B450 vs B550 vs X570 - Many Platforms, One AM4 Socket: What’s the Difference?

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The wait for motherboards with AMD's B550 chipset is finally over! However, the launch does raise a few questions as well, the simplest being – is it worth the upgrade? We'll cover all aspects of the B550 platform and go over the main differences between the other platforms on the AM4 socket so you can make a more informed choice when picking parts for your AMD Ryzen PC.


AMD B550 chipset


Many Platforms, One AM4 Socket: What's the Difference?

While all the motherboards discussed here do feature the same socket, i.e., AM4, the chipset they use does dictate a lot of the functionality and features you can use on the motherboard. Here are the most important differences:


AMD B550 chipset


Processor Support: Present and Future

Initially, there was a bit of confusion about support for Zen 3 processors (upcoming Ryzen 4000) on B450 and X470 motherboards with AMD announcing that they wouldn’t be supporting the older platforms. However, in a welcome turnaround, they have since officially announced that they will allow motherboard manufacturers, i.e., us, to decide!

Note - MSI always intended to add support for Zen 3 to as many B450 and X470 motherboards as possible; this hasn’t changed. A beta BIOS will be made available for eligible motherboards after the release of Zen 3.

While older B450 and X470 motherboards will require a beta BIOS update to use Zen 3 processors, the B550 and X570 platforms will officially support them. So, here’s what processor support will look like across all AM4 platforms:


Chipset
X370
B350
A320
X470
B450
X570
B550
Zen 3 Architecture
X
X
X
Selective beta BIOS update needed
Selective beta BIOS update needed
V
V
AMD Ryzen 3000
X
X
X
V
V
V
V
AMD Ryzen 3000 with Radeon Graphics
V
V
V
V
V
V
X
AMD Ryzen 2000 Series Processor
V
V
V
V
V
V
X
AMD Ryzen 2000 Series with Radeon Graphics
V
V
V
V
V
V
X
AMD Ryzen 1000 Series
V
V
V
V
V
X
X

Key Takeaways:

  • B550 and X570 Enjoy Official Support for Zen 3
  • At the moment, B550 does not support any Ryzen processors other than those belonging to the Ryzen 3000 lineup (does not include 3000 series Ryzen with integrated Radeon Graphics)
  • Beta BIOS updates will open up Zen 3 support for B450 and X470.

Lightning PCIe 4.0 and M.2 Gen 4 Capabilities: Ushering in the Future Together

The latest connectivity standard, PCIe Gen 4.0, is picking up steam – offering blazing speeds for those who need the best in storage and graphics devices of the future. Motherboards that support this new standard will allow you to keep up with a new era of graphics cards, storage devices, networking devices, and so much more. As expected, both MSI B550 and X570 motherboards support PCIe 4.0!


AMD B550 chipset


Bringing double the speed and bandwidth over the previous PCIe 3.0 standard, PCIe 4.0 is all set to power a new era of peripheral devices without holding them back in the slightest. The whopping 64 GB/s bandwidth of PCIe 4.0 will be a godsend for professional workloads – making them faster and easier.
There is already a new generation of M.2 storage devices in the market today that reach truly incredible read and write speeds. With sequential read speeds of up to 5000 MB/s, these new-gen devices can easily handle huge chunks of data without breaking a sweat. They’re an ideal choice for professionals working with huge raw files and footage – allowing them to get more done with a substantially faster storage solution.

Next-Gen Networking and Storage Solutions

Professionals needing to store large amounts of data will usually rely on a NAS on an internal network. But transferring large data chunks can be a painfully slow task with the older generation of networking hardware. Moreover, if you want to store more data on faster storage devices, you’ll need additional M.2 slots to ensure that you can add more storage when needed without any hassle.
Many MSI B550 motherboards come equipped with both faster networking capabilities as well as more M.2 slots compared to their B450 counterparts – making them an ideal choice for professionals who need an upgrade over the best that the B450 platform can offer.


AMD B550 chipset


Here's a quick look at our network and storage solutions on our AM4 motherboard lineup:
Model
M.2 Slot
ON-BOARD LAN PORT
MEG X570 GODLIKE
3
2.5G LAN + 1G LAN
MEG X570 ACE
3
2.5G LAN + 1G LAN
MEG X570 UNIFY
3
2.5G LAN
MPG X570 GAMING RPO CARBON WIFI
2
1G LAN
MPG X570 GAMING EDGE WIFI
2
1G LAN
MPG X570 GAMING PLUS
2
1G LAN
MAG X570 TOMAHAWK WIFI
2
2.5G LAN
MPG B550 GAMING CARBON WIFI
2
2.5G LAN
MPG B550 GAMING EDGE WIFI
2
2.5G LAN
MPG B550 GAMING PLUS
2
1G LAN
MPG B550I GAMING EDGE WIFI
2
2.5G LAN
MAG B550 TOMAHAWK
2
2.5G LAN + 1G LAN
MAG B550M BAZOOKA
2
1G LAN
MAG B550M MORTAR WIFI
2
2.5G LAN
MAG B550M MORTAR
2
2.5G LAN
B450 TOMAHAWK MAX
1
1G LAN
B450 GAMING PLUS MAX
1
1G LAN
B450 GAMING PRO CARBON MAX WIFI
2
1G LAN
B450M BAZOOKA MAX WIFI
2
1G LAN
B450M MORTAR WIFI
2
1G LAN

Server-Grade PCB with 2oz Thickened Copper: Improved Quality Across the 'Board'

All MSI B550 motherboards come with an enhanced PCB design with 2oz thickened copper traces for increased conductivity, better heat dissipation, and improved reliability – especially for overclocking and for workloads that rely on high-speed data transfer using PCIe 4.0.

Additional 7W/mK Thermal Choke Pad

The k-value (Watts per meter-Kelvin, denoted by W/mK) is the standard for heat transfer in any homogenous material and indicates thermal conductivity. The higher the value, the better the heat transfer. All MSI B550 motherboards come equipped with a Choke Thermal Pad rated for 7W/mK – adding a thermal pad to the MOS heatsinks for improved heat transfer.

M.2 Shield Frozr: Protecting Your High-Speed Storage Devices

NVMe devices are known to throttle when exposed to certain levels of heat. All MSI B550 motherboards feature at least one M.2 Shield Frozr heatsink to sustain maximum NVMe performance by protecting them from heat.

Built-in Wi-Fi 6: Next-Gen Wireless Connectivity

Many MSI B550 motherboards offer the fastest Wi-Fi standard built right into the motherboard! No add-in cards needed. The following motherboard models support Wi-Fi 6: MPG B550 GAMING CARBON WIFI, MPG B550 GAMING EDGE WIFI, MPG B550I GAMING EDGE WIFI, MAG B550M MORTAR WIFI

Front Type-C Header: Easier Access to Connecting Newer Devices

All MSI B550 motherboards feature a front USB type-C header on the motherboard – allowing gamers and professionals to connect newer devices using a front Type-C port on your PC case. Build a system with an MSI PC case and MSI motherboard to enjoy this feature fully!

Power Phase Design: Ensuring Support for Current and Next-Gen Processors

MSI B550 motherboards come with an improved power phase design (compared to B450 motherboards) to make sure that they're better equipped to handle even the best AMD can offer, without limiting them in any way.


AMD B550 chipset
Model
Power Phase
CPU Power Connectors
MEG X570 GODLIKE
14+4+1
2 x 8 pin
MEG X570 ACE
12+2+1
2 x 8 pin
MEG X570 UNIFY
12+2+1
2 x 8 pin
MPG X570 GAMING RPO CARBON WIFI
10+2+1
2 x 8 pin
MPG X570 GAMING EDGE WIFI
8+2+1
1 x 8 pin + 1 x 4 pin
MPG X570 GAMING PLUS
8+2+1
1 x 8 pin + 1 x 4 pin
MAG X570 TOMAHAWK WIFI
12+2+1
1 x 8 pin + 1 x 4 pin
MPG B550 GAMING EDGE WIFI
10+2+1
1 x 8 pin
MPG B550 GAMING PLUS
10+2+1
1 x 8 pin
MPG B550I GAMING EDGE WIFI
8+2+1
1 x 8 pin
MAG B550 TOMAHAWK
10+2+1
1 x 8 pin
MAG B550M BAZOOKA
4+2+1
1 x 8 pin
MAG B550M MORTAR WIFI
8+2+1
1 x 8 pin
MAG B550M MORTAR
8+2+1
1 x 8 pin
B450 TOMAHAWK MAX
4+2+1
1 x 8 pin
B450 GAMING PLUS MAX
4+2+1
1 x 8 pin
B450 GAMING PRO CARBON MAX WIFI
8+2+1
1 x 8 pin + 1 x 4 pin
B450M BAZOOKA MAX WIFI
4+2+1
1 x 8 pin


What Chipset Should You Pick?

Who should upgrade to (or keep) a B450/X470 Motherboard?

AMD has officially allowed manufacturers to support Zen 3 processors on B450 motherboards with a BIOS update. If your only reason for an upgrade is future processor compatibility, it's better to stick with a B450 motherboard for now.
We can't speak to whether all B450 and X470 motherboards in the market will get an update to support AMD's new processors. MSI will be updating as many B450 and X470 motherboards as possible so users can enjoy the latest generation of Ryzen processors without changing their motherboard. You can expect more details about this in an announcement later this year!
However, MSI's B550 motherboards add a ton of features to the mainstream platform, and if you care about faster storage and connectivity, better overclocking stability, and more robust power solutions, all at relatively affordable price ranges – grabbing a B550 motherboard is an excellent choice.

Who Should Upgrade to B550?

If any of the following rings true for you, then yes, an upgrade to an MSI B550 motherboard makes total sense:
  • You want access to the latest PCIe 4.0 standard to ensure that you can use lightning-fast, next-gen peripherals, and graphics devices.
  • You need access to incredible read and write speeds offered by M.2 Gen 4 NVMe SSDs for professional work.
  • You want an affordable motherboard that can easily harness the power of both current and future high-end Ryzen processors.
  • You want to run higher-frequency memory to improve performance on Ryzen processors.
  • You're looking for built-in support for Wi-Fi 6 and 2.5 Gigabit LAN.
  • You want access to high-end motherboards, and many premium features launching on AMD’s mainstream platform for the very first time.
Every MSI B550 motherboard has been carefully engineered to handle the astounding power of both current and future AMD Ryzen CPUs. So, if you’re looking to get the most out of Ryzen processors, the answer to whether you need to upgrade is easy. Yes.

Who Should Upgrade to the X570 Platform?

Some professionals may need even more power and extensibility than what the B550 platform can offer. For such professionals, MSI’s X570 motherboards are the ideal choice. If any of the following apply to you, the X570 platform is a better choice:
  • You use more than 4 USB 3.1 devices
  • You use more than 6 SATA devices
  • You use more than 3 Gen 4 M.2 SSDs


AMD B550 chipset


Do You Need MSI Liquid AIO Coolers?

AMD has been pushing the envelope when it comes to core counts and performance. Both current and next-gen processors are sure to need a powerful cooling solution so you can get the best possible performance out of them. Although the processors do come with stock coolers, you won’t get much headroom for Precision Boost Overdrive to improve performance. Why leave performance on the table?


AMD B550 chipset


MSI's range of 240mm and 360mm Liquid AIO Coolers have you covered from the start of the AMD Ryzen product line to the end of the Threadripper line of CPUs. We recommend using the following coolers with these processors:
Please check product pages and technical specifications for the exact specs of motherboards and CPU coolers before making a purchase. All specs listed above are merely indicative and only serve to make buying decisions easier.
AMD CPU Name
Recommended Cooling Solution
AMD Threadripper 3990X
MAG CORELIQUID 360R
AMD Threadripper 3970X
MAG CORELIQUID 360R
AMD Threadripper 3960X
MAG CORELIQUID 360R
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
MAG CORELIQUID 360R
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X/XT
MAG CORELIQUID 360R
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X/XT
MAG CORELIQUID 240R
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X/XT
MAG CORELIQUID 240R
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X/XT
MAG CORELIQUID 240R
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X/XT
MAG CORELIQUID 240R
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