UK price (as reviewed): £185 (inc. VAT)
US price (as reviewed): TBC
Amazon affiliate link: hereWith AMD recently announcing that 400-series chipsets would support 4th Gen Ryzen CPUs, the B550 chipset has no longer been seen as merely a more affordable way than X570 to get PCIe 4.0 support as well as offering a future home to AMD's highly-anticipated Zen 3 CPUs. Instead, it's now facing questions from both sides, with B450 offering far lower pricing and X570 perhaps that premium swagger that has already lured many to part with their cash.
As there are no micro-ATX X570 TUF boards to compare against, unlike most other segments, we'll have to make do with ATX and here, you are saving around £30 compared ATX equivalents of this board. In fact, with WiFi, that's closer to £40 so in some cases at least, opting for B550 instead of X570 may well land you with a very similar board with enough saved to double the capacity of your SSD or pay for a decent air cooler. However, you're still looking at twice the price of the equivalent B450 motherboard, so B550 isn't working out to be a particularly great budget option by comparison. With slightly less bandwidth than an X570 motherboard and less heat - the chipset link is limited to PCIe 3.0 rather than 4.0 with X570 - there are plenty of options with no chipset fan.
There's an 8+2 power stage arrangement paired with two very large heatsinks, which is a huge step up from equivalent B450 boards in the TUF range. Those heatsinks kept the VRM temperature, as measured by our external IR probe, below 50°C with our Ryzen 9 3900X. It's at least one area where the extra cash has been spent in addition to PCIe 4.0 support, of course. There are more RGB headers than its predecessors and an extra M.2 port, too.
Due to the chipset lacking PCIe 4.0 lanes, only the top M.2 port offers full PCIe 4.0 bandwidth. However, it's the lower port that's equipped with a heatsink and this isn't transferrable to the top slot, which is a shame given the lower slot will be blocked by your graphics card and also will likely have exhaust air blasted at it, too. The heatsink kept our SSD below a peak of 58°C in our back-to-back run in CrystalDiskMark compared to 64°C without it. SATA 6Gbps ports aren't particularly plentiful, either, which is one area of trade-off. There are only four, but this will likely satisfy most people and as that lower M.2 port doesn't gobble up too much bandwidth, plus there are no stipulations of ports becoming disabled or sharing bandwidth.
While there are no overclocking and testing tools, you do at least get USB BIOS FlashBack, which might be handy when dealing with 4th Gen Ryzen CPUs if you buy the board in six months' time. You also get a reasonable seven Type-A USB ports with one of these offering USB 3.1 (USB 3.2) Gen 2 support alongside a Type-C port, as well. There's 802.11ax WiFi, that lone Ethernet port offers 2.5 Gigabit support and the Realtek 1220 audio benefits from the full complement of audio outputs. If you plan on dropping in a compatible APU at some point, then you can choose between DisplayPort or HDMI outputs. Sadly, there's no I/O shroud or integrated I/O shield.
February 26 2021 | 22:15