Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
People love mini-ITX motherboards, and ASUS does too. Some of their most impressive motherboards have been mini-ITX motherboards that use special custom daughter boards to add on features there just isn't enough room for.
In this case, we have one for some high-end audio, and we get a lot of ROG features even though this isn't part of the Maximus lineup. Let's see what ASUS has to deliver!
The Strix B450-I Gaming features two M.2 slots, WIFI, Intel LAN, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.1, and SATA6Gb/s.
The Strix B450-I Gaming costs $150.01
Packaging and Strix B450-I Gaming Overview
Packaging and Overview
The motherboard box is pretty colorful, so we know it supports RGBs. The box and packaging are well done and protect the motherboard well.
The accessory package includes two SATA6Gb/s, WIFI antenna, M.2 screws, IO shield, M.2 mounting kit,ROG Strix stickers, cable ties, extension cable for addressable LED, panel cable, driver DVD, and manuals.
ASUS put in three fan headers. The CPU fan header is circled in red and is a hybrid PWM/DC mode header rated up to 1A. We do not know the capabilities of the AIO pump header (blue) or chassis fan header (green), but we assume the AIO header runs full speed and/or supports more than 1A current. The motherboard also supports an external temperature sensor, the header is circled in orange. The motherboard's dark aesthetics are quite nice, and on the rear of the motherboard we find some features, ICs, and the addressable RGB LEDs on the right edge of the motherboard.
The rear IO panel features HDMI 2.0b, four USB 3.0, two USB 3.1 type-A, Gbit LAN, illuminated audio connectors (headphone, mic, and input), and WIFI antenna connectors.
We find an M.2 slot on the topside of the motherboard that supports up to x4 PCI-E 3.0 and SATA based drives and has a heat sink. The M.2 slot on the rear is x4 PCI-E 3.0, and it shares x4 for the PCI-E x16 slot, so that means if you use that slot it will bring the x16 slot to x8, which also means Raven Ridge won't support this slot since it only offers x8 PCI-E 3.0.
The motherboard has a USB 3.0 internal header and USB 2.0 internal header, four SATA6Gb/s ports, and front panel headers on the right side of the motherboard. There is a temperature input header located behind the SATA ports in the shot on the left.
There are boot LEDs at the top right corner of the motherboard. At the top of the motherboard we find our RGB LED header and addressable RGB LED header near the fan headers.
The motherboard also has an 8-pin power connector for the CPU. The heat sinks are all screwed into the motherboard, and the VRM heat sink cools both the power stages and the inductors.
ASUS Strix B450-I Gaming Circuit Analysis
The Strix B450-I Gaming shows us the goods with the heat sinks removed!
The VRM is in a 6+1 phase configuration with each phase utilizing an IR3553 40A PowIRstage for the CPU VCore, and then a single 60A IR3555 for the SoC. The ASP1405 is used, and it's most likely a re-branded IR controller.
The memory VRM might be located under the PCI-E slot or it might be at the top of the motherboard where they are using tiny On Semi MOSFETs. Either way, it's most likely a single phase. It's actually more likely it's located at the top as after we took these pictures we spotted a Richtek PWM controller on the back of the PCB which would control those small MOSFETs on the front of the board.
ASUS Strix B450-I Gaming Circuit Analysis Continued
The audio solution consists of a Realtek ALC1220 and the entire audio section is built into a daughterboard. We find two amplifiers, one is a SoundPlus OPA1688 and the other is an RC4580, it's possible that one is used as a pre-amp or that one amplifies voltage and the other current (as on more recent ASUS boards). We also get audio capacitors and illuminated audio jacks.
The main NIC is an i211AT Gbit NIC from Intel and the second is a Realtek RTL8822 Wave-2 WIFI controller which is 2x2 867Mbps.
The two Pericom PI3EQX re-drive two USB 3.1 signals from the chipset. The main SuperIO is the ITE8665E and the motherboard uses a 128Mbit ROM.
A TPU chip is used to provide extra ROG functionality. A Texas Instruments SNx5DP159 turns the digital display signal from Raven Ridge CPUs into an HDMI 2.0b electrically compatible signal.
A STMicro STM32F microcontroller handles the addressable RGB LED header and the addressable side LEDs. An Aura chip controls the RGB LED functionality of the RGB LED header.
Two ASMedia ASM1480 switch x4 from the PCI-E slot to the rear M.2 slot.
BIOS and Software
The UEFI on this motherboard is just like ASUS's UEFI for their other X470 motherboards. You get all of the overclocking settings and everything looks great. Fan control is present in both GUI form and a manual input menu. ASUS's UEFI is intuitive and fully loaded, and you get both an EZ Mode and an Advanced mode.
ASUS's software package includes Dual Intelligent Processors 5, AURA, TPU, AI Suite 3, Ai Charger, Grid, EZ Flash 3, and Digi+ VRM among other software applications. For the full list look at ASUS's product website downloads.
Test System Setup
Steven's Motherboard Test System Specifications
- MotHeroboard: ASUS STRIX B450-I GAMING
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
- Cooler: Coolermaster MasterLiquid ML240R RGB - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: G.Skill Sniper 8GB x2 3466MHz
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - Boot Drive: Kingston KC1000 480GB
- Storage - SATA6G Drive: Corsair Force 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 RM1000 - 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
The motherboard has RGB LEDs on the rear of the right side of the PCB and it creates a pretty cool effect because it's using addressable RGB LEDs.
I enabled XMP in the BIOS, which then set all core to sync up, which I then set to 4.2GHz. We set a 1.35v VCore with the second highest level of LLC and we expanded current restrictions. Overall, the motherboard did a solid job handling the overclock, and easily took our memory to 3400MHz.
CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks
3DMark: Fire Strike
3DMark: Cloud Gate
The Strix B450-I Gaming's performance is just fine, we didn't find any issues with its performance. Overall, most of the B450 motherboards have similar performance at this time.
System IO Benchmarks
ixChariot Network Throughput:
The STRIX B450-I GAMING's storage performance is quite good as it typically is on ASUS motherboards, wired networking was solid, but WIFI wasn't the best.
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: Excellent, very clean audio performance. 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 back side 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 larger difference in temperature between the back and 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 Strix B450-I Gaming has a pretty good VRM for such a tiny mini-ITX motherboard. We were very pleased with its performance, but we will suggest airflow over the VRM area if you are going to overclock AMD's 8-core SKUs. 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
Strong VRM: The VRM on the motherboard is very nice, and it utilizes IR's PoweIRstages rated 40A each. Combined with the large heat sink, the VRM is well equipped to take on overclocking Ryzen CPUs.
Audio: With the audio on a daughterboard and the addition of two amplifiers, one for current and the other for voltage, ASUS made a big effort to improve audio. The Nichicon audio capacitors are a nice addition, as is are the RGB LEDs in the ports. While you only get three audio jacks, it's still nice.
Dual M.2 slots: Sporting two M.2 slots, one rated for x4 PCI-E 3.0, the motherboard is well equipped for taking on the latest in storage technologies.
None: We couldn't really find too many issues with the motherboard, perhaps more USB on the rear IO would have been nice. The WIFI card isn't the best either.
The ASUS Strix B450-I Gaming is a high-end B450 motherboard loaded with the latest in features and technologies. We get HDMI 2.0, USB 3.1 (10Gbps), and dual M.2 slots. ASUS does use a high-end Intel NIC and a Realtek based WIFI controller. We get some upgrades to the audio on the motherboard, and it's great both in real life and in tests.
Overall, this is a high-end AM4 mini-ITX motherboard with the right hardware to back it up, and it comes in at a reasonable price.
The Bottom Line: Loaded with high-end features and a solid set of aftermarket features such as RGB LED support and HDMI 2.0, the STRIX B450-I Gaming stuns at an affordable price.
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