Date: Wednesday, August 01, 2018
While the B450 chipset is not focused on the enthusiast PC market, it will certainly resonate with many enthusiast users looking for a cheaper path when building solid gaming boxes. The quick and short explanation is that the B450, much like the B350 before it, is a slightly cut-down version of the X470/X370 chipset, meant to be available in motherboards that reach all the way down to the $70 price level. The upper end of feature-rich boards will mostly be targeted at the $100 to $125 price range. The fact is that the B450 is an almost-full-featured AM4 chipset that will support just about any AMD Ryzen CPU that will fit in its socket.
So what exactly do you give up in terms of features moving from the X470 chipset to the B450. The answer is, "not a lot." PCIe Bifurcation is the big missing checkbox. What this basically means to you is that these B450 motherboards will not officially support any kind of Crossfire or SLI support in a tradition X8/X8 fashion. And given how multi-GPU is dying off for desktop gaming, you likely do not care.
On the upside, and this is a big upside, if you are using a Ryzen CPU on the B450 that supports Precision Boost 2, these B450 boards will support that feature. We have found Precision Boost 2 to be a boon for the enthusiast on the B350 and B450 boards.
The B450 motherboards being of the less expensive variety, of course have to cut down on cost somewhere, and from an enthusiast perspective that has generally been in the VRM area. You are going to see B450 boards simply not be able to deliver the clean power that the overclocking enthusiast will likely want and need. In our testing, when pushing your new Ryzen Gen 2 CPU to the edge, these B450 boards have not been able to remain stable under 100% Prime95 SmallFFT loads. However, the shining star again is Precision Boost 2. Using PB2 you are able to load the board down with huge workloads even on 8C/16T processors, but as you might expect, the smaller VRM packages are going to hinder some of your clock speeds, but stability has been excellent. Precision Boost 2 along with AMD's XFR2 technology keeps things well within the system's comfort zone, maintaining your PB2 system stability in our experience, albeit while giving up a few CPU clocks in heavy loads.
That said, Precision Boost 2 on both the B350 and B450 motherboards has shown to be excellent when it comes to workloads that are not going to to use all 8C/16T. Of course, very few games push these full core workloads in real world scenarios, so you can still create an enthusiast class gaming box with the B350 and B450 using a single GPU as long as you are pushing resolutions over 1080p. which tend to be GPU-limited.
Also worth mentioning is that we have had no issues getting stable 3200MHz and 3400MHz memory speeds on the B350 and B450 boards that we have tested.
StoreMI is supported on the B450 compared to the B350, and StoreMI works well on a lower priced build if you want to throw a large spinning data drive into the mix with a newer, but likely smaller SSD. Depending on which particular B450 motherboard you are looking at, it will likely have one NVME port as well to throw into the mix with StoreMI, which makes things even better.
One of the last big issues that will make everyone happy is that AMD is looking to extend the AM4 socket ecosystem out into 2020. This means that should you wish to drop a new CPU onto your "old" motherboard, support for that will likely be only a UEFI flash away.
The B450 is going to be an excellent mainstream chipset for AMD Ryzen CPUs. It is going to open the door on a lot of "budget builds" while still being able to take advantage of AMD's most expensive AM4 CPU feature sets. However, the devil in in the detail when it comes to power users and enthusiasts looking to overclock their Ryzen CPUs. The VRM structure on these boards is likely not going to give you the power you need for edge-of-the-envelope overclocking, but you still have an excellent Precision Boost 2 system that is going to give many gamers exactly what they need on a budget if they go with an "X" type Ryzen CPU.
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