Choosing The Right B550 Motherboard

Looking at the current discussion online around the launch of AMD's B550 chipset, a lot of fanfare and focus has been put on the price. There is a stark contrast in the current pricing of some B550 models when compared to models released two years ago for B450. Commonly referred to as AMD's mid-level budget chipset, it was thought B550 would bridge the gap somewhere between X470 and X570 while offering strong feature sets and the benefits of PCIe 4.0, but for a reduced price. It feels as if some vendors decided to unleash a few models with price tags of upwards of $200, with better controller sets, and more premium qualities which are more expected from the premium X570 chipset. Users might ask, if they're going to spend that much, why not go for X570 instead?

When it comes to picking a motherboard for a system, it will usually come down to one of three things, sometimes two or three, and sometimes all three are a necessity for the user; I'm talking about price, features, and aesthetic. The first of the three is the budget, which is varied across B550 dependent on the kind of feature. A large selection of the B550 product stack includes a 2.5 G Ethernet controller (Intel or Realtek), which is a huge step up considering B550 is supposed to be an entry-level alternative to X570. Not only 2.5 G, but Wi-Fi 6 is available on more than 12+ models, some models generally feature both which adds to the cost, but also gives superior networking capabilities to anything seen from the previous B450 chipset.

Although on paper, there isn't much difference between B450 and B550 with slightly more SATA available due to the removable of eSATA support, both remain PCIe 3.0 bound. The onus on expansion support comes down to vendors different implementations with some impressive designs, the most notable model coming via the GIGABYTE B550 Aorus Master. This is the only model to include support for more than one PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slot, in fact, it has three, not to mention the dual BIOS and three full-length PCIe slots which operate at PCIe 4.0 x16, and PCIe 3.0 x4/x4. This, of course, comes at a high price with an MSRP of $280, and it is one of the small handful of examples of B550 models pushing above and beyond X570 pricing.

Another model set apart from the rest is the GIGABYTE B550 Vision D, which includes an Intel Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 controller and adds two Type-C ports onto the rear panel, but opts for dual Gigabit Ethernet as opposed to 2.5 G and comes with an MSRP of $260.

The cheapest B550 motherboard at present is the GIGABYTE B550M DS3H which is a micro-ATX model, with a very basic feature set, and costs just $95; that's the price range MOST B450 models launched at. This is the point that needs to be brought across, PCIe 4.0 support doesn't seem to come cheap.

Regardless of the feature a user is looking for, below is a list of which models include specific features worth highlighting.

Choosing the Right B550 Motherboard
       Options Size Price
5 or 10 Gigabit Ethernet
None - add your own
Wi-Fi 6 / 802.11ax
ASRock B550 Taichi ATX $300
ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax mITX $200
ASUS ROG Strix B550-E Gaming ATX $280
ASUS ROG Strix B550-F Gaming Wifi ATX $210
ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming mITX $230
ASUS TUF Gaming B550M-Plus Wifi mATX $180
ASUS Prime B550M-A Wifi mATX $150
GIGABYTE B550 Aorus Master ATX $280
GIGABYTE B550I Aorus Pro AX mITX $180
GIGABYTE B550 Vision D ATX $260
MSI MPG B550 Gaming Carbon Wifi ATX $220
MSI MPG B550 Gaming Edge Wifi ATX $190
MSI MPG B550I Gaming Edge Wifi mITX $200
MSI MAG B550M Mortar Wifi mATX $170
2 or more PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2
GIGABYTE B550 Aorus Master ATX $280
8 or more SATA ports
ASRock B550 Taichi ATX $300
3 or more USB 3.2 G2 (Rear Panel)
ASUS ROG Strix B550-E Gaming ATX $280
ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming mITX $230
GIGABYTE B550 Aorus Master ATX $280
GIGABYTE B550 Vision D ATX $260
Thunderbolt 3
GIGABYTE B550 Vision D ATX $260
Dual BIOS
GIGABYTE B550 Aorus Master ATX $280
PCIe x8/x8 Bifurcation
ASRock B550 Taichi ATX $300
GIGABYTE B550 Aorus Master ATX $280
GIGABYTE B550 Vision D ATX $260
Mini-ITX
ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming ITX/ax mITX $200
ASRock B550M-ITX/ac mITX -
ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming mITX $230
GIGABYTE B550I Aorus Pro AX mITX $180
MSI MPG B550I Gaming Edge Wifi mITX $200
Type-C Audio
ASUS ROG Strix B550-E Gaming ATX $280
ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming mITX $230

In our previous round-ups, we have included which boards come with most commonly used audio codec, which for B550 looks to be the Realtek ALC1200, or in the case of ASUS models, the Realtek S1200A. It's easier and quicker to list which models don't include it.

B550 Motherboard Audio
Codec Boards
Realtek ALC1200 Everything except the following
ASUS S1200A ALL ASUS ROG Strix
  All ASUS TUF
Realtek ALC1220 ASRock B550 Taichi
  ASRock B550 Steel Legend
  ASRock B550 PG Velocita
  ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming ITX/ax
  ASRock B550 Extreme4
  GIGABYTE B550 Aorus Master
  GIGABYTE B550 Aorus Pro AC
  GIGABYTE B550 Aorus Pro
  GIGABYTE B550I Aorus Pro AX
  GIGABYTE B550 Vision D
Realtek ALC892 MSI MPG B550 Gaming Plus
  MSI B550-A Pro
Realtek ALC887 ASRock B550-HDV
  ASRock B550-ITX/ac
  ASUS Prime B550M-A
  ASUS Prime B550M-K
  GIGABYTE B550M Aorus Elite
  GIGABYTE B550M Gaming
  GIGABYTE B550 DS3H
Realtek ALC1150 Biostar Racing B550GTA
  Biostar Racing B550GTQ

Reviews for B550 motherboards should start to be available from today. We have started getting samples of a few boards in for testing, and we expect to get underway with them very shortly.

Intro, ASRock, and ASUS covered by Ian Cutress,
GIGABYTE, MSI, Biostar, and Conclusion by Gavin Bonshor 

MSI B550-A Pro
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  • Operandi - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    Looks like some nice mATX versions this round, nice! Reply
  • YB1064 - Thursday, June 18, 2020 - link

    I was hoping to see a $75-$90 board. Reply
  • kenjiwing - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    Fortunately, this component is a unique motherboard among B550 and well worth reading up on [add link].
    Needs to be edited.
    Reply
  • anirudhs - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    There's a noise sensor which can adjust fan speed for maximum quietness with good thermals. Saw it on the KitGuruTech video. The noise sensor isn't there to spy on you though. Reply
  • PeterCollier - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - link

    The quality of the editing here is shit tier. Seriously, just run the articles through Grammarly before publication. It's free and it spots plenty of errors. Reply
  • Heavenly71 - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    Sadly none of the mITX boards have more than 6 external USB ports. My old ASUS mITX has 8! And in really small mITX cases you can't add a bracket with more USB, because the two brackets are already used by the gfx card. Guess I have to wait for an enthusiast mITX board )-: Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    Or, just maybe, get a usb dongle with 4 ports? Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    That is disappointing. The number of USB devices people need to plug in can't be dropping, surely? I know I've got more now then even a year ago. Reply
  • rrinker - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    Are they really going up? I have 2 USB devices plugged in to my system - a keyboard and a mouse. I occasionally plug a USB stick in one of the front ports to transfer files. My phone and tablet sync over wifi, they don't get plugged in. I have a charger behind my desk and a cable to charge them. My printer is on the network.
    The one place I DO need lots of USB ports is also the place where I have a small cube case machine, with no discreete GPU, because it doesn;t need one. On that one I added a USB PCI card to get enough ports. In addition to the keyboard and mouse, that machine is on my workbench where it connects to several electronic test instruments and I have multiple cabled for programming microcontrollers. I also have a USB microscope for board inspection. And then I have 3 more USB devices connected for my other hobby that shares the bench. Plus a front port kept free for USB sticks.
    So the use case I have for more USB has the PCI slots open to add expansion cards, the use case where I have a discrete GPU eating up the slot space doesn't need an excess of USB ports.
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    I use 3 USB 3.0 ports just for my Oculus Rift Reply

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