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OCC Best AMD Motherboard Picks 2018

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This article has been updated as of October 22th, 2018

 

OCC Gaming Platform Top Pick: #1 MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC

Once again it's time to break down the best AMD motherboards for both the Gaming (AM4) and Enthusiast (sTR4) platforms. There are a lot of brands and sub-class variations to choose from, but have no fear we crunched the numbers for you and found that the MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is the most well-rounded motherboard currently available. Let's break down why this motherboard is our top recommendation.

Despite using the B450 chipset, the MSI Gaming Pro Carbon can overclock and perform with the best on the market due to its decent VRM and cooling solution. MSI didn't stop there and made sure that the audio experience during gaming sessions is top-notch with the Realtek ALC1220 Codec, producing good quality audio without unnecessary manufacturing costs. Also included is Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac that supports every type of Wi-Fi on the market. Next up is two RGB 12v headers for that lighting kit or using the cases included lights.

On that note, our Best Mid ATX Computer Cases list put the NXZT 500i at #1 and it includes two RGB strips that pair great with this motherboard. MSI also managed to squeeze in a special Corsair RGB header that allows you to bypass some unnecessary Corsair add-ons like the Corsair Commander and plug that LED strip directly into the motherboard with full control.

 

Image courtesy of https://www.msi.com

 

Now we broke down what makes this motherboard a rocking choice, but it can't be perfect right? Well yes, without throwing money at it and switching to an X470 chipset a few issues are left present is that reflected in all B450 chipsets. These include limited PCIe lanes, which limits the Gaming Pro to one M.2 Slot linked to the PCIe bus. That, in turn, takes away from other PCIe slots, which removes the ability to support NVIDIA SLI.

The other issues stem from the price point, as it is a bit on the high side for a B450 motherboard, but on the flip side, it has many of the features only present in motherboards that cost twice as much. It does only including basic internal RGB lighting, but it is expected the consumer would spend the saved money on a nicer case or Corsair RGB LED Strips that can be used on this motherboard. Overall, this MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC has everything the average gamer needs while offering a ton of features not normally found on the AM4 B450 chipset.

 

 

OCC Top Pick:
MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC

Pros:

  • Allows overclocking (CPU)
  • Good onboard audio (Realtek® ALC1220 Codec)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • 2x RGB LED 12v headers
  • Corsair RGB header (JCORSAIR1)
  • Dedicated pump header

Cons:

  • Price point (high for B450 chipset)
  • 1x M.2 slot
  • B450 chipset
  • No NVIDIA SLI / NVLINK support
  • Basic RGB lighting

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Newegg

 

OCC Gaming Platform Runner-Up: #2 GIGABYTE X470 AORUS ULTRA GAMING

This one is for all those gamers who want to put on a light show. OCC did some digging and found the GIGABYTE X470 AORUS ULTRA GAMING to be an excellent choice for the more expensive AM4 X470 chipset. GIGABYTE has a few other choices that really put on a LED light-show but are also a bit pricey for what you get in return, therefore we settled with the ULTRA GAMING this time around after careful consideration. The main selling point here is AMD's X470 chipset which is a refresh of last years X370. Both use the AM4 socket and even though X370 is compatible with the Ryzen 2nd Gen (29xx), the newer chipset has better memory support and new features like lower TDP, StoreMI, and XFR2 (Precision Boost 2 Technology).

The ULTRA GAMING has two M.2 slots connected to the PCIe bus for maximum transfer speeds when it comes to using NVMe SSDs like the Western Digital Black series or Samsung 970 Pro. GIGABYTE also thought of every scenario by reinforcing the PCIe slots. Now that the new NVIDIA RTX video card lineup has launched, heavier cards like the MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 Ti weigh in at 3.2 lb. The GPU die is getting extremely large on this newest generation and requires more power, in turn creating more heat and requiring a better cooler. GIGABYTE has made sure that a broken PCIe slot is very unlikely if the card is secured properly.

 

Image courtesy of https://www.gigabyte.com

 

However, nothing can be perfect and the ULTRA GAMING has its own set of flaws. The biggest one is GIGABYTE possibly misleading the consumers about the VRM design. GIGABYTE says an 8-phase Hybrid on the website, but Buildzoid over on his YouTube channel uncovered it is really a 4+4 phase design. This means that overclocking will be limited, unless you are planning on a serious water-cooling setup, as CPU temperature will be the first concern overvoltage control and power draw for the AMD4 Ryzen CPUs.

Next up on the list is the lack of Wi-Fi. Buying an add-on card just defeats the purpose of this price point and GIGABYTE does offer Wi-Fi in its more expensive models.

Lastly, the ULTRA GAMING does include two 12v RGB headers, but one is located near the CPU Socket and intended more for that than a general RGB header at the bottom. If you are planning on a big light show, then this may not be the best option and the GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI will be a better choice.

 

 

OCC Runner-Up #2 Pick:
GIGABYTE X470 AORUS ULTRA GAMING

Pros:

  • Aorus App Center (user-friendly)
  • USB-C header
  • Good onboard audio (Realtek® ALC1220 Codec)
  • Muti-GPU Crossfire & SLI / NVLINK supported
  • Reinforced PCIe slots
  • Hybird fan header with water pump support
  • 2x M.2 slots

Cons:

  • No Wi-Fi
  • Limited overclocking abilities
  • Okay VRM heat sink
  • 4+4 parallel power phase VRM design
  • Only 1x 12v RGB LED header

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Newegg

 

 

OCC Gaming Platform Runner-Up: #3 ASRock B450M PRO4

Our first two choices were chosen to be well rounded with a bit of everything without sacrificing too much, while still being affordable for the AM4 Ryzen platform. Sometimes the gamer in you has no interest in overclocking or showing off your system. You would rather spend the money saved on a better video card or a 4K (UHD) Acer Predator monitor, because after all, this will be a strictly gaming build, right? We present the ASRock B450M PRO4, as basic as you can get without giving up the necessities and can fully handle any AMD Ryzen CPU. In case you are wondering, it does include a 12v RGB header, so not all is lost in the lighting department.

 

Image courtesy of https://www.asrock.com

This board is a good choice for those users looking for a minimalist offering, but not everything is perfect when it comes to the ASRock B450M PRO4, as this motherboard gives up a lot to fit within a lower tier price point. For one it has very basic onboard audio. Hopefully you have a nice USB gaming headset like the HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset (OCC Review) which will bypass this all together, otherwise, those gaming sessions are going to sound a bit muddy. Then comes the very basic VRM and not much overclocking support. You can get a low to mid overclock by changing the CPU multiplier and not have any issues, but if you want to add more voltage, this motherboard isn't designed for those types of scenarios.

This ASROCK B450M PRO4 isn't for everyone and in fact, is really for those who want to game within a budget-minded setup. It still deserves a place in the Top 3 because it will still perform all the tasks required for a gaming build.

 

 

OCC Runner-Up #3 Pick:
ASRock B450M PRO4

Pros:

  • Low price point
  • USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port
  • AMD VEGA APU & RYZEN Support
  • 12v RGB LED header

Cons:

  • Low-end onboard audio (Realtek ALC892)
  • Low-end onboard NIC / LAN (Realtek)
  • Basic VRM setup
  • Only 1x M.2 PCIe slot (other is M.2 over SATA3 bus)

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Newegg

 

Alternate Choices: Still Good!

These next two are good motherboards, but just didn't make the Top 3 cut this time around. As the consumer motherboard market continues to evolve, what once didn't seem like all that good of an idea, becomes what everyone is looking for in a product the next time around. Nothing is ever set in stone, so make sure to check back for our updated lists every few months!

 

OCC Alt Choice #1: GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI

GIGABYTE is the only company that has a full RGB light motherboard named the X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI. If you are looking for the brightest and flashiest computer, then this is really the only choice. It is not a bad one either, as it builds upon our recommended AORUS ULTRA GAMING motherboard by adding better power delivery across the VRMs plus built-in Wi-Fi. Now that overclocking is no longer an issue, if you are trying to go for some world-breaking records, you can do with a bit of RGB heaven.

The only drawback is the price point. This board is aimed at the consumer who is willing to pay a premium for that full RGB look. Since no other manufacturer has it, GIGABYTE can charge what it pleases for that unique feature.

Image courtesy of https://www.gigabyte.com

 

 

OCC Alt Pick #1:
GIGABYTE X470 AORUS GAMING 7 WIFI

 

Alt Choice #2: ASRock X470 Taichi Ultimate

The last motherboard in the AMD Gaming Platform category is the ASRock X470 Taichi Ultimate. It has everything a user could want and more! Maybe not everything, as this motherboard has only a single 12v RGB header. ASRock decided to put an emphasis on things like 10Gb/s Ethernet and premium audio. Once again the only major downside is the price, but you are paying for what you get and it is for those who don't want to compromise performance for a few extra LEDs.

Image courtesy of https://www.asrock.com

 

OCC Alt Pick #2:
ASRock X470 Taichi Ultimate


  1. OCC Best AMD Gaming Platform (AM4) Motherboards
  2. OCC Best AMD Workstation Platform (sTR4) Motherboards
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