Which AM4 Motherboard Should I Buy?

Ryzen is currently the hottest topic in the DIY PC market space. They are the most wanted CPUs on the market right now.

If you’re one of the many looking to buy a new Ryzen CPU, you’ve probably also asked yourself “which AM4 motherboard should I buy?” The answer for most is, Buy a decent B550 or X570 motherboard with a good VRM and the features you need.

However, choosing a motherboard can be a bit more complicated as there are many factors to consider. Below we’ll go over what makes a motherboard good, what you should look for, and what you should avoid.

Choosing a Good AM4 Motherboard

Motherboard

With a myriad of choices available on the market today, you want to make sure the motherboard you choose functions properly above all else. The most important consideration above anything else is:

Compatibility

Not all AM4 motherboards share the same CPU compatibility as others. Currently, only B550 and X570 motherboards officially support the Ryzen 5000 series CPUs, with BIOS updates for older chipsets coming out sometime in January.

B550 also lacks compatibility for CPUs older than the 3000 series. Worry not, however, as we have a comprehensive list of compatibility here.

After you’ve decided on a Chipset to use for your Ryzen CPU, the main things that you should consider before purchasing are:

VRM Thermal Performance

Choosing a board with a well-implemented and cooled VRM will go a long way for performance, longevity, and overclocking if you choose to dabble. Higher core-count CPUs will need a stronger VRM.

Likewise, you can get away with a cheaper motherboard if you’re on a budget and only planning to use a lower core-count CPU like a Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7.

VRM thermal testing can be found on Youtube, or through other online resources, but it’s always a good idea to check these types of reviews before purchasing a motherboard.

Size

The physical size of the motherboard plays an important role in what size case you can use and the overall size of your build. The majority of good motherboards available are ATX and will need to be put in a Mid-Tower case for compatibility.

Should you want a smaller build, a micro-ATX or mini-ITX AM4 motherboard may be for you. But keep in mind that the smaller size also means fewer expansion slots.

Features, Expansion Slots, and Connectivity

Do you want more M.2 slots? Wi-Fi 6 connectivity? 2.5 Gbit or 10 Gbit LAN? Thunderbolt ports? A lot of USB 3.0 ports? These are all things to consider when choosing a motherboard as well. Be aware that some of these features also come at an added cost, particularly 10 Gbit LAN and Thunderbolt.

BIOS Flashback

This feature is especially important for those buying Ryzen 5000 series CPUs, as some motherboards still don’t come with the updated BIOS to run the new CPUs out of the box.

Different names are used by different manufacturers; BIOS Flashback for ASUS and AsRock, Flash BIOS for MSI, and Q Flash Plus for Gigabyte.

But they all do the same thing, they let you update your BIOS using a USB flash drive without needing to have a CPU or even RAM installed in the motherboard. This is extremely useful for compatibility, so keep an eye out for it.

RGB Lighting Support

While purely aesthetic in nature, we feel RGB support is important for those who want to fully customize their PC in every way possible. Some software is better than others, and some boards offer more flexibility and lighting options than others.

Keep this in mind if you plan on using other RGB-enabled hardware in your build, and want to sync them all together.

As this article is about which AM4 motherboard will suit your needs best, it may be a good idea to read this report about why you should always choose compatible RAM for AM4 setups. This will help you get the most from your hardware.

What AM4 Motherboard Works Best for Me?

One other consideration to be discussed is budget. How much are you willing to spend on an AM4 motherboard? How much do you really need to spend?

You shouldn’t go out and try to buy the cheapest motherboard possible, but you also shouldn’t be spending more on your motherboard than you are on your CPU. It’s all about finding balance.

To help you find this balance, we’ll give you examples of what motherboards may be best suited for a particular series of CPU.

Ryzen 2000G or 3000G series APUs or Ryzen 1000/2000 series CPUs

You can get by with a good B450 motherboard for either of these options. There are some good options below $100 as well if your budget is tight.

The AsRock B450M Pro4, Gigabyte B450 DS3H, and MSI B450-A Pro MAX are all great options and offer good features.

Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7, 3000/5000 series CPUs

You’ll generally want a B550 or X570 motherboard for these CPUs. Older 400 and 300 series chipset motherboards lack support for PCI-e 4.0 that these CPUs offer, and may run into compatibility issues or offer limited BIOS setups.

An entry-level B550 board will suffice if you don’t need a lot of features, but you also don’t need to spend more than $200 to get a very capable motherboard.

You can also use a B450 board with a BIOS update, but updating the BIOS may be a hassle if you don’t already own the motherboard and have an older CPU, or the motherboard doesn’t have BIOS Flashback.

Good Options, From Low to High Pricing Are

The B550M DS3H from Gigabyte, B550M Bazooka from MSI, B550-A Pro from MSI, X570-P from ASUS, B550 Tomahawk from MSI, and TUF Gaming X570-Plus from ASUS.

Ryzen 9 CPUs

For these powerhouse AMs CPUs, you’ll really want an upper-midrange, or high-end B550 or X570 motherboard. With higher core counts, you’ll need better power delivery (VRM) to maintain optimal performance. With the extra computing horsepower, you’ll also want the features and I/O to take advantage of it.

The MSI B550-A Pro is the minimum you can get away with in terms of VRM performance.

More optimal choices would be AsRock’s B550 PG Velocita, ASUS’ TUF Gaming X570-Pro, MSI’s X570 Unify, Gigabyte’s X570 Aorus Master, or ASUS’ Crosshair VIII Hero as they offer excellent power delivery along with solid features and expansion slots.

When talking about AM4 CPUs and motherboards you may wonder “are all AM4 motherboards the same or not?”. If you would like to know just click on the link for a detailed explanation.

Conclusion

The answer to “which AM4 motherboard should I buy?” really depends on your budget, what you want for features and expansion slots, and what AM4 CPU you intend to use.

The main things to look out for are when making your choice are; VRM quality, compatibility with your CPU, sizing, and whether or not it has the features and expansion slots you want or need.

Our suggestions are made with these considerations in mind, and we feel they reflect the best balance of performance and features for the price.

Now that you have more of an idea about what AM4 motherboard will suit your needs most, you should read this article about the top AM4 motherboards for sale right now.

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