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Upgrade time for the travel-weary one

Which path should I take?

  • i7-8700 + Z390

    Votes: 6 33.3%
  • R7 2700 + X470

    Votes: 3 16.7%
  • Wait another year

    Votes: 9 50.0%

  • Total voters
    18
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#1
She's got dust, a good number of marks and scratches from all the places she's been in the past few years, and the 1510 has that many more scrapes (and stickers :D).

I'm thinking it's time to step up to a more recent platform. Why? Well, Devil's Canyon is a great platform, but due to a number of different reasons, I'm feeling a particularly serious upgrade itch.
  • 4790K is hot AF. I'm not kidding. I'm in a position where I can't (nor would I want to) tame it with water, and despite punching well above its weight (and size), the NH-D9L really, really feels the heat when all four cores are coming online even at their stock turbo table max clocks. For the past two years, I've resorted to limiting it artificially to 3.5GHz across all four cores, but that in turn bars the 4790K from competing with the latest silicon in the only way it knows how: clockspeed. I didn't exactly win the silicon lottery either, so my 4790K requires a good helping of voltage, which isn't exactly conducive to thermals. Needless to say, it probably wasn't 5GHz material to begin with, not that I could have accommodated that sort of hellish heat.
  • The H97N-WIFI was never a very feature-laden board at any point in time; it was simply the most logical replacement for an absolute bargain-basement MSI H81I that succumbed to PCB flex early on. I'm thinking that I would like to take advantage of M.2 sooner or later, whether in SATA or NVMe form, which would allow me to run 3 SSDs without the need for a perpetually-connected external 2.5" enclosure, which takes up a precious USB port. It would most likely be beneficial to have an extra fan header as well. Currently, the newest drive (Blue) displaced the oldest drive (850 EVO) into external storage. The NCase only really comfortably fits 2 x 2.5" drives under the front panel, in the manner that it's currently set up. I'm can't remember why it is this way, but the provided USB 3.0 front header cable fails to reach the header on the motherboard, so I've never managed to make use of the front ports.
  • There's nothing wrong with the Fury DDR3 kit that has been trudging along in there, but in the spirit of keeping with the times, it's probably a smart idea to step up to DDR4 and invest in a 32GB kit, to perpetuate my poor Chrome tab-closing habits (or lack thereof :D).
It's a bit of a tossup, though. The way I see it, I've got 3 choices:
  1. Intel. i7-8700. I'm over the -K hype. I just want something with improved IPC to support the few archaic games I still have, while still being part of the MOAR CORES trend. As for boards, it's a choice between the Asus Z390 Strix, ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming, and the ASRock Z390M-ITX/ac. The former two are the showy wallet killers (while they do have impressively well-rounded feature sets, being top-end boards), and the latter is the practical choice with one significant advantage: 8 USB ports. But the Phantom is the priciest, and the ITX/ac has a questionably outdated audio set and (sadly) 2 fan headers, so this battle is still a stalemate.
  2. AMD. Ryzen 2700. I took a hiatus from the PC scene on the eve of AMD's astonishing redemption, but from what I have seen, the refresh is promising. The only reservation on the CPU side is that the slightly lower single threaded performance and the lower clock designed to meet the 65W TDP result in too little a difference to justify the upgrade. It reminds me of the Vishera days, how those extra cores are all for naught unless you can use them (obviously, the current situation in AM4 is much preferable to AM3+). There's barely any cost savings to be had in my case; I won't be settling for a gimped B-series chipset, so the Asus X470 Strix is quite literally the only option.
  3. Wait another year. It could also make sense to wait for the release of Ice Lake and Zen 2, but that would mean being stuck in awkward external storage limbo until that time. I just purchased the 1TB Blue 3D at a really good price thanks to a combination of Dell rewards and a surprise sale, but I don't see any more 2.5" drives in my future, given how M.2 has exploded in popularity. And it's not without reason - I don't wish to repeat the frustrating contortion it took to make 90 degree SATA connectors and two closely stacked SSDs work together under the NCase's front panel.
And no, I'm not moving out of the NCase, despite the recent release of many smaller and more exciting enclosures. The M1, padded dividers, and the 1510 work together to make the perfect transport-friendly setup. Looking forward to hearing your suggestions on the matter. There is much I still have to learn.
 
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#2
RAM price is down now. I say go for it. Why not 9700K or 9900K?

OR if you can wait around July Zen2 will probably be available by then. Low SSD price, low DRAM price and new~ish GPUs. Best timing for building a PC in a few years.
 
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#3
RAM price is down now. I say go for it. Why not 9700K or 9900K?

OR if you can wait around July Zen2 will probably be available by then. Low SSD price, low DRAM price and new~ish GPUs. Best timing for building a PC in a few years.
I guess I'm just accustomed to how cheap and accessible DDR3 has become; 2x16GB DDR4 kits are a bit on the expensive side, methinks. But it's an expense I can't avoid in any way, so I hardly mind.

The i7-9700K is a bit of an intriguing specimen, being an 8C/8T part. It's priced at $529, as opposed to the i7-8700 at $439, so I've been thinking long and hard about the age-old question of "do I really need those extra cores". The 9700K also requires reconsideration of thermals, as 95W is pushing it for a 12.5L case on air; from what I'm hearing, I have less confidence about my ability to sustain 8-core full load at max stock turbo, given Intel's power draw during the whole PL1/2 shebang. The i9-9900K is at $699 and simply a terrible value proposition for me if I'm already unsure whether I can handle the 9700K.

I read on Anand that Hyperthreading vulnerabilities could have played a role in Intel's decision to omit it from the 9700K. That makes the choice between the 8700 and 9700K an interesting one. I'll keep the 1070 - it's enough for 4K for most games and 1440p for a few.
 

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#4
I voted 8700. I think the 9900K would be worth stretching for if you can, since it's got the full 8 cores and overclocks well giving a decent performance boost over what you currently have, but I suspect it might be too expensive.
 
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#5
Zen 2 is just around the corner. I'd wait for that, or 2700x if you are in a hurry and upgrade later.
I'd still hold for a bit, because of PCIe 4.0.
 
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#6
If your focus is only on gaming then the intel if not then ryzen but they both are perfectly fine.

The 8700 has 6/12 and Hyper-Threading vs 9700 8/8 no Hyper-Threading but their performance difference is not that much.

Ryzen 3 and x570 should be released in mid 2019 if you can wait and then see what the numbers say.
 
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#7
I'd personally wait a little longer and just see what AMD bring to the table.. If you've waited this long, a few more months might not hurt unless you have cash burning away in your pocket you would like to get rid of :)
 
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#8
Wait. 8700 non-K is a silly overpriced chip and won't be noticeably faster than a Ryzen CPU. The whole point of Intel is precisely the K-version to extract higher clocks. Combined with the marginally better IPC, that is a noticeable advantage especially for single threaded scenarios.

The 9700K is also silly overpriced and certainly not a better chip than an 8700K. If you can name me one scenario where 8/8 is going to shine over a 6/12, I guess I stand corrected, but having my doubts :D
 

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#10
Zen 2 is just around the corner. I'd wait for that, or 2700x if you are in a hurry and upgrade later.
I'd still hold for a bit, because of PCIe 4.0.
That's a good point; I had forgotten about PCIe 4.0. In light of Zen 2 being closer than I had thought, Pinnacle Ridge is definitely less enticing.

The issue with waiting will be to see how many mITX boards make it out at Zen 2's launch. Currently, there's only a singular X470 board available, and that doesn't bode well, given that board is also more expensive than all the aforementioned Z390 boards.

Wait. 8700 non-K is a silly overpriced chip and won't be noticeably faster than a Ryzen CPU. The whole point of Intel is precisely the K-version to extract higher clocks. Combined with the marginally better IPC, that is a noticeable advantage especially for single threaded scenarios.

The 9700K is also silly overpriced and certainly not a better chip than an 8700K. If you can name me one scenario where 8/8 is going to shine over a 6/12, I guess I stand corrected, but having my doubts :D
8700K might be clocked 500MHz higher, but unless something drastic has changed since Haswell, I'm still worried about the heat. Devil's Canyon was said to have better TIM, didn't really make it that much cooler than anything Haswell. 9600K/9700K/9900K are said to have soldered heatspreaders, yet I'm seeing a number of SFF builders saying that they have trouble taming the 8 cores with anything less than a 120mm tower once Turbo starts ramping up. Maybe I'll just have to resort to limiting Boost again.

I just realized that the 2700X does have a soldered heatspreader. I have no reference as to AMD post-Vishera thermals, though. If anyone with experience can chime in on how hot Zen+ gets, that would be great.
 
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#11
That's a good point; I had forgotten about PCIe 4.0. In light of Zen 2 being closer than I had thought, Pinnacle Ridge is definitely less enticing.

The issue with waiting will be to see how many mITX boards make it out at Zen 2's launch. Currently, there's only a singular X470 board available, and that doesn't bode well, given that board is also more expensive than all the aforementioned Z390 boards.



8700K might be clocked 500MHz higher, but unless something drastic has changed since Haswell, I'm still worried about the heat. Devil's Canyon was said to have better TIM, didn't really make it that much cooler than anything Haswell. 9600K/9700K/9900K are said to have soldered heatspreaders, yet I'm seeing a number of SFF builders saying that they have trouble taming the 8 cores with anything less than a 120mm tower once Turbo starts ramping up. Maybe I'll just have to resort to limiting Boost again.

I just realized that the 2700X does have a soldered heatspreader. I have no reference as to AMD post-Vishera thermals, though. If anyone with experience can chime in on how hot Zen+ gets, that would be great.
Solder or not is irrelevant. The CPU produces heat, and it needs to go somewhere. Whether that happens through solder or toothpaste makes no difference wrt cooling capacity required. This is further underlined by the 9700K/9900K that run just as hot while being soldered.

With a nice topflow air cooler I'm quite sure you can keep an 8700K under control even in a smaller space, just don't clock it all the way to the edge, but stay within a reasonable efficiency curve. No need to chase 5 Ghz. 4.6~4.8 all core is very nice as well and you can probably do this with a vcore around 1.25~1.33v depending on chip quality. That puts your TDP at about 100-120W, very manageable.

Regardless, if you're on the wait it out path, stay on it. Also having high hopes for Zen ;)
 
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#13
IIRC the K SKU has a higher TDP so it has better turbo performance.
https://digiworthy.com/2017/12/07/core-i7-8700-vs-8700k-fast-platform/

ComputerBase also tested the 8th Gen CPUs in the ALDI Medion Erazer X67015 gaming PC. There was no difference in performance in games with comparatively low CPU load, but that wasn’t the case with applications. The Core i7-8700 performed 7-19% lower compared to its elder sibling on all-core turbo.
 
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#14
At this point waiting an other 1/2 year for Zen 2 makes the most sense, as long as the current system runs fine. I'm sitting on my 3770K @5GHz and wanted to upgrade right around the time of Meltdown/Spectre ... fuck that, fixes in silicon > software patches. Ofc that wasn't the only reason, but that led me to wait+see and Intel releasing 8c/16t chips while being stuck on "old" 14nm tech.
Zen2 8/16t @ around 4.5 GHz (according to rumors) doesn't sound bad if they also manage to increase IPC by 10% considering Intels pricing for their 8 core chips.
 
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#15
Solder or not is irrelevant. The CPU produces heat, and it needs to go somewhere. Whether that happens through solder or toothpaste makes no difference wrt cooling capacity required. This is further underlined by the 9700K/9900K that run just as hot while being soldered.

With a nice topflow air cooler I'm quite sure you can keep an 8700K under control even in a smaller space, just don't clock it all the way to the edge, but stay within a reasonable efficiency curve. No need to chase 5 Ghz. 4.6~4.8 all core is very nice as well and you can probably do this with a vcore around 1.25~1.33v depending on chip quality. That puts your TDP at about 100-120W, very manageable.

Regardless, if you're on the wait it out path, stay on it. Also having high hopes for Zen ;)
I tried top-down, and it doesn't seem to work very well, especially when all the heat blown over the board in all directions has nowhere left to go. Both the L9i and L9x65 were inadequate, although I would heartily recommend the L9x65 for a lower-end SKU. The NH-L12 is also out of my league as it presented clearance issues each time I looked at it. I've run with the NH-D9L (the miniature D14) for some time, with the NF-A9 sandwiched in the middle, NF-A9 blowing out the back of the case, and a NF-F12 blowing into the case right next to the D9L. It's the only 92mm tower that can fit at 115mm height; the other 92s like my ancient U9B and the new U9S are too much at 125mm. Thinking about it, I can probably add another A9 to the "pull" position on the D9L, memory clearance permitting.

It's slowly coming back to me now; I imposed those limits on the 4790K because I wanted gaming temps below 65 degrees, and max load below 75, which really aren't anywhere close to the "limit". So it looks like I have a bit more breathing room than I had previously imagined.

I'm definitely on the wait path at this point. I'll probably wait for the top end 8C -K SKU; no point in intentionally handicapping Zen (which is already behind Intel in IPC) by bringing down the clocks with a lower-power 2700. Performance differences to the 2700K look to be actually sizeable in reviews.

IIRC the K SKU has a higher TDP so it has better turbo performance.
https://digiworthy.com/2017/12/07/core-i7-8700-vs-8700k-fast-platform/
That article seems to be more a criticism of OEM builders and their lackluster boards than of the i7-8700 itself. In the Z390 Aorus board it did just fine - so many boards run some form of Multi-Core Enhancement nowadays, and I'm only looking towards fully fledged chipsets like the Z390 or X470 anyways. You could say I've had enough of FOMO with H81 and H97, lol. The OE board intentionally reins in the CPU under the 65W TDP (PL2??) to satisfy Intel's specifications.

At this point waiting an other 1/2 year for Zen 2 makes the most sense, as long as the current system runs fine. I'm sitting on my 3770K @5GHz and wanted to upgrade right around the time of Meltdown/Spectre ... fuck that, fixes in silicon > software patches. Ofc that wasn't the only reason, but that led me to wait+see and Intel releasing 8c/16t chips while being stuck on "old" 14nm tech.
Zen2 8/16t @ around 4.5 GHz (according to rumors) doesn't sound bad if they also manage to increase IPC by 10% considering Intels pricing for their 8 core chips.
9600K/9700K/9900K are new silicon as well, implementing hardware mitigations for two attack methods. Regardless, I'm looking forward to seeing what Matisse and Ice Lake bring to the table.
 
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#16
  1. AMD. Ryzen 2700. I took a hiatus from the PC scene on the eve of AMD's astonishing redemption, but from what I have seen, the refresh is promising. The only reservation on the CPU side is that the slightly lower single threaded performance and the lower clock designed to meet the 65W TDP result in too little a difference to justify the upgrade. It reminds me of the Vishera days, how those extra cores are all for naught unless you can use them (obviously, the current situation in AM4 is much preferable to AM3+). There's barely any cost savings to be had in my case; I won't be settling for a gimped B-series chipset, so the Asus X470 Strix is quite literally the only option.
Why are you not considering the B450 chipset? It is not a gimped chipset, it only has less sata / usb ports and doesn't support multi GPU, something I don't think you will miss on a ITX build anyway. MSI B450I GAMING PLUS AC is a very decent itx board. Also there is the Asrock X470 fatality ITX so the Asus is not the only option. I would also consider the 2600x or 2700x which would boost higher depending on your cooling and I have seen multiple reports online where people actually use negative offset for XFR which would help your temps

 
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#17
Hard to make a recommendation w/o knowing anticipated uses but ... if gaming:

1) I have assumed given your existing MoBo and case that we are talking another ITX build.

2) And also assumed you are talking about the "ASUS ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming Motherboard LGA1151 (Intel 8th and 9th Gen) Mini ITX" as one of your MoBo choices.


A. DDR3 is not supported.

B. Unless doing workstation like work (rendering, animation, video editing or something atypical), don't really see an advantage to 32 GB... 2 x 16GB would be my choice.

C. If not going "k" series, I would rethink the Z chipset on MoBo. However ... be well aware that the "bargain chipsets" also tend to go low budget on LAN and audio subsystems for example ALC 887 instead of the standard gaming ALC 1220 chipset. By the time you find a MoBo, with the better LAN / Audio etc, you are about the same price as a Z series board. And at that point, why not spring for the k series ?

D. I have not found an issue with Intels soldering / whatever solutions other than Ivy Bridge ... on every OC we've done we hit the voltage wall well before we hit the temperature wall. Of course , cooler limitations in an ITX case could change that,

E. Similar to the RAM amount, do you use any apps that will actually benefit fro the 9900k's cores, if it's gaming, today it's hard to recommend anything greater than 9600k assuming you in this budget range.

https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Intel/Core_i5_9600K/20.html

The Core i5-9600K should bring a smile to the faces of PC gamers. It's a fantastic way to offset the cost of NVIDIA's latest GeForce RTX graphics cards, which are relatively pricey, by choosing this processor over the pricier Core i7-9700K, or even the i9-9900K, but more on that later...... When it comes to gaming, the i5-9600K is a "look no further" option for those who mainly game on their PC and don't use the same machine for making money (i.e., productivity that can leverage high multi-threaded processors). Across all our game resolutions, the i5-9600K stays ahead of all AMD processors in our bench, and more importantly, performs within 1–2% of the significantly pricier Core i7-9700K. At our most "academic" resolution, 720p, which highlights CPU bottlenecks in a gaming PC, the mighty i9-9900K ends up just 2.6% faster than the i5-9600K. This lead is narrowed to around 1.6% in 1080p and 1440p resolutions, and a paltry 0.4% at 4K UHD resolution.
The Ryzen 2700 is the most cost comparative option ... from a gaming standpoint, you can look at this:

Gaming https://tpucdn.com/reviews/Intel/Core_i5_9600K/images/relative-performance-games-1920-1080.png

As for tasks that benefit from higher core counts, unfortunately many of them are stuff that most don't actually do frequently .. like zipping 100s of files, running P95 or encrypting
here's some more common tasks ... look at pages 5-11 for other tasks / apps that may be relevant to your situation.

https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Intel/Core_i5_9600K/7.html
https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Intel/Core_i5_9600K/6.html
 
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#18
Why are you not considering the B450 chipset? It is not a gimped chipset, it only has less sata / usb ports and doesn't support multi GPU, something I don't think you will miss on a ITX build anyway. MSI B450I GAMING PLUS AC is a very decent itx board. Also there is the Asrock X470 fatality ITX so the Asus is not the only option. I would also consider the 2600x or 2700x which would boost higher depending on your cooling and I have seen multiple reports online where people actually use negative offset for XFR which would help your temps
I dunno, just had consistently poor experiences with lower-tier chipsets in the past.

I live in Canada. For the longest time, the Asus X470 board was the only X470 board in ITX. It seems the ASRock has recently come back into stock. As for the aforementioned MSI board, I'm not a fan of RT8111 (by contrast, Intel GBe and Killer have been fine) or ALC887. Seems like a lot to ask for $170. The cheapest B450 ITX board here is the Aorus, which is actually a decent board. But I do like the higher end boards for the extra USB-C port on the back; my external enclosure and phone both use it (unfortunately, none of the AMD boards have them). # of USB ports are pretty important to me, I usually have them all in use at any given time. 6 just doesn't cut it anymore.

I'm going to cross my fingers and hope that X570 comes with more ITX releases. It's plausible, given that Matisse will be a full release while Pinnacle Ridge was only a refresh. Thanks for the clockspeed graph, I knew the 2700 had to limit itself somewhere to meet 65W, I just didn't know exactly how it was.

Hard to make a recommendation w/o knowing anticipated uses but ... if gaming:

A. DDR3 is not supported.

B. Unless doing workstation like work (rendering, animation, video editing or something atypical), don't really see an advantage to 32 GB... 2 x 16GB would be my choice.

C. If not going "k" series, I would rethink the Z chipset on MoBo. However ... be well aware that the "bargain chipsets" also tend to go low budget on LAN and audio subsystems for example ALC 887 instead of the standard gaming ALC 1220 chipset. By the time you find a MoBo, with the better LAN / Audio etc, you are about the same price as a Z series board. And at that point, why not spring for the k series ?

D. I have not found an issue with Intels soldering / whatever solutions other than Ivy Bridge ... on every OC we've done we hit the voltage wall well before we hit the temperature wall. Of course , cooler limitations in an ITX case could change that,

As for tasks that benefit from higher core counts, unfortunately many of them are stuff that most don't actually do frequently .. like zipping 100s of files, running P95 or encrypting
A. Yes, I think I'm aware of that. lol

B. I am doing a bit of video editing nowadays and have been abhorrently negligent in closing chrome tabs (lol), but not quite to the level of saturating 16GB yet. But there's really no point to buying 16GB if I'm investing in a new platform that's going to go the distance just like Devil's Canyon has for the past few years. There are only 2 slots on ITX; if I ever find I need more with 2 x 16GB, that 2 x 8GB kit is going to waste, so what's the point in compromising in the first place? I can't just add a couple of sticks when the situation arises.

C. That's one of the reasons I don't opt for the lower chipsets. It's not the chipset itself that's the issue; it's that a good number of manufacturers don't regard such a board as being worthy of their better offerings when it comes to LAN, WLAN, audio and USB ports. I already have the middling ALC892 on the H97N-WIFI, so why would I shell out more money to go back to ALC887 when the industry standard at the higher end is ALC1220? Audio's a lesser issue, though, since I was using an E10K before it broke.

D. I'm fully aware that the 4790K is voltage-limited. I've also said a number of times that my circumstances dictate air cooling in the M1 and M1 only, and the best candidate that can fit in that case is the D9L. The D9L has trouble with the 4790K at full load in such an enclosed space.

Interestingly enough, I do actually zip 100s of files all the time....lol. I'm not considering the 9700K or 9900K at this time, though.
 
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#19
Well if you need more than 6xUSB ports on the I/O on a ITX board you are limited to Intel if I remember correct.

As for the price of the ASRock Z390 Phantom is because it of the onboard Intel Thunderbolt 3 that's more or less what you pay the premium for as for audio you can always get something external like a USB dac or something and go with the ASRock Z390M-ITX/ac.

Okay this here is just lame checking Amazon CA and I can see that the Phantom is like CDN$ 12 cheaper than the Z390M-ITX/ac :roll:

ASRock Z390M-ITX/ac for CDN$ 296.73: https://www.amazon.ca/ASRock-Z390M-ITX-AC-Motherboard/dp/B07HYPSLLS/
ASRock Z390 Phantom for CDN$ 284.71: https://www.amazon.ca/ASRock-Motherboard-Motherboards-Z370-Gaming-ITX/dp/B0763971VK/

I don't know your usual hardware stores in Canada since I am not anywhere near Canada or the US and @tabascosauz how you feel about buying from Amazon CA is it's cheaper?
 
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#20
Another vote for the next Zen cores... it'll just open up your options if anything.
 
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Benchmark Scores Chicken Invaders 5 maxed out @ 1080p @125+ FPS
#21
I dunno, just had consistently poor experiences with lower-tier chipsets in the past.

I live in Canada. For the longest time, the Asus X470 board was the only X470 board in ITX. It seems the ASRock has recently come back into stock. As for the aforementioned MSI board, I'm not a fan of RT8111 (by contrast, Intel GBe and Killer have been fine) or ALC887. Seems like a lot to ask for $170. The cheapest B450 ITX board here is the Aorus, which is actually a decent board. But I do like the higher end boards for the extra USB-C port on the back; my external enclosure and phone both use it (unfortunately, none of the AMD boards have them). # of USB ports are pretty important to me, I usually have them all in use at any given time. 6 just doesn't cut it anymore.

I'm going to cross my fingers and hope that X570 comes with more ITX releases. It's plausible, given that Matisse will be a full release while Pinnacle Ridge was only a refresh. Thanks for the clockspeed graph, I knew the 2700 had to limit itself somewhere to meet 65W, I just didn't know exactly how it was.
I think if you go higher end on B450 board or low end on X470 you won't see much difference in terms on quality, but then again also not in price. Look at the whole board as a package and not just the chipset. Furthermore I think all AM4 itx boards have 6 usb ports. The Asrock ones have USB-C but then 5 USB-As. And looking at the price of all X470 boards, the Asrock one is not overpriced. My MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon, which is a decent higher range X470 board, is the same price.

I can't comment on the lan chip but regarding soundcards, for me it doesn't really matter. In the end I can't hear the difference between my laptop, phone or PC when using my Sony WH-1000XM2 and that's the highest end Audio peripheral I have.
 
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#22
i say wait for zen2. there is a possibility that current boards may support pcie4 for all lanes wired to the cpu. if this is the case than i see no reason not to pick up a quality b350 or x370 board. they are likely to be dirt cheap and a mid to high range b350 or x370 should be plenty.

just hold.
 
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#23
Well if you need more than 6xUSB ports on the I/O on a ITX board you are limited to Intel if I remember correct.

As for the price of the ASRock Z390 Phantom is because it of the onboard Intel Thunderbolt 3 that's more or less what you pay the premium for as for audio you can always get something external like a USB dac or something and go with the ASRock Z390M-ITX/ac.

Okay this here is just lame checking Amazon CA and I can see that the Phantom is like CDN$ 12 cheaper than the Z390M-ITX/ac :roll:

I don't know your usual hardware stores in Canada since I am not anywhere near Canada or the US and @tabascosauz how you feel about buying from Amazon CA is it's cheaper?
I'm saddened that NCIX left the business a year or two ago; they used to be my go-to store for nigh everything because I could price match and drive to their warehouse or any store to pick things up. My choices nowadays are Memory Express (which has expanded brick-and-mortar stores in NCIX's absence) and Newegg (only drawback over the years is the shipping). Amazon.ca hasn't proven to be nearly as well-stocked as Amazon.co.uk in the past few years. Other stores are only useful for price match.

Now that I've looked over all the boards again, it does seem to be the case that only Intel has more than 6 rear USB. Slightly disappointing. The only way I can make 6 rear ports work is if I can get a hold of a USB 3.0 header extension, because the front cable in the M1 is incapable of reaching the board at the moment. I'm guessing Ice Lake will lag behind Matisse in release date as well.

Another vote for the next Zen cores... it'll just open up your options if anything.
Yep, waiting is the plan, nothing else really makes sense. On another note, that's one sharp-looking 5th gen RAM you have there. Fancy seeing another truck enthusiast on TPU. I've recently ditched a Canyon for an '18 F150 regular cab short bed with the 5.0 myself. If only FCA would start production of 5th gen regular cab as well, I would have easily been a convert.
 
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