Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
NZXT has been asked for years to design/build an AMD platform motherboard. Once again, they tapped on the shoulder of ASRock and got down to business building out a motherboard that aesthetically can only be recognized as an NZXT N7 motherboard platform.
Underneath all of the shielding, the N7 B550 is a rather capable motherboard that takes advantage of the latest platform technologies such as PCIe 4.0 that's paired with the latest available Wi-Fi and now mainstream 2.5Gbe network connectivity, top-end audio, and stacked rear I/O to bring to market a fantastic platform any gamer would love to build on.
Diving into the N7 B550, this is an AM4 platform solution built on the AMD B550 chipset. CPU compatibility includes 3,4, and 5000 series processors coupled with support for DDR4 memory with speeds of 2133MHz through 3200MHz via JEDEC and 4733+ via XMP. The form factor is 288pin over four slots with a maximum capacity of 128GB.
Expansion slots include two x16 lanes PCI Express slots, one full x16 electrically Gen4, and one that is x4 electrically. Additionally, you will find two x1 lane slots that are Gen3. Storage is deployed over two m.2 slots; form factor supported 2242 through 2280. One slot operates in Gen4 mode with a four-lane connection and the other Gen3 x2 and SATA modes. An additional six SATA ports are available for legacy storage solutions.
Further connectivity includes 2.5Gbe LAN from the 8125BG Realtek chipset and Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6e that includes Bluetooth 5.2. Audio is deployed with the ALC1220 codec complete with Nichicon Fine series capacitors. USB connectivity includes four USB 3.2 Gen 1 connections next to an additional four Gen 2 split between 3 type-A and one type-C. Legacy USB is available as well for mice and keyboard connectivity.
The NZXT N7 B550 carries an MSRP of $229.99 with a three-year warranty.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
Motherboard packaging for the B550 is right in line with what we have seen from the Z490 and upcoming Z590 platform solutions; consumers will have the option of having a black or white colorway for the board itself. Packaging shows an image of the board on the front.
On the back, we have full board specifications to the right.
Included with the motherboard, you will find the Wi-Fi antenna, SATA cable, along with reading materials.
NZXT N7 B550 Overview
Our sample of the N7 B550 was delivered in the all-black colorway, full shielding like the past Z490 platform. Most available ports are angled 90 degrees, including SATA and internal headers for USB 3.0. the rear of the motherboard carries 6 PWM doublers for the 12 phase CPU power.
Rear I/O is one of the best I have seen on a B550 platform; We have legacy USB 2.0 at the top, followed by four 10Gbps USB 3.2 and another four USB 3.2 Gen 1. Wi-Fi can also be found at the top next to HDMI and 3.5mm audio at the bottom.
Working our way around the motherboard, we start with the bottom of the board where we have HD Audio followed by USB 2.0 headers and ARGB, RGB headers.
Around the corner, we find our first USB 3.2 header next to a stack of SATA ports.
Further up the line, we run into a Gen 2 USB 3.2 header and the 24 pin power connection.
Across the top of the motherboard, you will find Fan headers along with two NZXT RGB connections and the 8 and 4 pin CPU power connection far right.
PCB and Circuit Analysis
The power design for the N7 B550 includes 12 phases for the CPU; it is a doubled design with six doublers on the back of the motherboard; ASRock and NZXT chose the SIC654 power stage for this motherboard which gives us 50A current capability for each. You will find the PMIC top right next to the memory slots.
The chipset is the AMD B550, ASMedia chipset below for the USB 3.2 headers.
Nuvoton supplies the Super I/O, while above, you will find the AX210 from Intel and Realtek ALC1220 audio.
UEFI, Software and Test System
Entering the EFI, you will notice right away it is an ASRock design. The main tab offers hardware information and the BIOS version; we tested the B550 on P1.10, the latest being 1.30. Further into the menu system, we have the overclocking menu, which gives you full access to CPU and memory options. In contrast, the advanced menu moves you into motherboard options, including storage, onboard devices, and opens the door to AMD overclocking with PBS.
NZXT CAM is going to be the most significant piece of software for the N7 B550. This software is a one-stop-shop for monitoring temperatures, voltages, and activity.
Additional tabs will offer lighting controls, while others include overclocking and cooling controls for those running a Kraken AIO solution.
Overclocking controls are basic and appear to only consider your installed GPU.
Cooling will give you access to each header on the motherboard along with the AIO cooling solution if it's an NZXT branded platform.
Motherboard Testing Supporters
Sabrent supports our storage testing with the Rocket 4 Plus.
Thermaltake has come onboard with their Toughram XG for all motherboard reviews.
TweakTown AMD Motherboard Test System
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
- GPU: ASUS TUF RTX 3080 10GB
- RAM: Thermaltake Toughram XG 2x8G DDR4 4000 (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 1TB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM1000X (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.
We started our testing of the N7 B550 with R23. In this scenario, we came away with 1576 as our single thread score and 15464 for nT.
Realbench uses both video and photo workloads to benchmark your CPU. We use all three workloads in this scenario.
Realbench offered up a score of 30.86 seconds for the Heavy Multitasking workload.
Memory bandwidth came in at 49K read, 28K write, and 48K copy.
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.
PCMark testing gave us a score of 10998 in essentials, 10428 for productivity, and 13609 in digital content.
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 ended with a score of 1197.
Davinci Resolve gave us a score of 1181.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
In our quick gaming scenario, we see 51.8 FPS from the B550 and our RTX 3080.
System I/O Benchmarks
Storage with CrystalDiskMark
Storage tests are all handled by our Sabrent Rocket Plus NVMe 4.0 SSD. Secondary storage tests are conducted with our WD_Black P50 SSD.
Storage testing showed 6991 MB/s reads, and 5316 MB/s write.
Q1 Random showed 75 MB/s reads, and 305 MB/s write.
In our external storage testing, our WD P50 produced 982 MB/s read and 1022MB/s write.
Audio - Dynamic Range
Testing audio, we set up RMAA with a 3.5mm cable from the line-in to speaker out (green to blue) and set both to 24Bit 192KHz. N7 B550 showed 92.6 dBA.
With networking, we have 2.5GBE and Wi-Fi 6e. N7 B550 showed 2361Mbps in wired testing and 1236MBps over Wi-Fi.
Power, Thermals and Final Thoughts
Wrapping up testing, power consumption saw a low of 158w at idle and a peak of 446 watts under CPU load.
Thermals were on par at 29c idle and peak of 80c during testing.
I've had the NZXT H710 around for several months as it was sent over as part of the kit when I reviewed the Z490 motherboard late last year. Building in it, in the image above with the new N7 B550, gives you an idea of how well NZXT has designed its boards to take advantage of the entire ecosystem they have created over the years. Aesthetically, it's a perfect fit, even more so now with the Z series AIOs that now offer OLED screens to show vitals of the system through CAM.
In testing, the N7 B550 was a great board; performance was right in line with our expectations that have been fine-tuned over the last few months and 10+ motherboards that have come through the lab. As far as features go, B550 isn't the flagship chipset, yet NZXT has treated consumers quite good with this board offering top-end audio, mainstream 2.5GBE, and WiFi6e. On top, this board is absolutely stacked with USB connectivity both on the rear I/O and internally for any chassis you may build in.
Additionally, I'm not sure I can say anything other vendor has a better software suite than NZXT with CAM as it controls their entire ecosystem. I've not had any issues running it on the three boards I've now tested from NZXT.
What We Like
Design: N7 B550 is a very clean looking board aesthetically.
USB 3.2: Tons of USB 3.2 connectivity on this board.
Quality: ASRock build quality.
What Could Be Better
PriceIt's not a typo! MSRP is $229, making it one of the more expensive B550 platforms.
The Bottom Line
The N7 B550 is one of the most feature rich B550 platforms on the market, backed by ASRock quality, but still, it's costly.