There are only minor differences between AMD's new budget B450 platform and previous B350 boards, and just as before we are expecting this platform to shine around the $100 mark or below, depending on your needs. With the first AMD B450 motherboards just popping up, truth be told, there aren’t that many good ones to choose from, certainly not nearly as many as we’d like and not as many as there could be.
Asus and Gigabyte options are somewhat disappointing so far, Asrock has done a decent job, while MSI has really turned things around. We hope these picks will help narrow down your search for the perfect B450 motherboard.
Best No-Compromise Board
Who makes the ultimate AMD B450 motherboard? That question is very easy answer: the MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon. For just $130, it’s a steal. So much it might be considered the best AM4 motherboard priced under $200, certainly below $170. As a consequence MSI have managed to outdo themselves with this one. It’s a better board and a better buy than almost all of their X470 models, such as the X470 Gaming Plus, X470 Gaming Pro and even the $180 X470 Gaming Pro Carbon.
The VRM on the X470 Pro Carbon is slightly better, it’s a 5+2 phase VRM while the B450 Pro Carbon packs a 4+2 phase VRM, both have double the components but no proper doubling mechanism. I’d argue that the cooling on the B450 board is better though, it sports a bigger heatsink that isn’t intruded upon by a plastic shroud.
It's our opinion that the B450 version is a better buy and not just because it’s ~30% cheaper, but because you get Intel dual band Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 5.0, the only things missing are two SATA ports and a third PCIe x16 slot, both of which you’re unlikely to miss.
For those of you wondering, the B450 Pro Carbon uses the RT8894A controller and packs a total of 8 high-side On Semiconductor 4C029 fets and 8 low-side 4C024 fets for the Vcore VRM. Again, this is a 4 phase vcore VRM with no doubler.
The only problem with MSI’s B450 and X470 motherboards is their complete lack of ‘voltage offset’ support in the BIOS. This means for now it’s not possible to make full use of Precision Boost Overdrive. Other than that, MSI has developed the ultimate B450 motherboard with their B450 Gaming Pro Carbon.
Currently the most affordable B450 boards are coming in at $70, while the cheapest B350 boards are only $10 less. Right now Asrock, MSI and Gigabyte all offer entry-level boards, Asus does as well but in typical Asus fashion their version costs over 30% more with no justification for the premium.
So we have the Asrock B450M-HDV, MSI B450M PRO-M2 and Gigabyte B450M DS3H. Since Gigabyte has spent their entire budget on chokes they don’t need, we're going to ignore the DS3H, which is a shame as it does pack 4 DIMM slots, but given their VRM woes I just can’t touch it. Then we have the Asrock B450M-HDV which looks much better and packs a similar quality VRM to that of the 'flagship' Asus and Gigabyte B450 boards, which is embarrassing for Asus and Gigabyte.
The same is also true of the MSI B450M PRO-M2, but we're going to pick the Asrock board because it features a heatsink on the vcore VRM. Other than that the Asrock and MSI boards are very similar, so if you can’t grab one, the other will do as an excellent backup.
If given the choice we also prefer Asrock’s UEFI design and feature set to that of MSI’s. In our opinion this is an area where MSI still need to up their game. Overall a solid entry-level board from Asrock that will work nicely even with the Ryzen 7 2700X. That said, if you plan on overclocking, you’ll want to spend a little more and get my best value all-rounder pick, so let’s go talk about that...
Best Value All-Rounder
If it's possible to pony up an extra $40 we do recommend skipping over the cheaper entry-level boards. We realize it’s a big jump in price, but you do get a significantly higher quality motherboard that will handle any Ryzen CPU you throw at it with ease.
The extra investment opens up multiple options and the best examples include the Asrock B450 Gaming K4, MSI B450 Gaming Plus and MSI B450 Tomahawk. The options from Asus and Gigabyte aren’t good enough to consider in our opinion.
The MSI B450 Tomahawk is a serious standout here, packing an impressive feature set at the current $110 asking price. It’s also a nice neutral looking board, black and grey themed with a dash of RGB lighting that will suit all occasions. That said if you can afford it, our no compromise option is just $20 more and frankly it's worth every penny.
Still if you’re stretching the budget as it is, then the Tomahawk is a reasonable compromise. You essentially get everything you’d typically need on a desktop motherboard with the addition of a quality VRM that operates at very safe temperatures, even with an overclocked Ryzen 7 processor.
MSI hasn’t skimped on the VRM components and they haven’t skimped on cooling either, providing big heatsinks on both the Vcore and SoC VRM and the heatsinks aren't covered in tacky looking plastic shrouds. Price to performance the MSI B450 Tomahawk is hands down the best value all-rounder available at the moment.
Best Micro ATX
Something you still won't find is a MicroATX X470 motherboard, so those after a 400-series in this form factor will be B450 shopping. There are quite a few to choose from and MSI alone has half a dozen options and I really like the look of the B450M Mortar which is available in black or white. There are certainly some nice looking Micro ATX B450 boards from MSI, but I think Asrock has outdone them here.
The Asrock B450M Pro4 comes in at just $80 and while it might only pack a 3+3 phase VRM, both the Vcore and SoC portions of the VRM feature passive cooling, something no other MicroATX B450 board offers. Cooling on the SoC VRM is important, particularly if you plan on using a Raven Ridge APU, and crucially if you plan to overclock the integrated Vega GPU.
For the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 series this is less important, but even so the Asrock board is still better as it packs a pair of M.2 slots and two full length PCIe x16 slots (though the second is only wired for x4 bandwidth). You also get four DIMM slots, 4 SATA ports and USB Type-C. For the price, the Asrock B450M Pro4 is a cracking good board and hands down the best value MicroATX option, in fact in many respects it's the best MicroATX B450 board.
The Mini-ITX form factor presents us with three major options: the Asrock B450 Gaming ITX/AC, MSI B450I Gaming Plus AC and Asus ROG Strix B450-I Gaming. The Asus model is a nice looking board but will ultimately be too expensive for what it is. We anticipate an asking price of around $150 and it’s really not that much better than what the competitions offering for much less.
It could be argued that MSI’s B450I Gaming Plus AC for $120 is a better board, sporting a more powerful 3-phase Vcore VRM featuring a doubler for 6-phases. The SoC VRM is weak, so not an ideal APU board, Asus is probably better if you plan on running an APU, but given the price it doesn’t make sense anyway.
The Asrock B450 Gaming ITX/AC packs a 3 + 2 phase VRM which for some reason Asrock calls an 8-phase VRM. It’s not a bad board but for $10 less the MSI model is better. Bottom line, the MSI B450I Gaming Plus AC is the obvious choice here and for the price it can’t be beat.