In the lab today, we have the ASUS ROG STRIX B550-F GAMING (WI-FI) Socket AM4 motherboard. When most of us think of budget or value-oriented motherboards, Asus usually does not come to mind. However, this specific motherboard brings in a price point of $189.99 MSRP. This, of course, isn’t at the high end or the bottom of the barrel.
We wouldn’t call this a mid-level price range, but it certainly isn’t at the top of the price point for the awesome AMD B550 series of motherboards either. Being mid to upper-level B550 motherboard, we can expect to see some upper-level B550 options on this board. So, let’s take a look at what Asus has to offer with this board.
First, unless you have been living under a rock or just now getting into the DIY scene, everyone has pretty much heard of ASUS as they have been around for many years. ASUS has a huge selection of products and has made probably millions of enthusiast-level motherboards.
Asus has many different motherboard series to choose from. Their newest line-ups are the ROG CROSSHAIR, ROG MAXIMUS, ROG STRIX, ROG ZENITH, and ROG RAMPAGE. Today, I’m looking at the ROG STRIX series of gaming motherboards. In the ROG STRIX series of boards, there are many Intel and AMD platforms to choose from. ASUS sent us an AMD version, the ROG STRIX B550-F WI-FI to review.
The ASUS ROG STRIX B550-F GAMING WI-FI that I 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. With the AMD B550 chipset, it includes PCIe 4.0 support as well as the new AMD Ryzen 5000 series processors.
Box Contents and Packaging
As we can see from the above images, the top of the box gives the series of the motherboard, an overall picture of the board, and several logos at the bottom showing what the board offers and supports. 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 ASUS. The edge of the box tells everyone what the exact specs are including the part number and serial number.
As I opened the box, of course, the motherboard greeted me. As I pulled the board out a flap on the left side had the wireless antenna folded up in there along with the M.2 screws in a package. Once getting past this I was able to pull the top half of the box out and found several interesting items in the bottom of the box. There is a card with a bunch of stickers to put on your gaming case, if that is something you like, the user manual, driver CD, zip ties, RGB cable, and 4 SATA cables. Out of the 4 SATA cables, 2 of them are right angle cables. This is a nice touch as many DIY’ers wish to use right-angle cables to help in wire management.
ASUS ROG STRIX B550-F GAMING WI-FI 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 ASUS 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 thing we would have liked to see is a metal protecting cover on the secondary PCIe video card slot. We have found that on some other boards that were less expensive than this specific motherboard.
Something else to note; ASUS has included 1 x Thunderbolt header on this board. ASUS 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, one of which is the newer Type-C. 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 3 system fans. With the included 4 fan headers, the user should have a decent number to include some cooling 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 ASUS’s part.
ASUS 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 3 B550 reviews, one being an mITX and the other a full ATX, there were only 4 SATA ports with the exception of the last reviewed B550 motherboard. I found this nice on ASUS’s part to include an extra 2 ports.
The back I/O plate has a fairly robust layout. First it has the BIOS FlashBack Button as well as a USB port specifically for this ASUS FlashBack feature. This specific USB port along with the one above it is 2.0 ports. Below them are 2 USB 3.2 Gen1 ports. Next, we have 2 USB 3.2 Gen2 ports that include one Type-C port. Above them, there is an Intel I225-V 2.5GB Ethernet port. Further down we now see an HDMI 2.1 port and a Display Port 1.2. Next, we see the Intel Wi-Fi AX200 antenna ports. And, finally, we see the audio ports that include 5 standard 1/8” jacks as well as an optical S/PDIF out port. These audio ports are ROG SupremeFX7.1-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220A.
Let’s talk a little bit about ASUS’ VRMs on this board. MSI states this motherboard has a 12+2 Power Stages. Even though they state this, there really isn’t any documentation other than “Digital power control and an array of power stages ensure ROG Strix B550-F Gaming (Wi-Fi) has the muscle to control the latest AMD CPUs.” Then they go on to say “ASUS DIGI+ Power Control is an innovative set of controllers for digital VRM and DRAM Voltage. These controllers offer ultra-precise memory and voltage tuning for optimal system efficiency, stability, and performance.” They also tout about “TEAMED POWER STAGES” by stating “12+2 power stag3s combine high-side and low-side MOSFETs and drivers into a single package, delivering the power and efficiency that the latest AMD CPUs demand.”
Cooling the VRMs, ASUS included large heatsinks that have a “large contact area” for the MOSFETs and chokes. ASUS didn’t tout the thermal pads other than to say “High-quality.” They did, however, state that they used alloy chokes and capacitors to ensure durability for extreme temps. They also claim that it provides “up to 110% better performance than the industry standard.”
Now let’s take a look at some of the ASUS ROG STRIX B550-F GAMING (WI-FI) features exclusive to the motherboard. One of the first things I want to touch base on is the “ProCool Power Connector.” Some of the high-end motherboards will include this feature but it’s rarely seen on an AMD B550 chipset motherboard. What this consists of is a dual CPU power connector that includes the standard 8 pin connector and also allows for another 4 pin power connector. As mentioned earlier, this board also includes dual M.2 heatsinks. Many of the B550 series boards only include a single heatsink for the PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVME slot.
The ASUS ROG STRIX B550-F GAMING (WI-FI) also has the SupremeFX S1220A CODEC audio included. ASUS also has their Sonic Studio III + Sonic Studio Virtual Mixer. It also includes the Sonic Radar III and DTS Sound Unbound.
ASUS also included the BIOS FlashBack Button on the rear I/O plate along with a dedicated USB 2.0 port for this option.
ASUS also touts their “ASUS OptiMem II” by stating “To provide AMD’s latest CPUs unfettered access to memory bandwidth, motherboard trace routing has been reimagined with the ROG Strix B550-F Gaming (Wi-Fi). Integrated OptiMem II technology carefully maps memory signal pathways across PCB layers to reduce vias, and it also adds shielding zones that significantly reduce crosstalk. To further enhance overclocking headroom for fully stacked memory configurations, a highly customized Daisy Chain layout delivers time-aligned signaling.”