By Jim Jones
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When you’re building a gaming PC, the motherboard is the heart of that system, at least from a hardware perspective. But most gamers don’t care much about motherboards. What you really want is a blazing-fast processor and a powerful GPU. The only thing about a motherboard that really matters is that it’s compatible, right?
Well, that all depends on how much you want to do with your build. Most modern gaming PC cases have enough space for a full row of PCIe slots. So if you want to maximize your rig, you’ll want a motherboard with plenty of capacity. The same goes for built-in USB capacity and other extras.
Sure, you can always kludge these things later. But why not get the motherboard you really want to begin with? Otherwise, you might as well buy a stock gaming desktop. You could even snag a gaming laptop for less than $1,000.
The AMD Ryzen 5000 series of processors is soon to be released, and many people are excited to build a new PC around it. We recently talked about the best motherboards for the hotly-anticipated NVIDIA RTX-30 Series. Now, it’s time to do the same thing for the Ryzen 3000. Without further ado, here are the top 10 best ATX B550 motherboards for Ryzen 5000 series processors!
The Gigabyte B550 Gaming X is a two-slot motherboard with an ATX-sized profile. The top PCIe slot operates at PCIe 4.0 x16, while the bottom slot is a PCIe 3.0 x4. This gives you a good bit of space for expansion. There’s an additional PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slot for storage, and a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot for connecting even more storage. Not that you should have any storage issues. There are four SATA ports, supporting RAID 0, 1, and 10 arrays. You could set up a home server with this motherboard and store hundreds of games locally.
Memory capacity is similarly generous. The four DDR4 RAM slots have a max frequency of 4,733MHz, and can support up to 32GB of RAM apiece for a total of 128GB. By the time you even come close to needing that much RAM, you’ll have bought three new PCs.
The rear panel of the B550 Gaming X sports a trio of USB 3.2 Type-A ports, along with a pair of USB 2.0 ports. If you have a legacy keyboard or mouse, you’ll love the PS/2 port, a rare find on a modern motherboard. There’s also a pair of 3.5mm audio jacks if you prefer not to use audio over the HDMI port. Ethernet is built-in. About the only thing it’s missing are heat sinks for the M.2 slots. This could become problematic if you intend to run a high-performance PCIe SSD.
The ASRock B550 Pro 4 sports a pair of PCIe 4.0 slots, with an x16 slot on the top and an x4 slot on the bottom. This is sufficient for installing a lot of hardware, especially when taken in tandem with the PCIe 3.0 M.2 slot. Keep in mind, though, that the ASRock B550 Pro 4 is an inexpensive motherboard. The heatsinks aren’t as beefy as you’ll see on some more heavy-duty models. Then again, depending on what else you’re doing for cooling, this may not be an issue.
On the back panel, you’ll find a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a pair of USB 3.2 ports, and a USB 3.2 Type-C port. Like the Gigabyte Gaming X, there’s even a PS/2 port for connecting older peripherals. One thing the Pro 4 doesn’t have is an HDMI out port. It only has VGA. If you want HDMI video, you’ll need to run it out of your graphics card. For a gaming build, this would be your default option anyway.
The Prime series is Asus’ budget series, so this is where you’ll want to go if you’re trying to cook up a cheap rig. Note that “cheap” isn’t the same as “bad.” The Prime B550 Plus may not have some of the same features as pricier boards, but it’s more than capable of supporting the Ryzen 5000 series CPU. That means you can run the latest AAA games and still save a few bucks on your motherboard.
The Prime B550 Plus has a pair of PCIe x4 M.2 slots, one with a 3.0 format and one with a 4.0 format. There’s an additional PCIe 4.0 x4 slot, as well as a PCI 4.0 x 16 slot. This gives you plenty of space for expansion.
When it comes to connectivity, you’re more than set. In addition to quad USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, there’s a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, as well as a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port. No matter what you’re trying to connect, you’ll get the most out of the USB connection.
The ASRock B550 Taichi is ASRock’s top-tier B550 motherboard. We had high expectations going in, and we were not disappointed. It uses the same PCIe arrangement as the last few motherboards we looked at, and it has the same advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, you get the advantage of using PCIe 4.0 devices. On the other hand, the underlying PCIe 3.0 architecture limits your downstream bandwidth. But that’s just part of the B550 design in general, not the fault of the Taichi.
One neat feature of the Taichi is that it’s designed to let you update the firmware without a CPU installed. This is especially useful since it wasn’t originally designed for the Ryzen 5000 series. But with a simple USB connection, you can update the firmware and get your build up and running.
The MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk is built around a 10+2+1 power delivery system that you either love or you hate. But many gamers have been flocking to the “tomahawk”-style build in recent years as an alternative to the 12 +2 setup of most motherboards. As befits a gaming board, the Tomahawk sports big, beefy heatsinks that can handle even the most demanding temperature loads. To go along with those heat sinks, you get eight four-pin fan headers to maximize your cooling power.
The Tomahawk also sports quad DIMMS for up to 128GB of RAM, 2.5-Gigabit Ethernet, and a whopping 14 USB ports, including a USB Type-C port. You even get six SATA connections, which is something you’ll rarely see on any motherboard. If you want to run a RAID setup you can.
The Asus TUF Gaming B550 PLUS is built primarily for cooling efficiency. As such, pretty much everything about the design is done with that in mind. To begin with, the 8-pin power connector is not the most robust. However, when combined with dual heatsinks, the power distributor is nearly impervious to overheating.
Conversely, the M.2 slot doesn’t have a heatsink at all. This isn’t an oversight. It’s so you can install your own, more robust aftermarket. The downside here is obvious. If you weren’t already planning on using an aftermarket heatsink, you won’t be able to use this motherboard. Nonetheless it has a lot to offer, including a coverless rear I/O panel that allows for plenty of airflow.
The Aorus Elite is Gigabyte’s entry-level B550 motherboard, but don’t let that fool you. There’s a lot going on under the hood here. For one thing, you get 12 +2 power delivery, which is essential if you want to install a lot of high-powered hardware. For another thing, it features a 2.5-Gigabit Ethernet controller, so you can enjoy latency-free gaming.
When it comes to storage, you’re all set. In addition to the B550’s usual dual M.2 ports, there are also four SATA controllers. That’s enough for more storage than you can pack into most PC cases. Not only that, but the Aorus Elite’s four DDR4 slots can support up to 128GB of RAM. Combine it with a Ryzen 5000 series processor and a decent GPU, and you’ll be able to play any AAA game on the market.
The MSI B550 Gaming Carbon WiFi, as you might expect, is built with gaming in mind, and offers two important features in this regard. First, it offers a 12 +2 power delivery system, complete with a 4-pin and 8-pin connection. This allows it to work with a wide variety of other hardware, including LED controllers. Second, it supports DDR4 RAM up to 5,100MHz. This means your RAM can load data very quickly, so you get less texture pop-in and shorter loading screens. Of course, this assumes your RAM chips can support those kinds of speeds.
In addition, the Gaming Carbon WiFi has the PCIe card arrangement we’ve come to expect, with dual PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 slots respectively, including dual M.2 slots. On the back, you’ll find eight USB ports, including a USB 3.2 Type-C port and four USB 2.0 ports. There are also outputs for both HDMI and DisplayPort, so you can connect a dual-monitor display if you need to.
In most respects, the Asus ROG Strix B550-F Gaming WiFi motherboard is similar to the others in the B550 family. You get PCIe 4.0 support, which will be essential for installing the next generation of PCIe upgrades. You get M.2 support, so you can run your OS off a slick, ultra-fast, PCIe SSD. You also get support for USB 3.2, the latest version of the format.
On the back, you’ll find an HDMI output, as well as a pair of 3.5mm jacks. There’s also 2.5-gigabit Ethernet, and support for WiFi 6 if you prefer a wireless signal. With WiFi 6, you’ll also be able to use all the latest smart home devices, so it’s probably a good idea to upgrade anyway.
The main attraction of the ROG STRIX B550-F Gaming WiFi is that it’s built for killer audio. It utilizes Asus advanced SupremeFX S1200A HD audio codec, so you can run a professional-grade sound system without the need to install a dedicated sound card. This motherboard is an audiophile’s dream.
The Gigabyte B550 Aorus Master is Gigabyte’s premium version of the B550 motherboard. Simply put, they don’t make anything finer. This is clear when you look at the beefy thermal guards around the three PCIe 4.0 slots, as well as the PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot. This allows you to max out your read/write speeds without stressing the motherboard. You can get absurdly fast load times and not have to worry about overheating. Adjacent to these slots is a PCIe 4.0 x 16 slot that’s equally well-protected from thermal damage.
The 16-phase Infineon-based power distributor is a market leader at this price point, capable of seamlessly delivering power and managing demands across the board. If you want better power delivery, you’ll need to spend considerably more.
In addition to 2.5-Gigabit Ethernet, there’s also a WiFi 6 card. While WiFi 6 isn’t ideal for gaming, it provides a more stable signal with a guaranteed 1.2GHz of bandwidth. In other words, it’s a great choice for large downloads, or for single-player games that are always-online. For online play, you’ll still want to use your Ethernet connection.