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ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming
ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming

unnamed file 3464Up until very recently, if you wanted the latest and greatest motherboard for an AMD CPU you were forced to buy a motherboard with an X570 chipset, that is until AMD released the B550 to the masses. Asus has some of the largest selection of motherboards and we have the minuscule ASUS ROG Strix B550-I motherboard on the test bench. The ROG Strix B550-I is a mini ITX motherboard which is great for small builds.  Over the last few generations, ITX boards have been able to meet the performance of their full-size counterparts and the Strix B550-I aims to keep this trend going. ITX motherboards do make some sacrifices for size. For example, you only get one PCIe slot and two vs. four memory slots.  As far as the chipset, the main difference between the X570 and B550 is the PCIe generation and the configuration. 1st off, the B550 uses PCIe 3.0 for the CPU to chipset link whereas the X570 uses PCIe 4.0. With the B550, you still get 16 lanes of PCIe Gen4 for graphics and one 4-lane PCIe 4.0 NVME slot and a ton of PCIe Gen3 lanes that the motherboard manufactures can arrange how they see fit. Also with the B550, you gain the support for dual GPUs which is something the B450 lacked. Overall, the B550 should be cheaper than the X570 boards. While there are trade-offs in I/O and the bells and whistles available on the board, is there a trade-off for performance as well? From what I know from the reviews of the X570 and B450 boards, performance differences should be minimal. I can understand AMD not wanting to give everything away on the B550 as far as available features because why would you buy an X570 board? However, I can’t see AMD penalizing you for buying a less expensive board to pair with their latest and greatest CPU. To me, that just doesn’t make sense.

Packaging

The box features the ROG (Republic Of Gamers) logo dressed in RGB neon colors behind the graphic of the front side of the motherboard on the front of the box. Clearly, you can see what chipset and what CPU generation this motherboard is for. On the back of the box, Asus goes into a lot more detail on some of the specifications such as I/O, SATA port count, as well as some of the features of the Strix B550-I

 

Inside, you’ll find the motherboard wrapped in an anti-static bag. There are two compartments to the box. The top compartment holds the motherboard and the bottom compartment holds the accessories.
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The accessory bundle for the Strix B550-I includes a rear I/O shield, SATA cables, zip ties, a USB c to 3.5mm headphone jack, an M.2 bracket, and screws, and Wifi antenna. Also included are a sticker sheet, thank you card, manual, and a DVD. Honestly, I’d rather see USB drives included for drivers rather than DVDs. Not many people that I know still have an optical drive in their PC.

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Specifications

CPU AMD AM4 Socket 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen™ Processors
* Refer to www.asus.com for CPU support list
Chipset AMD B550
Memory 5100(O.C)/5000(O.C)/4800(O.C.)/4600(O.C)/4400(O.C)/4266(O.C.)/
4133(O.C.)/4000(O.C.)/3800(O.C.)/3600(O.C.)/3466(O.C.)/3400(O.C.)/
3200/3000/2933/2800/2666/2400/2133 MHz Un-buffered Memory *
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
OptiMem II
ECC Memory (ECC mode) support varies by CPU.
Graphic 1 x HDMI 2.1(4K@60HZ) *
1 x DisplayPort 1.4 *
*Graphics specifications may vary between CPU types.
Expansion Slots 1 x PCIe 4.0 x16 (x16 mode)
Storage Total supports 2 x M.2 slots and 4 x SATA 6Gb/s ports
3rd Gen AMD Ryzen™ Processors :
1 x M.2_1 socket 3, with M Key, Type 2242/2260/2280 (PCIe 4.0 x4 and SATA modes) storage devices support
AMD B550 Chipset :
1 x M.2_2 socket 3, with M Key, Type 2242/2260/2280 (PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA modes) storage devices support
4 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s),
Support Raid 0, 1, 10
LAN Intel® I225-V 2.5Gb Ethernet
ASUS LANGuard
Wireless Data Network Intel® Wi-Fi 6 AX200
2×2 Wi-Fi 6 (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax) support 1024QAM/OFDMA/MU-MIMO
Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz
Supports channel bandwidth: HT20/HT40/HT80/HT160
Bluetooth Bluetooth v5.1*
*BT 5.1 function will be ready in Windows 10 build 19041 or later.
Audio SupremeFX 7.1 Surround Sound High Definition Audio CODEC S1220A
– Dual OP Amplifiers
– Impedance sense for front and rear headphone outputs
– Supports: Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
– High quality 120 dB SNR stereo playback output and 113 dB SNR recording input
– Supports up to 32-Bit/192kHz playback *
Audio Feature :
– Rear audio USB Type-C® port
– LED-illuminated design
– Audio Shielding
– Premium Japanese audio capacitors
USB Ports Rear USB Port ( Total 6 )
4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 port(s)(1 x USB Type-C® +3 x Type-A)
1 x USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x USB 2.0 port(s)(1 x audio USB Type-C® )
Front USB Port ( Total 5 )
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 front-panel connector port(s)(1 x USB Type-C®)
2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 port(s)
2 x USB 2.0 port(s)
Software Features ROG Exclusive Software
– RAMCache III
– ROG CPU-Z
– GameFirst VI
– Sonic Studio III + Sonic Studio Virtual Mixer
– Sonic Radar III
– DTS® Sound Unbound
– Overwolf
– Anti-virus software
ASUS Exclusive Software Features
Armoury Crate
– Aura Creator
– Aura Sync
-AI Noise Cancelling Microphone
ASUS Special Features Aura Sync
– Standard RGB header(s)
– Addressable Gen 2 RGB header(s)
ASUS Q-Design
– ASUS Q-CODE
– ASUS Q-DIMM
– ASUS Q-LED (DRAM [yellow],CPU [red], VGA [white], Boot Device [yellow green)
– ASUS Q-Slot
ASUS Thermal Solution
– Aluminum M.2 heatsink
ASUS EZ DIY
-BIOS Flashback™ button
-BIOS FlashBack™ LED
-Clear CMOS header
-Procool
-Pre-mounted I/O shield
– SafeSlot
Rear audio USB Type-C® connector
Back I/O Ports 1 x Intel® I225-V 2.5Gb Ethernet
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (1 x USB Type-C®+3 x Type-A)
2 x USB 2.0 (one port can be switched to USB BIOS FlashBack 1 for audio USB Type-C®)
1 x BIOS FlashBack Button(s)
1 x ASUS Wi-Fi Module
3 x LED-illuminated audio jacks
Internal I/O Ports 1 x CPU Fan connector(s)
1 x Chassis Fan connector(s)
1 x AIO_PUMP connector
1 x Aura RGB Strip Header(s)
1 x Addressable Gen 2 header(s)
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 front panel TypeC™ connector
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1(up to 5Gbps) connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 port(s)
1 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 2.0 port(s)
2 x M.2 Socket 3 with M Key design, type 2242/2260/2280 storage devices support (Supports both SATA & PCIe SSD)
4 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
1 x System panel connector
1 x Speaker connector
1 x VRM_HS_FAN Header
Accessories User’s manual
I/O Shield
4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
2 x M.2 Screw Package
1 x Supporting DVD
1 x ROG Strix stickers
1 x M.2 bracket
1 x Cable ties pack(s)
1 x Wi-Fi Antenna(s)
1 x Extension cable for Addressable LED
1 x Panel cable
1 x ROG Thank you card
1 x ROG audio USB Type-C® cable
BIOS 256 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS
Manageability WOL by PME, PXE
Operating System Windows® 10 64-bit
Form Factor Mini ITX Form Factor
6.7 inch x 6.7 inch ( 17 cm x 17 cm )

A Closer Look at the ROG STRIX B550-I Gaming Motherboard

As mentioned earlier, the Strix B550-I is a mini ITX form factor motherboard and measures in at only 6.7 inches x 6.7 inches and features two slots for memory modules, one PCIe slot for a graphics card, and four SATA 6 GB/s ports.
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The right side of the motherboard features the four SATA 6 GB/s ports, USB 3.2 Gen 1 connector, USB 3.2 gen 1 type C connector,   front panel connectors, and the 24-pin power connector.
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At the top edge of the motherboard, you’ll find the 8-pin CPU power connector, 3 4-pin fan/pump connectors, and an addressable RGB header as well as a 4-pin non-addressable RGB header. Hidden under the rightmost memory slot locking tab is the Q-LEDs.
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The bottom edge of the Strix B550-I motherboard features the PCIe x16 slot and the M.2 heatsink.unnamed file 3533

The rear I/O includes a Display port and HDMI port for AMD APUs. A single USB 2.0 port comes next. The BIOS FlashBack button sits just to the right of the USB 2.0 ports. A pair of USB 3.2 Gen2 ports come up next followed by another USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, the Intel I225-V 2.5 Gb ethernet port, and a USB 3.2 Gen2 Type C port.  The wireless antenna connectors follow. The audio ports are next. Once the board is powered on, the audio ports are illuminated by LEDs and glow blue, green, or red depending on the port type. Under the audio connectors is the Audio USB Type C connector for use with the USB C to 3.5mm cable included with the motherboard.
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There are two M.2 slots on the Strix B550-I motherboard. One is located under the heatsink on the front of the motherboard and is 4 lanes of PCIe 4.0. The other is located on the back of the motherboard is 4 lanes of PCIe 3.0.

To access the front M.2 slot you’ll need to remove the heatsink. This is done by removing the two screws in the heatsink. There is a thermal pad attached to the heatsink so make sure to remove it before completing the installation of the drive.
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A Closer Look Continued

The small size of the ROG Strix B550-I makes it easy to tear down. Tucked under the heatsink on the left-hand side of the motherboard is the VRM.

The heatsink is actively cooled by a small fan that connects to a special header on the top edge of the motherboard. Typically, not always, ITX cases tend to lack the airflow characteristics of larger mATX and full ATX cases. Active cooling here helps keep the VRM cool when running the high core count CPUs like the 3900x and the 3950x.

First up, the power stages. There is 10 total with 8 used for core voltage and 2 for SoC voltage. The power stages Asus used is the Vishay SiC360 50A integrated MOSFET and driver.

 

To meet the current requirements needed, ASUS runs two 50a power stages per phase for Vcore and is handled by the ASP1106 digital VRM controller on the rear of the motherboard.
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Super I/O is handled by the NuvoTon NCT67980 which sits near the WindBond BIOS chip located under the front M.2 PCB.

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System Configuration and BIOS Overview

 

Component
Product Name Provided By
Processor AMD Ryzen 9 3900x AMD
Motherboard ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming/ASRock X570 Taichi Asus/ASRock
Memory Aorus GP-AR31C16S8K2HU416RD DDR4 3200 16-18-18-38 (XMP) Gigabyte
Drive Adata SX8200NP, Crucial MX500 1 TB SATA III SSD, Adata SU650 Adata/Crucial
Video Cards Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Founders Edition Nvidia
Monitor BenQ EL2870U 28 inch 4K HDR Gaming Monitor 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz
Case DimasTech EasyXL DimasTech
Power Supply Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W Cooler Master
Operating System Windows 10 2004 x64 Pro with latest patches and updates

 

When you first load into the BIOS on the Strix B550-I motherboard, like most motherboards, you’ll be presented with easy mode. For the most part, EZ mode will give most users quick access to what they need. In this case, I left the BIOS stock and just turned on D.O.C.P. to enable the DDR4 3200 speeds on the RAM.

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Hitting the F7 key kicks you into Advanced mode and exposes all the options available in the BIOS via menus and sub-menus. The main page is a quick overview of the system and includes items such as the BIOS version, CPU, and memory information.
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For overclockers, AI Tweaker is where you’re going to want to head if you want to tweak and tune that CPU for both voltage and frequency as well as memory speeds, timings, and voltages.
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The advanced tab allows you to tweak your system even further. Not only can you adjust settings to the CPU here, but you can also adjust settings for the SATA configuration, network configuration, USB configuration, and a ton more.
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The monitor tab allows you to see all the details of your system such as temperatures, voltages, and fan speeds. You can also set custom fan curves in Q-fan from here as well as the shortcut at the top of the page above the menus.
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Q-fan control allows you to tweak and tune either manually or automatically the fans and/or pumps installed on your system.
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In the boot menu, you can set your boot options such as which hard drive to boot off of first or set up secure boot.
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The tool menu gives you access to a host of information and tools. First up, you can access the Asus EZ Flash utility to load the latest BIOS or securely erase a drive. SPD information and GPU information are available here too.
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Finally the exit menu. you can save or discard the changes you’ve made to the BIOS and boot into your OS of choice.
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Software and Features

After a fresh install of Windows, I was greeted with Armoury Crate. The software asked me if I wanted to install the drivers for the LAN and wireless adapters. I chose yes and after a reboot, we were good to go.

Armoury Crate is the management software for the Strix B550-I motherboard and offers quite a few configuration options as well as some tools. First up is the LED lighting for the addressable RGB, non-addressable RGB, and the audio. Now, this only turns the on and off, the effects are applied in the next section.
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Aura Sync is where you can apply the lighting effects to the LEDs that are compatible with the system.
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Armoury crate searched out a few of the games I have on this system and displayed them in the Game Library tab.
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Scenario Profiles allow you to link and application or a game to a custom set of settings. For example, you can set it so that when Game X is launched, the LEDs on the motherboard and  LED strips to glow a certain color or run a particular Aura Sync effect, and disable the Windows key on your keyboard.        unnamed file 3559

The tools menu will allow you to download the latest drivers, utilities, and BIOS updates in one place. While the drivers and utilities can be installed from here, the BIOS updates cannot. You can also access a digital copy of the user manual from there.
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The featured menu gives you ROG VIP members access to deals on games.
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Want to know what’s newsworthy in the gaming and ASUS world, hit up the news tab.
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Test System and Synthetic Benchmarks

 

Component
Product Name Provided By
Processor AMD Ryzen 9 3900x AMD
Motherboard ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming/ASRock X570 Taichi Asus/ASRock
Memory Aorus GP-AR31C16S8K2HU416RD DDR4 3200 16-18-18-38 (XMP) Gigabyte
Drive Adata SX8200NP, Crucial MX500 1 TB SATA III SSD, Adata SU650 Adata/Crucial
Video Cards Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Founders Edition Nvidia
Monitor BenQ EL2870U 28 inch 4K HDR Gaming Monitor 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz
Case DimasTech EasyXL DimasTech
Power Supply Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W Cooler Master
Operating System Windows 10 2004 x64 Pro with latest patches and updates

Currently, I have two AMD motherboards in my stable, the ASRock X570 Taichi and the Asus ROG Strix B550-I Gaming. While I am pitting them against each other for performance comparisons, I am doing it to show little or no loss in performance across the two platforms.

One thing that I am leery of is the way the motherboard handle the boost clocks on the CPUs. At the launch of the Ryzen 3900x I ran into an issue with the Aorus X570 motherboard that didn’t allow the CPU to boost and maintain it’s boost clocks whereas the X570 Taichi motherboard did. So, for every AMD review, I run a single-core test in POV-Ray and capture the clock speeds for 60 seconds to verify the motherboard and CPU can hit the advertised speeds.

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As you can see, the frequency jumps around as the load switches cores. However, you can see nice flat peeks at 4495 Mhz as well as boosting just above to around 4600 Mhz but doesn’t stay there for very long.

Testing and Performance

AIDA64 ENGINEER

AIDA64 has a set of several 64-bit benchmarks to measure how fast the computer performs various data processing tasks and mathematical calculations. Multi-threaded memory and cache benchmarks are available to analyze system RAM bandwidth and latency. Benchmark pages of AIDA64 Extreme provide several methods to measure system performance. These benchmarks are synthetic, so their results show only the theoretical maximum performance of the system. The AIDA64 suite has various benchmarks for CPU, FPU, GPU, storage, and memory testing.

In the Aida64 CPU and FPU tests, the ROG Strix B550-I matched the ASRock x570 step for step, and the only differences in performance fall within the margin of error. Again, I wouldn’t expect AMD to purposely hinder their CPUs, especially the top end CPUs, just because you didn’t purchase the more expensive X570 based motherboard.

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Memory bandwidth is a whole different story. I tested and retested and got the same result with the same RAM in each motherboard. I’d be willing to account for the differences in performance because AIDA wasn’t updated to the latest version and the fact that the memory I was using wasn’t on the qualified memory list when I ran this test. I’m currently waiting for some additional faster RAM to arrive and I want to compare at speeds above DDR4 3200.

Cinebench R20

Cinebench is a real-world cross-platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s hardware capabilities. Improvements to Cinebench Release 20 reflect the overall advancements to CPU and rendering technology in recent years, providing a more accurate measurement of Cinema 4D’s ability to take advantage of multiple CPU cores and modern processor features available to the average user.

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In Cinebench R20, we see the X570 has a slight lead in performance over the B550 system, although not by much.

POV-Ray 3.7

The Persistence of Vision Ray Tracer, or POV-Ray, is a ray-tracing program that generates images from a text-based scene description and is available for a variety of computer platforms. It was originally based on DKBTrace, written by David Kirk Buck and Aaron A. Collins for the Amiga computers. There are also influences from the earlier Polyray[6] raytracer contributed by its author Alexander Enzmann. POV-Ray is free and open-source software with the source code available under the AGPLv3.

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Again, we see a minor performance gap between the two systems.

 

 

Multimedia, Compression and Semi-Synthetic Benchmarks

Handbrake

HandBrake is a free and open-source video transcoder, originally developed in 2003 by Eric Petit to make ripping a film from a DVD to a data storage device easier. Essentially, it can convert video to almost any modern format. HandBrake is available for Linux, macOS, and Windows. The workload video file is a file that I’ve used for years called Sintel. It is a 1.09-gigabyte file that is full HD. I used the Apple 240p preset for this test.

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The completion time for the Strix B550-I motherboard is a mere two seconds slower than the X570 Taichi and there’s a pretty decent gap in the FPS.

7-Zip

The 7-zip benchmark shows a rating in MIPS (million instructions per second). The rating value is calculated from the measured speed, and it is normalized with the results of the Intel Core 2 CPU with a multi-threading option switched off. So, if you have a modern CPU from Intel or AMD, rating values in single-thread mode must be close to real CPU frequency. There are two tests, compression with the LZMA method and decompression with the LZMA method. Once the total passes reach 100, the score is taken. 7-Zip gives the resulting score for decompressing, compressing, and an overall score.

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7 Zip brings the performance of both systems back in line with each other. In fact, while a very narrow margin, the Strix B550 takes the lead in the compression benchmark.

PCMark

PCMark 10 is a system benchmark for Windows PCs that focuses on common tasks performed in the office. PCMark 10 offers a variety of workloads categorized into four groups. The Essentials group includes web browsing, video conferencing, and app start-up time. The Productivity group includes tests based on spreadsheets and writing. The Digital Content Creation group includes photo editing, video editing, and a rendering and visualization test. The final group, Gaming, includes tests for real-time graphics and physics. It has three different benchmarks, PCMark 10, PCMark 10 Express, and PCMark 10 Extended.

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In PCMark we still see a little performance difference between the two systems, however, it is a minor difference

Strix B550-I Sub System Benchmarks (Storage, Audio and Networking)

CrystalDiskMark 5

“CrystalDiskMark 5 is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows us to measure sequential and random read/write speeds.”

For Crystal Disk Mark, I tested the M.2 and the USB C performance. The ADATA SX8200NP M.2 drive performed right in line with the specification. For the USB C drive, I used a 1 TB Crucial X8 portable SSD.

Audio Testing

To test the on-board audio on the ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming motherboard, I use the Rightmark Audio Analyzer benchmark. To test the onboard audio of any motherboard, I follow the guide on RMAA’s site that talks about how to review Asus Xonar D2 in RMAA 6.0.5.

unnamed file 3586When I looked at the results I was quite pleased. So far, this is the best result out of any motherboard that I’ve tested and right in line with top-end add-in audio cards.

Network Testing

For network testing, I have a QNAP QSW-1208-8C 10 GbE switch that is capable of Multi-gigabit switching. This means the ports on the switch will negotiate at 1 Gb/s, 2.5 Gb/s, 5 Gb/s, and 10 Gb/s. Since the LAN port on the Strix B550-I is 2.5 Gb/s capable I used this switch and another PC that is 2.5 Gb/s capable and tested using Performance Test 9’s network testing tool.

I test both TCP and UDP connections. TCP connections are connection based. This means the server and client talk back and forth to each other for every packet. Typically TCP will never reach line speeds. Still, I was able to average 1771 Mbps over TCP. UDP on the other hand is connectionless. This means the network clients (either server or client) send traffic without any back and forth communication. If the packet gets there, it gets there. UDP typically is a good indication of line speed and it shows here. My testing averaged 2376 Mbps.

Strix B550-I Synthetic and Gaming Benchmarks

3DMARK

3DMark is a computer benchmarking tool created and developed by Futuremark used to determine the performance of a computer’s 3D graphic rendering and CPU workload processing capabilities. It does this through a series of graphics and physics and or CPU tests.

OK, so we are back to comparing the B550 and X570 performance. This time in 3D Mark’s Firestrike Ultra and TimeSpy Extreme. Again, there’s a bit of lag in performance in the two tests between the two systems.

Gaming tests

 

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Synthetic testing is all well and good and gives a consistent set of results to compare against but so does real gaming benchmarks.  Here’s where there is virtually no difference between the two systems. Again, the only thing that was changed between the two was the motherboard. The B550-I gaming keeps up with the larger more mature X570 motherboard.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

It has been a long time since I have had the opportunity to play with any hardware from Asus. From the onset of opening the box to installing the OS and testing, this has probably been one of the best experiences that I’ve had. I was really impressed with Armoury Crate and asking to install the drivers for the networking cards right out of the gate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve built a system only to see no network connections available. The BIOS was extremely easy to navigate and even the EZ mode gives a ton of information.  Asus has really done a bang-up job with this motherboard and is deserving of the ROG namesake.

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From a performance aspect, I’d like to chalk up the differences in performance to the memory I chose to use and it shouldn’t reflect badly on the motherboard. However, even with some of the testing showing a little lagging in performance, the gaming tests prove that the B550 can match the performance of the X570 motherboards. The B550 motherboards just lack the kitchen sink. The audio onboard is fantastic.  I chose to use my set of Sennheiser HD600s for subjective testing and to say the least, I’m impressed. Most onboard audio sounds a bit flat and muddled together. It really isn’t too bad but it isn’t great either. The ROG Strix B550-I steps it up. With the default settings, the audio sounded rich and full. Tweaking and tuning to my liking made it sound even better.

When Asus puts ROG on a product, you can pretty much plan that it will be a good product. If you’re looking to build a kick-ass small form factor gaming rig, the ROG Strix B550-I may just fit the bill. There are a few compromises that you’ll give up such as multiple GPU slots and four ram slots, but Asus has done what they can to make those compromises seem small. Currently, the ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming is selling for $229 which is a bit more expensive than some of the competitors. However, if you’re into the ROG bloodline, it may just be worth the extra cash.

 

作者 frank

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