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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.