At last, the long wait for AMD’s latest B550 chipset motherboards is finally over – a project that has seemingly been knocked back several times in the past year or so. Now that we’re seeing B550s hit retailers, we thought it was about time we take a closer look at the fundamental differences that separate the B550 from the X570. Let’s get into this B550 vs X570 article.
Updated: B550 and X570 chipset motherboards are compatible with the new Ryzen 5000 series processors.
In the following article, we’ll be looking at the differences from a fact-based perspective, comparing number-by-number specifications to see what the B550 has to offer over the X570. We’ll also be answering some of the major questions surrounding the B550 motherboard and exploring how choosing one for your next build might impact you from a gaming standpoint.
So, with all that in mind, let’s waste no further time and dive straight into it!
ASUS ROG STRIX X570-F Gaming Motherboard
Comes equipped with Auro Sync RGB
Supports ASUS’s 5 way optimization tuning
Great audio thanks to SupremeFX S1220A codec
High-end price point
ASRock B550 Steel Legend
AMD Mid-High range
Pretty good value for money
Latest generation technology and build quality
Good overclocking potential
How do motherboards work?
Before exploring the differences between chipsets and what they do, it is important to understand how a motherboard works. A motherboard is a printed PCB that contains copper and gold tracers we call ‘lanes’ that interconnect all the components attached to it.
The most important role a motherboard plays is facilitating communication between all your PC components, second to that is power delivery. Power delivery is handled by two connectors on the motherboard, one 24pin connector and the other a six or four-pin CPU only connector (depending on the motherboard).
What is a chipset?
The chipset is arguably the most important component attached to a motherboard. The chipset controls communication between the components attached to your motherboard, it also controls the USB and I/O interfaces at the rear of the motherboard. Without the chipset, nothing on your motherboard would work and they certainly wouldn’t communicate in any tangible fashion.
Generally the higher the number, the better the chipset. X570 is currently the best chipset on offer from AMD and will be superseded by AM5’s X670 motherboard.
Let’s then, discuss exactly what a B550 motherboard is. Well, in its simplest form, it’s a motherboard that utilizes the latest AMD B550 chipset – the theoretical glue that connects the microprocessor to the rest of the motherboard. All motherboards can be categorized by a unique chipset, each bringing its own specific set of pros and cons to the table. Whilst we’ll discuss the benefits of a B550 in more detail shortly, one example of this is how B550 motherboards are compatible with Zen 3 (AMD 5000 series) CPUs with a quick BIOS update at launch. Those with a B450 had to wait until January 2021 to get hold of their updates and take advantage of these new CPUs.
Like most motherboards that are released with a new chipset implementation, there has been plenty of buzz and speculation surrounding the release of B550s. What exactly will they offer that B450s don’t? How will they differ from X570s? Should I invest in a B550? These are all questions that have surfaced since developments began.
So, that being said, let’s take a closer look at the technical aspects of a B550.
Whilst this article is primarily a comparison between the B550 vs X570, it’s worth mentioning that some of the content (and slides) will reference older chipsets too – including the B450, X470, and even B350.
Let’s start off with the basics.
So, straight off the bat, the first thing you probably noticed is how many similarities these two chipsets actually have. As you can see, both have X16 PCIe Gen 4 CPU graphics support, PCIe Gen 4 CPU Storage support, and USB 3.2 Gen2 support. They also share their dual GPU capabilities as well – albeit hugely underused in today’s market.
That, however, is where most of the similarities end. Differences start to appear when we take a look into general-purpose lanes, with the B550 only laying claim to PCIe Gen 3. In comparison, the X570 offers up PCIe Gen 4 general purpose lanes, alongside PCIe Gen 4 CPU chipset uplink as well – another feature the B550 doesn’t offer. That’s pretty much it though as far as numerical specifications go, there really isn’t a great deal separating these two chipsets.
VRM stands for voltage regulation module, the chips on the motherboard responsible for power stability. Generally, it’s better to have more of these VRMs as a greater amount means more control over the power delivery and more stability when delivering a high amount of power to hungry CPUs.
The X570 chipset motherboard has more of these VRMs, making it a better option when opting for clean, stable and efficient power delivery.
Whilst the B550 and X570 might be fairly similar in terms of technical specs, one area where they don’t see eye-to-eye is compatibility. AMD has designed the B550 chipset as a board for the future, bringing with it excellent compatibility and support for Ryzen 3000 (and beyond) CPUs. That being said, unlike the X570, the B550 is not compatible with older Gen 1 + 2 Ryzen CPUs.
So, for anyone with a Ryzen 2000 series (or older), the B550 is certainly not what you’re looking for. To make matters even more confusing, B550s also don’t support Ryzen’s current batch of APUs either. Now, whilst these APUs are technically part of the Ryzen 3000 series, they don’t run on Zen 2 architecture. The 3200G and 3400G run on Zen+ architecture which, unfortunately, is not supported by B550s.
Dual GPU support?
Technically, both motherboard chipsets do support dual GPU functionality. However, the dual GPU feature is only available on high-end B550 motherboards, whereas the same feature can be seen on all ATX X570 motherboards.
This provides a particular advantage to the X570 motherboards as functionality is the name of the game for a lot of users. You can add a PCIe expansion card or another GPU into that slot if you’re feeling frivolous.
Price was one of the big reasons why the B550 chipset was brought to life. Consumers were seemingly unhappy that they couldn’t get access to PCIe Gen 4 without splashing out the cash on a fancy X570 motherboard. So, in true AMD fashion, they decided to bring this cheaper alternative to life which not only supports next-gen AMD CPUs but also offers PCIe Gen 4 support to.
That being said, and contrary to AMD’s claims of cheaper pricing, the B550 has hit shelves at a confusing price point – almost identical to that of the X570 counterpart. Whilst current situations aren’t helping the tech world, I still feel the pricing of B550s is way off – damaging AMD’s claims for PCIe Gen 4 affordability.
ASUS ROG STRIX X570-F Gaming Motherboard
ASRock B550 Steel Legend
So, now that we know what a B550 motherboard is all about, here are our top picks for the best B550 motherboards around:
Let’s take a look at the superior X570 chipset. Here are some of the better models and outright winners vs the B550 options.
So, I suppose the big question left to answer is whether or not the B550 chipset is right for you. Well, we can immediately remove all users of Ryzen 2000 series (and older) CPUs who aren’t willing to upgrade their processors. The B550 isn’t backward compatible and doesn’t look like it will be in the future.
Furthermore, if you don’t plan on upgrading to Zen 3 in the near future (and don’t really utilize PCIe gen 4) then I’d also recommend steering away from the B550. There are a ton of high-performance B450s in today’s market that will serve you well, why spend more on features you probably won’t use?
That being said, for consumers who already have their sights set on one of AMD’s future CPUs, the B550 could be a very viable option. Apart from the above benefits we’ve already mentioned, one feature that will make heads turn is the VRM design on the B550. The new motherboards have extremely good VRMs which pretty much outperform their X570 counterpart. This is obviously a huge plus for users who want to try and squeeze every last drop of performance potential via overclocking. Also, and as we mentioned above, B550s are set to be around $30-70 cheaper than their X570 cousins, making them a real prospect for PC builders on a budget.
So, there you have it, our complete breakdown of the fundamental differences that separate B550 vs X570 chipsets. Let’s be honest, after all the buzz that was created during the build-up to their launch, I’d have to say I’m fairly underwhelmed with what the B550 chipset actually brings to the table.
There are plenty of things manufacturers could have done to make these boards a whole lot more exciting. However, in reality, there really isn’t a great deal of difference that separates these boards from the already-popular X570s.
Ultimately, what we have here is AMD’s answer to consumers’ cries for PCIe Gen 4 on more affordable boards. That being said, and with current pricing being so similar to the X570s of today, I’m still scratching my head as to whether or not I’d recommend one of these new boards for your next PC build.