Gigabyte B550 Gaming X Review
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With the launch of AMD’s B550 chipset, PCI Express 4.0 has finally gone mainstream. There are plenty of B550 boards to choose from, including some full-featured varieties with price tags on par with mid-range X570 motherboards. At those price ranges, you may as well opt for an X570 board, as this chipset is more capable than the B550. The affordable B550 alternatives are arguably much more interesting, which brings us to this review of the Gigabyte B550 Gaming X.
B550 Gaming X Specs Vs. Aorus Elite Vs. X570 Gaming X
Gigabyte’s B550 Gaming (mATX) and B550 Gaming X (full-size ATX) motherboards are located between the entry-level Ultra Durable lineup and the higher-end Aorus range. However, the Gaming X is by no means significantly less capable than, say, the Aorus B550 Elite. If you are nevertheless prepared to spend a bit more in Gigabyte’s AM4 lineup, you may also want to look into the X570 Gaming X.
|B550 Gaming X||B550 Aorus Elite||X570 Gaming X|
|4 (128 GB)||4 (128 GB)||4 (128 GB)|
|4400 MHz||4400 MHz||4400 MHz|
|M.2 SSD Slots||2x|
(1x Gen4 + 1x Gen3)
(1x Gen4 + 1x Gen3)
|USB 3.2 Gen2||1x Type-A||2x Type-A||-|
|USB 3.2 Gen1||3x Type-A|
2x Type-A (header)
2x Type-A (header)
4x Type-A (header)
What you are missing out on with the B550 Gaming X in the way of features compared to the Aorus Elite is primarily 2.5 GbE LAN, a somewhat more competent VRM, and better audio. You also sacrifice one PCIe x16 slot (PCIe 3.0 x1) for two additional PCIe x1 slots. Gigabyte’s X570 Gaming X, on the other hand, comes with the greatly enhanced PCIe 4.0 connectivity offered by the X570 chipset. If none of this matters to you, going with the B550 Gaming X will save you around $30.
The Gigabyte B550 Gaming X
Not much can be said about the design of the board. It’s not exactly dazzling, but that is to be expected in this price range. The B550 Gaming X does come with RGB headers if you want to get creative. As for the layout, there are fairly large heatsinks for the VRM and chipset areas, but unfortunately, no M.2 heat spreader. If you are building a system that includes a PCIe Gen4 M.2 drive, you might want to opt for a model with a heatsink.
A plus compared to cheaper boards is that the rear I/O panel is integrated, so you will save a few minutes trying to fit (and not bend) a separate back panel. Otherwise, you will find are no surprises inside the box. It includes the motherboard itself, a SATA cable, manuals, and the driver CD that manufacturers still insist on including for some reason.
Performance – B550 Gaming X Benchmarks
Motherboard benchmarks are not known to raise eyebrows, as boards with the same chipset – and all other components being equal – tend to perform about the same as long as no overclocking or other tweaking is involved. Testing is nevertheless important to identify potential weak areas. We will be comparing the Gigabyte B550 Gaming X to the previous-gen MSI B450 Gaming Plus, which was priced about the same at launch. The parts used for testing include:
- CPU: Ryzen 5 3600
- CPU Cooler: DeepCool Gammaxx (tower cooler)
- GPU: GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
- RAM: 16 GB of dual-channel 3200 MHz Crucial Ballistix (16-18-18-38)
- SSD: Sabrent Rocket Q 1GB
- PSU: Corsair RM1000
CPU: Cinebench R20
Cinebench is a rendering benchmark that taxes the CPU in single-core and multi-core loads. In version R20, the result is presented in the form of a unified score. We are running the Ryzen 5 3600 at stock speeds and OC mode has all cores set to 4.3 GHz. The B550 outpaces the B450 by about 5% here, which is a noteworthy difference in this context.
RAM: AIDA64 Extreme
Using the exact same clocks and timings, it’s no surprise that memory performance is not significantly affected by jumping between the B450 Gaming Plus and the B550 Gaming X.
PCIe 4.0 offers twice the bandwidth over PCIe 3.0, making this one of the main reasons why you may want to upgrade from a previous-gen board to the B550/3rd-gen Ryzen platform. For a more apples-to-apples comparison, this is how the B550 Gaming X measures up versus our reference B450 board (PCIe Gen3) in CrystalDiskMark.
Sequential performance is practically identical, but interestingly, the Gigabyte B550 Gaming X pulls ahead in the 4K transfer area.
System Performance: PCMark 10
PCMark 10 is a general system performance benchmark that emulates a variety of workloads including office apps, rendering, content creation, and loading times. The B550 board comes out slightly ahead of its B450 counterpart.
Gaming Performance: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
There is no reason to expect anything but marginal differences in terms of gaming frame rates when swapping motherboards. At higher resolutions, 4K in particular, the GPU is the bottleneck and FPS differences tend to even out. It’s still possible to see a marginal difference between the B450 Gaming Plus and the B550 Gaming X at 1080p resolution.
Gigabyte B550 Gaming X VRM Temperatures
Gigabyte’s EasyTune software is quite useful as it provides direct access to BIOS settings without actually entering the BIOS. Depending on your changes, a system restart may nevertheless be required.
Another plus is that it comes with a sensor overview, which includes temperature data that may be difficult to find otherwise (due to generic naming in e.g. HWInfo64). This gave us some insights into the board’s reported VRM MOS temperatures.
Using an open chassis, the idle temperature does not go above 32C. After an hour of continuous CPU load, the value peaks at 46C, and with the R5 3600 overclocked to 4.3 GHz on all cores, it reaches 48C. Of course, our Ryzen 5 3600 has a 65W TDP and is therefore quite frugal in any situation, as seen in the low VRM MOS temperatures. By comparison, a 105W Ryzen 9 would be significantly more demanding if you decide to push it.
Conclusion: An Attractive and Affordable B550 Motherboard
The Gigabyte B550 Gaming X is not a high-end motherboard by B550 standards (itself a mainstream chipset). But it’s not an overly scaled-down entry-level board either. All the essentials are still in place, including PCI 4.0 connectivity for the primary NVMe SSD and the graphics card slot. You also get what appears to be a more than adequate VRM, an extra M.2 slot, a USB 3.2 Gen2 port, and support for up to 4400 MHz DRAM.
Around $30 more may get you some additional features such as 2.5 GbE, a better audio chip, and possibly a slightly more powerful VRM. This is not always the case, however, as a few more expensive B550 boards such as the Asus Prime B550 are not significantly better equipped.
On the whole, Gigabyte's B550 Gaming X strikes a very good balance between value, features, and performance.
- Great performance
- Decent feature set
- Fast DRAM support
- No USB-C port
- No high-speed LAN