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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  • Lucky Stripes 99 - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    I've read elsewhere that Zen1 processors supposedly had a 128 Mb address limit for UEFI firmware. It sounds suspect, but looking back at early AM4 boards, I don't recall any with either 256 Mb chips or striped 128 Mb chips, so maybe it wasn't simply due to the significant jump in price for 256 Mb chips over 128 Mb ones. Reply
  • Redstorm - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    Likewise, looking to replace my aging 7 year old HTPC with a mATX B550 and a Ryzen 4700G but radio silence from AMD on releasing compatiable APU's for the B550's, We now have the long overdue Budget motherboards but no APU's. Dissapointed. Reply
  • alufan - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - link

    I understand the frustration however if your buying a Budget Board then surely a budget CPU is the best fit, also new APUs are inbound according to all the rumours, meanwhile your older APU will fit just fine I believe, I expect the new APUs will have Navi cores as per the Xbox and PS5 but of course they probably cannot be released until the new Navi cards and consoles are out, think about it though what a sea chamge folks are now waiting eagerly for a new release from AMD because they know it will kick ass not close the gap to Intel, its a good time to be a customer! Reply
  • Gigaplex - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - link

    Older APUs aren't supported on B550 Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    I think you forgot something... :-)

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

    Interesting that the GIGABYTE B550 Vision D board's Type-C ports don't have the Thunderbolt logo next to them. I wonder if Intel won't all the logo to be use on AMD systems. Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    *allow Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    "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 B450 only had PCIe 2.0 lanes. Huge difference from the B550 IMO
    Reply
  • Lucky Stripes 99 - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - link

    Agreed. That's going to make a huge difference for boards with secondary or tertiary M.2 or U.2 ports that hangs off the chipset. That goes double if they only get 2 PCIe lanes instead of the full 4. Reply
  • a5cent - Friday, June 19, 2020 - link

    Yup, exactly what I thought.

    Equally "BIG" is that B550 finally has more PCIe lanes, so adding more NVMe drives doesn't require downgrading other ports like it always did on B450.

    B450 was a firmware upgrade for the budget B350 chipset. B550 is the first time this tier of AMD chipset doesn't suck.
    Reply

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