blue 1TB HDD
- Fractal Design Edison 650W Semi Modular PSU
- Logitech G310 keyboard
- Func MS-3 R2 Mouse
- ViewSonic XG2401 24″ Gaming Monitor
The water cooler was complete overkill given the lack of overclocking but this test setup was also used to test the Fractal Design Meshify C Mini chassis. The test rig was so quiet that if it wasn’t for the glow of the GEIL EVO X DDR4 RGB tubes we wouldn’t have known it was running. We did run a test with the stock cooler and didn’t have any problems with the fan curve, mounting or performance.
Please note that we swapped out the XPG SX9000 SSD shown in the photos with a Samsung EVO 850 250GB SATA SSD as it is more aligned with a budget system configuration and a closer match to the Raven Ridge test bench that we also used for comparison.
Compute and Benchmark Tests
The CPU Tests we executed compared to a B350 chipset with the same Ryzen 3 2200G APU. Although we used different RAM, the speed was kept the same at 3200MHz. What we were looking for was an obvious compromise in performance between the cheaper A320M-HDV and the more expensive B350 based board that shipped with our Raven Ridge review sample. At stock settings, the performance was essentially the same with the ASRock A320M-HDV and Gigabyte AB350-N Gaming boards performing within margin for error of each other. Obviously, the B350 based board has room for an overclock which is out of scope for the comparison.
Battlefield 4 on Medium at 1080P was an adequate experience and the frame rate drops didn’t feel obvious or negatively impacted at 1080P – I was able to maintain a gaming performance level on par with what we recorded when using the B350 based alternative board. Having said that, when we tested the 22000G on the Gigabyte AB350N Gaming WIFI board, I felt the gameplay was a little smoother thanks to the AB350N’s DisplayPort connection which supports AMD FreeSync. The sound was also clear and true on the A320-HDV for an immersive experience. I didn’t note any popping or distortion and from a gaming or casual entertainment perspective, the ALC887 implementation should satisfy all but perhaps the hardcore enthusiasts (who should be looking at a higher grade motherboard anyway). Audio via HDMI or through the analogue 3.5mm jacks was trouble free. Considering the price of the A320M-HDV and supporting components, I’d be happy with the Battlefield 4 experience as a casual gamer.
When it came to Black Ops 2, I had a lot more fun than I was expecting from an entry-level board with no graphics card. The audio was fine for hearing footsteps and I didn’t feel like there was any compromise at an audio quality level. CS:GO was similar in that the footsteps were true and the experience should keep casual gamers more than satisfied.
Blizzard’s Diablo 3 and StarCraft 2 were also done justice by the audio and frame rates were in-line with what we saw on the 2200G running at stock settings in our Raven Ridge B350 review setup.
World of Warships is a free game that plays well on modest hardware. The chaos of the hectic naval battles with shells, music and environmental sounds was clear and immersive.
One of the most obvious compromises between this and a ‘Gaming’ or enthusiast-series motherboard at a gaming level is the audio platform. The ALC1220 features on most high-end boards and can provide a clearer sound experience with better range and signal to noise ratio. The thing is that if you don’t actually make the comparison, ALC887 really is a good platform and most people can’t tell the difference anyway in a ‘blind’ test.
None of the design decisions on this board materially impact on the overall gaming potential as far as casual gamers or typical PC users would be concerned. Your selected APU or GPU may limit the games you can play and/or the settings you run but the A320M-HDV won’t hold you back.
Something to consider is that the need to build a PC for the smallest of budgets is a real challenge for many. The designers at ASRock have trimmed some features, selected a viable chipset and designed this board to provide as much video output connectivity as they could to hit a price point. The A320M-HDV hits the value target right between the eyes.
As frustrating as RAM prices are at the moment, they work in favour of the A320M-HDV providing consumers with a legitimate area to find a saving in their build. Sure, 3200MHZ RAM is expensive but its still cheaper when paired with an APU than a discrete graphics card.
If we set value aside for a moment and look at the board from a functional perspective it’s still a winner. There is a significant cross-section of people out there that use their PC for work and play but will never overclock. We come across casual PC users all the time that only want a system for light gaming with titles like Starcraft II, Sims 4, Minecraft or CS:GO and don’t notice the extra eye candy of the High-Ultra settings range. When paired with a 2200G or 2400G APU, this is a great board for typical PC users.
|Simple in design
Simple in features
Has all the essentials plus M.2 NVMe and HDMI
Great Value at $75
|– A320 chipset doesn’t support overclocking
– No DisplayPort to take advantage of Raven Ridge FreeSync compatibility