Review | MSI MAG B550M Mortar

AMD’s B550 chipset is perhaps one of the most awaited launches this year and for good reasons: PCIe Gen 4 for the masses and of course, the compatibility with the new Ryzen 3000/3000XT processors.

That aside, our unit for review here is the MSI MAG B550M Mortar. A tempting motherboard at just under $200 USD ($160 USD Int’l/8,600 PHP local). This is the Wi-Fi-less variant so it comes with everything the wireless capable model has to offer. That includes support for ECC memory and PCIe 4.0 support for both the expansion slot and the M.2 slot. All under a mATX form factor.

Technical Specifications

Processor
CPU AMD Ryzen 3rd Generation
Chipset AMD B550
Memory
SDRAM DDR4 (ECC, Non-ECC)
Slot 4x LO-DIMM
Channel Dual Channel
Frequency 3200MHz (4400MHz OC)
Capacity 128GB
Graphics
GPU Ryzen 3rd Generation
Display Output 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort
Multi-GPU 2-Way AMD CrossFire
Expansion
PCI Express 1x PCIe 4.0 x16, 1x PCIe 3.0 x16,  2x PCIe 3.0 x1
Storage
SATA 6x SATA
M.2 1x M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4, 1x PCIe 3.0 x4
RAID RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10
Network
Wired 1x Realtek RTL8125B 2.5Gbps
Wireless N/A
Audio
Codec Realtek ALC1200 Codec
Channel 7.1-Channel
USB
USB 2.0 2x External, 4x Internal
USB 3.0 2x External, 3x Internal
USB 3.2 2x External
Dimensions
Length 244mm
Width 244mm
Height N/A
Weight N/A

Packaging and Accessories

The MSI MAG B550M Mortar comes packed inside the usual dual compartment motherboard packaging. It comes with the following accessories and documentations inside:

  • User Manual
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • MSI Case Badge
  • Product Registration Card
  • MSI Product Catalog
  • Driver DVD
  • 2x SATA Cables
  • Promotion Card

Nothing really fancy here but that’s a lot of paperwork and accessories.

Design, Layout and Build Quality

MSI designed the MAG B550M Mortar with as much features they could pack within a mATX form factor. Style is not so aggressive as opposed to the older models which is a nice change of pace. We like that it also has more metal over plastic.

Motherboard layout for the most part is good – even better than some ATX motherboards we’ve tested in the past. The huge chunk of metal for the VRM and IO is also nice touch – functionality and aesthetic wise.

Behind the MAG B550M lies a pretty good soldering job. From this angle, we could also see how the motherboard stacks its PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 slots. From top to bottom, we have the PCIe 4.0 x16, 3.0 x1, another 3.0 x1 and the 3.0 x4 slot capable of slotting in a x16 card for AMD CrossFire and what not.

The MAG B550M Mortar is no monster when it comes to power delivery, yet the board comes equipped with a 8+2+1 power design. MSI brands this as a Duet Rail Power System. Not sure what is that about but we are certain this is a digital power phase design. Now we have a single 8-pin EPS connector here and two of the five fan headers – specifically, the CPU and Pump headers.

The right side of the board houses the usual storage interface related stuff. Two system fan headers are also located on this area together with a debug LED.

As usual, the bottom part is jam packed with the usual assortment of headers. Nothing special to see here unless you’re the kind of guy who appreciates even the smallest of details.

Back panel options are good if not great. From the left, we have two display ports, the Flash BIOS button, a legacy PS/2 port, USB ports, the 2.5Gbps LAN, more USB ports and of course the audio ports. It’s important to note that the board doesn’t have a clear CMOS header so the Flash BIOS button could be used instead for that functionality.

Firmware Interface

MSI’s MAG B550M Mortar shares the same UEFI design and layout with the rest of their line-up. Again as explained on our last MSI board review, this is good if you are used to the company’s offerings but honestly, this UI design is already aging.

There are still 6 main menus on the UEFI to choose from if you’re browsing from the Advanced mode. The Settings menu is where the general hardware options are located as well as some overclocking features – I’d love to have that option within the OC menu.

The OC menu is of course where you could overclock your CPU and RAM. There are tons of options located here with even FCLK and UCLK for a more fine-tuned RAM overclocking. For novice users, enabling the A-XMP profile from the Game Boost option will mostly do the trick.

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 MSI MAG B550M Mortar
Cooler MSI MAG CoreLiquid 240R
Memory ADATA Premier 2666MHz 16GB
GPU ASUS ROG Strix RX 570 4GB
Storage Crucial BX200 480GB
Case Thermaltake Core P3
PSU CORSAIR RM850X
Display DELL U2715H
OS Microsoft Windows 10 Pro

Synthetic Performance:

  • Super PI – 32M Calculation
  • wPrime – 1024M Calculation
  • AIDA64 Extreme Edition – Memory Benchmark

Productivity Performance:

  • GIMP – Image Processing
  • HandBrake – Video Encoding
  • WinRAR – Compression Speed

Gaming Performance:

  • CS:GO – Maximum Settings, V-SYNC off
  • DOTA 2 – Maximum Settings, V-SYNC off
  • Assetto Corsa – Maximum Settings, V-SYNC off

Miscellaneous:

  • AS SSD – Storage Performance
  • RightMark Audio Analyzer – Audio Performance
  • NetIO-GUI – Network Performance

Power Consumption:

  • AIDA64 – Stability Test

Synthetic Performance

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 wise, the MSI MAG B550M Mortar pairs really well with the Ryzen 7 3700X. Essentially the same performance figures we’ve got with the X570 motherboard.

Productivity Performance

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.

Pretty good real world performance results we got here. The B550 chipset is just as good as the X570 as far as CPU and memory benchmarks are concerned.

Gaming Performance

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 something we still have yet to compare with – since we swapped our GTX 1060 in favor of the RX 570. Take this as a baseline for our future reviews.

Storage Performance

AS SSD is a storage benchmark widely used in the industry. The total score is taken to evaluate the storage performance.

Apologies for the lack of M.2 and USB interface benchmarks here but as far as the SATA benchmark goes, the MSI MAG B550M Mortar beats other options we’ve tested so far.

Audio Performance

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.

The MAG B550M Mortar’s audio solution scored -90.9 dBA of noise level at RMAA. Among the best we’ve tested with a matching flat frequency response range. THD + Noise could be better though.

Network Performance

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. No drops here, folks.

Power Consumption

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.

The MAG B550M features a 74.0W idle and 232.4W of load power consumption. This is higher than the X570 unit we tested back then with the GTX 1060.

Overclocking and Underclocking

There are two ways to overclock and underclock any compatible unlocked AMD Ryzen processors. 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. We managed to pull off 4.2GHz with a core ratio of 41 with that configuration.

As for the memory, we never tried anything ambitious, just checked out if our XMP memory kits from 2666-3600MHz will boot and run stable – and they did. It is worth to note that the B550M Mortar supports a maximum of 4400MHz memory with restrictions.

  • 1DPC 1R max speed 4400MHz
  • 1DPC 2R max speed 3733MHz
  • 2DPC 1R max speed 3866MHz
  • 2DPC 2R max speed 3466MHz

Software, Lighting and Special Features

MSI had the MSI MAG B550M Mortar bundled with a number of applications that should help you optimize your system’s performance. That should include the following software and or applications:

  • MSI Gaming CPU-Z
  • MSI Dragon Center
  • Nahimic 3 (Microsoft Store)
  • Realtek Audio Control (Microsoft Store)

As for lighting, the motherboard doesn’t come with any – but you have the option to use its RGB LED headers should the opportunity arise. We got this hooked up with the MSI MAG CoreLiquid 240R and its headers should be enough to power the fans and cold plate housing with no issues.

Finally, we get to see the MSI Dragon Center. It is a Windows based application that optimizes your system based on the mode you selected. The MSI Mystic Light and other MSI exclusive features could also be explored here. The UEFI should really follow what MSI has done here. It is simple, intuitive and appealing to use.

Final Thoughts

The MSI MAG B550M Mortar is a sub $200 USD mATX motherboard that packs a punch. It is basically the budget X570. Take the X570 chipset’s PCIe Gen 4 lanes out, give it less USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports and you’d get the B550 essentially. This is not ideal for power users wanting to maximize their PCIe 4.0 storage real estate but for the average consumers, the PCIe Gen 4 lanes off the CPU is even more than enough.

Motherboard specific wise, the MAG B550M is purpose built to offer what you would expect from the price point – minus the absence of RGB lighting and a less extravagant facade which is I’m sure, some you you find interesting. You also get a proper VRM cooler, a nice assortment of storage options and of course, readiness for the recently released AMD 3000/3000XT series CPUs.

My only gripe with the motherboard are two things: Number one would be the BIOS/UEFI design. It is just showing its age and I would love to see a proper 16:9 support this time around. Two, the local MSRP is a bit higher compared to the global MSRP. Other brands seems to follow this trend with the B550 so maybe it isn’t that bad after all.

Regardless, the MAG B550M Mortar is another excellent motherboard from MSI. Nothing much to hate, with lots of stuff to love.

TechPorn Awards 2018 (1)

MSI MAG B550M Mortar

  • Performance - 9/10

    9/10

  • Build Quality - 9/10

    9/10

  • Features - 8.5/10

    8.5/10

  • Design - 8.5/10

    8.5/10

  • Value - 8.5/10

    8.5/10

8.7/10

Summary

The MSI MAG B550M Mortar is a sub $200 USD mATX motherboard that packs a punch. A value oriented option for those who are looking for an easy entrance into the PCIe 4.0 era.

Pros

  • Excellent audio solution
  • Good design and layout
  • 2.5Gbps LAN
  • Integrated IO shield
  • PCIe Gen 4 ready
  • Great build quality
  • Value oriented option

Cons

  • Not for the flashy
  • UEFI needs a facelift

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Leo Bien Durana is the Owner and Chief Editor of TechPorn. A competitive PC gamer with a robust technical background. He usually breaks a lot of stuff though.
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