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Asus ROG Strix B660-A Gaming WIFI D4 Review: Sweet-Sounding Budget Bird

 We know the Asus ROG Strix B660-A Gaming WIFI D4 is a performant motherboard with a features list that’s arguably worthy of the $239.99 price. If one of your planned uses for this system is to run stress test-style loads, you may need to adjust some voltages so the system doesn’t thermally throttle. In more typical scenarios, such as gaming, this isn’t an issue except for the increased power use compared to other boards. If you don’t plan on overclocking your Alder Lake processor, don’t require SATA-based M.2 support and are willing to pay for the Asus price premium, the B660-A Gaming WIFI D4 is a good choice to build your new PC around.


The Asus ROG Strix B660-A Gaming WIFI D4 is our first look at one of the "high-end" B660 options available today. High-end, without the context of B660, may be a misnomer if you're used to recent board prices, since these boards don’t break the $250 mark at Newegg. But some of these more expensive B660 boards include premium parts such as a better audio codec, Wi-Fi 6/6E, and improved power delivery than some of the other less expensive B660 options we’ve looked at so far.

The Strix B660-A Gaming WIFI D4 is one of the more expensive B660 options available from Newegg.com at $239.99. For the money, the board includes a premium current-gen audio codec, capable power delivery, integrated Wi-Fi 6, three M.2 sockets, plenty of USB ports (including a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 port) along with a two-toned look that should match a wide variety of build themes. For those who don’t plan to overclock their processor, it’s a solid option to build a system around, at least by the list of features and specifications.

Performance-wise, the B660-A Gaming WIFI D4 is one of the faster boards we’ve tested overall using DDR4 or DDR5 memory. While there are some tests in which DDR4 can’t hold a candle to DDR5 (7Zip multi-core compression, for example), it does well across our suite, including games. Where the Strix didn’t do as well — and in part why it performed as it did — was because the default BIOS allows the i9-12900K to boost up to 330W, which is higher than many of the boards we’ve tested to this point, including those with Z690 chipsets. The increased turbo power limit yields thermal throttling in our stress test almost immediately, so you’ll need to be aware of that if your use case involves similarly heavy loads.

Let's look at the Asus ROG Strix B660-A Gaming WIFI D4’s features and performance in more detail and see if this sub-$250 motherboard and its high power use can make the best motherboards list and is worth the performance and heat output. But first, here are the specs, direct from Asus:

Specifications: Asus ROG Strix B660-A Gaming WIFI D4

Socket

LGA1700

Chipset

B660

Form Factor

ATX

Voltage Regulator

13 Phase (??A MOSFETs for Vcore)

Video Ports

(1) HDMI (v2.1)


(1) DisplayPort (v1.4)

USB Ports

(1) USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C (20 Gbps)


(1) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C (5 Gbps)


(1) USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps)


(2) USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)


(4) USB 2.0 (480 Mbps)

Network Jacks

(1) 2.5 GbE

Audio Jacks

(5) Analog + SPDIF

Legacy Ports/Jacks

Other Ports/Jack

PCIe x16

(1) v5.0 (x16)


(1) v3.0 (x4)

PCIe x8

PCIe x4

PCIe x1

(2) v3.0 (x1)

CrossFire/SLI

DIMM slots

(4) DDR4 5333+(OC), 128GB Capacity

M.2 slots

(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps), PCIe (up to 110mm)


(1) PCIe 4.0 x2 (32 Gbps), PCIe (up to 80mm)


(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps), PCIe (up to 110mm)

U.2 Ports

SATA Ports

(4) SATA3 6 Gbps (Supports RAID 0/1/5/10)

USB Headers

(1) USB v3.2 Gen 2, Type-C (10 Gbps)


(1) USB v3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)


(2) USB v2.0 (480 Mbps)


(1) USB v2.0 (480 Mbps, 4-pin)

Fan/Pump Headers

(6) 4-Pin (CPU, CPU OPT, AIO Pump, Chassis)

RGB Headers

(3) aRGB Gen 2 (3-pin)


(1) AURA RGB (4-pin)

Diagnostics Panel

Q-LEDs

Internal Button/Switch

SATA Controllers

Ethernet Controller(s)

Intel I225-V (2.5 Gbps)

Wi-Fi / Bluetooth

Intel Wi-Fi 6 (2x2 ax, MU-MIMO, 2.4/5/6 GHz, 160 MHz, BT 5.2)

USB Controllers

HD Audio Codec

Realtek ALC4080

DDL/DTS

✗ / DTS: Sound Unbound

Warranty

3 Years

Inside the Box of the Asus ROG Strix B660-A Gaming WIFI D4

Inside the box, along with the motherboard, Asus includes your standard loy of accessories including SATA cables, Wi-Fi antenna, and more. Below is a complete list of the included extras.

  • 4 SATA cables

  • ASUS Wi-Fi moving antennas  

  • Cable ties pack  

  • M.2 Rubber Package(s)  

  • M.2 Q-Latch package(s)  

  • ROG key chain  

  • ROG Strix stickers  

  • ROG Strix thank you card  

  • Support DVD

  • User guide

Design of the B660-A Gaming WIFI D4

After taking the Asus B660-A Gaming WIFI D4 out of the box, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the company's Prime motherboards that follow the same high-level theme of a black PCB and silver/white heatsinks and shrouds. There’s some ROG Strix influence as well: Outside of the branding on the VRM heatsinks, familiar dot-matrix accents grace the board. And while it looks good overall, I would have preferred a ROG Strix board to be more, well, ROG Strix. Give me that more premium black-on-red look that’s synonymous with ROG.

If you’re into RGB lighting, the B660-A includes one zone on the left VRM heatsink that illuminates the ROG branding from below and the letters "WASD." (home keys for gamers) If you’re looking for the board to light up the chassis, you can use the four headers, as the integrated light zones just don't have the nits to shine brightly. But you can use Aura Sync software to customize the effects.

(Image credit: Asus)

Starting with the top half of the board, we get a better look at the silver VRM heatsinks, RGB features and other connections. Starting on the left, the heatsink reaches out over the plastic I/O cover, blending in seamlessly with the shroud below. Toward the bottom is the sole RGB zone. Above the VRM heatsink is an 8-pin (required) and 4-pin EPS connector to power the processor. I’m surprised to see more than the 8-pin on a board that doesn’t overclock, but with how much power this board draws for the processor in our stress test by default, I’m glad it’s there.

Just above the top VRM heatsink are two (of six) 4-pin fan headers. All CPU and chassis fan headers are Q-Fan controlled and output up to 1A/12W. I’d like to see at least one header that supports 2A/24W, but since there isn’t any overclocking, few people would put more than an AIO on such a system and you don’t need to piggyback fans. Still, this is plenty of output if you’re only using air cooling.

Continuing right, we run into four unreinforced, single-side latching DRAM slots. Asus lists support up to DDR4-5333+(OC) and as usual, your mileage may vary as to what speeds are attainable. It depends on the memory kit and the quality of the memory controller (IMC) on the processor. We didn’t have any issues with our DDR4-3600 or DDR4-4000 kit during testing.

Along the right edge, we come across two (of four) RGB headers. In this case, two of the three ARGB headers are with the others located across the bottom edge. Just below that is the 24-pin ATX connector to power the board, a front-panel USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) connector and, finally, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) header.

 

Asus lists power delivery as a 13-phase configuration with 12 phases dedicated to VCore. Power from the 8-pin EPS connector(s) heads to an ASP2100 10-channel controller. Power then heads to the 12 55A Alpha and Omega AOZ5316NQI SPS MOSFETs in a "teamed" setup (No phase doublers, but a pair of MOSFETs get one signal from the controller). The 660A available to Vcore is low compared to most Z690-based boards. But remember, B660 doesn’t overclock the processor. These VRMs did a good job handling our Intel i9–12900K (and its high power use on this specific board) without burning themselves up trying.

(Image credit: Asus)

Moving to the bottom half of the board, we get a better look at the audio section, PCIe and storage as well as the overall dot-matrix aesthetic. Starting with the audio on the left, we see a Faraday cage covering the latest Realtek ALC4080 codec. It’s nice to see this codec on a motherboard that is this affordable. Surrounding the audio codec are several gold Nichicon audio caps, along with the audio separation line which keeps the audio apart from the rest of the board. Additionally, the B660-A Gaming’s front-panel output utilizes a Savitech amplifier capable of driving a wide variety of headsets. In all, it’s one of the better audio implementations on this class of board.

In the middle, we see two full-length PCIe slots with the top slot (for the graphics card) reinforced to prevent shearing and EMI mitigation. This slot connects through the CPU and runs up to PCIe 5.0 x16. The second full-length slot connects through the chipset and runs at PCIe 3.0 x4, while the two x1 size slots run at PCIe 3.0 x1 and connect via the chipset.

Three M.2 sockets are littered around the PCIe slots. The top socket (M.2_1) connects via the CPU and runs up to PCIe 4.0 x4 mode with up to 110 mm modules. The middle M.2 socket (M.2_2) handles 80 mm drives and runs up to PCIe 4.0 x2. Last but not least, M.2_3 also connects through the chipset at speeds up to PCIe 4.0 x4 supporting up to 110 mm drives. If you plan to use SATA-based M.2 modules, you’ll have to look elsewhere or purchase an add-in-card, as the B660-A Gaming only supports PCIe-based storage.

As we move right past the dot-matrix design and chipset heatsink to the right edge, we run into two SATA ports (of four), with the other two sitting vertically across the bottom edge. This board supports RAID0/1/5/10 modes if you want to RAID your SATA drives. Since the board doesn’t support SATA-based M.2, you’ll be able to use all M.2 sockets and SATA ports concurrently.

Several headers are placed across the bottom, including USB and SATA ports, RGB, and more. Below is a complete list of all the headers across the bottom of the board:

  • Front panel audio

  • SPDIF out

  • Thunderbolt AIC header

  • 3-pin ARGB header

  • 4-pin RGB header

  • USB 2.0 header

  • (2) 43-pin fan headers

  • (2) SATA ports

  • Clear CMOS jumper

  • Temperature sensor

  • Front panel header

 

As we move to the rear I/O area, the preinstalled I/O plate matches the board theme with a white background and black labels on each of the ports. An ROG symbol graces some free space, so you don’t forget who you bought your board from.

Working left to right, we hit the HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs for use with a processor that has integrated graphics. Next up, we hit four USB 2.0 ports, while next to that is the BIOS Flashback button. In the middle is the 2.5 GbE port that sits on top of a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port (also the BIOS Flashback port). Below that is a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20 Gbps) Type-C port. Two more Type-A ports (3.2 Gen 1) and the Wi-Fi antenna connectors are to the right. Another Type-C port is mixed in with the 5-plug audio stack that curiously doesn’t include SDPIF optical. In all the seven Type-A ports should be enough for most users.

Firmware

Asus’ ROG Strix B660-A Gaming BIOS sports a familiar black-and-red theme. The BIOS is loaded with options and menus and the most frequently accessed items are easily accessible and not buried several layers down. There’s also an Easy Mode that’s more of a dashboard with limited functionality. We're fans of the Asus BIOS and its logical layout. It has everything you need, and then some, to tweak your motherboard and component settings. And if you want to know how to access your BIOS (from any system), we can help!

Software

Asus has applications designed to control the motherboard's various functions, ranging from RGB lighting control to audio, system monitoring, overclocking and more. Instead of plodding through each application as if it changes for each review, we’ll capture several screenshots of a few major utilities. In this case, here’s a look at Ai Suite 3, Armoury Crate, Sonic Studio and the Realtek Audio application.

Test System / Comparison Products

We’ve updated our test system to Windows 11 64-bit OS with all updates applied as of October 2021. We kept the same Asus TUF RTX 3070 video card from our previous testing platforms but updated the driver to version 496.13. Additionally, our game selection was updated, as noted in the table below. We use the latest non-beta motherboard BIOS available to the public unless otherwise noted. The hardware we used is as follows:

Test System Components

CPU

Intel Core i9-12900K

Memory

Kingston Fury DDR5 5200 CL40 (9KF552C40BBK2-32)


GSkill Trident Z DDR5 5600 CL36 (F5-5600U3636C16GX2-TZ5RK)


ADATA XPG DDR5 6000 CL40 (AX5U6000C4016G-FCLARBK)

GPU

Asus TUF RTX 3070

Cooling

MSI MEG Coreliquid S360

PSU

EVGA Supernova 850W P6

Software

Windows 11 64-bit (21H2, Build 22000.282)

Graphics Driver

Nvidia Driver 496.13

Sound

Integrated HD audio

Network

Integrated Networking (GbE or 2.5 GbE)

Benchmark Settings

Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings


Procyon

Version 2.0.249 64


Office Suite, Video Editing (Premiere Pro), Photo Editing (Photoshop, Lightroom Classic)

3DMark

Version 2.20.7290 64


Firestrike Extreme and Time Spy Default Presets

Cinebench R23

Version RBBENCHMARK330542


Open GL Benchmark - Single and Multi-threaded

Blender

Version 3.0.1


Full benchmark (three sub-tests)

Application Tests and Settings


LAME MP3

Version SSE2_2019


Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160Kb/s)

HandBrake CLI

Version: 1.2.2


Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4K mkv to x264 (light AVX) and x265 (heavy AVX)

Corona 1.4

Version 1.4


Custom benchmark

7-Zip

Version 21.03-beta


Integrated benchmark (Command Line)

Game Tests and Settings


Far Cry 6

Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, HD Textures ON

F1 2021

Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, HBAO+, RT Med, TAA + 16xAF, Bahrain, FPS Counter ON

Benchmark Results and Final Analysis

Our standard benchmarks and power tests are performed using the CPU’s stock frequencies (including any default boost/turbo) with all power-saving features enabled. We set optimized defaults in the BIOS and the memory by enabling the XMP profile. For this baseline testing, the Windows power scheme is set to Balanced (default), so the PC idles appropriately.

To get the most out of the Intel Alder Lake chips, you need to be on Windows 11 with its updated scheduler. In most cases, Windows 10 performs well. However, some tests (Cinebench R20, Corona and POVRay) take a significant hit. In short, if you’re going with Alder Lake, you must upgrade to Windows 11 for the best results across the board. That may change with patching and updates in the future, though.

The B660-A Gaming showed inconsistent results in our synthetic benchmarks. Some results were above average, such as Procyon Office, while others were around what we expect for this class of board. AIDA64 results for our DDR4 were solid, with latency one of the fastest recorded. In short, there’s nothing to worry about performance-wise in this set of tests.

Starting with LAME testing, the B660-A took 9.59 seconds to complete, which is on the faster side of average. The Corona Ray Tracing benchmark's results matched the fastest time (another DDR4 Asus board), completing the benchmark in 51 seconds. Handbrake results were average overall, with the x264 testing slower than the DDR5 boards but mixing in with DDR4 at 116 seconds. The x265 test was completed in 298 seconds, which is the second-fastest result tested so far. There are no performance issues in the timed applications.

Starting with the launch of the Z690 chipset, we’ve updated our game tests. We’ve updated Far Cry: New Dawn to Far Cry 6 and shifted from F1 2020 to F1 2021. We run the games at 1920x1080 resolution using the Ultra preset (details listed above). As the resolution goes up, the CPU tends to have less impact. The goal with these settings is to determine if there are differences in performance at the most commonly used resolution with settings that most people use (or at least strive for). We expect the difference between boards in these tests to be minor, with most falling within the margin of error. We've also added a minimum FPS value, as that can affect your gameplay and immersion experience.

In F1 2021, the B660-A Gaming averaged 165 fps with minimums of 139 fps, one of the faster results overall. Far Cry 6, on the other hand, was in the middle of the pack, averaging 136 fps with 124 fps minimums. Both results here are right around the average.

In the 3DMark tests, the Asus scored 14,291 on 3DMark Time Spy and 17,021 on Fire Strike Extreme, both average or slightly above average. In short, you have nothing to worry about when gaming on this motherboard.

We used AIDA64’s System Stability Test with Stress CPU, FPU and Cache enabled for power testing and used the peak power consumption value. The wattage reading comes from the wall via a Kill-A-Watt meter to capture the entire PC, minus the monitor. The only variable that changes is the motherboard; all other parts are the same.

At idle, the B660-A Gaming WIFI D4 used 54W, which places it more on the efficient side of average sipping power. Load power is a completely different story, peaking at a stunning 403W during our testing. Considering the average is somewhere above 300W (depends on the boards/datasets), using 33% more power is quite a bit. You can thank the BIOS (we used version 1402) for this behavior, as the power limits are notably higher than on other boards. Performance would likely be better if Vcore was kept in check and the system didn’t thermally throttle in some tests (it did so instantly on our stress test). While the system worked and performed OK overall, I’d look at adjusting a vCore offset to thwart the high power use. 

VRM temperatures on this power-hungry board topped out at 58 degrees Celsius during stock testing. I'm impressed with the result for the amount of power running through these teamed VRMs, as it easily keeps the power bits running well within specification. Since you can't overclock the processor, there's plenty of headroom left before the MOSFETs run out of spec.

Overclocking

 

Overclocking the CPU isn’t possible on B660-based chipsets, but the platform does allow for memory speed adjustment. With our DDR4-3600 and DDR4-4000 kits, we simply set XMP and off we went without a hitch. Surely there’s some headroom left, but I’d imagine people purchasing a budget-class board aren’t looking to buy expensive RAM that’s far outside the sweet spot (DDR4 3600-4000).

Bottom Line

After building in and testing the B660-A Gaming WIFI D4, we found it performed well across our various tests. The good news is that judging by the positive results on our performance testing, the throttling we observed only seems to happen when stress testing. Still, the increased power consumption is due to the 280W/330W short/long term turbo parameters in the current (v1402) BIOS. That aside, the Strix board handled our flagship-class Intel i9-12900K without a hitch, easily matching and in some cases surpassing more expensive Z690-based options in our test suite.

For $239.99, this board offers a wide variety of features, including a current-gen Realtek-based audio solution plus a Savitech amplifier, three M.2 sockets (though without any  SATA-based support), four SATA ports, multiple USB Type-C ports (20 Gbps and 10 Gbps), and integrated Wi-Fi 6. The Silver, black, and white appearance should work in most build themes. The website says it’s "Undeniably ROG Strix," but I would like to see that same black and red theme we’re more familiar with on the enthusiast-class chipsets here as well. There’s plenty to like about this board when it comes to hardware and the software ecosystem and overall the board presents as a good option in the high-end B660 space.

One potential turnoff, compared to similar B660-based motherboard options, is the price. Although the $239 price point for the B660-A Gaming WIFI D4 is more reasonable than anything using Z690, it’s the most expensive among its peers. For example, the Gigabyte B660 Aorus Master DDR4 is $209.99, the MSI MAG B660 Tomahawk WIFI DDR4 is $189.99, and the ASRock Steel Legend is the least expensive at $159.99. Only the Asus we tested uses the latest generation audio codec between them, but outside of that, they all include three M.2 sockets (others support SATA-based modules) and at least four SATA ports (MSI has six). If networking is critical and you need Wi-Fi, all of the boards except for the ASRock include Wi-Fi; MSI and Asus use the faster Wi-Fi 6 than the Gigabyte. It comes down to the features you want, at the price you want to pay.




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