AMD’s B550 chipset offers a way for gamers to take advantage of the soaring popularity of AMD’s Ryzen 3000 CPUs for a lower price than the X570 options. “Budget” is often a bad word, but sometimes a budget option that doesn’t compromise on features or performance comes along. The ASUS ROG Strix B550-E Gaming motherboard is one of those products.
This overview article was produced in collaboration with ASUS.
AMD: The choice for gaming PC builds in 2020?
If it’s been a while since you built a new gaming PC, you can be forgiven for not knowing about the revolution that’s taken place in the CPU world. After years of Intel dominance, a recent resurgence from AMD has made the landscape much more competitive. If you’re building a new PC for gaming in 2020, while Intel still technically offers the top single-core clock speeds, more and more parts lists these days will include an AMD Ryzen CPU and compatible motherboard, thanks to its attractive balance of high performance and lower cost.
And though technically the B550 tier sits below the X570 level in terms of motherboard features and performance, in practical terms the minor compromises and limitations are not things that will matter for most gamers and system builders. If you know, for example, that you plan to include two M.2 SSDs in your system that can take full advantage of the PCIe Gen 4 connection, then you’ll want an X570 board – but if you only need one (which is going to be the case for most people), there’s little reason not to get a board like the ASUS ROG Strix B550-E Gaming to save some money.
Ready for overclocking – and keeping cool
Overclocking is the quintessential gamer move, after RGBing everything you possibly can. Not only does it give you the ability to squeeze all the extra frames you can out of modern games, it keeps your rig relevant for longer. With the ASUS ROG Strix B550-E Gaming, overclocking isn’t a surefire way to BBQ a board, thanks to a 14+2 power stage with durable capacitors that allow you to safely power the beefiest Ryzen 3rd gen (and beyond) chips.
Feel like seeing how hard you can step on the gas? ASUS provides its ROG software, with has built-in customizable profiles for overclocking your CPU, RAM, and tuning your fan profiles to be exactly the balance you need between cooling power and quiet. If that isn’t granular enough for you, the software allows you to tweak everything down to your CPU voltage to really optimize performance.
The motherboard has cooling features up and down its body, including a beefy VRM heatsink, an AIO pump header, two M.2 heatsinks, and multiple 4-pin fan headers. The B550-E Gaming is stable enough for you to really put things through their paces. It’s built with overclocking in mind, but even if you don’t plan on going down that road, these features mean you will be set up for lower temps and better, more stable performance.
All the connectivity you need
The ASUS ROG Strix B550-E Gaming has both WiFi 6 and 2.5 Gb networking onboard, so you’ll never have to experience the pain of your connection dropping in the middle of a competitive match. WiFi 6 has improved multi-user connection capabilities (MIMO), which allows two-way communication between the router and the device, improving speeds by up to 40%, and thanks to being able to use smaller segments of WiFi channels, extended range, and better data scheduling, Intel claims that you’ll get up to four times the performance in congested areas. There’s also Bluetooth 5.1, so your wireless gaming headset will sound great without any audio lag.
And ASUS is making sure you have all the ports you need, on the back of the Strix B550-E. You’ll get four USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a USB Type-C port, HDMI and DisplayPort 1.2 connections on the board itself (always handy for build troubleshooting), a standard suite of audio connections, and a dedicated Audio USB Type-C port. There are also 6 SATA connections and a Thunderbolt header on the body of the board. The board even has built-in ROG SupremeFX audio tech, with shielding included to cut down on interference once you have your board overclocked and fully loaded with added components.
Customization and special features
ASUS never fails to bring a lot to the table, and this board definitely offers some attractive extra features. The ASUS AuraSync RGB platform integrates nicely with the rest of the line, so your rig will dazzle the eyes on top of run circles around your friends. When it comes to memory, the board offers four DDR4 DIMM slots that support ECC and massive overclocking, along with the ASUS OptiMem memory trace layout, which reduces crosstalk to give you better stability and lower latency.
The powerful ROG software suite to rounds out an incredibly feature-rich board. ROG GameFirst VI is a utility that aims to help users optimize their network settings, while Armoury Crate gives centralized control over RGB lighting throughout your system and peripherals – synchronizing all your lighting and even creating your own RGB patterns and animations. And the built-in AI Noise-Canceling Microphone software takes any audio input device, from 3.5 mm to Bluetooth, and uses a deep-learning database to filter out annoying environmental sounds (like your mechanical keyboard clacking) while keeping your voice clear and strong. That’s a great set of features that offer benefits far beyond what you might expect from a motherboard – especially at the B550 tier.
With the ASUS ROG Strix B550-E Gaming, high-end doesn’t have to mean high-cost, thanks to ASUS’s dedication to bringing the best quality and cutting edge features to their “budget-friendly” line.