Not very long ago, choosing the ‘right CPU’ wasn’t even a choice.
Nobody asked what CPU are you using in your gaming PC or workstation. Nobody bothered.
The answer was almost always Intel.
It all changed when AMD decided to kick things up a notch and introduce Zen architecture-based Ryzen line of CPUs.
Fast forward to this day, as per Mercury Research, AMD’s market share is 25.6% of the overall x86 market.
There have been so many reasons behind this growth and reception of AMD’s products in the consumer market. It’s better that I elaborate on those reasons on a separate article.
Today let me address a very important question that my inbox is getting flooded with.
Are B550 Motherboards Worth It?
Well, depends on your use case. Did you want to max out your PC around AM4? Do you need PCIe 4.0 M.2 slot for PCIe 4.0 SSDs? Also, do you want a full-length PCIe 4.0 x16 slot for GPUs compatible with it? If the answer to all these questions is Yes, then it’s worth it. Otherwise, no.
I know the topic demands more than just a straightforward answer. There are so many crucial and often overlooked facets that need to be covered.
Don’t worry, by the time you have completed reading this article, you would have gained the necessary insights to come to a conclusion regarding making a purchase decision.
Here are a few more relevant articles on pc hardware that should append your knowledge base nicely.
B450 or B550 or X570
If you have decided or already are on the AM4 socket side, this is your biggest conflict, right?
Do you know how I know this? Because that is the conflict I am going through or more aptly was going through.
So let me put this question of which to choose so that we can eventually move on to what to choose.
So, which AM4 motherboards to go for? B450 or B550 or X570?
Well, we can safely take X570 out of the equation because if you are looking for an elite performance motherboard with no compromises X570 is the way to go. The next best thing is B550. Pick B450 if you want a humble PC that gets the job done.
But when it comes to picking B450 and B550, things get a bit trickier owing to the fact that Ryzen 7000 series processors are just around the corner and they will reportedly support AM5 sockets.
So, should you go ahead and pick up the B550 knowing fully well, that this is the last motherboard upgrade you are going to as far as AM4 devices go?
Or should you just pick a B450 motherboard that with the latest BIOS update will support the end-of-the-line AM4 processor anyway?
Well, here is the thing that I want you to understand, if the need doesn’t pop up in your mind, you probably don’t need the best of the best that is available out there.
I see so many people getting caught on having the best, the fastest, the latest, and hanging their boots so to speak to have them.
When the truth is any relatively recent hardware will serve most of your purposes just fine for the majority of people.
See, I am not a big fan of “future-proofing”. Yes, I agree you must keep a modest upgrade route open but you can’t obsess over it. And unfortunately, many do.
So, here are the main benefits of a B550 over B450 motherboards.
- B550 Supports PCIe 4.0 M.2 Slot
One of their biggest selling points over B450. PCIe 4.0 allows for using NVMe drives that are capable of transfer rates up to 7GB/s. In real world, moving from HDD to SSD, the difference is huge. From SATA SSD to PCIe 3.0 NVMe, benchmarks are good, and there is a good improvement in game load times. From PCIe 3.0 to PCIe 4.0, you will enter the land of diminishing returns.
- B550 also provides PCIe 4.0 GPU Slot
Once again an excellent piece of technology to look forward to. But again when it comes to making use of it fully, it’s still in its nascent age. Double the bandwidth, awesome. Sign me up but in real-world situations like game load times and FPS, this doesn’t mean double the performance.
- B550 offers Double GPU Support
While with B450 technically you can still have two GPUs working together but the second one will be operating on limited bandwidth laid out by PCIe 2.0 x4 slot. That being said, multi-GPU systems have fallen out of trend for a while now owing to how GPU and game technology have evolved.
- B550 Supports Gen3 General Purpose PCIe Lanes
In addition to providing PCIe 4.0 lanes for SSDs and GPUs, the general purpose PCIe lanes between the chipset and different devices use the PCIe 3.0 lanes. This makes it more flexible and faster than B450 uses PCIe 2.0 lanes
While those were the dominating differentiating factors between B450 and B550. B550 motherboards also excel the B450 by providing WiFi 6, 2.5G Ethernet, and out-of-box support for Ryzen 5000 series processors.
Choosing the Right Motherboard
Now on paper, there are obvious improvements to the B550 that you may find hard to ignore.
But that is something you expect from every new iteration of technology right?
And secondly, as I said the latest, the greatest, and the fastest, do not necessarily translate to real-world performance change if you already have a decent performing gaming or content creation PC.
When the flare of the latest and greatest is mixed with marketing tactics including the fancy names, people who aren’t that tech-savvy may experience that conflict of missing out.
Once again, the point isn’t that B550 motherboards are bad. The point is they may not necessarily be what you want given the cost.
So, this is what happened to me, my MSI B540 tomahawk motherboard recently stopped working after serving me for around 4 and a half years.
I wanted to upgrade the processor anyway since it has been running Ryzen 5 1600 to Ryzen 5 3600 or less likely 5600X.
When my motherboard died I was set on getting a B550 and pairing it with a 5600X but then I thought a little.
Getting a B550 would mean I will have no use for my Ryzen 5 1600 for the foreseeable future as B550 doesn’t support Ryzen 1st and 2nd gen processors.
Secondly, where I live getting a 5600X and B550 together would cost me around $100 more than a 3600 and B450 combo.
Add to that, Ryzen 7000 series are just around the corner and the prices will see price drops anyhow in the coming months.
The task priority that I want my PC to fulfill is content creation. Now before the issue, my PC processed everything that I threw at it with absolute ease. Never did I ever feel that my PC is lagging, not loading fast enough, stuttering in games, or any such stuff.
So, in strict terms, I really don’t feel the need to have PCIe 4.0 SSD in the system. And by the way, I am not even using an NVMe SSD.
A simple SATA Samsung 860 EVO SSD has been able to make everything go smoothly all the time on every application.
Another very important factor is the next-gen Ryzen CPUs are going to have AM5 sockets rendering AM4 motherboards obsolete.
So, as far as upgrades go, this is the time to lock my PC on AM4.
And with the latest BIOS updates, a B450 motherboard is supporting a 5600X with no problems whatsoever.
So instead of picking up a combo of B450 and 5600X, I am just going to pick a B450 board. No processor right now as I will pick one when the prices drop owing to the release of the 7000 series.
So, the money that I am going to save, I have decided to put into a very decent aftermarket cooler, and two additional units of matching RAM (making a total of 32 GB).
Because with content creation PCs having more RAM is always a good idea, especially for programs like After Effects.
Now I know your situation isn’t going to be like mine. But guess, what I don’t want it to be.
What I want is for you to be aware of how to go about making a purchase decision taking into account your needs and your budget.
Never get caught in the glamour and marketing tactics that are an earmark of the PC hardware industry.
And you know what else, for some of you getting a B550 would make more sense and that’s fine. What isn’t fine is you get something without factoring in all the necessary factors that are important to you.
Your money is important and it must be used wisely.
Ease of RMA is VERY Important
This is one thing every other person that I talk to overlooks. We can get caught up in features that we forget that all of these things are just machines.
And machines get faulty. That’s just how it is. And when it does you want great after-sales support to help you.
Whether it’s repair, replacement, or refund, the ease of support is very important.
And this should be a very important factor that you need to consider in addition to the features that you require.
Personally, if given two options where I get top-notch features and bad support and okay features and excellent support. I am taking the second option without even a single thought.
I don’t want you to underestimate the importance of support. I personally have been guilty of this. Fortunately, I haven’t had the need to RMA any of the components on my PC.
But now that my motherboard is gone (it is out of warranty), I now understand how important is to get the hardware serviced in case of possible faults.
So, before getting a part I urge you to go ahead and see if the brand that you are going to go ahead with has authorised service or at the very least hardware collection centers that you can approach in case of potential problems.
It’s good to be excited about having and getting new parts but what is also important is being aware of extraneous factors that you may need.
I hope I was able to relay the very important point of how to go about choosing a motherboard for your PC.
Now I know I started this article, by answering are B550 motherboards worth it, but I never intended on giving you a side-by-side feature comparison with a B450.
That you can find anywhere.
With this article, I intended in making you learn how to take into consideration the current technology, your budget, and most importantly your need to make a sensible purchase decision.
We are living in an age of marketing, everyone wants to sell you stuff. Which is fine, it is what it is.
What is important is how you go about making your purchase decisions.
And I hope this article helped you with that.
Now if you have indeed arrived at making a purchase decision let me end this article but listing out my handpicked motherboards in each of the three categories.