Best B550 motherboard for gaming

The best B550 motherboards are the way to go, if you want to save money but also get strong performance. These motherboards give you strong performance for a cheaper price than the X570 boards out there. They might not have all the extra bells and whistles, but the best B550 motherboards are where you should be looking if you need a good alternative.

Since most of the best gaming CPUs are coming from AMD this go-round, we’ve been trying to get our hands on as many AM4 compatible motherboards as we can for testing. We’ve got boards from all the heavy hitters like ASRock, Asus, and MSI. We’ve narrowed the list down to those we think have earned a spot inside your precious gaming rig. 

Most B550 motherboards can power your AMD Ryzen 9 5900X with no issue; the best B550 motherboards can even comfortably support the beastly AMD Ryzen 9 5950X. Even PCIe 4.0 support has switched from the top X570 chipset to B550. B550s are a little more limited than X570 with just a few PCIe slots and space for an NVMe SSD but still provide a great value. 

Best B550 motherboards

The best B550 motherboard


Form factor: ATX

Memory support: 4x DIMM, up to 128GB, up to DDR4-4600

Expansion slots: 2x PCIe 4.0 x16, 1x PCIe 3.0 x4

Storage: 2x M.2, 6x SATA 6Gbps

Networking: Intel WiFi 6, Intel 2.5Gb ethernet, Bluetooth 5.1

Rear USB: 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 4 x USB 2.0

Reasons to buy

+Extensive feature set+Build quality+Top-end networking

Reasons to avoid

Stock-clocked performance is unremarkableLimited bandwidth for peripherals

Sure, the Asus ROG Strix B550-E costs as much as some X570 motherboards; in fact, it pretty much matches our favorite of AMD’s top-end boards, the MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon. But it’s a premium motherboard, with all the trappings you’d expect from Asus’ Republic of Gamers stables, such as 14+2 power stage, M.2 heatsinks, and pre-installed backplates. You also get Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking as well as Intel 2.5Gb ethernet too. And RGB LEDs, of course.

Performance too is typically good for a high-end Asus board, matching X570 motherboards for gaming performance without issue. That said, of the B550 boards we’ve tested, it’s the far more affordable MSI board that comes out top in our straight performance testing. But the Asus can overclock far better, even if it does chew up more raw power from the plug on the whole.

The Asus ROG Strix B550-E Gaming is the whole package then, and right now is our all-around pick for the best B550 motherboard. Though that still feels like a tough recommendation when X570 boards are the same price…

Read our full Asus ROG Strix B550-E Gaming review.

The best premium B550 motherboard


Form factor: ATX

Memory support: 4x DIMM, up to 128GB, up to DDR4-4733 (OC)

Expansion slots: 3x PCIe 4.0 x16, 2x PCIe 3.0 x1

Storage: 2x M.2; 8x SATA

Networking: Killer 1650x 802.11ax Wi-Fi; Killer E3100X 2.5G LAN

USB: Up to 3x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 8x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 6x USB 2.0

Reasons to buy

+Razer Chroma support+Strong VRM+Good I/O and connectivity features

Reasons to avoid

Many X570 boards can be had for less

The best premium B550 motherboard might seem like a bit of an oxymoron, but the Razer Edition of the ASRock B550 Taichi is just that. It eschews the yin/yang, steampunk aesthetic of traditional Taichi boards favoring a more stylish, more RGB-lead, more Razer design. And it looks great.

It also performs well, and packs in all the high-end motherboard features you’d expect from a top-end B550 board. Hell, even a top-end X570 mobo too. With the heady VRM support ASRock has dropped into the Taichi Razer Edition, you can happily run an overclocked Ryzen 9 5950X—and we have—as well as push your high-performance memory as fast as it’ll go.

Unfortunately, when you’re offering X570-level performance and features, that means you’re also going to be demanding a whole lot of cash for the privilege. And honestly, that’s our only real issue with this board and the only reason it’s not sitting there right at the top of the list. For nigh-on $300, it’s a lot of money for a mobo, let alone a second-tier chipset.

But if you’re a paid-up member of the Cult of Razer, then you’ve probably drunk all the Chroma RGB Kool-Aid and will be champing at the bit to get that from your motherboard too.

Read our full ASRock B550 Taichi Razer Edition review.

The best B550 motherboard for pure gaming performance


Form factor: Micro-ATX

Memory support: 4x DIMM, up to 128GB, up to DDR4-4400

Expansion slots: 1x PCIe 4.0 x16, 1x PCIe 3.0 x4

Storage: 2x M.2, 6x SATA 6Gbps

Networking: Realtek 2.5Gb ethernet

Rear USB: 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 2x USB 2.0

Reasons to buy

+Great stock-clock performance and efficiency+Slick BIOS+Competitive pricing

Reasons to avoid

Poor overclockingStingy back-panel port countShort on luxuries and frills

When it comes to gaming performance above all else, then MSI’s micro-ATX MAG B550M Mortar is your best bet for an affordable next-gen Ryzen machine. It comes in around the $140 mark, making it cheaper than a great many X570 and other B550 motherboards on the market right now. 

The gaming frame rates of the MSI B550 Mortar put it above the rest of the B550 crew we’ve tested so far, and indeed its straight CPU performance puts it up there with some of the best X570s. That bodes well if you’re looking for an affordable home for your AMD Zen 3 CPU; this B550 has a great chance to ensure it performs to its fullest stock-clocked potential without breaking the bank.

But you will be missing out on extra PCIe 4.0 M.2 and x16 graphics slots if those extras mean a lot to you. You can also opt to ditch wireless networking, depending on whether you pick the straight Mortar or the more expensive Mortar Wi-Fi version. The 8+2+1 power phase design is arguably a more unwelcome miss, however, as that results in a board that isn’t going to spark any overclocking joy in your heart. But, as an affordable gaming board without OC pretensions, it’s a great shout.

Read our full MSI MAG B550M Mortar review.

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The best-looking B550 motherboard


Form factor: ATX

Expansion slots: 2x PCIe 4.0 x16, 1x PCIe 3.0 x4

Storage: 2x M.2, 8x SATA 6Gbps

Networking: Intel WiFi 6, Intel 2.5Gb ethernet, Bluetooth 5.1

Rear USB: 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 2x USB 2.0

Reasons to buy

+Seriously robust+Great performance+Strong feature set

Reasons to avoid

B550 chipset a little short on bandwidthOverclocking can be laboriousNot for budget builds

The geared aesthetic of ASRock’s premium Taichi motherboards makes this the best-looking of all the B550 boards we’ve checked out, though that premium nature does make it also the most expensive. Indeed it’s priced higher than the ASRock X570 Taichi, making this a difficult recommendation until the almost inevitable price correction will certainly happen over time.

But it’s got the same sort of specs list as the excellent Asus ROG Strix B550-E, and it means you get all the networking niceties and the gaming performance to put it around the top of the list. It’s also got some overclocking chops too, allowing us to hit 4.2GHz on the Ryzen 3 3100 budget gaming chip.

It’s also incredibly well-built, with a metal structure that makes it one of the most robust B550 motherboards around. But yeah, it’s tough to look at that price and feel this second-tier chipset is where you want to put your Ryzen money.

Read our full ASRock B550 Taichi review.

The best budget B550 motherboard


Form factor: Micro-ATX

Expansion slots: 1x PCIe 4.0 x16, 1x PCIe 3.0 x4

Storage: 1x M.2, 4x SATA 6Gbps

Networking: 1Gb Ethernet

Rear USB: 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 2 x USB 2.0

Reasons to buy

+Affordable price+Good all-round performance+Has the really critical features you need

Reasons to avoid

Limited expansionNo USB Type-C portsFour-phase power

Clocking in at around $70, the Asrock B550M-HDV sits far more comfortably with the B550 as a value proposition than most. It doesn’t try to hide that it’s a budget board either, with its limited feature set and its absence of heat spreaders—this is a motherboard for anyone that needs the bare minimum, and we don’t mean that in a bad way. If you want to build a Ryzen system on a tight budget, you could do a lot worse.

However, this isn’t a motherboard for overclockers, but given how tricky it is to overclock Zen 2 and Zen 3 chips, that’s not too much of a negative either. You get a solitary four-pin supplementary CPU power connector, and the VRMs are bare, too, while the power delivery is merely four-phase with just two fan headers are available.

That single M.2 slot has you covered for speedy PCIe 4.0 storage, though, and the PCIe 4.0 x16 slot supports those graphics cards that are in such short supply. If you’re looking to use your CPU’s integrated graphics, then you have the choice of VGA, DVI, and HDMI outputs as well. It’s a shame there are no USB 3.2 Type-C connectors present, and only having one M.2 is a bit limiting, but overall these seem like reasonable sacrifices to keep that price low.

Read our full Asrock B550M-HDV review.

Best B550 motherboard FAQ

What’s the difference between a B550 and X570 motherboard?

There isn’t a lot of difference between the top two AMD 500-series motherboard chipsets when it comes to straight performance. The main difference is AMD has replaced the PCIe Gen 4 interface used on the X570—which connects the CPU socket to the platform controller hub (PCH) chip at the heart of the chipset—with a PCIe Gen 3 version for the B550.

The Ryzen 3000 and 5000 CPUs can still offer PCIe 4.0 support itself, delivering 16 high-speed lanes for a GPU and a further four for lightning-fast SSDs, but it means the B550 can’t support secondary PCIe 4.0 SSDs or graphics cards.

The tighter bandwidth does affect other sensitive areas, such as USB connectivity, but on the whole, it doesn’t affect gaming performance. The CPU itself is still offering a PCIe 4.0 connection to the main graphics slot and the primary M.2 SSD connection, ensuring all the bandwidth you could need for a standard AMD gaming PC. 

And there are B550 motherboards, such as the Asus ROG and ASRock Taichi boards above, which offer the sort of power componentry to deliver overclocking performance. AMD has also confirmed that both B550 and X570 will support the next generation of Ryzen CPUs.

Where they differ, however, is in the extended feature set. While those two premium B550 boards have an impressive feature list, the B550 chipset means that bandwidth-sensitive connections on the motherboard will be behind the top range of boards. That’s thanks to the relationship between the PCH on the chipset and the CPU using PCIe Gen3, instead of the complete Gen 4 solution across the X570s.

AMD B450 vs B550 vs X570 chipset comparison
B450 Chipset B550 Chipset X570 Chipset
CPU Graphics Support x16 PCIe Gen 3 x16 PCIe Gen 4 x16 PCIe Gen 4
CPU Storage Support PCIe Gen 3 PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
CPU USB Ports USB 3.1 Gen 1 USB 3.2 Gen2 USB 3.2 Gen2
Dual Graphics Support No Yes Yes
General Purpose Lanes PCIe Gen 2 PCIe Gen 3 PCIe Gen 4
CPU Chipset Uplink PCIe Gen 3 PCIe Gen 3 PCIe Gen 4
Overclocking Support Yes Yes Yes

In general, the B550 motherboards are a tad more expensive than we’d like, with the ASRock B550 Taichi being the most obvious example. It’s around the same price as the ASRock X570 Taichi, arguably the better board or the more fully featured.

There are cheaper B550 boards out there, such as the ASRock B550 HDV, but then you are losing out on luxuries like decent power phase design and potentially then overall performance. That might be a cut too far if you’re aiming for an affordable home for your next AMD Ryzen CPU purchase.

Your best bet is to keep in mind what features mean the most to you. Do you need wireless networking, will you be overclocking, and how many Gen 4 SSDs are you likely to drop into your new AMD PC? If the answers are no, no, and one, then a B550 will be a good shout. Just make sure the one you pick doesn’t have a similarly specced, similarly priced X570 twin lurking around.

Source: PC Gamer

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