ASRock Rack X470D4U2-2T Review AMD Ryzen Server with 10GbE

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Ryzen / AM4 Scalability and value

The X470D4U2-2T is built upon the AMD Socket AM4 platform, which has a wide range of CPUs available at different core counts and platforms. Among just the 3rd generation of Ryzen CPUs, options range from the 4C/8T Ryzen 3 3100 to the 16C/32T Ryzen 9 3950X, all of which will work on this motherboard. In contrast, the current-gen 8th/9th gen Pentium Gold / i3 / Xeon E-series CPUs scale all the way down to 2C/2T, but do not make it any higher than 8C/16T at their highest end and 10C/ 20T in the newly launched Intel Xeon W-1200 Series. This gives the ASRock X470 boards a much wider range of available core counts on a single platform.

Ryzen 3000 CPUs V2
Ryzen 3000 CPU stack

In addition to this, at any given core/thread count, the Ryzen 3000 CPUs are less expensive than their Intel counterparts. As an example, the Ryzen 5 3600 we tested performs roughly in line with a Xeon E-2246G, but at retail, the Ryzen is 50% the cost of the Xeon ($180 vs $380).

Lastly, between the publication of the X470D4U review and now, AMD has announced that support for the 4th generation Ryzen CPUs based on the Zen3 architecture will be brought to the X470 chipset. While there is no guarantee that ASRock Rack will provide a Zen3 compatible BIOS update if they do then this board will receive forward compatibility with that series of CPUs.

ASRock Rack X470D4U2-2T Management

The out-of-band management is the standout feature of this motherboard and is handled by the ASPEED AST2500. Full KVM support is included out of the box, along with the ability to perform BIOS and BMC upgrades from within the web GUI. 

ASRock Rack X470D4U2 2T ASPEED AST2500
ASRock Rack X470D4U2 2T ASPEED AST2500

The KVM is available via HTML5 or Java, and one small perk over the Supermicro HTML5 client is the ability to easily mount CD/DVD ISO media directly from the HTML5 KVM client. Since the inclusion of the BMC is the defining feature of this motherboard, executing this feature well is a must and the solution on the X470D4U2-2T mostly works well and does not require any additional licensing for full functionality. 

X470D4U2 2T BMC Dashboard
X470D4U2 2T BMC Dashboard

One unfortunate problem observed with the BMC was the extremely slow transfer speeds observed with mounted media on both the HTML5 and Java iKVM clients, despite the BMC itself being linked to the network at gigabit. A standard installation of Windows Server 2019 (an unsupported OS that worked) over the HTML5 client took nearly four hours to complete. The Java client seemed even slower. After the OS was installed, a data copy over the mounted ISO to local disk was performed as a speed test, and the transfer rate never broke 3 MB/s. This behavior was observed on both the ASRock Rack X470D4U and X470D4U2-2T.

X470D4U BMC Copy Speed
X470D4U2 2T BMC Copy Speed

Complicating the slow remote media is that attempting to bypass it by using locally attached USB media is more difficult than it should be; connecting to the remote KVM environment seemingly disables booting from local USB. This can be remedied by adjusting some settings in the IPMI interface, but this behavior is not intuitive and is a hurdle you do not have to deal with when compared to BMC implementations from other vendors.

Overall, this is a fairly standard MegaRAC SP-X management solution. Having the ability to utilize remote iKVM on the platform as well as perform tasks such as remote power cycling and use management tools is a key feature of this platform.

ASRock Rack X470D4U2-2T Test Configuration

Here is the basic test configuration we used:

  • System: ASRock Rack X470D4U2-2T
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1600, 1600 (AF), 3600
  • Memory: 2x Crucial 16GB ECC UDIMMs
  • OS SSD: Intel S3610 480 GB

Benchmarking with the X470D4U2-2T is going to be a bit different, as we are not exactly sure what systems to pit it against. This is a review of the motherboard and not the Ryzen processors, and the motherboard does not contribute a lot to the bottom line performance of the system. With that said, efforts will be made to compare this setup versus EPYC 3000, Xeon D, and Xeon E series processors. We are using a trio of inexpensive Ryzen 5 CPUs for our testing; a first-generation 1600, a second-generation 1600 AF (12nm), and a third-generation 3600. We normally would only focus on in-socket comparisons, but we are going to expand the set here.

ASRock Rack X470D4U2-2T Server OS Testing

With the X470D4U2-2T only claiming official support for Windows 10, Ubuntu 16.04.4, and RHEL 7.3/7.4, we felt it necessary to test outside that list of operating systems. This testing is not comprehensive; operating systems were installed and tested for basic functionality but not much more. Potential purchasers would want to verify their particular OS and applications work on this platform before investing in the widespread deployment of this solution. With that said, we were able to install and operate the following list of operating systems seemingly without issue:

  • Windows 10 x64 1909
  • Windows Server 2019
  • Ubuntu 18.04.4
  • CentOS 8.1.1911
  • VMware ESXi 6.7 Update 3
  • FreeNAS 11.3-U2

This article was actually written before Ubuntu 20.04 LTS arrived but got stuck in the publishing queue. We expect that to work as well on this platform given Ubuntu 18.04.4 LTS works and the fact that it is using relatively standard hardware.

Next, we are going to discuss performance and power consumption before getting to our final thoughts on the platform.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Aesthetics
8.5
Performance
9.3
Feature Set
9.0
Value
8.4
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Will has worked in both big enterprise and small business IT since 2001. As a perpetual dabbler, he is always open to new solutions for old problems. That said, his personal IT motto has to be "if it's not broke, don't fix it" so sometimes the old ways are best

16 COMMENTS

  1. Will – thanks for this review. I have waited three years to see a uATX board with x8/x8 slots. Good points about the low transfer speeds over the BMC, and the DIMM s
    ots. Those are real problems. I have been keeping my eye on this board but it looks like it still needs some polish.

  2. Is it normal for the serial port to be male like that? I would have thought 9-pin female was standard for onboard serial.

  3. HedRat,
    DB9 serial ports are male, the cables are female.

    emerth,
    Despite the problems, they’re not insurmountable and I still think that both the X470D4U boards have merit. A taller cooler easily mitigates the DIMM issue, and while the BMC is slow that only really comes into effect during installation of an OS. For day-to-day access like rebooting the system over the IPKVM, it has no effect.

  4. I wonder if STH has actual measurements (dimensions) of the DIMMs they used that made contact with the AMD cooler? Even the exact manufactuer, model, and part number info of the DRAM used in this test would be helpful; some manufacturers might vary their product over time. Any detailed info might help buyers considering their DRAM selection when using that cooler.

  5. StiggyB,
    I hope so as well!

    Sleepy,
    For all the benchmarks and testing, I was running some low profile ECC memory. It didn’t much matter when running two sticks though, since ASRR’s recommended memory installation is in slots 2 and 4 to start with. When I first received the board, however, I plugged in some standard desktop memory (Corsair Vengeance LPX CMK32GX4MA2666C16) just for testing. This stuff does have a heatsink on it, but it’s not extraordinarily tall or anything and is barely taller than a naked DIMM. Here is a picture of one of those sticks, next to a naked stick so you can see they are essentially the same size. https://i.imgur.com/IV6pMI8.png

    With the low profile memory and the stock heatsink, you *may* be able to run a stick in the first slot, but it would be tight and you definitely would not be able to add or remove that memory without first taking off the heatsink & fan. With the Corsair memory, or anything shaped like, they are fundamentally incompatible and a cooler with more clearance is necessary.

  6. Hello,
    sorry for my english, I’m not native speaker. I’ve been using ASRR X470D4U-2T for ten months without any problem. My CPU cooler been changed to NH-C12P SE14, which have no contact with memory slot. My config is X470 + R7 3700x + 4 x 16 GB Micron 18ASF2G72AZ-2G6D1 + SAS 2008 controller and Proxmox 6.2

    Some pictures > https://imgur.com/gallery/2ihlrMM

  7. To bad that with a DIY home server setup you’re mostly forced into using UDIMMs (not counting old second hand server hardware) which are stupidly pricey.
    Really wish those prices went down, or the CPU’s support Registered ECC DIMMs.

  8. i have a threadripper for home server : main feature like double wifi rgblight control fan speed is only with windows ,iommu group is very large , no remote control like ipmi
    no more amd ryzen o TR maybe now i’m thinking to sell TR to buy a xeon or epyc entry level

  9. I like these boards other than just being the only real alternative to intel for x86 small servers.
    Having all the pcie slots coming off the cpu means is good for the add in cards and the non-2t version gives an option on the x4 for networking that I prefered and the pch contains all the onboard storage by default. It’s limited to x4 pcie so having half speeds on the double nvme drives can saturate that bus even before anything is attached to the sata array. It feels pretty well balanced in those terms considering the obvious limits of thse boards when derived from mainstream parts.

    @sleepy
    I’ve also had one of these boards using 4 corsair vengeance LPX modules and an r5 3600.
    Using all four modules had a significant impact on the fins of the stealth cooler so this board probably doesn’t obey the am4 guidelines.
    Using some destructive interferance it was possible to get it to work though. Dismantling the fan on top of the stealth was necessary and then bending the fins out of the way it was able to fit in tightly, and like Will found, there is still some contact between the ram and cpu heatsinks. (also cable tied a 120mm fan on top that got in the way of the usb3 header.

    Our long term solution was an artic alpine 64gt cooler. Dirt cheap, uses the default bracket so it’s easy to install but it’s only rated to 70w so high end cpus will need to run in eco mode. We’re running our 3600 at 45w eco mode for the extra headroom in our poor enviroment.

  10. I wonder if this motherboard will work with the NH-9Lx65, I’m going to put this in a 2U case so I need a low profile fan. Did anyone try it out?

  11. I am looking at the 1u servers based on this board as an option for game servers. A 3950x with 128gb of ram would be ideal for running my IL-2 Great battles and DCS World game servers while taking very little rack space

  12. I have the x470d4u board and use the Bequiet Dark rock 4. Since it’s my enthusiast “home server” in a FD R5 case i obtained the shorter mounting brackets to change the cooler orientation 90°. That creates clearance for all the memory slots. With original mounting brackets the first slot is blocked.
    I equipped 2xkingston 2666MHz ECC dimms in my system.

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