Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
MEG denotes MSI's top-end motherboard portfolio; MSI Enthusiast Gaming. For B550, this encompasses two boards, both from the Unify branch; B550 Unify and B550 Unify X. The latter sharing almost identical specs but appearing to be focused more on the enthusiast overclocking market rather than enthusiast gaming. As the title of this article has noted, we are looking at the non-X or standard MEG B550 Unify platform today, which priced very similar to the latest NZXT B550, and ASRocks own Taichi platform alongside the B550 AORUS Master and ProArt B550 from ASUS; certainly no lack of competition in the market for the Unify.
For specifications, the Unify is set up quite well with a 14+2 power design, MSI using Infineon stages this time around each able to handle 90A output current, plenty for the latest Zen 3 series. Of course, AM4 is the socket, and B550 is our chipset, so we have support for DDR4; 2133MHz JEDEC through 5100MHz via DOCP. Max memory is rated at 128GB across four slots.
Connectivity on this platform starts with six SATA 6Gb/s ports alongside four NVMe slots, one being Hyper M.2 and the other three Ultra M.2. USB connectivity includes four USB 2.0 ports with an added PS/2 port for legacy keyboard and mouse and four USB 3.2 Gen 2; one being Type-C and the other three Type-A.
Networking gives us the Realtek RTL8125BG 2.5Gbe chipset alongside Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6. Additionally, the rear I/O houses HDMI and DP outputs alongside 3.5mm output for audio.
The MEG B550 Unify carries an MSRP of $289.99 with a three-year warranty.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
Packaging offers an image of the board to the left, chipset, and CPU support below.
On the back, we have full board specifications to the right with a rear I/O diagram above.
Included with the motherboard, you will find the Wi-Fi antenna, SATA cable, along with reading materials.
MSI includes a kit to make your own test bench with the B550 Unify.
MSI MEG B550 Unify Overview
The Unify carries a pure black colorway for the PCB and heat sinks, dragon logo on the rear I/O cover. The layout is relatively typical, with power input placed at industry-standard locations. On the rear of the board, the VRM heat sink has a backplate to aid in rigidity and cooling.
Rear I/O includes both Clear CMOS and Bios flash buttons at the top, followed by legacy USB 2.0 and PS/2 connections. The USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports are colored red and followed by the Wi-Fi antenna and 2.5Gbe LAN port.
Getting started with the Unify, you will first notice a six-pin power connection for additional slot power. This is next to the front panel audio and RGB connections that move us to the fan headers and the first USB 3.2 internal header on the right edge.
Further up the line, we find the power and reset buttons, front panel header, and additional fan and SATA connections.
Up the side of the board, we have the 24 pin power connector and USB 3.2 Gen 2 header, Corsair RGB connection on the right side, and Debug LED.
Across the top, you will find AIO and CPU fan headers alongside two eight-pin CPU power connections.
PCB and Circuit Analysis
Power design uses Infineon TDA21490 stages, each capable of 90A.
B550 chipset is centered above, with a host of ASM1480 switches around it.
Nuvoton supplies the board super I/O chip, and the Realtek ALC1220 can be seen bottom left.
UEFI, Software and Test System
Unify uses Click BIOS 5 from MSI. This is one of the better BIOSes for those wanting to use mouse control. From the main menu, you have access to Game Boost CPU, XMP profiles, and boot priority. At the top, you can check both CPU and DRAM speed with hardware specifications to the right.
Around the center logo of the BIOS, there are six options for further control; these include board settings, overclocking, and M-Flash for BIOS updates. You can also dive into a hardware monitor to set up your chassis fans.
Dragon Center is the main piece of software for the Unify. This software includes software control of game mode and scenarios for differing levels of performance.
These scenarios affect power options and fan control; each of the four options can be seen above.
Dragon Center does include hardware monitoring, including CPU usage and frequency.
Last, RGB control of MSI Mystic Light is enabled through the dragon center.
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)
Our testing configuration can be seen above in the CPUz screenshots; we have the 5800X and Toughram XG at 4000 MHz CL20.
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 pushed the Unify to 1585 1T and 15642 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 33.6 seconds for the Heavy Multitasking workload.
Memory bandwidth came in at 46K read, 25K write, and 46K 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 11287 in essentials, 10889 for productivity, and 13691 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 1194.
Davinci Resolve gave us a score of 1147.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
In our quick gaming scenario, we see 50.5 FPS from Unify 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 peaked at 6844 MB/s reads and 5299 MB/s write.
Q1 Random showed 70 MB/s reads and 200 MB/s write.
In our external storage testing, our WD P50 produced 1091 MB/s read and 1090 MB/s write with the Unify.
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. Unify picked up 90.1 dBA in this scenario.
With networking, we have 2.5GBE and Wi-Fi 6. Wired LAN picked up 2351 Mbps while the AX200 managed 1314 Mbps in testing.
Power, Thermals and Final Thoughts
Wrapping up testing, power consumption saw a low of 140w at idle and a peak of 367 watts under CPU load. These numbers may coincide with the lower performance we did see in specific benchmarks.
Thermals were on par at 28c idle and peak of 76c during testing.
I was able to keep the Unify on my test bench for several weeks and came away quite happy with the board's performance; through several AGESA updates, this has become quite an excellent overclocking platform and even runs PBO quite well on our 5800X. The design gives this board exceptional power capabilities well over 1000A from the Infineon stages, plenty for the 5900 or 5950X.
The colorway is a mix of PCB black and matte black on the heat sinks, fantastic in my opinion, as it allows for flexibility for consumers going with a themed build. Additionally, for those hating on RGB, you will be happy to know this board has Zero RGB integrated but can be added via headers.
BIOS and software are both easy to navigate; as I said earlier in the article MSI Click BIOs is one of the more mouse-friendly applications we have seen. Dragon Center, on the other hand, is a complete suite that allows you to manage your games and gaming profiles along with monitoring hardware and setting up any RGB lighting you have.
What We Like
Zero RGB: A complete blacked out motherboard!
M.2 Slots: Four M.2 for those wanting massive NVMe support!
Compatibility: AM4 offers massive socket compatibility.
What Could Be Better
Thunderbolt: No integrated Thunderbolt
Price:Pricing could be better considering the competition.
The Bottom Line
MSI's B550 Unify is legit enthusiast platform that offers stunning overclocking capabilities alongside a fantastic set of storage options and connectivity.