Articles

ASUS ROG STRIX B450-I Gaming Motherboard Review

Author:Daniel Dobrowolski

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Thursday , November 01, 2018

ASUS’ budget entry into the AM4 Ryzen mini-ITX world certainly has a lot going for it. With so many great mini-ITX motherboards coming from this company, expectations for the ROG STRIX B450-I Gaming are high. This small form factor motherboard lets us overclock as well. We put it to the test and find out just how well it does for $150?
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Motherboard Overclocking Software

ASUS includes its AI Suite III software with the ASUS ROG STRIX B450-I Gaming motherboard. This software has largely been unchanged over the last couple of years. However, the software does look different from motherboard to motherboard depending on the feature set found on a particular motherboard. Features that are unsupported do not show up in AI Suite III. If you have a motherboard that doesn’t support overclocking, then overclocking settings won’t show up. Fortunately, that’s not the case here.

Every manufacturer does its own thing with when it comes to bundled overclocking software. For the most part, the feature sets are very similar with a few stand out features here and there. The user experience separates them as well. With AI Suite III, you get the most capable and comprehensive of all the software packages. However, the user interface can be a bit clunky at times. Navigation to specific features is easy. Going back to the menu isn’t intuitive at all. The navigation menu is tucked away on the side and isn’t obvious. There are some interface design inconsistencies as well. While most elements of the application have a certain uniformity, there are a couple points where this isn’t the case. The gear icon in the system health monitoring area in the lower quarter of the application window is used to bring up settings for monitoring thresholds. However, it is easy to miss and there is nothing else like it in the interface.

While most of the modern bundled motherboard utilities provide the same basic feature set, ASUS stands alone when it comes to automatic overclocking. ASUS’ approach gives the user control of the overclocking process by allowing the user the ability to set specific parameters to work in. The application still tunes the system automatically, but you can set guidelines for the applications to follow. You can even adjust the application’s stability testing for validating the overclock. This unique approach works as ASUS software can usually get within a stone’s throw of matching what can be done manually. With some software out there, the automatic overclocking has very conservative presets it works from and those presets use overly aggressive voltage settings to improve stability across a wider range of CPU’s and systems.

Automatic fan tuning is also part of the Dual Intelligent Processors 5 (automatic overclocking) feature. Although, you have little control over the fans in this process. Manual overclocking is done in via the TPU menu. This doesn’t allow for individual core tuning the way it does on Intel processor-based systems. A great deal of voltage tuning options are presented and are easily adjusted with simple arrows on either side of each variable.

Another way ASUS’ AI Suite III software sets itself apart is regarding its fan control capabilities. While most of the features ASUS offers are now commonplace in the industry, this wasn’t always the case. The feature set we see now has been available for years. ASUS’ more advanced fan control features like fan smoothing are now available on a wider range of motherboards than ever before. DC and PWM modes are supported along with fan smoothing and the ability to name fans in the software. When you use the software to run its automatic tuning function, it will enumerate your fan’s supported speeds and characteristics.

ASUS’ DIGI+VRM feature provides power phase control. This includes CPU Load-Line calibration, VRM switching frequencies and duty cycle control. A nice feature of the software is that it contains detailed information about what each setting does and displays that information on the right whenever you highlight any settings in this menu. Next, we have ASUS’ Turbo Application menu which allows you to associate performance profiles with specific applications and manage them. It’s a neat feature but I doubt many people mess with it. I generally give myself a 24/7 stable overclock and go for max performance all the time. However, you have the option to dial back performance and increase power saving for light work, etc. Its entirely up to you. The EPU menu can be identified by the hippy leaf icon in the navigation menu, or from the DIP5 menu. This allows you to set power savings characteristics and adjust the preset profiles.

ASUS also allows you to expand many of the PC health monitors in the bottom of the application window and increase the size and details of the monitor. As I said earlier, the gear icon brings up PC monitoring threshold settings for alert conditions. These are provided for voltages, temperatures and fan speeds.

ASUS Aura

The ASUS Aura software provides RGB LED lighting control. It supports Aura Sync for matching color settings across multiple devices. It supports a broad color palette with multiple visual effects. One unique aspect of the software is that it provides settings for when the system is running and when it’s shut down. I have not seen this in any other RGB LED control software. The application is easy to use as its quite intuitive. Some RGB LED software can be problematic but Aura just works.