Many people who are following hardware news know that AMD released B550 chipset and it is finally possible to buy B550 motherboard. And it happens to be a time when one of my relative asked me to update his system. It is quite old system based on Intel 2500K. It is 4 threads CPU and about 9 years old. It also has 8GB of RAM.
Most of the use for that computer is games and to my surprise most games work quite well on that system. But recently one game constantly uses 100% CPU and it also allocates more than 9 Gb of RAM and it makes playing experience quite uncomfortable. And as result he asked me to help him upgrade this PC.
I decided to go with AMD platform as I believe it is much better overall value. Initially my plan was to buy AMD Ryzen 5 3600, and 16 GB of memory, but I did not know what chipset to choose. And it is a bit tough to choose right one. And candidates are: B450, B550 or X570. I do not think X470 is good option, so I ruled it out. Then I started to think about B450:
Good old trusty chipset. There are only 2 good ATX boards on that chipset: B450 Tomahawk Max and B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC Max. Non-Max boards are also good but BIOS flash size is way more limiting and as result it is not possible to support many CPUs. Max version are good choices and MSI confirmed that it will be possible to run next generation of Ryzen CPUs on these boards. So technically these boards could support all four generations of Ryzen CPU’s. And I have B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC non-Max version in my PC, and it works great.
VRM in these boards were adequate in 2018 but now with release of 3950 it is already on the edge. It is not like I’m planning to put 3950 in it, but who knows what next gen will need. Check this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfD_KuTVfkc for VRM temperatures. Boards have only 6 USB ports. Initially I thought it is ok, but to be honest I found it is not enough. I need 2 ports are for mouse and keyboard. 2 ports are for charging phone and iPad. Last one for connecting USB on monitor. I do not use it often but still. As result I have only USB-C free USB port. I have USB ports on my case, but it sticks out and non-suitable to for long use. And I afraid I can break it accidentally. I can use USB ports on my monitor, but it is hard to plug and take out. My relative does not use monitor but instead of monitor, he connected Wi-Fi card. As result I think 8 USB ports is a minimum.
Another big disadvantage is PCI Express 3.0. Right now, it is not problem but my relative thinks that computer will live as long as previous one, and there is good chance that it will be disadvantage for storage and video card.
And lastly currently most B450 boards are out of stock or overpriced.
As result of all above I ruled out B450. It is good option if you are planning to have computer for 2-3 years but after that it will be outdated. As I mentioned before, my relative needs computer that can last 4-5 years or perhaps even more.
Then I was thinking about X570. There are a 5-6 boards that have similar prices as B550. But biggest disadvantage is cooler. I had many motherboards and chipset cooler is hard to clean, it often became noisy and active cooling means that it is hot, and this means that it consumes more power. And it is clear, that these boards are lower end of X570 lineup. It does not mean that these boards are trash, but you can see that a lot of stuff is removed to make it cheaper. There is no preinstalled I/O shield, no BIOS flash back, no DEBUG LED, slightly cheaper audio etc.
As result my final choice was B550. Most boards have 2.5Gb LAN, ALC1220 audio that looks better than ALC1200, most boards have 8-10 USB ports and BIOS flash back without CPU, memory or video card. These boards have better VRM than cheap X570 boards. At the end B550 feels more premium in general. And while X570 is better chipset than B550, it will be more than enough for our case. And even for future I cannot imagine using second M2 slot or second video card.
Note: B550 is not able to run 2XXX or earlier series of Ryzen. It supports only Ryzen 3XXX and future next generation.
Then I started to think which motherboard I should buy. Firstly, I ruled out everything above $200. I think it is way too much for regular motherboard. I’m not planning to overclock, and I feel that board should not cost more about $150. But because of bad timing my relative was ok to stretch it to $200.
I do not realty like ASRock as their motherboards are a bit like lottery. I could buy it, if I have good review, but moment to buy is quite bad and there are not many reviews. I ruled out most of cheaper motherboards because they have weaker VRM, cheaper Audio etc. After all, saving $10-$40 when you buy PC for 4-5 years does not have much sense.
At the end I have following list:
- Asus Tuf Gaming B550-Plus
- Asus Rog Strix B550-F Gaming
- MSI Mpg B550 Gaming Edge Wifi
- MSI Mag B550 Tomahawk
- Gigabyte B550 Aorus Pro (and Gigabyte B550 Aorus Pro AC)
- Gigabyte B550 Aorus Elite.
MSI boards has only 6 USB ports (and one of them is USB-C) and even I really like their B450 boards I have to remove them from my list. And they both have ACL1200 Audio. Asus Tuf Gaming B550-Plus and Gigabyte B550 Aorus Elite also look a bit week and both these motherboards have ACL1200 Audio.
Removing these and only Gigabyte B550 Aorus Pro and Asus Rog Strix B550-F Gaming made to final battle.
At the end I decided to take Gigabyte B550 Aorus Pro AC because it was in stock :) and it has the same price as Asus, but Gigabyte has following advantages:
- 10 USB ports vs 8
- 2 USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB ports vs one
- Better memory overclock in specs (5100 vs 4400), but I would not pay too much attention to it
Debug LED but I’m not sure if Asus has it.Asus has it
Asus has following advantages:
- Intel LAN instead of Realtek but my relative will use Wi-Fi anyway
- Display port even it is completely useless
It is not a big deal but looks like Gigabyte has better overall value. And as result I ordered it and hopefully, I will be able to publish my build soon