AMD’s B450 chipset powered some of the most popular and widely available motherboards for several years. However, with the advent of the newer B550 boards, AMD has been pushing more and more users to upgrade to the 500-series platform, promising several benefits. These additional features do, however, come at a cost. While the cheaper B450 boards started as low as $120, most decent B550 boards cost no less than $150. In this post, we compare the two and see if the latter is worth the additional markup. In short, yes, it very much is but if you’re interested in the technical details and specific advantages of the newer chipset.
PCIe Gen 4.0
As you can infer from the below table and the block diagrams, the primary difference between the B450 and B550 chipsets is concerning PCIe Gen 4.0 support. The latter leverages the newer standard for improving the PCIe bus bandwidth while also facilitating newer, faster NVMe drives. The former will be irrelevant for the next few years, but SSDs capable of pushing 7GB/s are already on the market (NVMe 3rd Gen is limited to 3.5GB/s).
|Chipset Link||PCIe 4.0 x4||PCIe 3.0 x4||PCIe 3.0 x4||PCIe 3.0 x4|
|GPU PCIe Gen 4 via CPU||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Gen 3 via CPU||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Gen 4 NVMe||2||1||0||0|
|Gen 3 NVMe||1||1||2||1|
|SATA III (6Gbps)||6||6||6||4|
|Memory Speed||5,100 MT/s||5,100 MT/s||4,133 MT/s||4,733 MT/s|
|WiFi||WiFi 6||WiFi 6||WiFi 5||N/A|
This is going to be one of the deciding factors for most users. While B450 boards support the 1st Gen, 2nd Gen, 3rd Gen, and 4th Gen Ryzen 5000 CPUs and the accompanying APUs (except 5000G series), most B550 boards are limited to the newer 3rd Gen CPUs and 4th Gen (Ryzen 5000) CPUs (and APUs).
Another point to keep in mind is concerning the future upgrade path. The 400-series boards (including B450/X470) won’t be compatible with the upcoming Ryzen 5000 XT/ Zen 3 refresh or the 3D stacked V-Cache processors. Only the B550 and the other 500-series chipsets will support them, and they too will become redundant after that (as AMD moves to the newer AM5 socket).
Internet and WiFi Connectivity
Thanks to the adoption of PCIe Gen 4.0, the B550 chipset allows for much faster network speeds. The LAN network bandwidth has increased from 1Gbps on the B450 chipset to 2.5 Gbps (2.5x) on the B550. Similarly, the latter also supports WiFi 6, which can push nearly 10Gbps, up from WiFi 5’s 3.5Gbps. Although most of up won’t be getting those kinds of network speeds anytime soon, it’s a nice-to-have upgrade.
Multi-GPU Support and Conclusion
The final benefit of B550 boards concerns multi-GPU configurations. However, because of the non-existent support, it’s pretty much a moot point. While B450 was limited to CrossFireX, B550 supports SLI as well, although there are very few offerings on the market that implement it in reality.
As you can probably surmise from the above table, the primary advantage of the B550 chipset comes in the form of PCIe Gen 4 support. That translated into higher GPU bus bandwidth, faster drives, and much faster network connectivity. You’re also getting support for 5GHz+ memory speeds, but that’s not relevant to the average user.