The MSI B550 Gaming Carbon Wifi Motherboard sports carbon fiber wrapped accessories along with MSI’s Mystic Light LED lighting controls can really take your PC to the next level in the looks department. But, with the carbon series, the goal is not just about looks, performance reliability, and stability all matter as well. In the past, I’ve had great success with other MSI Carbon boards. MSI has packed the latest technology into this motherboard and includes dual M.2 slots with heatsinks, WiFi 6, 2.5 GbE LAN, a 12+2 phase power design helps to get the maximum performance from the latest and greatest CPUs from AMD and support for up to 5100 MHz DDR4 memory. On top of all that or rather under it, the motherboard is built on a 6-layer PCB with 2 oz of copper to ensure long-lasting performance and stability. Is the new B550 version a worthy replacement? Read on to find out.
Review Sample Provided By: MSI
Product Name and Website: MSI MPG B550 Gaming Carbon WIFI
Considering that sports cars and supercars contain a lot of carbon fiber, it is only natural that MSI includes a stylized graphic on the front of the box. The chipset, socket, and supported CPU types are also listed on the front of the box and it would be hard to miss. On the back of the box, MSI featured a graphic of the motherboard and the I/O panel. The features and specifications are also listed on the back of the box.
Lifting the lid on the box reveals a two-compartment box. The motherboard wrapped in an anti-static back sits in the top compartment and the manuals and accessories are housed in the lower compartment.
Included in the accessory kit is a user manual, quick installation guide, SATA cable labels, MSI case badge, produce registration card, driver installation DVD, case screw guide, 2x SATA cables, a thermistor cable, an RGB LED extension cable, and the MSI product catalog.
|CPU (Max Support)||Ryzen 9|
|Chipset||AMD B550 Chipset|
|DDR4 Memory||Supports DDR4 1866/ 2133/ 2400/ 2667/ 2800/ 2933/ 3000/ 3066/ 3200 MHz by JEDEC
Supports DDR4 2667/ 2800/ 2933/ 3000/ 3066/ 3200/ 3466/ 3600/ 3733/ 3866/ 4000/ 4133/ 4266/ 4400/ 4466/ 4533/ 4600/ 4866/ 5000/ 5100 MHz by A-XMP OC MODE
|Max Memory (GB)||128|
|LAN||1x Realtek® RTL8125B 2.5G LAN|
|USB 3.2 ports (Front)||1(Gen 1, Type C), 2(Gen 1, Type A)|
|USB 3.2 ports (Rear)||1(Gen 2, Type C), 1(Gen 2, Type A), 2(Gen 1, Type A)|
|USB 2.0 ports (Front)||4|
|USB 2.0 ports (Rear)||4|
|Audio ports (Rear)||5+ Optical S/PDIF (Realtek® ALC1200 Codec)|
Support for Windows® 10 64-bit
A Closer Look at the MSI MPG B550 Gaming Carbon WIFI
The MSI B550 Gaming Carbon WIFI is a standard ATX board meaning that it measures at 12in x 9.6 inches. The motherboard features two aluminum heatsinks over the VRM for the CPU. A plastic cover accompanies the left heatsink and provides a cover to the top of the I/O panel. Two aluminum heatsinks are included for the M.2 SSDs below as well as an aluminum heat for the chipset. Unlike the X570 chipsets, the B550 doesn’t require active cooling and thus doesn’t contribute to the overall noise level of the PC.
The area around the CPU socket is fairly clear and there shouldn’t be any components on the board that will interfere with a CPU cooler installation. MSI uses a stepped style heatsink for the VRM cooling so, the parts of the heatsink that are closest to the CPU socket are still low enough that most CPU coolers on the market should fit without an issue. However, always check beforehand just in case.
Power to the CPU is delivered at the top edge connector in an 8+4-pin configuration. Not all the pins have to be used, in this review, I only used the 8-pin connector with no issues.
The B550 Gaming Carbon WIFI has four memory slots and supports up to 5100 MHz DDR4 modules. Along the top edge of the board, there are two 4-pin headers for the CPU cooler or a water pump. Next is a 3-pin aRGB header. Moving around the right edge of the board, there are two more fan headers, the 24-pin ATX power, and a USB C case front panel connector.
Continuing down the right side of the board is the SATA connectors followed by another 4-pin fan connector. Along the bottom edge of the board, there is a 2-pin power LED connector, the case front panel connectors, an additional 3-pin aRGB header, a case front panel USB 3 header, and two USB 2.0 headers.
As we finish the tour around the edge of the board there is another 4-pin fan header, a LED control switch, a clear CMOS button, a fifth fan header, temperature sensor headers, a 4-pin RGB lighting header, and the front panel audio header.
In the middle of the B550 Gaming Carbon WIFI, you’ll find the PCIe slots. There are two X16 slots. The top slot operates at x16 speeds whereas the bottom slot only operates at x4. Intermixed with the X16 slots are 3 PCIe x1 slots. At the top of the PCIe slots is an aluminum heatsink that cools the 1st M.2 slot. This slot supports PCIe 4.0 x4. The lower heatsink covers the second M.2 slot and supports PCIe 3.0 x4 and comes from the B550 chipset. Finally, a carbon fiber wrapped accent piece with the MSI dragon is attached to the aluminum heatsink for cooling the B550 chipset.
The I/O panel features a DisplayPort, an HDMI port, a flash BIOS button, a PS/2 port with 2 USB 2.0 port under it. Next up there are two additional USB 2.0 ports with dual USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports under them. Wired network connectivity is provided by a 2.5 gigabit per second RJ45 connection and an additional USB 3.1 Gen 1 in red and a USB C connector. Antenna mounts are provided for the included wireless card. One digital optical out and 5 3.5mm jacks are provided for the audio solution.
MSI’s BIOS looks and feels the same throughout their product lines. Which, is a nice touch. I know a lot of other vendors do as well. Some however have a different look and feel depending on the motherboard. With that said, the BIOS is starting to feel a little long in the tooth and while it works just fine, it may be time for some updates.
The first time you enter the BIOS on the B550 Gaming Carbon, you’ll be presented with “EZ Mode” while there’s not a lot of tweaking options here, you can get the system up and running quickly. You can turn on A-XMP, AHCI/RAID, configure storage, and a host of other options.
Pressing F7 will bring the BIOS into advanced mode. In this mode, all possible settings for the BIOs are exposed and can be tweaked. They will be found in the following menus.
The settings menu and the settings submenus are where most of the configuration for the motherboard is done. Here you’ll find options for overclocking, integrated peripherals, USB configuration, and power management.
The settings menu will also be where you set the boot options as well as save and exit from the BIOS.
While there is overclocking options in the Settings Menu, there are many more options in the OC menu that can fine tune the overclocks on your CPU and memory. If you overclock your memory there’s a feature here that allows you to try it before you boot.
The hardware monitor is where you can set fan/pump speed curves based on temperature. The MSI B550 Gaming Carbon Wifi has a total of 7 FAN headers that can be configured.
Lastly, there is the board explorer. By clicking on the red highlighted areas, the MSI BIOS will give you information of what’s plugged in there. Only slots that have a device plugged in will highlight for you.
Benchmarks for the MSI B550 Gaming Carbon Wifi Motherboard
||Product Name||Provided By|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 3900x||AMD|
|Motherboard||MSI B550 Gaming Carbon Wifi, ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming/ASRock X570 Taichi||Asus/ASRock|
G.SKILL Trident Z Royal Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4 3600 16-16-16-36 (XMP)
|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|
|Power Supply||Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W||Cooler Master|
|Operating System||Windows 10 2004 x64 Pro with latest patches and updates|
Since now both AMD and Intel use opportunistic boost clocks for the CPUs, for every CPU 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.
As you can see, the MSI B550 Gaming carbon hovers around that 4503 MHz mark with a couple of peeks into the 4.6 GHz. This is actually a pretty decent boost. Other boards I have tested show a slightly less average boost clock.
Testing and Performance
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 both CPU and FPU testing with the B550, it keeps up with the more expensive X570 chipsets. This is a trend repeated throughout the benchmarks.
Benchmarks for the MSI B550 Gaming Carbon Wifi Motherboard
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.
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 raytracer contributed by its author Alexander Enzmann. POV-Ray is free and open-source software with the source code available under the AGPLv3.
Multimedia, Compression, and Semi-Synthetic Benchmarks for the
MSI B550 Gaming Carbon Wifi Motherboard
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.
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.
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.
MSI B550 Gaming Carbon Wifi Motherboard
Sub System Benchmarks (Storage, Audio and Networking)
“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.”
To test the on-board audio on the MSI B550 Gaming Carbon WIFI 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.
The built-in audio solution is perfectly adequate. It is in the range from what I’ve seen from other motherboards from MSI in the past as well as other manufacturers.
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. For Wireless testing, I have a WIFI 6 Access point connected to the same switch and is connecting at 2.5 Gb/s. The same wired test PC is used.
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 1458 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 2057 Mbps. Wifi 6 is fast. With TCP I was able to reach an average of 581.3 Mbps and UPD averaged a bit faster at 667.1.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
The MSI MPG B550 Gaming Carbon WIFI is a fine motherboard. From the packaging to the installation, it all just works. MSI may not have the fancy features of other motherboards and honestly, it doesn’t really need it plus it saves you a couple of bucks here and there. The more I dive into the B550 motherboard the more I like them as well, the more I dive into MSI’s product line the more I like them as well. However, I’m not really impressed with EVERYTHING on the MSI B550 Gaming Carbon WIFI. The biggest complaint that I have is their BIOS GUI is getting a little long in the tooth and my opinion looks a bit dated. I think it needs a refresh. However, it does work and it is adequate for the task at hand.
From a performance aspect, the MSI B550 Gaming Carbon met expectations. It was right in line with the X570 board from ASRock and the B550 motherboard from Asus. I do appreciate the fact that the MSI board tends to have a higher opportunistic clock than the other boards and results in slightly higher performance. It is a very slight performance increase but I’ll take any that I can get. My sample of the Ryzen 9 3900x does not overclock at all and it never has on any board that I’ve put it in. I did not win the silicon lottery with this CPU so I do not even attempt overclocking. There wasn’t one feature that stood out from the rest. All of them were just good. This motherboard is good all around.
The MSI B550 Gaming Carbon WIFI may not be for everyone. Some don’t like the carbon fiber accents and some may not like the MSI Mystic Light. I do have to say that Mystic Light is one of the less intrusive RGB lighting controls. The lighting on the board is done very tastefully and is easily shut off for those that don’t want it. MSI included enough fan headers and should please most consumers. The other thing that I appreciate is the M.2 slots are not covered by the entire chipset heatsink. Having individual heatsinks is a must if you swap out parts often. Pricing on the MSI B550 Gaming Carbon WIFI as of this writing is $239. This isn’t the bottom of the barrel pricing but it’s not caviar pricing either. I feel that the price for this motherboard is decent. There are other boards for similar prices. The motherboard market right now is extremely competitive and we as consumers win when that happens. Overall, I would happily recommend this motherboard if you’re looking to upgrade or build a new system. AMD’s ecosystem continues to impress and MSI is right along with it.