ASRock Rack X570D4U-2L2T Review an AMD Ryzen Server Motherboard

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ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T Overview
ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T Overview

Today we are looking at the ASRock Rack X570D4U-2L2T. This board is a direct successor to the X470D4U and X470D4U2-2T that we previously covered, and maintains a mATX form factor, unlike the X570D4I-2T. When we covered the X470 boards, they presented an interesting concept that was somewhat roughly executed; with today’s review, we will see if ASRock Rack’s second-generation product has managed to deliver a more polished product than those first-gen efforts. 

ASRock Rack X570D4U-2L2T Overview

The ASRock Rack X570D4U-2L2T is a mATX motherboard measuring 9.6” x 9.6”. In that form factor, you get the AM4 socket which, at the time of our testing, accepts Ryzen 3000 series CPUs and Renoir 4000 series APUs.

ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T Socket AM4
ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T Socket AM4

The Ryzen CPUs provide dual-channel memory support, and the board has four slots accepting unbuffered ECC DDR4 at speeds up to DDR4-2933. Compared to the mITX X570D4I-2T, the 4 full-sized DIMM slots are a much more normal configuration.

ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T CPU Support
ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T CPU Support

The X570D4U-2L2T is built upon the AMD Socket AM4 platform and features the X570 chipset. Normally AM4 sockets support a wide range of CPUs available at different core counts, but this board is a bit different. The X570D4U-2L2T has a very limited list of CPUs on its official support list; thus far only the original Ryzen 3000 SKUs are supported, ranging from the 4-core APUs to the 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X. Noted as absent are the 4-core 3100 and 3300X chips, though the newer XT chips and Renoir 4000 series CPUs are now officially supported. Excluded from this list are any of the 1000 or 2000 series Ryzen CPUs, and I attempted to test a Ryzen 7 2700 and it did not boot.

Looking to the future, the X570 chipset has received support from AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series CPUs based on Zen 3, though as of when we tested this motherboard an updated BIOS incorporating that support has not yet been released. When that BIOS update is released, we will update this article.

ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T PCIe Expansion
ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T PCIe Expansion

Thanks to the upgrade to the X570 chipset, this motherboard is capable of PCIe Gen4 speeds. With the larger mATX form factor, connectivity is much expanded compared to the mITX board. The x16 slot, x8 slot, and one of the two M.2 slots are all directly connected to the CPU PCIe 4.0 lanes, and the X16 slot supports bifurcation as well. The chipset is then connected with an x4 PCIe 4.0 link, and from there the chipset serves up the second M.2 slot, the x1 PCIe slot, and the PCIe lanes used by the networking controllers. This does mean that the chipset PCIe 4.0 link is oversubscribed, potentially by a large amount if all of the chipset-connected devices are simultaneously utilized. PCIe connectivity is one of the major areas that the X570D4U series massively improves over the previous X470D4U boards, especially for users that care about M.2 NVMe speeds.

ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T SATA Ports
ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T SATA Ports

Plentiful SATA storage connectivity is present, with eight slots directly provided on the board and four more slots available through the use of an M.2 adapter. One of the onboard ports also supports powering a SATA DOM. 

ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T Rear IO
ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T Rear IO

Rear I/O is a bit better than the X470 boards that came before, but not much. There are only two USB 3.0 ports and a serial port. The VGA output and dedicated NIC for the ASPEED AST2500 are both still present, and still represent the defining feature of this board. In an improvement over both the X570D4I-2T and the previous X470D4U2-2T, the X570D4U-2L2T sports both two 10GbE connections powered by an Intel X550-AT2 controller, while retaining the two 1 GbE connections powered by an i210 controller. Also new is the HDMI output for use by APUs. One note, the shared interface for the AST2500 is on the 10 GbE NIC, not the 1 GbE NIC.

ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T ASpeed AST2500 BMC
ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T ASpeed AST2500 BMC

That ASPEED AST2500 is the baseboard management controller and is one of the two defining features of this motherboard, along with the dual 10Gbase-T networking. The BMC allows out of band management of the system, full remote KVM, and mounting of virtual media over the network.

ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T BMC KVM
ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T BMC KVM

Many of STH’s readers will be familiar with the ASPEED brand of BMC. ASPEED is commonly used on Inspur, Supermicro, Gigabyte, and other vendor boards. We also see them used in hyper-scale servers. An example is when we covered how Facebook Introduces Next-Gen Cooper Lake Intel Xeon Platforms. Its inclusion on a Ryzen board is very nearly unique at this point in time. If you need IPMI support from a Ryzen-based platform to be able to deploy and manage the server remotely, the offerings from ASRock Rack are essentially the only options around.

ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T Airflow
ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T Airflow

The system itself is set up for front to rear airflow as we would see in most server chassis. The X570, X550-T2, and VRM heatsinks are all oriented in this fashion, as are other components. When you construct a system around this platform, be mindful of airflow.

ASRock Rack X570D4U-2L2T Design Refinements

Avid STH readers may remember that in our review of the mITX X570D4I-2T, a lengthy section of the article was dedicated to all of the complexity of cooling that board. Additionally, readers with even longer memories will remember that the X470 boards had some memory slot clearance problems with certain coolers like the stock Ryzen 3600 cooler. Well, I am happy to report that no such troubles exist on the X570D4U-2L2T. Stock AMD coolers fit with ample clearance on this new board, and the socket does not have any of the Intel-style retention mechanism “uniqueness” that the mITX motherboard had. The only remaining cooling concern for this board compared to any other desktop-class X570 board is that the chipset is still passively cooled, where almost all X570 chipsets are actively cooled. As part of my testing, I once again verified that without airflow over the chipset heatsink, the system is unstable under load. A simple low-RPM 80mm fan pointed in the general direction of the chipset heatsink easily remedied this problem, but it is still a design consideration that end users will need to be aware of.

ASRock Rack X570D4U-2L2T Topology

We wanted to take a quick moment here to show the system topology. We described it in words above but seeing it helps. First, here is the block diagram:

ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T Block Diagram
ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T Block Diagram

One can clearly see the potential bandwidth contention problem caused by the single PCIe 4.0 x4 uplink between the X570 chipset and the CPU, since that same chipset provides multiple PCIe 4.0 and 3.0 links on its own to various devices, along with SATA and USB connectivity. Next up is the system topology:

ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T Topo
ASRock Rack X570D4U 2L2T Topo

Since this is based on Ryzen, it is a single NUMA node design. AMD EPYC 7001 8-core servers, such as those based on the AMD EPYC 7251 had four NUMA nodes which created a lot of inter-die traffic. With Ryzen, one does not have to worry about that on these lower-cost platforms.

Next, we are going to look at the CPU options, management, test configuration, and OS testing, before getting to performance and power consumption.

21 COMMENTS

  1. “One note, the shared interface for the AST2500 is on the 10 GbE NIC, not the 1 GbE NIC.”

    A word of warning that if you accidentally enable IPMI access to the 10 GbE NIC (eg. selecting link aggregation in the IPMI settings), it will wreak havoc with performance on that interface.

    I spent weeks trying pfSense tuning settings to figure out why performance was nowhere near 10 Gbps. It was only by accident that I noticed the IPMI setting and turned it off.

  2. Any comment on the lack of ECC report support?
    Will it still be able to correct smaller bit errors, don’t even know if ECC is capable of that?
    In my +25 year in the IT business I cannot remember I have ever ran into a computer that had corrupted modules in a way where ECC would have seemed to make any difference. As fare I can remember it has always been a matter of boot errors or the computer couldn’t see the module at all. Not saying it couldn’t be the case, but I can’t remember I’ve ran into the situation myself.

  3. Anyone has distributor in EU that could offer combo with chassis for this baby? If they can do QA before shiiping, I’m all in.

    Tnx

  4. “One note, the shared interface for the AST2500 is on the 10 GbE NIC, not the 1 GbE NIC.”

    Any particular reason why they did so ? 1 GbE was not enough for IPMI ?

  5. domih,
    I assume it was so that, under the assumption you only had a single available switch port to plug the server in with, that you could have both 10 GbE and IPMI access.

  6. @Datasaver/@Will Taillac:
    Both my Xeon D-15xx Boards draw more Power than servethehome has measured. I always wondered what I am doing wrong in configuring the systems, as power consumption is important for me.

    My X10SDV-TP8F idles at 26W with everything stripped except for 2*32GB RAM, a single mSATA-SSD and a small FAN at low revs. I use a 300W Gold PSU. “Power off/BMC only” is 7.5W in this configuration. Servethehome has measured 22.9W/4.9W for the X10SDV-4C+-TP4F in a test configuration with double the RAM and many SSDs. If I move closer to the test configuration used for the review of the board, I am at >30W/10W.
    I wonder where the difference comes from, especially since even if I assume that servethehome is measuring power with a simple configuration, at least my BMC only values are to high. One can argue that my board has an additional quad port i350 NIC, but even the X10SDV-7TP8F was measured at only 5.0W and it has my configuration +12 Cores +SAS-HBA

  7. @cspguy: RDIMMs are not supported on Ryzen or Threadripper, you have to go to EPYC to get RDIMM support. There’s nothing ASRock Rack can do about this, it’s a limitation from AMD.

  8. This board will do 3200M/T memory, as long as its only two sticks, according to Asrock. 4 sticks is 2933 if single rank, 2667 if dual rank (if i read their response correctly). They also confirmed that Ryzen 5000 support is coming sometime December or January.

    How would this board do in a workstation? I’ve been trying to make a compact desktop for work and gaming with 10gbe, but available components are sparse. Next best solution is some finagling with a pcie extender to make room for the chunky gpu.

  9. Hello,

    Does the motherboard includes an integrated, non-removable, backplate on the socket as the X570-D4I-2T ?

    Thanks !

  10. @Elsa,
    Yes. But it’s a standard AM4 backplate design, nothing Intel flavored like on the X570D4I-2T. The stock Ryzen 3600 cooler mounts just fine (wraith spire), as does the Wraith Prism.

    @Patrick,
    As a workstation board, this will do fine, though perhaps not better than any other X570 board. The BMC doesn’t do much for a workstation. On the other hand, it may actually be the least expensive X570 board with onboard 10 GbE networking, but you can always just get a ‘normal’ X570 board and an add-on PCIe 10 GbE NIC.

  11. What i really hate, also on the X399D8A, is that anoying slow media speed via BMC. Why, Asrock??? It’s almost impossible to use that for a reasonable remote installation e.g. of anything larger than a MSDOS image. Installing Windows or also TrueNAS/FreeBSD is a pain.
    Why the heck? My old X10SL7-F and X11SSH-CTF (both having the older AST2400) are also not fast, but much more bearable.
    And also, routing the BMC via 10GB at the X11SSH-CTF does not reduce 10G speed in my case.

    So, allthough i really would like to use the Ryzen Zen2 or 3 as a multipurpose home server, the Asrock Rack AMe/TR4 boards try to mimic server boards and present lots of server features, but are lacking in the end a good implementation.
    – only partial ECC features (even my B550M Tuf Gaming reports ECC to the OS)
    – almost impossible BMC media useage
    – slow memory speeds with 4 sticks (and we all know: memory speed is important for Ryzen)
    – it seems performance problems when routing BMC over the regular NICs
    – only limited attention for Bios updates.

    So, all in all, the plattform looks attractive at the first glance, but seems to lack enthusiasm in the details then leaving it with some quirks.

  12. @ZFSfan
    My understanding of the “ECC reporting” problem is that the OS will be aware of an ECC event, but the report does not travel ‘upstream’ to the BMC/IPMI environment, where it normally would on a normal ‘server-class’ platform. Since the BMC is where many sysadmins make their first stop when investigating a potential hardware issue, lack of memory reporting in the BMC log is a big deal.

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