ASUS’ B550 motherboards comes in many sizes and flavors. We have the Prime made to be an all-rounder, the TUF which is made for casuals and the ROG Strix for the style-conscious gamers. Don’t scold me, ASUS came up with those descriptions.
Now the board we’ve got here for review is the ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming. This is an ITX motherboard catered for guys like yours truly, a.k.a. someone who appreciates the performance and features of the larger boards but in a smaller footprint.
|CPU||AMD AM4 Socket for 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen and 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen with Radeon Graphics Processors|
|Chipset||AMD B550 Chipset|
|Display Output||DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.1|
|PCI Express||PCIe 4.0 x16|
|M.2||2x M.2 (PCIe 4.0 x4, PCIe 3.0 x4)|
|RAID||RAID 0, 1, 10|
|Wired||Intel I225-V (2.5Gbps)|
|Wireless||Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200, Bluetooth 5.1|
|Codec||ASUS ROG SupremeFX S1220A|
|USB 2.0||2x Type-A, 2x FPC|
|USB 3.2 Gen1||2x Type-A, 2x FPC|
|USB 3.2 Gen2||3x Type-A, 1x USB Type-C, 1x FPC|
Packaging and Accessories
The ROG Strix B550-I Gaming comes packed inside a compact motherboard packaging we used to see from ASUS. The product comes with the following items inside:
- User’s manual
- I/O Shield
- 4x SATA 6Gb/s cable
- 2x M.2 Screw Package
- 1x Supporting DVD
- 1x ROG Strix stickers
- 1x M.2 bracket
- 1x Cable ties pack
- 1x Wi-Fi Antenna
- 1x Extension cable for Addressable LED
- 1x Panel cable
- 1x ROG Thank you card
- 1x ROG audio USB Type-C cable
Plenty of interesting things to check out with this bundle like many other ASUS motherboards. Now let us move on to the board itself.
Design, Layout and Connectivity
The ROG Strix B550-I Gaming looks awfully familiar to the Z490-I Gaming. This one comes with a more practical cooling solution though, skipping the use of the extra block for VRM cooling – allowing a lot more breathing space for the top end part of the board.
General layout is pretty good for a dinky board. One of the best we’ve seen this side of the year as far as our reviewed SFF components are concerned. Space is great too, with a flat VRM cooler that expands and extends all the way back to the I/O plate. Cooling is active too, courtesy of the 40mm fan.
Excellent solder job we got here together with an old favorite – the M.2 slot. ASUS figured it would be best to put the PCIe 3.0 M.2 slot here for the obvious reason which is to allow the hotter PCIe 4.0 M.2 cards to 100% meet its cooling requirements.
Without the horizontal VRM array, the top most part of the board now has the space for three fan headers and dual RGB headers (Gen1 and Gen2). We also got an updated 4+4-pin power connector here that ASUS dubs as the PowerCool II socket. It’s basically a reinforced CPU power header with tighter than recommend specifications.
ASUS still managed to pack an 8+2 power stage for the B550-I Gaming. ASUS also improved the VRM cooling with an included 40mm fan that should turn on automatically whenever the VRM require it.
Now the right side of the board houses the usual headers for power, storage and connectivity. As for the memory, ASUS specified a maximum capacity and frequency for the DRAM at 64GB and 5100MHz respectively.
The bottom most area features the PCIe 4.0 x16 slot. I have no idea if this slot supports bifurcation. Let me know in the comments below if it does?
Back panel options are not bad. We have four USB 3.2 Gen2 here in a 3x Type-A and 1x Type-C, together with the usual assortment of display ports. We also have a BIOS FlashBack button here with a matching USB 2.0 port for BIOS/UEFI updates. According to ASUS, there’s no need for a CPU and memory for the thing to work.
Audio solution lacks the extra 3.5mm and S/PDIF ports found on larger boards but it is a step up compared to the usual Realtek options with a SupremeFX S1220A CODEC. It comes with a USB 2.0 in Type-C interface for audio connectivity. This is particularly useful if you invested on a head gear with USB Type-C interface.
Now the daughterboard is one of the main highlights of the B550-I Gaming like many other ITX form factor motherboards from ASUS. This houses the SupremeFX S1220A CODEC with an impedance sensing functionality on top of the 120dB rated SNR (113 SNR for input). While it has Dual OP Amps, we don’t know if it supports head gears with more than 150Ω of impedance.
ASUS utilized their tried and tested UEFI BIOS Utility. This is a 4:3 UEFI with a straight forward EZ Mode.
There are 8 main menus found within the UEFI’s Advanced Mode. The Ai Tweaker is definitely the highlight here and is pretty much similar to what you would see on other AMD B550 chipset based ASUS motherboards.
The Q-Fan control is another ASUS staple. All fan headers could be controlled here manually or with ASUS’ presets.
AI overclocking is something we miss from the ASUS Z490 range. Hope they could add that feature for future AMD motherboards.
Test Setup and Methodology
System performance is evaluated by industry standard benchmark tools and applications. The system is tested with the following software configurations:
- Windows Power Plan: Balanced
- UEFI configuration: Default
- Windows Game Mode: Disabled
- Windows Game Bar: Disabled
- Windows Security: Disabled
Outlined below are the test system specifications as well as the software and or applications used for the review:
|Test System Specifications|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 7 3700X|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming|
|Cooler||AMD Wraith Stealth V2|
|Memory||ADATA Premier 2666MHz 16GB|
|GPU||ASUS ROG Strix RX 570 4GB|
|Storage||Crucial BX200 480GB|
|Case||Mechanical Library JXK-K3|
|PSU||Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 650W|
|OS||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit|
- Super PI – 32M Calculation
- wPrime – 1024M Calculation
- AIDA64 Extreme Edition – Memory Benchmark
- GIMP – Image Processing
- HandBrake – Video Encoding
- WinRAR – Compression Speed
- CS:GO – Maximum Settings, V-SYNC off
- DOTA 2 – Maximum Settings, V-SYNC off
- Assetto Corsa – Maximum Settings, V-SYNC off
- AS SSD – Storage Performance
- RightMark Audio Analyzer – Audio Performance
- NetIO-GUI – Network Performance
- AIDA64 – Stability Test, CPU, Memory and GPU
Super PI is a single-threaded program that calculates pi to a specified number of digits after the decimal point. It is a widely used benchmark to check a single-core performance of any system.
WPrime is a multi-threaded program that calculates a set number of square roots. A good application to check the multi-core performance of any system.
The AIDA64 Extreme Memory Benchmark measures the data transfer bandwidth and latency of the system memory. The latency is measured for this benchmark.
Synthetic performance is comparable to other AMD B550 chipset based motherboards.
GIMP is a free and open-source image editing tool. 7MB worth of images are processed and converted for the benchmark.
HandBrake is a free video encoding tool that supports a wide variety of media codecs. 150MB worth of MP4 video is converted using the H.264 codec for the benchmark.
WinRAR is a file archive utility that creates, view and unpack numerous archive file formats. The built in benchmark tool is utilized to for the benchmark.
Great productivity performance we got here from the ROG Strix B550-I Gaming.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or CS:GO is a multiplayer first-person shooter developed by Valve. Settings are set to their maximum with V-Sync and motion blur disabled.
DOTA 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena game developed and published by Valve. Settings are set to their maximum with V-Sync disabled.
Assetto Corsa is a simulation racing game developed by the Italian video game developer Kunos Simulazioni. Settings are set to their maximum with V-Sync disabled.
Gaming performance is excellent. Nothing unusual thus far.
AS SSD is a storage benchmark widely used in the industry. The total score is taken to evaluate the storage performance.
Storage performance is pretty good as far as SATA interface is concerned.
RMAA is a tool designed to test the quality of audio devices. A loop-back is configured with a sampling rate of 24-bit at 48000Hz for the test. Our setup essentially tests the quality of the line-in and line-out of the audio solution.
Now Noise Level is pretty good at -93.5dBA. Frequency response on the other hand is boring which means it is also good.
As for power, it could drive my headphones with impedance ranging from 32 to 150Ω. Wish it got more oomp though like the Maximus XII Extreme’s DAC AMP – that thing is a beast.
NetIO-GUI is an application used to test the performance of a network. The LAN round trip time is our concern here, checking out latency anomalies if there are any. The client and server are connected on the home network via Cat 5e cables.
The motherboard has a wired network latency at 1ms on any packet sizes tested. Wireless is about 11-12ms like many Wi-Fi enabled motherboards tested.
AIDA64 Extreme System Stability Test features 64-bit multi-threaded stress testing module to drive the system to its limits. Power readings are recorded with a watt-meter.
Now power draw is not the best but not the worst either.
Overclocking and Underclocking
There are two ways to overclock and underclock any compatible unlocked AMD Ryzen processors on a B550 motherboard. One way is to do it within the UEFI and the other is via the AMD Ryzen Master. Both works well, but we prefer via UEFI since it is way easier to use.
Since this is not our test sample, we didn’t overclock the CPU over the suggested 1.325v Vcore; And like the other B550 motherboards tested, we tried 4.1GHz at all cores with a x41 multiplier to see if it works. It does and there’s nothing’s fancy to talk about it.
Software, Lighting and Special Features
ASUS had the ROG Strix B550-I Gaming bundled with a number of applications that should help you maximize your motherboard’s potential. That should include the following software and or applications:
- RAMCache III
- ROG CPU-Z
- GameFirst VI
- Sonic Studio III + Sonic Studio Virtual Mixer
- Sonic Radar III
- DTS Sound Unbound
- Anti-virus software
- Armoury Crate
- Aura Creator
- Aura Sync
- AI Noise Cancelling Microphone
Like many ASUS boards, the B550I-Gaming comes with tons of apps and if we’re going to pick out top three, it would be the AI Noise Cancelling feature, GameFirst VI and the RAMCache III.
Onboard RGB lighting is so last year and we applaud ASUS for removing such effects on a dinky motherboard. Technically speaking and if you insist, it has RGB lighting at the audio ports.
The ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming is the AMD equivalent of the Intel based ASUS Z490-I with PCIe 4.0 support but with less USB ports at the back.
Performance wise, don’t get fooled by its appearance. It might look small but it has everything the ATX boards has to offer with the obvious exclusion of the extra slots and headers we used to see from the standard form factor.
Build quality and layout wise, ASUS nailed this one. Everything is just organized and with a craftmanship apt for brand’s image.
With a retail price of 13,299 Pesos, the ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming is no cheap – especially with the pandemic around. That said, we’re still staring at one of the best SFF motherboards that ASUS could offer right now for the Red team.
ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming
Performance - 8.5/10
Build Quality - 9/10
Features - 9/10
Design - 9/10
Value - 8.5/10
The ASUS ROG Strix B550-I Gaming might be small but don’t let its dinky appearance fool you. It is a capable motherboard that could house any AMD Zen 2 CPUs built for the AM4 platform.
- Excellent general performance
- 2.5Gbps LAN + Wi-Fi 6 combo
- Excellent connectivity options in and out
- Active cooling solution for when needed
- Bundled software and accessories
- Could use more fan headers?