In our series of motherboard buyers guides, here’s the latest update to our list of recommended AMD motherboards. All numbers in the text are updated to reflect pricing at the time of writing.
The second quarter of 2020 has been nothing short of busy with copious of chipset launches. We’ve had Z490 from Intel, and the long-anticipated debut of AMD’s budget-focused B550 chipset. With Coronavirus dominating headlines in the first half of 2020, it’s been an interesting one for the tech industry due to the cancellation of all technology trade shows, so announcements that would usually fall within this time, have fallen either before or after. In contrast to previous motherboard buyers guides of late, we’ve decided to split the guide in half and opt for separate Intel and AMD guides. Welcome to our Best AMD Motherboards buyers guide for Q2 2020.
We have received a lot of feedback over the last six months on our motherboard guides. The consensus is that users want a more diverse listing with inclusions and picks for both AMD and Intel models. In previous motherboard guides, we’ve selected one board in four different categories regardless of brand or chipset. We’ve decided to split the motherboard guides into two guides, one for AMD motherboards and another for Intel models.
We will be posting our corresponding Intel recommendations over the next week.
|AMD Motherboards Recommendations: Q2 2020|
|AMD ‘Money is no Object’ Motherboard|
|GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Xtreme||–||$700||$700|
|AMD ‘Clean Mix of Price/Features’ Motherboard|
|GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Pro WIFI||$varies||$varies||$270|
|AMD Value Motherboard|
|MSI B450 Tomahawk Max||$varies||$varies||$110|
|Favorite AMD Mini-ITX Motherboard|
|GIGABYTE B550I Aorus Pro AX||$180||$180||$180|
Our recommendations for motherboards are based entirely on my personal and professional opinion. There are notably a large number of different motherboards across the AMD chipsets including B450, X570 and more recently, B550, so I selected my top four picks based on the four market segments, regardless of the chipset.
As Coronavirus restrictions begin to lift in certain regions, the pandemic is still causing an effect within the industry. The impact that the Coronavirus has had on pricing has been considered in the guide as well, with some fluctuation on hardware pricing already taking hold. It’s also worth noting that B550 is generally considered the budget AM4 platform, but the pricing has been a little topsy turvy with some models reaching and surpassing that of some X570 models. This has been taken into great consideration in our Q2 2020 guide for the AMD selections.
For users looking for other options, we’ve also gone over multiple chipset families as well in the links below.
- The AMD B550 Motherboard Overview: ASUS, GIGABYTE, MSI, ASRock, and Others
- The Intel W480 Motherboard Overview: LGA1200 For Xeon W-1200
- The AMD TRX40 Motherboard Overview: 12 New Motherboards Analyzed
- The AMD X570 Motherboard Overview: Over 35+ Motherboards Analyzed
- Intel Z390 Motherboard Overview: 50+ Motherboards Analyzed
- Analyzing B450 for AMD Ryzen: A Quick Look at 25+ Motherboards
- Analyzing Z370 for Intel’s 8th Generation Coffee Lake: A Quick Look at 50+ Motherboards
- An AMD Threadripper X399 Motherboard Overview: A Quick Look at Seven Products
GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Xtreme ($700 at Newegg)
We’ve had the chance to review and analyze quite a few X570 boards to date, but one of the standout models boards that piqued our interest during testing was the GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Xtreme, which is the only X570 board to include a passively cooled chipset heatsink. For our money is no object selection, there isn’t a more well-rounded X570 flagship than the GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Xtreme. What made the X570 Aorus Xtreme stand out, however, came in our power delivery thermal testing, which showed how far GIGABYTE has come in its power delivery implementation and design. With a true 14-phase power delivery for the CPU with the Infineon XDPE132G5C spearheading the design, the proof is in the pudding in terms of performance, overclocking performance, and efficiency.
You can read our full review here:
The E-ATX board sports a fittingly high-end feature set. In terms of networking support, the board includes an Aquantia AQC107 10 G Ethernet controller, an Intel I211-AT Gigabit controller, and an Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 + BT 5.0 wireless interface. For storage, there are three PCIe 4.0 x4 slots and six SATA ports that support RAID 0, 1, and 10, as well as support for up to DDR4-4400 and 128 GB across four memory slots. A Realtek ALC1220-VB HD audio codec powers the rear panel audio, while an ESS Sabre 9218 DAC helps to bolster the quality of the front panel audio.
The GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Xtreme also has dual BIOS, which is handy for BIOS Flashback and allows one to be used for extreme overclocking, while the other could be used for more stable 24/7 settings. Focusing more on the Xtreme element, GIGABYTE also includes an overclockers toolkit with a power button, reset button, voltage measurement points for better accuracy, and an OC PEG power connector.
With a current price tag of $700 at Newegg, it’s not a board for those with shallow pockets. It’s also one of the best X570 and AM4 based models currently on the market from a performance perspective. For the few who can justify a $700 board, the GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Xtreme offers a robust premium feature set, looks good with its full cover thermal armor, and it offers highly efficient and reliable power delivery. In other words, it ticks the majority of boxes for both enthusiasts and gamers looking for a high-end foundation for a powerful gaming system.
There are other flagships such as the MSI MEG X570 Godlike ($700), and the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula ($700), but neither has a true 16-phase (14+2) power delivery design, and our testing shows its efficiency in reducing temperatures. Couple that in with the recent release of AMD’s 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X processor, it makes the GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Xtreme our money no object selection for team AMD models.
GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Pro WIFI (MSRP $270)
Moving onto the selection for the best motherboard for gaming and performance, pricing played a huge role here. Picking between Intel’s Z390 paired with a Core i9-9900K and an X570 paired with a Ryzen 9 3900X is still a trade-off which a user will ultimately have to decide before selecting a suitable motherboard. While the i9-9900K offers some frame gains in gaming with a higher core frequency, the overall winner is the Ryzen 9 3900X which has 12 cores and 24 threads at a much sweeter price point. Although the extra cores don’t offer much for gaming, overall system performance and multi-core optimized applications benefit greatly from this.
The GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Pro WIFI has everything a user could need to build a gaming PC including two full-length PCIe 4.0 slots which operate at x16 and x8/x8, meaning that there’s official support for 2-way NVIDIA SLI graphics setups. There’s also a full-length PCIe 4.0 x4 slot at the bottom of the board.
On the component side, GIGABYTE has equipped the X570 Aorus Pro WIFI with a solid 14-phase power delivery system, which is more than capable of pushing the Ryzen 3000 series of processors to their ambient limits. Included are an Intel I211-AT Gigabit NIC and Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax wireless interface, making up the board’s networking capabilities. Meanwhile, for the audio, the board includes a Realtek ALC1220-VB HD audio codec, which in turn drives the five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output on the rear panel. On the storage front are two PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, which both come inclusive with individual M.2 heatsinks, and also present are six SATA ports with support for RAID 0, 1, and 10 arrays.
While the board does omit a 2.5 G Ethernet controller, the GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Pro WIFI still offers a great trade-off between price and performance, and many users shouldn’t be too concerned as prices on 2.5/5 G equipment remains high. Memory support is also impressive, with support for up to DDR4-4400 memory and up to 128 GB supported across the four available memory slots makes this an attractive offering.
The GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Pro WIFI has an MSRP of $270, so this model represents good value for money against other X570 models providing you can find one that’s available to buy. There’s no sign that this model is going End of Life any time soon, so it could be down to a stock shortage with Coronavirus, or other factors involved. For the $270 MSRP, it also packs a punch a mightly wallop for anyone looking to build a solid mid to high-end gaming system with the extra money saved from opting for this over a flagship model which be distributed to other areas such as storage and graphics.
MSI B450 Tomahawk Max (MSRP $110)
Despite the launch of AMD’s B550 chipset, picking a model from the new product stack has been difficult. This is especially difficult when it comes to pricing, as prices of B550 models have launched with higher MSRPs than anticipated which shakes up the value market considerably. In lieu of this, selecting a model from what’s currently available on B550 has been tumultuous as vendors have opted to include mid-range and premium feature sets, on something users expected to offer tremendous value. For users looking to upgrade to a Zen 3 CPU later, it might be worth investing in a new motherboard at that time, one built on the premise that Zen 3 will be part of the fabric of the design.
Due to the above, I’ve decided to stick with a B450 model for value as outside of PCIe 4.0 support which isn’t generally considered a ‘budget’ feature anyway. There is plenty to like about the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max with its very reasonable price, acceptable feature set, and its simplistic design.
Even though PCIe 4.0 isn’t supported on the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max, the chances of anyone looking for a budget option and then pairing it up with PCIe 4.0 SSDs is likely to be slim. The Ryzen 3000 processors are supported out of the box, so no firmware updates are needed. Meanwhile, the recent price drops on the Ryzen 2000 series processors further improve the value of the B450 chipset, and the MSI B450 Tomahawk is a prime example of this.
The MSI B450 Tomahawk Max slots in at the same price as the older B450 Tomahawk, and is the epitome of value with a variety of low cost, but effective features onboard which costs $111 at Amazon. The $50+ saving over an X570 model at the expense of PCIe 4.0 is one worth taking when budget is a huge factor. Even still, there are few-to-any consumer peripherals that can take meaningful advantage of PCIe 4.0 at this time. A mixture of black and grey patterning across the PCB, with black aluminum heatsinks and an array of RGB LEDs in the top right-hand corner, makes this a neutral option for users to build a Ryzen-based single graphics card gaming system.
The MSI B450 Tomahawk Max has a pair of mid-range controllers with a Realtek ALC892 HD audio codec and Realtek 8111H Gigabit LAN. Also present are six SATA ports, a single M.2 slot, and two full-length PCIe 3.0 slots with support for two-way CrossFire. There’s support for DDR4-3466 memory, and MSI includes a robust software package to complement this good valued option. Due to numerous factors including the current Coronavirus pandemic, and the introduction of the AMD B550 chipset, availability of the B450 Tomahawk Max is sporadic, to say the least.
It generally retails between $110 to $120 at Amazon and Newegg, and it remains to be seen how available the Tomahawk MAX may be available due to AMD switching its focus onto B550. That being said, users looking for a good quality budget AM4 motherboard, my opinion is that you snap one of these up while you can. We know some retailers are going to be restocking its shelves to shift remaining B450 models to make way for more B550 stock, so B450 should still be available for now, at least.
GIGABYTE B550I Aorus Pro AX ($180 at Amazon/$180 at Newegg)
Moving onto our final category, this time the smaller mini-ITX form factor, and there’s an impressive array to choose from across the latest three desktop AM4 chipsets, B450, X570, and B550. Our pick for the best mini-ITX motherboard at present is the latest GIGABYTE B550I Aorus Pro AX which represents a solid premium offering, official PCIe 4.0 support, and all at a solid price point too. The GIGABYTE B550I Aorus Pro AX includes two PCIe x4 M.2 slots, a Realtek 2.5 G Ethernet controller, and an Intel Wi-Fi 6 interface.
The GIGABYTE B550I Aorus Pro AX also includes four straight-angled SATA ports, with one PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slot, and an additional PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot, with a full-length PCIe 4.0 x16 slot. One of the interesting benefits when comparing mini-ITX on X570 to B550 is that for the most part, both include a similar level of PCIe 4.0 support with a full-length PCIe 4.0 x16 slot, with the only difference is B550 only has one PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slot, while other slots conform to the previous PCIe Gen 3. In terms of power, the GIGABYTE B550I Aorus Pro AX has a direct 8-phase power delivery with eight premium Intersil ISL99390 90 A power stages and is controlled by an ISL229004 PWM controller. This is impressive not only for a mini-ITX motherboard, but one designed for the budget, or supposed budget B550 chipset.
Focusing on connectivity, GIGABYTE includes a trifecta of video outputs with dual HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4, a single Realtek RTL8125BG 2.5 GbE controlled Ethernet port, and an Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 interface. There’s also enough USB to make use of with one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports, as well as a handily located Q-Flash firmware update button. In an upgrade to memory for B550, the B550I Aorus Pro AX also supports up to DDR4-5300 memory which is entirely dependant on the silicon of the processor, and much less on the motherboard itself.
The GIGABYTE B550I Aorus Pro AX has an MSRP of $180 and is currently available for this price at both Amazon and Newegg. It has the right blend of premium features, without being too expensive when compare to ASRock’s premium B550 ITX model which costs around $200, with ASUS also having a B550 mini-ITX board at $200 too. Out of all of the AM4 mini-ITX models on the market, some X570 models include Thunderbolt 3, notably the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3, but it does cost more with an MSRP of $240. Overall the GIGABYTE B550I Aorus Pro AX is our top mini-ITX pick out of all the AMD AM4 models when taking quality, feature set and pricing into consideration.
We will also be reviewing this model in the coming weeks to ascertain how good it is in regards to performance.