Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Today we have another B350 chipset motherboard in for review, and this time it is one from MSI. These B350 motherboards we are reviewing have integrated graphics outputs, and in this case, MSI has added three GPU outputs onto the rear IO panel, and they even include VGA (D-SUB).
The good news about AMD's chipset lineup is that the B350 motherboards overclock, even though they don't carry the X before the chipset number. Let's take a look at this micro-ATX B350 motherboard from MSI.
The B350M Gaming Pro features one M.2 slot, USB 3.0, SATA6Gb/s, and RGB LED support.
The B350M Gaming Pro costs $79.92.
Packaging and B350M Gaming Pro Overview
Packaging and Overview
The motherboard's box and packaging are quite basic, and to the point, packaging will protect the motherboard.
The accessory package includes IO shield, two SATA6Gb/s cables, cable stickers, driver DVD, and manual.
The motherboard has three PWM/DC mode fan headers; you can change their operational mode in the UEFI. The motherboard features a unique silkscreen that I have actually come to like.
Certain areas of the motherboard have a special red design where lines resembling traces can be found. I am not sure how orchestrated it is, but it looks a bit random. The heat sinks also carry the same style of design. The back of the motherboard is quite bare, except for some red LEDs.
The rear IO panel features two USB 2.0 ports, PS/2 keyboard/mouse, DVI, VGA (D-SUB), HDMI, four USB 3.0 ports, 1Gbit LAN, headphone out, line in, and microphone ports.
We get one full-size PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot along with two PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots. Two of the motherboard's SATA6Gb/s ports are right-angled.
Two other SATA6Gb/s ports are angled straight up. The motherboard also features an x4 PCI-E 3.0 M.2 slot that also supports SATA based devices.
The motherboard also has one USB 3.0 internal header and an RGB LED header in the lower right corner of the motherboard. There is also an LPT header and two USB 2.0 header at the bottom of the motherboard.
EZ Debug LEDs can be found right above the 24-pin power connector. In the bottom left corner of the motherboard, we find out HD audio header, TPM header, and COM header. I should mention that the heat sinks make sold contact with the motherboard.
MSI B350M Gaming Pro Circuit Analysis
The B350M Gaming Pro reveals some interesting things when we remove the heat sinks.
The VRM is in a 3+2 phase configuration controlled by a Richtek RT8894A PWM specifically designed for AMD systems. The PWM controller has three integrated drivers that are being used to drive each of the three CPU core voltage phases.
Each power stage uses two high-side MOSFETs and two low-side MOSFETs. NIKOS PK616 and PK632 MOSFETs are used. Two Richtek drivers labeled "4P=" are found on the motherboard, and they drive the SoC voltage.
The memory VRM is controlled by a Richtek PWM controller with integrated driver, and it's labeled "24=". The 4H you see on the SoC drivers and memory PWM controller refers to the batch number. The single memory phase uses the same MOSFET configuration as the CPU VRM.
MSI B350M Gaming Pro Circuit Analysis Continued
B350M Gaming Pro Circuit Analysis Continued
The Realtek ALC887 HD audio codec is used along with Nippon Chemicon capacitors and physical PCH divide.
A Realtek RTL8111H 1Gbit NIC is used on the motherboard. There is a chip labeled ITE IT65168, and it's used to provide the legacy video output ports.
A Nuvoton NCT6795D SuperIO chip is used to monitor the system, provides fan control, and provides some of the legacy connectivity. A single Winbond 128Mbit (16MB) BIOS chip is used.
BIOS and Software
MSI's UEFI for the B350M Gaming Pro is very similar to that of MSI's other current motherboards; there doesn't seem to be anything missing.
One neat trick I saw them incorporate was that the SoC and iGPU voltages are locked in sync, so they are always the same. Overall, I liked how MSI kept everything the same as their more expensive motherboards.
MSI's software suite includes X-BOOST, Live Update, Gaming LAN Manager, RAMDISK, Gaming APP, and Smart Tool.
Test System Setup
Steven's Motherboard Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: MSI B350M Gaming Pro
- CPU: AMD Raven Ridge 2400G
- Cooler: Corsair H110i - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: G.Skill Flare (2x8GB) 3200MHz
- Video Card: Integrated - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - Boot Drive: Kingston Predator 240GB
- Storage - SATA6G Drive: Micron Generic 240GB / Read our review
- Storage - USB Drive: Corsair Voyager GS 64GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: Corsair Obsidian 900D - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Power Supply: Corsair HX1000 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 - Buy from Amazon
- Monitor: ASUS PA328 ProArt 32" 4K - Buy from Amazon
- Keyboard: Corsair K70 LUX - Buy from Amazon
- Mouse: Corsair M65 PRO RGB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Headset: Corsair VOID RGB Wireless - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Network: ASUS XG-U2008 10Gbit Switch
- BIOS: 2.C0
The motherboard has some red LEDs on the back of the motherboard, and they provide a nice hint of red.
Our CPU can overclock to 3.9GHz and do 3200Mhz on memory. I will go through and tell you exactly what I did to achieve my maximum stable overclock, and as AMD's ecosystem of compatible memory kits becomes larger, I will add in a memory compatibility section.
The B350M Gaming Pro was pretty easy to work with, but the LLC levels were a bit confusing as I didn't know which mode was higher and had to test a bunch of them to find the right level. I set the CPU frequency to 3900MHz, and then memory to XMP enable.
CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks
3DMark: Fire Strike
3DMark: Cloud Gate
We have only two motherboards in the charts, and that is because we have shifted to use Raven Ridge 2400G instead of the Ryzen 7 1800X when testing these more affordable motherboards. Both UEFIs use the latest AGESA 18.104.22.168, and neither seems to have much of an issue.
System IO Benchmarks
ixChariot Network Throughput:
The B350M Gaming Pro's storage performance is decent, except I believe that the M.2 slot is an x2 PCI-E slot rather than an x4.
Audio RMAA 5.5:
I disable all audio features, set the correct bitrates, and then test the audio with a loopback test.
Sound Judgment by Ear: Good, results are what I expected from an older codec. There are five ratings for audio: 1. Problems, 2. Okay, 3. Acceptable, 4. Very good, 5. Excellent
Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption
System power is measured at the wall with an AC power meter.
Note on Thermal Images: In the temperature section, we use our Seek thermal imaging camera to capture the surface temperatures of major components on the board. I look at the VRM and then all other things that light up the screen.
If there is something to worry about, then I will state it. Otherwise, I will just show the hotter running parts of the board for fun. Unless some component is over 80-90C, then there isn't anything to worry about.
All systems will act differently, so I will look for commonalities, such as how far from the VRM the heat spreads through the PCB and the difference in temperature between the front side and backside of the PCB.
Keep in mind, the majority of the heat from the VRM goes into the PCB as it is a giant soldered on copper heat sink. A lower temperature on the front of the PCB points towards a more effective heat sink.
Thermal Testing at Stock Speeds:
The image on the left is always at idle, and the image on the right is at load. During ALL TESTS, fans above the VRM that cool the CPU cooler's (Corsair H110i) radiator are turned on to high (12v).
Up-close of the front of the VRM.
Up-close of the back of the VRM.
The B350M Gaming Pro's VRM is good for Raven Ridge. Its heat sink does do its job, the hottest part is actually the PWM controller, which doesn't really do much work other than controlling the circuits. I would recommend an air cooler so the VRM gets constant airflow. Anything under 60C is great, 60-80C is acceptable, and anything above 80C is a bit worrisome (if at stock).
What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts
Here are key points about the MSI B350M Gaming Pro.
Affordable: At $80 the motherboard is super affordable and offers a solid amount of features, and is capable of overclocking the Raven Ridge APU with ease as long as you know what settings to dial in.
Aesthetics: I am a fan of the look of the heat sinks matched with the silk screen on the PCB. The motherboards red slots, red heat sinks, and red silkscreen traces match as do the traces on the heat sinks and PCB silkscreen. If you like red, then this motherboard will work for you.
Legacy Features: We have VGA (D-SUB), DVI, as well as COM, LPT, and two USB 2.0 internal headers.
No USB 3.1: The motherboard doesn't offer USB 3.1 or as some people call it, USB 3.1 Gen 2.
The MSI B350M Gaming Pro is a very value friendly motherboard with a lot of features, and it's perfect for an APU like the Raven Ridge APUs because of its many GPU outputs. I like that MSI included EZ Debug LEDs and a hidden OC header for increasing voltages, I actually realized that I needed to update the BIOS because the CPU LED stayed red during my first few boots.
Unless a motherboard has a specific sticker on it telling you it supports 2000-series processors, then you will need to update its BIOS. The good news is that AMD will lend you a CPU to perform the BIOS flash. The motherboard also has a beefy SoC VRM, with two huge power stages each made up of double the number of MOSFETs, the motherboard should easily overclock the iGPU. If you are looking for a solid, affordable motherboard for your Raven Ridge APU, give the B350M Gaming Pro a look.
The Bottom Line: Loaded with many video outputs, legacy features, and unexpectedly cool aesthetics, the MSI B350M Gaming Pro is great for budget Raven Ridge builds.
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