B550 vs. X570: Full Comparison and Which Chipset is Better?

The B550 and X570 chipsets represent two of AMD‘s latest platforms for high-performance desktop PCs using Ryzen 3000 and 5000 series processors. As the successors to B450 and X470, they bring upgrades like PCI Express 4.0 support. But which offers better value for gamers and enthusiasts? This comprehensive guide examines all the key differences to help you decide.

Overview of Features

Here‘s a high-level overview comparing the core features and specs:

FeatureB550X570
Release Date20202019
CPU SupportRyzen 3000/5000Ryzen 1000/2000/3000/5000
Chipset PCIe LanesPCIe 3.0 onlyPCIe 4.0
Max USB Ports10 rear, 6 front12 rear, 8 front
Max SATA Ports68
Overclocking PotentialGoodExcellent
Power PhasesLower, 4-16 depending on boardHigher, 10-16+
Integrated CoolingNoYes, chipset fan required
Approx. Price Range$100-$200$175-$700

So at a glance, the X570 boards offer more I/O, bandwidth and power delivery accomodations, but at higher cost. The B550 provides a cheaper foundation for modern Ryzen CPUs minus some last-gen support and fancy features.

Now let‘s explore some of these differences in more detail across areas that matter most to PC builders.

Compatibility

The B550 chipset only works with Ryzen 3000 and 5000 processors. Earlier generations of Ryzen CPUs are not supported. This is because B550 relies on the PCI Express 4.0 interconnect already built into those latest Ryzen models.

In contrast, X570 boards retain backwards compatibility all the way back to the first generation of Ryzen. So an X570 system can leverage an older processor too. This does come at the cost of some complexities and cooling requirements for the chipset itself though.

As for the future, both B550 and X570 will almost certainly support next-gen Ryzen 6000 processors later this year. The AM4 socket still has life left. So no clear advantage for either in future upgradability today.

If you want maximum flexibility in swapping CPUs or carrying forward an existing chip, X570 is the way to go. But B550 is just fine for a Ryzen 5000 gaming rig you plan to keep for 3-5 years.

PCI Express Support

A key difference between the chipsets is that X570 boards offer PCI Express 4.0 lanes for all attached devices, while B550 only supplies PCIe 3.0 connectivity.

What does this actually mean though in real usage?

For graphics cards, both platforms will provide a full x16 link of PCIe 4.0 lanes from the Ryzen CPU. So GPU bandwidth is not constrained.

For SSD storage, only X570 allows taking full advantage of the blazing speeds of emerging PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives. But B550 boards can still host these drives and get a performance boost over PCIe 3.0 models.

In testing by Tom‘s Hardware, they compared SSD sequential read speeds on the two chipsets using the same Samsung 980 Pro drive:

  • X570 – 7000 MB/s
  • B550 – 5000 MB/s

So certainly an advantage to X570, but B550 is no slouch. And for boot drives, that extra performance delta likely makes little discernible difference. It‘s more impactful for transfering very large files.

For everything else like onboard networking, USB, and chipset connected devices, the bandwidth is largely overkill anyway even at PCIe 3.0 speeds.

In summary, only the most storage performance-sensitive users will benefit tangibly from PCIE 4.0 across the whole platform. Future proofing is X570‘s main edge here.

Memory Support

Both platforms offer dual channel DDR4 memory clocked at least up to 4800MHz when overclocked. However X570 boards often support higher capacity RAM configurations. The premium models accomodate 128GB across 4 DIMM slots at extreme speeds beyond 5000MHz. Standard B550 boards typically max out at 128GB too but often only have 2 slots.

For general gaming rigs and everyday workstations, 16-32GB of DDR4-3200 to DDR4-3600 memory is sufficient. But hardcore productivity apps or memory hogs like flight simulators can utilize more. The X570 just has higher ceilings in this regard.

Overclocking Potential

The X570 chipset and compatible motherboards clearly excel when it comes to overclocking the CPU and memory. This starts with superior power phasing and amperage for the components delivering electricity across the board.

High-end X570 models like the ASRock Taichi employ a 16 phase design with 60 amp power stages capable of running cool under over 240 watts of draw. Plus you get large VRM heatsinks, multiple 8-pin CPU connectors, and clear CMOS buttons directly onboard.

More affordable X570 boards may scale this back to 10+2 or 12+2 stages, which is still very robust. And integrated cooling on the chipset ensures thermals don‘t get out of hand when pushing things to the limit.

What about more mid-range focused options on B550 boards then? Well a decent example like the MSI B550 Gaming Edge WiFi provides a 10+2 power phase arrangement which can reliably deliver over 150 watts for overclocking. So still sufficient juice, just not quite as powerful and with fewer premium touches to aid Benchmarks by publications like AnandTech have shown the X570 does yield higher maximum clocks, like 200 MHz faster boost on a 5950X.

For hardcore overclockers competing on leaderboards, only the X570 will do. But for casual enthusiasts looking for moderate memory and core clock gains, quality B550 boards still get the job done. Just ensure any model considered has decent VRMs and heatsinks based on professional reviews before buying.

Cooling and Power Design

Speaking of thermals, cooling is intrinsically linked to power stability and safety margins for overclocking. The more phases and amps a board can handle, the hotter the voltage regulation modules get under load.

This is why AMD saw fit to equip the X570 chipset with an actively cooled fan right on the board. Some models allow controlling or disabling this tiny fan, but it‘s mandatory. And that‘s on top of motherboard makers competing to supply the biggest heatsinks and most advanced thermal pad tech securing the VRMs.

Conversely on B550, the less capable chipset puts out very little heat itself at just 6W. And the CPU power section is designed more for stock operation rather than extremes. So builders can get away without loud tiny fans embedded on B550 boards. Factor in cost savings too. But pay attention to reviews ensuring the particular model doesn‘t throttle under combined CPU and GPU stress testing loads at least.

In summary, consider X570 mandatory for overclocking because premium boards have the brute cooling force to withstand the heat. While B550 offers quieter stock running operation without fan buzz and headaches.

Feature Sets and Connectivity

Beyond the items already discussed, the X570 chipset includes a few extra bonuses that shouldn‘t be overlooked when comparing the platforms.

  • More USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports: X570 has four extra high bandwidth Type-A connectors on the rear I/O for fast external storage or peripherals. While less crucial, it‘s still handy I/O to have.
  • Additional SATA ports: X570 supplies eight ports versus just six with B550. So options to hook up more SSDs and HDDs internally.
  • Thunderbolt 3: A few premium X570 motherboards include a Titan Ridge controller providing support for Thunderbolt 3 over USB Type-C. Great for blazing 40Gbps transfer speeds.
  • Improved Networking: You‘ll sometimes discover 2.5GbE or better networking on high-end X570 models while B550 tends to peak at regular Gigabit ethernet. Not essential but nice for moving big files between systems with minimal latency if you have enterprise grade LAN equipment on your home network.

For connectivity like audio, on-board video outputs and WiFi, you‘ll find the B550 and X570 very comparable. It‘s mostly on storage and forward-looking I/O where X570 goes further.

Cost Considerations

Given the breadth of premium features stacked onto AMD‘s flagship Ryzen supporting chipset, the X570 commands a high price too. Entry-level X570 motherboards still start around $175, with the elite enthusiast offerings passing $700 easily. You are paying for all that overclocking ability, PCIe 4.0 support and next-gen future proof readiness remember!

In turn, more budget focused builders should appreciate quality B550 boards kicking off around $100. What‘s more, you still have a diverse spectrum of B550 options ranging from $100 to $200+ based on power phases, heatsinks, M.2 storage slots and other desirables. So penny pinchers don‘t necessarily have to sacrifice too much.

No matter your budget though, inspecting professional reviews assessing VRMs, thermals and real-world benchmark performance results is prudent to ensure getting the right board within a given chipset. Two B550 or X570 models at the same MSRP can differ greatly based on the rigor of engineering applied by vendors!

Performance Benchmarks

So taking a step back now from the technical details outlined already, how do AMD Ryzen based rigs actually perform on B550 versus X570 when benchmarked head to head?

The premier CPU testing outlet AnandTech recently pitted two competition-focused platforms against each other to find out:

  • Gigabyte X570 Aorus Xtreme ($700 board!)
  • MSI B550 Unify ($300 board)

After plugging in the same high-end Ryzen 9 5950X processor and other common test components, the X570 build wound up about 3% faster on average across 720p and 1080p game testing with an RTX 3090 GPU. The X570 pulled further ahead in application tests like video encoding though by around a 5% margin.

But when using a more mid-range Ryzen 5600X chip that most actual gamers buy and removing the RTX 3090 bottleneck, performance ended up very similarly matched. The X570 still led slightly in some games (1-2%), while the B550 Unify traded blows back in other titles.

So in summary:

  • X570 has minor gaming performance advantages only revealed by elite CPUs and GPUs
  • X570 sees slightly bigger leads in compute-intensive workloads from the extra bandwidth and power budget
  • PCIe 4.0 and RAM overclocking yields the X570‘s wins
  • For 60-144 Hz 1080p gaming, B550 vs X570 is pretty much a wash!

And going with a weaker Ryzen chip somewhat nullifies the benefits of the more premium X570 platform. So while the raw performance data gives a slight nod to a full X570 build, the savings and nearly equivalent FPS from B550 makes it the arguably smarter buy for under $2K gaming rigs able to power smooth high refresh rate experiences reasonably close to the frame rate cap abilities of a given discrete GPU.

Recommendations By Use Case

Given everything explored already, here is a quick cheat sheet for picking B550 vs X570 based on the type of system you intend to build:

  • Budget 1080p gaming: B550 all the way! Get a nice MSI B550-A Pro for $120 and call it a day enjoying 60-75 Hz smooth framerates without spending more uselessly.
  • High refresh rate 1440p gaming: Either chipset will shine here up to say 144 Hz. Lean B550 for value but X570 is great if you love ultra settings.
  • 4K gaming: Your GPU is fully taxed already at this resolution. Any X570 advantages vanish. Stick to B550.
  • Extreme overclocking: Only X570 has the overbuilt power, cooling and benchmark optimizing capabilities to take performance to unsafe 24/7 limits! Water cooling strongly recommended.
  • PCIe 4.0 SSD focused build: X570 leverages next-gen SSDs the best if your workflow demands sustained 5-7GB/s from storage with ginormous files.
  • Thunderbolt 3 devices: The few X570 motherboards with Titan Ridge handle these nicely. B550 has no native Thunderbolt support.
  • Ryzen 1000/2000 CPU usage: Can‘t beat X570 compatibility if leveraging last generation stuff already on hand.

Bottom line – if building a no compromise dream machine, splurging on X570 won‘t disappoint. But gamers and casual enthusiasts seeking great 1080p or 1440p experiences on a budget will find B550 motherboards hitting the sweet spot of great performance without extravagance. AMD has crafted two impressive chipset solutions catering to different needs. Consider your individual scenario and hardware goals, then decide on the best fit. Either will enable you to construct an incredible modern Ryzen gaming PC.

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