“Cheap” AMD B550 Mini-ITX Motherboard PCB Review: Gigabyte B550i Pro AX

by birtanpublished on August 17, 2020

Haggai is build Zoid here from actually hardcore overclocking and today we're gonna be taking a look at the B 550i a horas Pro AX motherboard from gigabyte so this is a $188 ITX board based on the v5 50 chipset I think it's pretty interesting mostly because it's not as

Expensive as a lot of the other be 550 ITX boards there's quite a few of them that are like 200 to 230 dollars and well this is one of the cheaper ones in fact I think this is the second cheapest be 550 ITX port that you can get which

Is not great considering that it's still a hundred and eighty dollars but it's a pretty cool board like you get a lot of motherboard for $180 so I don't think it's an unreasonable price it's just kind of like there's like if you wanted

A cheap ITX and be 550 doesn't really offer a lot of choice before that this video is brought to you by e BJ's r-tx 2060 kayo we previously reviewed the RT x 2060 kayo model for its fuse down RTX 2080 die that uniquely benefitted

Blender and some professional applications offering better performance than expected in some pro workloads while offering usual strong RT x 2060 performance for gaming the RT x 2060 kayo also includes the game deliver us

The moon for free with EVGA geforce r-tx cards EVGA is actively restocking its RT x 2060 KO with new ties but you can find a link to the description below anyway let's get into it starting off with the rear i/o we've got two and a

Half gig Realtek LAN Wi-Fi six from Intel and we've also got a Q flash plus button so the Q 5 plus button allows you to update the bios of the motherboard without even having a cpu installed that can potentially be

Used for recovering from corrupted bile splashes as well though that's not its intended purpose it can sometimes do that and yeah that's pretty much it for the rear i/o I mean I wish there was more USB ports but ITX ports don't

Normally have a lot of USB ports because they're really like that they're not there's not a lot of space off nice TX boards to have a sort of fully fledged rear i/o anyway on the board itself there's not really any like overclocking

Troubleshooting features it's a single BIOS board there's no troubleshooting LEDs there's no postcode and none of that like the thing is if you're in a really cramped IT

Build it's not like you would have seen your troubleshooting LEDs anyway but you know if you were using the board in a more open idea like a more spacious or maybe a windowed ITX build then the troubleshooting LEDs would be nice in my

Opinion but yeah it doesn't come with any but what it does come with is this jumper right here for clearing the BIOS which is pretty standard it's not a special feature but the reason I'm pointing it out is like if you do have a

Cramped ITX build and you plan to do a lot of memory overclocking I would strongly suggest that you rewire your cases reset button to the clear CMOS jumper over here instead of the pins for the reset functionality because that way

You can clear the CMOS without having to take apart your really cramped ITX build right in order to edit the jumper so and the reason why you won't might want to do that is because while am4 technically is supposed to have an automatic

Recovery system that automatic recovery system is extremely unreliable and I basically use the clear CMOS buttons on my various X 570 motherboards very frequently and in fact I actually have an x5 70 I Pro Wi-Fi or something like I

Have the x5 70 version of this board and that one also has that same clear CMOS jumper in the same position actually and I actually have a little like button thing that I made specifically so that I wouldn't have to deal with the board not

Posting and not resetting itself on its own so I like yeah I strongly suggest you wire this up other than that we've also got a single 8 pin power connector on the board and this is nothing special but the reason I point this out is

Because a lot of X 570 and even be 550 motherboards will have an 8 pin and a 4 pin or an 8 pin and another 8 pin and the reason why I'm talking about this is that it's completely pointless because even a single 8 pin is more than like

Capable of powering even a very heavily overclocked 3950 X rise in CPUs as halts as they run don't really pull that much power the main issue is that the the silicon like the dies are very small and therefore the heat density is really

High which is why the CPUs are so hard to cool but yeah they'd don't really pull a lot of power though the single 8-pin is not gonna limit you in overclocking in any way but it is part of the reason why we don't have

Like a stack of USB ports over here because yeah that's it's where the eight pin lives right behind that section of the rear i/o so yeah IIT a I TX board you know design decisions where it's like well if we want to power the CPU we

Can't have USB ports which like ITX in my opinion is a little bit too small to get like a really like perfect motherboard but anyway let's get the heatsinks off and take a look at the power delivery so the vrm own here is

Well the important V RMS on this are this portion right here where we get a two phase SOC vrm which is the top part and then we get a six phase V core which is the lower portion of this and these are both controlled by this chip right

Over here which that is an RA and I hate this part number I really do Raa two to nine zero zero four which is a Renee sauce voltage controller Renee sauce owns intersil so this is basically an inter cell component yeah high end eight

Phase you know voltage controller goes up to two megahertz switching frequency not that you would ever actually want to use that because most power stages don't really go past one point five megahertz anyway most of the time cranking up the

Switching frequency in theory it should give you better transient response in practice it doesn't do anything except make your vrm produce more heat and then on some VR M's you actually get better transient response by reducing the

Switching frequency which is seems to be some kind of firmware issue but yeah there's a couple boards out there where that actually is a thing where instead of going up on the switching frequency you want to go down which like I don't

Really see that as a negative because if you lower the switching frequency and your transient response improves and your efficiency like you're just getting benefits if anything it's just kind of odd that the motherboard doesn't come at

The optimal frequency out-of-the-box anyway so this is just a six plus two phase setup this just isn't really anything special so there's not much it to talk about so let's get right into the power

Stages so those are ISL 99 390s these are 90 amp smart power stages from inter cell so you know Renee's house owns Intersil so Renee's house controller plus interest will enter cell power stages so that's pretty normal right

There now the thing with the 90 M nominal current rating right there a lot of people might be super excited because it's like Oh 90 times six phases is like 540 amps unfortunately it does not work like that basically if you're pushing 90

Amps through a power stage like this it will produce over ten watts of heat which like that doesn't sound like a big deal until you consider that there's six of them in parallel so if you were pushing 540 Watts I mean 540 amps

Through this vrm you'd be producing about 60 watts of heat on the vrm which basically means you'd need the equivalent of like a CPU cooler to keep the vrm from overheating which is not practical and even the various power

Stage manufacturers themselves acknowledge as much basically any comply Kasich's TM power stages normally have their specifications only go up to around 55 amps your 70 M power stages normally only go up to 60 amps the ADM

Parts end at 60 amps the 90 M parts also end at 60 amps because at the end of the day while under certain very specific operating conditions you might be able to shove 90 amps through one of these power stages realistically you really

Don't want to be doing that and in fact you probably don't want to be shoving 60 amps through these either as they will still be producing a hell of a lot of heat because of that like that nominal current spec is basically useless and

The other issue with it is is that compared to say 70 M parts like the actual performance curve of a 90 mm smart power stage it's not really that different from a 70 M power stage so don't get too excited about these being

9 these it doesn't really mean anything if the gigabyte was using 70 M smart power stages you'd basically have the same vrm efficiency anyway because again the part like the the nominal current spec just

Doesn't really have too much of an effect for the efficiency in the current range that we actually care about for real-world usage scenarios so it sounds really big but in practice it it basically means these are about as good

As 70 M parts now the cool thing about these being smart power stages is that smart power stages integrate a whole bunch of sort of advanced features that you don't get with like dr moss component and soar or even some types of

Power stages so these integrate very accurate current monitoring that's just built directly into them they also integrate over to temperature monitoring and a bunch of safety features like over current protection over temperature

Protection and short-circuit protection so that's why they're called smart power stages because those are all technically functions that you could implement externally with extra circuitry but these integrated so they're smart

Because you don't like they're clever and they can like protect themselves and stuff so yeah so these are called smart power stages and they're also like just generally smart power stages are ridiculously efficient these are the

Best thing that I'm aware of intercepting and the performance is really good so for 1.2 volts output voltage 500 kilohertz switching frequency this may not be the frequency that the board is shipping at it's just

The frequency that the data sheet is spectat so though I'd assume gigabyte is shipping at 500 kilohertz like normally motherboards come with the switching frequency that the power stage datasheet is written with that's normally what you

Actually see the board shipping with so this is probably shipping at 500 kilohertz switching frequency not that it really matters that much because like going down on the frequency wouldn't really change the efficiency too much

You don't normally see boards increase the switching frequency passed like 500 kilohertz like this is already rather high anyway so for a hundred amps output which is like hammering an 8-core rise in CPU you'd be seeing just 7.5 watts of

Heat put from the CRM that's around 94% efficiency 90 I'm sommore power stages even after all I said about how the 90 doesn't really mean that much it doesn't like a 70 amps smart power stage is also

Going to be reaching around 94% efficiency at this kind of current output but it does not change the fact that this is insane efficiency and very low heat output so yeah there's like if you're gonna run an eight-core this vrm

Is gonna have absolutely no issues with that 150 amps so now you're looking at like hammering at 12 core so a 3900 X you'd be looking at about 13 watts of heat output for the VRM and then this might actually kind of like this is

Really gonna depend on the cooling of the motherboard because the thermal density of the vrm is relatively high because it is like it's 13 watts which is not a lot of heat but at the same time that's 13 watts spread across six

Power stages which puts you at a little over 2 watts per component and the the heat density ends up being rather high as a result of that for 200 amps output the arm should be producing about 19 watts of heat which like at this point

The vrm is actually very likely to run rather warm especially because gigabyte does it didn't like decide to put a fan on it but the thing is the only way you're hitting 200 amps is if you're running a static overclock on a 39 50 X

If you're using PBO PBO doesn't go up to 200 amps it bounces off the voltage and frequency limits before it hits 200 amps and if you're at stock while a stock 39 50 X has a power limit of 144 watts so you're not gonna be anywhere near that

200 amp figure so basically if you did want to overclock this vrm is more than capable of doing that you just for the sort of worst case scenario you might need some amount of airflow because the other thing is with ITX boards you don't

Really have the option to make particularly great heat sinks and I know some people might be like wait a minute this doesn't have any like fins cut into the vrm heatsink the thing is we can't see it here in the picture but the way

This heatsink is structured it basically looks something like this from the side where you have that plate coming up and then it just goes like that and the problem with this is if you put a hole into a

Flat plate like this the material like the amount of surface area you remove by putting a hole in it is greater than the amount of surface area you expose on the inside wall of that hole so you actually don't want to be putting holes into this

It would make it worse I think if I could have you know got a little bit more creative with with this heatsink design at the same time this is one of the cheap like well technically one of the cheapest at be 550 ITX boards

And because like there's only one other one that I'm aware of that's cheaper and it's not that much cheaper that one's like $130 well it's 50 bucks it's actually a decent amount but either way like yeah you just don't have the option

To design overly elaborate heat sinks though I do think they could have maybe like the thing is plastic is cheaper than aluminum so as it's just like yeah they might have been able to you know extend the heatsink out to be the entire

I/o cover but then the board probably wouldn't have been $180 anymore and they do also have a heat pipe to share some of the heat from the vrm to the chips heatsink which potentially is bad for the chipset like the VR might end up

Getting hot enough that the chips that would complain wouldn't complain about being used as a heat sink for the for the VRM so there's really just not enough space to do much on on an ITX board like this the though they didn't

Like what they did do that's an extra for for the heat sinking it's not like you just have that flimsy little heatsink on the front and they did add a backplate like this and this actually works quite well for improving the RM

Thermals it could be better but that could be said for a loss of ITX boards and the way most ITX board solved their thermal issues is you just jam a fan somewhere because like you can't lower the VRMs thermal density enough and then

You can't get a big enough heatsink to compensate for the high thermal density so you add a fan now gigabyte decided that they're not gonna add a fan which I don't really know how to feel about that at the end of the day gigabyte does have

Working temperature sensors unlike some other board vendors and so if you you know are running this board with a 39 50 X and you are really like pushing over clocks and that kind of thing you could always just check your

Temperatures and then you know optimize your case airflow to compensate for the fact that well it's an IT export the vrm is kinda to sit like the vrm is a little bit on the thermally dense side anyway that's the practical current ranges now

Let's talk about the no practical current ranges like two hundred and fifty amps output which yeah you're not gonna take this board sub-zero but hey maybe you're insane and you decide to take this board sub-zero then 250 amps

Is actually achievable and that point that the arm will be producing about 30 watts of heat the heat sink problems like intensify funnily enough this is actually cool well you just need like a 5,000 rpm fan strapped directly to the

VR I mean heatsink and I know this because I've done something like that with a different ITX motherboard where technically wasn't as much current as 250 amps but it was significantly less efficient power stages so the important

Part there is the heat output it's not you know the the current output and yeah like you can deal with this you just need an unacceptably loud fan and ridiculous amounts of airflow you know like servers get away with the arms with

No heat sinks and the way they do that is with ridiculous amounts of airflow so give it enough airflow you can cool pretty much anything it's just that you may not want to be in the same room as the thing you're cooling at some point

Anyway going up to 300 amps output the vrm won't be producing about 40 watts of heat and techne like the the airflow thing still applies it's just kind of like yeah this this is not even remotely practical and also these are theoretical

Values up here this is not something the board is going to be like seeing anytime soon but the point of me pointing these out is mostly to indicate like that 90 amp rating is really not practical like that is a nice thing to put on your

Datasheet it's not really that great for hey I'm gonna build a 900 MV RM with 10 power stages no you're not unless you plan to have like a ridiculous water cooling system for the VR M so and similarly this isn't going to do

500 amps even though technically these are 90 amps more power stages so for an ITX board on am for this is actually a really good vrm this is way ahead of what you could get before well it's not way ahead of what you can get on x5 70

But if you compare it to like V 450 ITX boards this is really good like this is a huge improvement over what you could get on a lot of B 450 ITX boards so or even x47 t-rex 370 or be 350 ITX boards like that this is a really nice vrm

Admittedly the board is also $180 so you'd expect as much but it is nice for the SOC vrm we're just looking at a two-phase more of the same 90 mm smart power stages which if I remember correctly that's actually better than

What you get on the x5 70 ITX from gigabyte my theory on that is is that AMD is obviously going to be putting out some rather interesting ap use onto the a m4 platform and the funny thing about ap use is that the CPU cores don't pull

A lot of power because there's not that many of them so your your recurve URM basically gets to sit there and relax but your SOC vrm on the other hand gets absolutely hammered because I GPUs especially if you combine them with fast

Memory can well their GPUs they can pull lots of power and they like the thing is the the power draw actually increases as you reduce the memory bottleneck because if you're using slow memory and I GPU is gonna pull less power because it spends

More time stalled out waiting for memory access but even at the same freeze so as you're overclocking an eye GPU like yeah the SOC vrm could get hit pretty hard and to that and you know the efficiency figures that we're looking at

There is 20 amps output it's going to be an again at these operating parameters mainly 1.2 volts is a bit high for SOC voltage but now we don't know how the APS are going to behave you might actually want to run 1.2 volts onto them

I don't know anything about the AP use yet but GPUs don't tend to be particularly low power consumption there anyway so 20 amps output that is lie a SOC without an eye GPU getting completely hammered you're looking at

1.5 watts of heat so the vrm has no problem doing that amount of heat output I mean current output 40 amps of heat I mean 40 amps of current you're going to be looking at about 3 watts of heat and 60 amps of current you're going to be

Looking at about 5 watts of heat and I ran out of space 80 amps of current this is going to be producing about 8.5 watts of heat so the thermal density at 80 amps is going to be really high as you're going to be looking at over 4

Watts per of heat per per component but a the thing to consider is if you are on an APU and your I GPU is you know like well I guess it depends on what workload you run but I think it's kind of unlikely that you'd have both the I GPU

And all of the CPU cores running like full-speed at the same time especially since well I guess if you ran something that just manages to sit in the cache of the CPU then that's not really that much of a concern there are workloads like

That like if you set prime95 to the smallest FFTs like it doesn't really use many like it doesn't really access the memory at all but yeah so nor like under most circumstances if your eye GPU is working pretty hard your core vrm isn't

Gonna be working that hard so the SOC vrm when it's run you know if you somehow got it up to 80 amps which seems I find that kind of unlikely but if you get it into the high current draw it ranges like with an APU you're not going

To be hammering the V curve erm that much so the SOC vrm is actually going to have essentially the vrm like the heatsink of the vrm isn't going to be loaded down with that much heat so the SOC vrm shouldn't have any problem

Outputting even you know 60 or 80 amps yeah in terms of power delivery this board is very capable for for what it is now then let's go to the back because well actually we can see them on the front but the thing I wanted to point

Out is the output filtering on the vrm here gigabyte is using a bunch of SMD aluminum polymer Tantillo no no well these are aluminum polymers right here those are SMD aluminum polymers from AIPAC and so

Those are like the low cost aluminum polymers because AIPAC is a Taiwanese capacitor manufacturer and yeah they're the the cheaper capacitor option though I'm not sure that they have any like insurance issues or anything it's just

Like they cost less than say your Panasonic's which are Japanese these on the other hand these are tantalum polymer SMD capacitors now tantalum capacitors are just generally pretty expensive because that's just that's

Just a fact of fact with them and these are panasonic pauls caps and the reason why I'm pointing these out is SMD capacitors so it doesn't even matter if these are tantalum Zoar if they're like the aluminum polymers the important

Thing with these is the SMD molded packaging that they come in these have much less ESL than your regular through-hole capacitors so these are great for soaking up the voltage dips and spikes that a CPU produces as it

Does CPU things and the same is true for GPUs GPUs are very very noisy in terms of loading and so you know having low es lo es our capacitors like this is great for your voltage regulation so this board should do a very good job in terms

Of voltage regulation as well as the as well as just the sheer current handling capacity so yeah I'm a big fan of what gigabyte has done with this board what's kind of surprising is that the x5 70 ITX board actually uses aluminum polymers

Everywhere instead of the pawls caps right behind the vrm so I'm not sure what led to that decision it might just be a density thing because these are 470 micro farad's where these are 330 and if you need a certain amount of bulk

Capacitance while the four 70s are going to get you there faster than the 330s but yeah it's an interesting interesting change because these are generally these are more expensive than the than the APAC capacitors and the x5 70 bore like

X5 70 ITX from gigabyte is all iPAQ capacitors so yeah this is just kind of an interesting little thing that I've noticed with this board and yeah so I'm a big fan of the power delivery on here I wouldn't

Necessarily want to like hammer a 3950 X on this board but a 3700 X or like this is really overkill for like a 3,600 like if you were running a 6 core massively overkill vrm and then even like and stock CPUs and actually any CPU you're

Running at stock that the arm is gonna have zero issues with that it's really only a 39 50 X if you're like manually overclocking it to the very limits you might end up in some situations where the vrm is actually getting kind of halt

Because 3950 axes can pull quite a bit of current like 200 amps though by like high currents and high power draw CPU standards is not that high is just like ITX boards like the platforms that normally pull 200 amps don't have ITX

Motherboard options you know you're looking at like X 2 99 X 79 X 99 like Intel HGD t thread rippers you're looking at really high like you know large the sockets that you wouldn't be putting on I see exports because they

Just won't fit anyway so that's the that's the power delivery for V Corp in terms of memory this is a ITX board so we've just got one dim perch annal right and an eighth layer PCB which we can tell oh actually we can't see it here oh

Well but there's a little PCB layer count indicator down in that area of the of the PCB so yeah this is a wonderful channel memory layout and with eight layers this should actually be really solid now gigabyte advertises this is

Supporting up to 48 66 on Rison the third gen CPUs but for the AP use they're claiming up to 550 400 so yeah like that'll be interesting 48 66 is not the highest of frequencies for a am for socket motherboard for the third gen

CPUs without 5400 for the AP use is actually kind of ridiculous like that'll be very very interesting to see and for like we still don't know when the AP like the desk help AP user are going to arrive also I don't think this is gonna

Be practical it's just gonna be more for showing off that hey look I could do a really high frequency but yeah so the memory topology here should be pretty pretty solid just mostly because it's an ITX board it's got eight layers right

And gigabyte is actually managing to keep the memory sort of traces out of the way of anything you know like there's some ITX boards which will have like RGB controllers in the memory tray like right over the memory section and

It's like well there are ways to design around that but it's better if your memory traces just don't have other things sharing the same space with them so yeah and that's pretty much it for this video so yeah the B 550i

They were SPRO ax I think is a bit expensive but if you're gonna be going for like a high-end Rison CPU this is a really solid ITX option you know like 3900 x 39 like again dependent like 39 50 X depends if you're

Gonna be overclocking or not but 3900 X I'd have you know hundred insan' this motherboard even with PBO or even a static overclock like it's gonna be fine and then anything less than a 3900 X yeah this

Board's gonna have absolutely no issues with that so yeah that is it for the video thank you for watching like share subscribe leave any comments questions suggestions down in the comment section below

We'd like to support what we do here at gamers Nexus we've got stored all gamers Nexus dotnet where you can pick up well mouse mats like the one in the background of the photo which you can't really see much of and other merch and

Other than that we've also got a patreon where you can support us directly and there's a link to both of those things down and then down in the description below so yeah that's it for the video thanks for watching and good bye

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