Motherboards based on AMD's B550 chipset have exploded onto the scene. Despite B550 being a cost-down version of X570 for the budget market, motherboard manufacturers have gone a little overboard in offering over 50 different models to consumers, ranging in price between $120 and $300+. The usual battleground for a good solid motherboard is in the $200 range, which should enable something with the standard features but a bit of quality thrown in as well. For $210 with Wi-Fi 6 or $190 without, the ASUS ROG Strix B550-F Gaming straddles that popular price point. Today we're reviewing what the B550-F Gaming has to offer.

B for Budget, F for Fine Balance

The B550 chipset brings to the table a staple of what future motherboards need: PCIe 4.0. In most models we get it with a single x16 PCIe slot as well as an M.2 NVMe storage slot, with B550 having the angle to upgrade to newer Zen 3 processors when they are released later this year. As with any motherboard design, it can be done as cheap as possible, ensuring bare minimum compliance with specifications, or it can be overengineered to the hilt, just in case you want to go for 9000 MHz in sub-zero conditions. The B550-F Gaming aims to strike a finer balance, combining classical ROG aesthetics with some enhanced cooling and more premium controller support.

Some of the main features of the B550-F Gaming include 2.5 gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6 (on the Wi-Fi model), a menagerie of USB 3.2 Gen 2 support, and upgraded audio though ASUS' custom SupremeFX S1200A HD audio codec with additional audio tweaks. In classical ASUS style, there is also some buffed power delivery, which is set to support overclocking on even the most demanding processors. 

For our multi-page review, we scruitinize the looks, the bundle, the performance and the thermals.

In our benchmarking suite, the ASUS ROG Strix B550-F Gaming performs superbly in our system tests, with big wins in our non-UEFI POST time test and DPC latency out of the box. Its performance in our power tests also puts the B550-F in a positive light, with competitive performance in our CPU and game testing too. More detail inside the review.

Our experience when overclocking was also competitive - it's just as good as the more expensive X570 models we have tested. Despite the lack of an integrated VRM temperature sensor, the B550-F Gaming performed very well in our VRM thermal testing with a recorded temperature of between 50 and 52 degrees Celsius on our two calibrated K-type probes. Using our FLIR thermal imaging camera, we measured 54.9 degrees celsius on the hottest part of the CPU socket area and power delivery, which is cooler than most. 

Competition

Perhaps due to motherboard vendor 'eagerness', the number of B550 motherboards in the sub-$200 price range is perhaps lower than anticipated, especially as we look back at previous B-series motherboard prices. The added expense is due to a couple of things, mainly through what it takes to create official support for PCIe 4.0, and for this generation most vendors have added considerably better networking support, even more so than some X570 models at similar price points. This makes B550 attractive to the mid-range in that $200 segment, with more budget B550 models starting from $150 range starting to come to market.

The ASUS ROG Strix B550-F Gaming WiFi has an MSRP of $210, with the non-Wi-Fi 6 version available for $190. On paper this makes both models solid contenders for anyone looking to build a solid B550 based gaming system. The competition at the price point includes the B550 Gaming Carbon Wifi ($220) which includes a very similar feature set with a Realtek based 2.5 GbE Ethernet controller instead of an Intel one, and there are also a number of GIGABYTE offerings in the mix. 

Read on for our extended analysis and comparison tests.

Visual Inspection
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  • obiwancelery - Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - link

    I've got bad news for you. I upgrade my BIOSs as soon as they're out. I have a Ryzen 5 2400G on a Asus TUF B450M-PLUS GAMING (great combination). I found it nifty I could store the settings so one day I flash my BIOS and then get my optimal settings. Black screen. As far as I can see, the settings are useless from one version of the BIOS to the other. Bummer. From what I can see, it's a new "trend". If anyone knows how to get this to work I'd love to know. I'm about to adjust the memory timings ... many, many settings to change. Upgrading the bios will suck. Reply
  • DZor - Thursday, July 23, 2020 - link

    Thanks!
    You see that's reason why 20 years ago I switched from self-built PC to brand names like HP or Dell. I had many HPs, Dells and Lenovos with many BIOS updates and NEVER EVER entered BIOS after upgrade!
    Reply
  • Avalon - Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - link

    "The usual battleground for a good solid motherboard is in the $200 range" - No, it's not, and we need to stop perpetuating this. A good, solid motherboard needs to be in the $130-$150 range. If your board is coming with RGB lightning, has 16+ phases for power delivery, and looks like one of the Transformers, you've gone beyond "good". Reply
  • PeterCollier - Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - link

    You forgot the "military grade" caps Reply
  • Reflex - Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - link

    I mean, 10-15 years ago that was the range of good solid motherboards. But inflation, reduced volume/slower upgrade cycle and higher base requirements (for signaling, power delivery, etc) would be expected to drive prices up. What we see now is essentially the same as what we saw before once factoring in inflation and market conditions.

    RGB lighting and additional power delivery phases are like dimes in the cost. And most of the R&D is shared with higher end boards. I think it just costs more to make a board now.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Saturday, August 1, 2020 - link

    Inflation plus AMD wants to improve its margins. And, now that AMD is offering better CPUs than Intel, motherboard makers want more margin on AMD boards.

    Plus, Zen/AM4 has more demanding board specs than AM3+, in terms of things like voltage precision.

    Board makers will try to push prices higher. It's up to consumers to push back.
    Reply
  • CardiWAP - Tuesday, August 11, 2020 - link

    Yes please pair your 10700K or 3900X with these boards and see how they fare. I hear Asrock really nailed the $130-$150 range on Z490. Reply
  • Reflex - Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - link

    Not sure if this would help anyone, but the Asus and ASRock boards can actually get their WiFi upgraded. I realized that because I have a ROG Strix B350-I and the integrated Realtek WiFi/BT solution is garbage.

    It seems the 'integrated' solution is actually a vertically mounted M.2 card. If you take the shield off (two screws on the underside of the board) you can pull that card out and put in an AX200 (not the 201, that is specific to Intel chipsets).

    I did the upgrade and it worked perfectly. BT is now reliable and WiFi is faster.

    Not sure if that would help anyone.
    Reply
  • shaddixboggs - Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - link

    I won't give a dollar to ASUS for an AMD product. They've crapped the bed one too many times at this point. Reply
  • Alim345 - Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - link

    Are higher benchmark scores of some boards are due to default bios configuration or beefier power delivery systems? Reply

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