ASRock H370M-ITX/ac: The single shot?

In terms of connection, the H370 chipset is one step above the B360. So, how would you go about utilising the extra HSIO paths within the confines of a Mini-ITX board?

Maybe you could put some M.2 slots on the underside? Despite the inbuilt 3.1, perhaps you’d add a pair of PCIe-based USB 3.0 controllers to round out the I/O panel with extra ports? Then, perhaps, you’d use that integrated USB 3.1 controller to power 10Gb/s ports on both the I/O panel and the front panel?

Those features were not part of ASRock’s design for this around-$110 board. Let’s see what was.

Specifications

Rather than try to build a high-end board from a mainstream chipset, ASRock configured the H370M-ITX/ac as a low-cost board with a few added features, such as dual Gigabit Ethernet and a 433Mb/s Wi-Fi controller. Integrated USB appears to be the firm’s primary impetus for using the H370 rather than B360, as we find the eight high-bandwidth ports split as four USB 3.1 and two USB 3.0 ports on the back, plus a two-port front-panel USB 3.0 header. Two USB 2.0 ports allow users to connect a keyboard and mouse without dipping into the chipset’s USB 3.0/3.1 limitations.

Buyers will also receive three onboard graphics outputs in the form of two HDMI outputs and one DisplayPort output. Given the abundance of standard features, we’re left to wonder about the lack of Type-C connectors. Isn’t it true that the latest generation of smartphones has pushed those into the mainstream?

The H370M-ITX/top ac’s features a single M.2 slot and two DIMM slots, six SATA ports, one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 front-panel header, three four-pin fan connectors, front-panel audio, and a TPM module interface. Nothing is in the way of the single PCIe x16 slot, although a large CPU cooler could prevent access to the two SATA ports on the inboard side of the DIMM slots. The M.2 Key-E Wi-Fi controller is housed in a special riser module, however there is no CNVi support if you want to upgrade to Intel’s new 1.73Gb/s card.

The H370M-ITX/ac, unlike a shot of espresso, is probably not as strong as the standard grind: When utilising Prime95 with the Core i7-8700K, the six-phase voltage regulator features 60A-rated chokes, however current limit throttling is employed to safeguard the MOSFETs from overload. As a result, we avoided such extremes. Recognizing that a $300+ processor is out of reach for most consumers, we’re testing these boards using the Core i3-8350K. For what it’s worth, we’re also advised that increasing the power threshold when using high-end Core i7s is safe, because any true overload would trip the thermal trigger before any damage was done.

The H370M-ITX/ac comes with a manual, an I/O shield, a driver disc, two SATA cables, two Wi-Fi antennas, and a foil case badge.

Firmware

The BIOS of the H370M-ITX/ac opens to a “Easy Mode” interface where users can do little more than configure the boot sequence, SATA RAID mode, and fan profile. Slapping the F6 key on the keyboard brings up the Advanced Mode GUI, which includes an OC Tweaker menu. That’s a relic that would be better suited to a board with overclocking capabilities that the H370 chipset lacks.

The OC Tweaker menu contains submenus for CPU, DRAM, and Voltage setting, as well as storage for up to five user-defined configurations and the option to transfer them to and from a USB flash drive.

Because the chipset limits a CPU’s memory controller to DDR4-2666, and our CPU is further limited to DDR4-2400, the best method to improve memory performance is through latency optimization. Tuning enthusiasts have access to a complete set of primary through tertiary timings, as well as a plethora of other memory settings.

Though some users have experimented with underclocking to achieve optimal power-per-performance levels, the H370M-ITX/ac lacks the ability to lower processor frequency and/or voltage. Because DRAM is still adjustable, the board keeps the voltage adjustment.

Users can switch from Easy to Advanced mode by using the Advanced menu in Advanced mode. (We’ll wait while you read it a few times to make sure it’s clear.)

The Tools section contains an email sender for ASRock support, a “RAID Installer” that copies drivers to a USB flash drive, a firmware flash utility for USB flash drives, an ASRock server-polling utility for new firmware files, and a network configuration page that allows users to configure the onboard controller for any custom network settings needed to use the other internet-based tools.

Only one of the fan headers has the ability to switch from PWM to voltage-based speed control. The FAN-Tastic Tuning menu lets users choose from pre-existing slopes or construct their own.

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