In the lab today, we have the BIOSTAR RACING B550GTA Ver 5.0 Socket AM4 motherboard. When most of us think of budget or value-oriented motherboards, BIOSTAR comes to mind. However, this specific motherboard brings in a mid-retail price point of $159.99. This, of course, isn’t at the high end or the bottom of the barrel. Being in the mid-level range of the AMD B550 chipset motherboards, we expect to see most of what the mid-level boards offer running the AMD B550 chipset. Let’s take a look at what BIOSTAR has to offer with this board.
Of course, most enthusiasts and do-it-yourself builders have heard of BIOSTAR, as they have been on the scene for many years. They have a large selection of products that include motherboards, VGA’s, SSD’s, keyboards/mice, and many other accessories.
BIOSTAR has several different motherboard series that include VALKYRIE, RACING, Hi-Fi, and several Crypto Mining boards. Today I’m going to take a look at their AMD B550 RACING series. In the RACING series, you will find boards based on Intel’s Socket 1200, Intel’s Socket 1151, and AMD Socket AM4. Under Socket AM4 BIOSTAR has RACING boards for AMD B550 chipset and AMD X570 as well as older chipsets. Under the B550 chipset, you’ll find the B550M-SILVER, B550GTQ, and the one we are reviewing the B550GTA. The B550GTA we are reviewing is a full ATX motherboard, while the B550GTQ and B550M-SILVER are Micro-ATX motherboards.
The BIOSTAR RACING B550GTA Ver 5.0 we have today is based on the AMD B550 chipset and like all others in this series of chipsets, this board features the design in terms of CPU, RAM, and PCI-Express support and reliability. This motherboard supports AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen (Matisse/ Renoir) and 4th Gen (Vermeer) CPUs. So it has support for the next-gen AMD CPUs.
Box Contents and Packaging
As can be seen from the above images, the top of the box gives the brand with an RGB strike from top to bottom, the model of the motherboard, and a few other minor details. One other item of interest on the top of the box is the note that BIOSTAR has included giving the user notice that this board is 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen ready! This lets the user know that this motherboard is ready for the new Ryzen 5000 series processors. The back of the box gives the user the specs of the board, some of the advanced features, parts that are used that are exclusive to BIOSTAR. The edge of the board tells everyone what the exact specs are including the version number, which in this instance we have the Ver 5.0.
Since most of the BIOSTAR motherboards don’t include a lot of accessories I wasn’t surprised to see that they only included the user manual, 4 SATA cables, driver disk, and some stick-on badges. I noted also that the SATA cables included were not of the right-angle type cables that many end users find handy when doing cable management.
BIOSTAR RACING B550GTA Configuration
This is a full ATX size motherboard and measures 30.5cm X 24.4cm (W X L.) One thing that we found interesting about this board, is that BIOSTAR included a robust heatsink on both of the NVME slots. Some of the previous motherboards we have reviewed did not include a secondary NVME slot heatsink. One other interesting item we found, BIOSTAR has included their branded “Iron Slot Protection” on both x16 PCIe slots. This was a nice touch considering the weight that some of the modern video cards have.
BIOSTAR has also included a USB 3.2 (gen1) header for your newer case. They have also included the newest 2.5GHz LAN port as well as USB 3.2 (gen2) ports. Both of these are on the back I/O panel. There isn’t a USB 3.2 (gen2) header on the motherboard for use in an enclosure.
As I mentioned a bit ago, there are 2 NVME slots. The one closest to the first x16 PCIe is the new NVME 4.0 and contains a nice designed heatsink. The NVME slot lower on the board is the standard PCIe 3.0 NVME, however, it also includes a heatsink to help cool your SSD.
Internally this motherboard has one of the newer 3.2 (gen1) USB headers and two standard USB 2 headers. Fan connection headers include a CPU, pump, and 2 system fans. Fan headers are not plenty so a user will need to prepare for this if using several fans in his or her system. The motherboard also includes dual RGB headers. There is also an RGB header down at the bottom of the motherboard as well. Kind of a nice touch on BIOSTAR’s part.
BIOSTAR included 6 SATA ports on this board, so if you run a nice NVME 4.0 SSD you should have plenty of SATA ports for a bunch more storage drives. With my previous 2 B550 reviews, one being a mITX and the other a full ATX, there were only 4 SATA ports. I found this nice on BIOSTAR’s part to include an extra 2 ports.
The back I/O plate has some things that I want to point out. First, we see a DVI-D video port which on many B550 motherboards is missing. Further down there is also a display port and HDMI port. Next to them, there are two USB 2 ports along with a PS2 port. I think it is kind of a waste of effort and space to include PS2 ports in this day and age. Most all keyboards and mice are either USB or wireless at this point. Moving on, next there are dual USB 3.2 Gen2 ports. One of them being the new “C” type port. Further, there are 4 USB 3.2 Gen1 ports with a 2.5GHz LAN port that supports 2.5Guard, BIOSTAR’s technology to strengthen electrical stability and protect against surges. Finally, we see there are 3 audio ports that support 7.1 surround.
Something that was a little bit discouraging during this review, was the lack of information regarding the VRM’s from BIOSTAR. There really isn’t any information on their configuration for the phases. The only things that I found on this were the Ditial PWM support, Dr. Mos, Super Durable Ferrite Choke, and Super Durable Solid Caps described here. I couldn’t find what type of thermal pads were used or the phase count.
BIOSTAR has what it calls its Armor Gear. Armor Gear is the fairly heavy heatsink on the VRM’s that protect I/O interfaces, improves thermal dissipation, and contains RGB. Without disassembling this motherboard I can’t give the readers any exact specs on this area of the board. However, I will say that during my overclocking session I was not able to sustain a stable clock speed over 4.3GHz. Is that due to cooling or VRM issues? I don’t know.
Let’s take a look at some of the exclusive features that are included with the BIOSTAR RACING B550GTA Ver 5.0. On the bling side of things, BIOSTAR has their Vivid LED DJ and LED Rock Zone. Both of these are based on using RGB accessories within your system. The Vivid LED DJ is software built into the BIOS of this board and can control the RGB lights built into the rear I/O port and heatsink. It also allows the end-user to control the RGB lights on the 2 CPU fan headers as well as the system fan headers. The LED Rock Zone is part of the RGB headers for enclosure and liquid cooling solutions.
BIOSTAR also has its Armor Gear that helps protect the system interfaces from static electricity. Their audio codec is an ALC1150 7.1 channel High-definition chip with the ability to have Hi-Fi on the front audio ports.
They have also included their Iron Slot Protection on both x16 PCIe slots. This is a metal encasing around each PCIe port to help protect from port cracking or breaking due to heavy video card weight. I found this to be a nice touch, having both x16 PCIe ports covered.
This motherboard also supports OC / OV / OH Protection. Protection design detects overvoltage conditions and prevents voltage surges from spreading in real-time. It also actively cuts off the overvoltage supply to protect your system.