AMD A320 series chipset build report

The first and second generation Ryzen processors are getting pretty darn cheap, and for products released in 2018 still represent a good value for people looking to upgrade if they haven’t in a few years. I’ve still got one child using a 2nd gen i3 system as his daily workstation for homeschooling, although we just upgraded his brother from an even older Core2 Duo system to a Ryzen 3 3200 (he wanted to build a computer with Dad, and wanted to play Portal 2, so we did a build together).

Along the way I ended up with a refurbed MSI A320 motherboard (got it for cheap) and so I finished the build with a Ryzen 1600AF processor (the Zen+ architecture marketed as 1st generation). I repurposed an older Radeon 460 graphics card (also by MSI, ironically making this the first time in years I’ve had the same brand of mobo and graphics card in the same case) since the CPU didn’t come with Vega graphics. I loaded Elementary OS on it, and after some updates and tweaks the computer is running fine.

The good, it works and can be had for very cheap prices. The bad: you are very limited on expansion, and are essentially limited to Ryzen gen 1 and 2 for many of the boards. If you just want a computer that can do general productivity and run games, the A320 chipset will be fine. But you’ll struggle with a max memory limit of 32 gigabytes for bigger chores like rendering or other heavy multi-threaded workloads where RAM is the limiting factor for performance. However, if your normal workload is web based and office suite software (word processor, spreadsheet, etc) then the limitations of the chipset will never impact your user experience.

So…would I recommend an A320 based motherboard? Yes. For most people running office software, web browsing, streaming, and gaming it is completely fine. Because AMD will have to eventually transition away from the AM4 socket the limited upgrade pathway means that the extra cost of buying an additional motherboard in the future is going to be a requirement to transition away from AM4.

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