ASRock Rack X470D4U - Ryzen Server Board

Nov 27, 2001
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After running into random issues with my Unraid server, I decided I'd replace its "aging" components based around a Core i5-4670k. Given that I was under the impression that Unraid and Plex didn't support hardware transcoding, I wanted to get something with a little more processing power to handle transcodes. (More on that later.) I ended up deciding to go with a Ryzen CPU, but I ran into another problem... Ryzen doesn't have a built-in GPU like (most of) the mainstream Core CPUs do. So, I ended up looking into server-based boards with IPMI, which is when I stumbled upon... the ASRock Rack X470D4U.

The X470D4U is an interesting board given that it's one of the two Ryzen server boards available. The other is from Tyan, which I've heard is a bit of vaporware right now. Albeit, the ASRock Rack board isn't much better due to it being out of stock on pretty much all major retailers. However, I managed to get my hands on one after finding a UK retailer selling them on eBay. (I also found that a lot of German retailers were selling them, but only to German and/or EU residents.) I got the board in late last week and set it up this weekend.

New Components:
AMD Ryzen 7 2700
32GB (16GB x 2) Crucial DDR4 2666 ECC UDIMM
Corsair Force MP510 960GB

The remaining components were reused from my previous build, which include things such as reflashed LSI raid cards (in IT mode), GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, and a Corsair PSU. It's also worth noting that my RAM sticks are dual-rank, so they're limited to 2400. I did have to manually set this limitation (I did get a post error prior to doing so).

As for my thoughts on the motherboard, probably the biggest thing to talk about is the IPMI. One nice advantage is that the IPMI works through HTML5, which means you don't need Java installed like other vendors or installing a Virtual Box appliance like with ASUS. I haven't done a lot with it just yet, but I have updated both the BIOS and BMC Firmware as well as used it for remote control purposes. Another nice little bonus is that the board has a significant number of fan headers on it -- I believe six. That allowed me to really clean up some of the cabling in my build, but I am seeing a weird issue with my CPU fan not starting up properly. I usually have to nudge the blades with my finger to get them to start spinning. (The fan port has an LED to indicate no RPM reported too.)

As for the negatives, well... I knew one of them before I even received the board: it's micro-ATX. This isn't a bad thing, but I would've loved to have more PCI-E slots available. This is even more important due to the lack of 10Gb Ethernet, which means you'd have to dedicate a slot to an expansion card. Another small issue relating to Unraid is that the board only has two external USB 3 ports and one internal USB 3 header. The Unraid thumb drive takes up one port, which only leaves 3 left. In my case, I ended up ordering an NZXT Internal USB Hub along with a USB 3 to USB 2 conversion cable. (My Norco RPC-4220 only has external USB 2 anyway.)

In regard to transcoding, I found out that it actually is possible to transcode in Plex on Unraid now. So, my push for more cores ended up being a little bit of a waste. I did actually consider going a bit crazy with an Epyc build given that I could get an ATX board with 10Gb Ethernet and IPMI, but the CPU cost made me shy away (~$200 vs ~$700 for eight cores).

So, overall... would I recommend this board? If you're fine with the limitation on I/O that comes with its smaller stature, then yes. It's a good board for someone looking to build a cheaper home server with a heavier core count that avoids the "Intel tax".
 

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