Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Second generation B550 platforms introduced after the launch of Ryzen 5000 series processors in early November have been a relatively successful group of boards for many vendors. ASUS, behind both its ROG and ProArt brands, has released motherboards built for the high power requirements of Ryzen 5000. The first from this group that we will look at is the B550-Xe Gaming Wi-Fi, a board made from the previous B550-E Gaming with changes to power design and cooling.
B550-Xe, as it will be known going forward, shares its aesthetic with the rest of the ROG B550 platforms as well. Black heat sinks on a black PCB with touches of RGB allow for customization within any consumer's build-theme. Heatsinks cover all of the motherboard's most essential parts, including the updated VRM stack, chipset, and Gen 4.0 capable M.2 slots. VRM cooling goes a bit further with a custom-designed Delta Superflo fan that ASUS says can lower temps by 9c, allowing for increased headroom.
Specifications and Marketing
Platform specifications for the B550-Xe start with CPU compatibility. In this case, we have 3,4 and 5000 series on the list. Power design is identical to the big brother X570 Dark Hero with a 7+1 parallel design that uses Texas Instruments 90A for VCore and SoC behind the DiGi+ ASP1405I PWM Controller.
Memory support is over four slots, DDR4 2133 through 5100MHz officially, while eight SATA III ports handle storage, 2x Hyper M.2 and 1x Ultra M.2. Networking gives us the Intel i225-V LAN controller for 2.5Gbe and the Intel AX200 chipset for Wi-Fi 6 and BT5.1 support.
The amazingly popular Realtek ALC1220A handles audio behind the SupremeFX Amp with support for 113dB SNR.
The ASUS ROG Strix B550-Xe Gaming Wi-Fi carries an MSRP of $329.99 with a three-year warranty.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
B550-Xe packaging offers an image of the board to the right and platform support along the bottom of the box.
The back gives a full rundown of the motherboard, including all ports and slots with unique features listed along the bottom.
The retail packaging includes the user manual, Wi-Fi antenna, SATA cables, and Hyper m2 Gen4 card.
ROG Strix B550-Xe Gaming Wi-Fi Overview
The B550-Xe has an almost subtle ROG theme with black heat sinks over the entire board, heat pipe for the VRM. An almost neon red or pink stripe runs up the board for highlights. The layout has everything in pretty standard locations 24pin on the board's top right, CPU power top left. The back of the motherboard is all but a blank canvas with ROG branding silkscreened along the bottom.
Rear I/O on this platform starts with USB 2.0 far left, followed by USB-C and Gen 2 ports, 2.5Gbe, and HDMI/DP.
The bottom half of the B550-Xe includes the debug LED, two RGB headers, and two fan headers. To the right, we have USB 2.0 and front panel connections, and around that corner, the SATA inputs. Slot layout is x16,x8, and x4 electrically, with two x1 slots filling the gaps.
Up top, we have the AM4 socket centered, CPU power top left, fan, and RGB headers moving to the right. Four DDR4 slots fill the right side of the motherboard along with USB 3.2 Gen 1 and 2 headers and 24Pin power.
PCB and Circuit Analysis
VRM design includes 16x Texas Instruments X95410RR stages with a DiGi+ EPU ASP1405I PWM controller top left. This image also shows the Intel i225-V LAN controller bottom right.
Chipset is the focus here; an ASMedia ASM1480 is hanging out just below.
The ALC-S1220A hides under the SupremeFX cover in this last image, while the Nuvoton Super I/O and ALC S210 above.
UEFI, Software and Test System
ROG motherboards have had the cleanest feeling BIOS. IMO, with a favorites section to start showing all your most commonly accessed locations in BIOS. The "main" area offers an overview of the CPU information, memory, etc. Ai Tweaker is where you will do all of your overclocking, including setting DOCP for your memory profiles.
The advanced menu allows configuration of storage devices including SATA and NVMe, onboard devices like Audio, Wi-Fi, and LAN controllers. You will find a separate section for AMD Overclocking; this is for PBO setup and all the options surrounding it. The "monitor" shows hardware temperatures and voltages and allows you to configure fan speeds, while the Tools menu offers Secure Erase, EZ Flash, and others.
The B550-Xe Gaming includes the Hyper X16 Gen4 Card to offer more value with the new platform. I didn't want to mix results with this card into the review itself, so we put a few 1st gen PCIe 4.0 drives on the board with Sabrents' help and ran it through CDM a few times to see what it could do. Peak results were 8206 MB/s read, and 8396 MB/s write in sequential and 63/276 for Q1 Random.
We will tell our thoughts on this Hyper M.2 situation in the wrap-up.
Armoury Crate is the primary platform for ROG motherboards. Within this platform, you can control addressable and standard RGB headers, along with the shutdown effect when the system is off.
Additionally, you can sync to other compatible devices like GPUs or LED strips.
The tools menu allows you to keep your drivers up to date.
Motherboard Testing Supporters
Sabrent supports our AMD motherboard testing with the fantastic Rocket4 Plus!
ADATA supports our AMD motherboard testing with their XPG Spectrix D50 DDR4 Memory!
TweakTown AMD Motherboard Test System
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X (buy from Amazon)
- RAM: ADATA XPG Spectrix D50 2x16G DDR4 3600 (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: MSI MEG K360
- OS Storage: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 1TB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM750X (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
Cinebench, Realbench and AIDA64
Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to showcase their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests, a single-core workload that will utilize one thread or 1T. There is also a multi-threaded test that uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU
R23 shows slightly lower single-core performance for the 5800X at 1577. nT too, is somewhat lower than average at 15111.
Realbench uses both video and photo workloads to benchmark your CPU. We use all three workloads in this scenario.
Heavy Multitasking has the B550-Xe on par with many of the past tested platforms with a time of 34.01 seconds.
AIDA64 has stayed as our means of testing memory bandwidth.
Read comes in at 45923 for the XE Gaming, with write at 25579 and copy and 46611.
PCMark10 and PugetSystems Benchmarks
PCMark is a benchmark from UL and tests various workload types to represent typical workloads for a PC. Everything from video conferencing, image import, and editing, along with 3D rendering, are tested.
The XE Gaming did quite well in PCMark, showing 11368 in essentials and 10976 for productivity. Digital Content was the highest at 13699.
PugetBench comes from the fantastic people over at Puget Systems that have done countless hours and years benchmarking hardware. For our testing, we will utilize their Davinci Resolve, Photoshop, and Lightroom benchmarks, you can look into them more here
Puget for Photoshop showed a score of 1148 for the XE Gaming, just under the average of 1200.
Lightroom testing scores 1016, once again slightly below average.
In Resolve, we see an overall score of 1133 for the B550-XE.
Our first gaming benchmark is Far Cry New Dawn; running at 1080p Ultra detail, we see an average FPS of 119, on par with past platforms.
Next, we switch to Gears Tactics, 1080p Ultra once again. In this scenario, we see an average FPS of 167.7 for the XE Gaming.
Flight Simulator is a bit more challenging to set up, but I have been able to get some pretty good consistency by running the exact flight path and settings. For this benchmark, we run 1080p Ultra and Brisbane to Archerfield Runway 22L. In this test, the average frames come out to 49.31 for the B550 XE Gaming.
System I/O Benchmarks
Storage with CrystalDiskMark
Storage tests are all handled by our Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0 SSD. Secondary storage tests are conducted with our WD_Black P50 SSD.
Starting testing, we hit the rear USB 3.2 Gen 2 port with a USB-C connection. In this test, we reach 1008 MB/s read and 1021 MB/s with our P50.
Internal workloads show 6968 MB/s read and 5285 MB/s write from the Hyper M.2 slot.
72.8 MB/s read and 284 MB/s write are reached for 4KQ1.
Audio - Dynamic Range
Testing audio, we setup RMAA with a 3.5mm cable from the line-in to speaker out (green to blue) and set both to 24Bit 192KHz. The B550 showed 92.4dBA right in line with past platforms.
For networking, the B550 shows 2318Mbps for LAN and 1359Mbps for the WiFi6.
Power, Thermals and Final Thoughts
Power consumption showed 152 watts idle, 337 watts during R23, and 616 watts running MS Flight Simulator.
Thermals were on par, 29c idle with a peak of 77c under testing.
We did get a chance to put the B550 under thermal vision. As you can see, we have a few hot spots around the top PCIe slot wrapping around to the top of the VRM area. Peak temps seem to be 39-40c in this image.
Overclocking on the B550 XE was nearly identical to past motherboards. 1.26v in BIOS gave us 1.2v at load and was able to keep our 5800X stable at 4.7GHz.
The B550-XE Gaming takes the top spot in the ROG B550 portfolio, and rightly so. This board, designed from the B550-E, carries forward all the features consumers loved and pairs it with a nasty (in a good way) Texas Instrument 90A power stage and DiGi+ PWM controller. Increased cooling has also been introduced with a heat pipe design over the VRMs, complete with a custom-designed Delta superflow fan that ROG says can reduce temperatures up to 9c and allow for more stable overclocking.
In my testing, this board was flawless, though it did underperform in many categories, and this is down to the BIOS setup. You could see it in power testing; the CPU wasn't drawing near the power that other boards did in the past even though we installed and setup as we always do; load defaults, enable DOCP, and boot to windows. I don't tune motherboards for the best results in reviews. I run them as they come, just as many of you would. It is what it is.
Next, we address the HyperM2 X16 GEN4 card that we tested in the middle of the review.
First, this card is fantastic. x16 means full x4 lanes for each NVMe you install; theoretically, we could hit 28,000 MB/s with this card, but on the B550-XE, we don't have enough lanes to do it. Most of you will use the top PCIe slot for a graphics card; this gives us the second Gen4 slot at x8, limiting this card to half its available bandwidth instantly. If you want to throw your GPU on the x4 slot at the bottom of the board, you'll likely run into chassis issues with clearance, etc.; this gives way to getting full performance. That said, running this card in that second slot with Gen3 drives to build one hell of a game drive; that's where this card shines!
What We Like
Compatibility: AM4 socket gives broad compatibility to both 3000 and 5000 series processors.
Power Design: One of the beefiest power designs yet, the B550-XE shares the X570 Dark Hero's 90A Texas Instruments stages, giving this board upwards of 1300A of capability.
Thunderbolt Header: Still very rare, B550-XE does have a Thunderbolt header for those wanting the capability on AMD.
What Could Be Better
USB: For a high-end platform on B550, this board needs more rear panel USB 3.2 ports.
Price: At $329 MSRP, we are getting into X570 platform territory.
Hyper M2 X16 GEN4 Card: This accessory is excellent but has no purpose on a B550 platform with limited Gen4 support.
The Bottom Line
A fantastic board both on aesthetics and hardware, perfect for gamers wanting the best B550 has to offer, though it could use better USB support!