If you’re building a Ryzen Zen 2 system, you will need a suitable chipset motherboard for your CPU, i.e. a board with the AM4 socket and more specifically, X470, X570 or B450-chipset motherboard. There is a vast variety of chipsets that do support these processors, so you may be wondering what the differences are and which motherboard you should pick up for your build. I’ll go over the main differences here and will give my recommendations for B450 boards for different purposes/budget Zen 2 builds in 2021.
B450 Motherboards for Zen 2 – Is it a viable option?
With the release of Ryzen Zen 2 on July 9th, the B450 chipset will be a viable option for those looking to build with the Ryzen 5 3600X, Ryzen 7 3700x, 3800X and Ryzen 9 3900X – since the B450 chipset will be compatible with the new Zen 2 processors – along with the X470 and X570 chipet. Note – some B450 motherboards will be compatible with Zen 2 out of the box, but some will just require a BIOS update to make the B450 motherboard compatible with Ryzen Zen 2.
This guide was originally written for the AMD Ryzen 2 (e.g. Ryzen 7 2700x, 2800X) but now that Zen 2 is around the corner, I have updated this guide to be focused on building a Ryzen 5 3600X/7 3700X/7 3800X/9 3900X system with a B450 motherboard – and giving my relevant recommendations. Since Zen 2 is such a step on from the previous generation Ryzen whilst at the same price, I can’t see a reason why builders would build a previous generation Ryzen system compared to the seriously impressive Zen 2 line of processors.
X470 vs B450 for Zen 2: Which chipset is better?
Many builders are asking whether to build a Ryzen 3000 system with either B450 or an X470 motherboard and don’t want to use the X570 motherboard due to their high price tag or perhaps not wanting to utilise some features such as PCIe 4.0. The important thing to note here for future Ryzen Zen 2 builders is that there won’t be any different using a B450 or X470 motherboard at all if you’re not going to extreme overclock the CPU or RAM, and you opt for a B450 motherboard with a decent VRM such as the MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC.
- Related: List of B450, X470 & X370 Motherboards with USB BIOS Flashback for Ryzen 3000
- Related: Best Graphics Cards for Ryzen 5 3600 Builds
- Related: Best RAM & Memory Timings for Ryzen 3000 CPUs
B350 vs B450 vs A320 Chipsets: What are the key differences?
First of all, some of the differences between the X470, B450 and X370 were already explained in another article so if you want to see those, you can head over to our X470 motherboard buyers guide.
The B350 motherboards were released alongside the first-generation of Ryzen CPUs, which means that they won’t support the second-generation Pinnacle Ridge processors without the necessary BIOS update. If you’re planning to buy a B350 board for your Ryzen 2000 series CPU/APU you’ll have to be prepared for that. But keep in mind that you’ll need a CPU that is supported, i.e. a first-generation Ryzen CPU, to update your BIOS, unless you board has an USB flashback feature. If you don’t have one it is also possible to loan out a boot kit from AMD themselves to update your BIOS, but it may take a while until the processor arrives. So if you want to build with a second generation Ryzen CPU it is in most cases easier to just go with a 400 series motherboard. The main differentiating features between the B350/B450 and X370/470 are the missing SLI support, less PCIe lanes and less USB 3.1 Gen 1 and SATA ports. A comprehensive overview can be found on PCWorld.
On the other hand, B450 motherboards are compatible with the Pinnacle Ridge CPUs out-of-the-box as they were released a while after the processors. They are the successor to the B350 motherboards and are also more budget-oriented. They aren’t much different to their predecessor, the only different features is the support of XFR2 Enhanced and Precision Boost Overdrive as well as the inclusion of the StoreMI feature. A good overview about the B450 and B350 chipset can be found over on TomsHardware.
And at last you may have also heard of the A320 chipset. They are the most basic of all the motherboards and lose one USB 3.1 Gen 2 port and two more PCIe 2.0 lanes compared to the B350 chipset as well as the ability to overclock. That means A320 motherboards are the only AM4-socket boards that don’t support overclocking. This and the fact that they don’t really cost much less than budget B350/B450 motherboards make them kind of a waste to buy in my opinion, as one of the main features of the Ryzen CPUs is that they are all unlocked, which is why I wouldn’t recommend A320 boards to anyone really.
B450 VRM Tier List
|Mini ITX||Micro ATX||ATX|
|HIGH-END (Perfect for high overclocked 3700X)||MSI B450I Gaming Plus (AC)|
|MIDRANGE ( Capable of high overclocked 3700X)||ASRock B450 Fatal1ty Gaming-ITX/ac|
ASUS Strix B450-I
ASUS B450I Aorus Pro WiFi
|Gigabyte B450M Mortar Titanium|
Gigabyte B450M Bazooka Plus
MSI B450M Gaming Plus
|MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon (AC)
MSI B450 Tomahawk
MSI B450-A Pro
|LOWER END (Needs airflow for overclocking 3700X)||ASRock B450(M) Pro 4|
ASUS TUF B450(M)-Plus Gaming
ASUS B450M DS3H
Gigabyte B450 Aorus M
Gigabyte B450M Pro-VDH
MSI B450M Bazooka
|ASRock B450 Fatal1ty Gaming K4
ASUS Strix B450-E
ASUS Strix B450-F
Gigabyte B450 Aorus Elite
Gigabyte B450 Aorus Pro (WiFi)
|AVOID (If want to overclock the 3700X) ||ASUS B450M-K|
MSI B450M Pro-M2
In the next section I will give my recommendations on the best B450 motherboards for different categories and purposes in 2020.
Our B450 motherboard recommendations
Best B450 motherboard for overclocking Ryzen 3000
If you want the best B450 motherboard you can get especially because you want to manually overclock your CPU, then you’ll probably be looking at the more high-end side of motherboards. And honestly, pretty much all of the mid to high-end motherboards seem to be pretty decent at overclocking regarding VRM and thermals, as seen in the video from Hardware Unboxed. But what I and many others personally see as the top choice is the B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC from MSI. If we were to pair this with a relevant Zen 2 motherboard, we would recommend this being the best overclocking B450 motherboard for the Ryzen 5 3600X, and even the Ryzen 7 3700X!
It is very similar to the X470 counterpart, of course with less USB and SATA ports as well as the third PCIe slot at the bottom of the board, which is down to the B450 chipset having less features than the X470 as described earlier. Also, the VRM has gone down from a 5+2 design to a 4+2 with double the components for each phase, making the B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC look like having a 10-phase VRM. But unlike the X470 variant, the B450 board doesn’t have a plastic shroud over its VRM heatsink, instead only relying on an extended heatsink to cover part of the rear I/O, which will in turn result in better thermals because there isn’t anything to block airflow and heat dissipation above the heatsink, so MSI has done a great job on this part.
Another new addition to most of MSIs B450 lineup is the inclusion of a BIOS flashback button on the rear I/O which makes it possible to update/flash the BIOS without having a CPU installed. Other than that, it keeps the basic features you may want for overclocking in form of Debug-LEDs and a clear CMOS jumper as well as a sufficient fan and RGB headers.
One downside to MSI boards however is the missing offset voltage in the BIOS which makes it worse if you want to use the new Precision Boost Overdrive feature instead of manually overclocking.
Featuring a solid VRM and a plethora of features like dual M.2 slots, integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is a very good all-around board to manually overclock your Ryzen 3rd generation CPU to get the best out of your system (OC3D achieved 4.2 GHz). Even though it is at the high end of the price spectrum for B450 boards at around $130, it delivers very comparable performance to more expensive X470 motherboards while it still keeps most of the important features and even improving on some like the VRM heatsink, which is why it gets my recommendation for the best high-end/overclocking B450 motherboard for Zen 2.
Best micro-ATX (mATX) B450 motherboard
While there are no X470 motherboards in the micro-ATX form factor on the market, on the B450 side you have a pretty big mATX lineup. From them, the one that looks the best for me is the ASRock B450M Pro4 – it would be a great option for a Micro-ATX Ryzen 5 3600X build using a B450 chipset motherboard.
It only has a 3+3 phase VRM design, but it should definitely be enough to run your Ryzen CPU at stock speeds with both parts of the VRM featuring a small but decent looking heatsink. It has four DIMM slots allowing for up to 64GB of memory, dual M.2 slots which is pretty rare for an mATX B450 board and 5 fan headers in addition to the two RGB headers.
It doesn’t feature any RGB or debugging tools except for the clear CMOS jumper on the bottom of the board, but that is acceptable at this price point I think. Another nice feature is the inclusion of a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port on the rear I/O, but unfortunately in terms of video outputs, there are only VGA, DVI and HDMI but no DisplayPort option, which makes it a bit less appealing for APU users.
The B450M Pro4 from ASRock is their successor to the pretty well-liked B350M Pro4 with some minor improvements in terms of fan/RGB header number along some other minor tweaks. It delivers solid performance while not having any fancy RGB or rear I/O shroud and sports a very simple look at a decent price of $80 which is why I think the B450M Pro4 is the best all-around and value B450 micro-ATX board.
If you are looking for a better looking alternative however, the MSI B450M Mortar (Titanium) is also a good motherboard to consider.
If you are looking into Micro-ATX, then I suggest also checking our guide which covers our top Micro-ATX case selections for 2020.
Best mini ITX (mITX) B450 motherboard
If you want to go even smaller than micro-ATX, then you will look at the mini-ITX form factor. Each of the four manufacturers has one B450 motherboard in this form factor on offer. If you want to get the best mini-ITX B450 board for Ryzen Zen 2 from an all-around and value perspective, then I definitely put my vote in for the B450I Gaming Plus AC from MSI.
Spec-wise it is pretty similar to their last-gen B350I Pro AC, featuring a very decent 6+2 VRM configuration with a bigger heatsink. Some of the changes are the aesthetic, with the heatsinks having the black-and-red design that we are used to from MSI, and the addition of two RGB headers. Unfortunately, there are still only two fan headers on the board and for whatever reason MSI seems to have changed the two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports on the rear I/O to two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports on their B450I Gaming Plus AC and haven’t included any USB Type-C. Other than that, the features on the board are mostly unchanged to the B350 one and include the common functionalities like a clear CMOS jumper, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs and Wi-Fi.
It seems as though the board manufacturers haven’t done any major changes to their B450 mini-ITX motherboards or even taken some steps back in some cases. Nevertheless, MSI’s B450I Gaming Plus AC has a good range of features and a solid VRM to overclock with an acceptable price which is why I’d recommend this as the best mini-ITX B450 motherboard.
We have also produced a guide for our mini-ITX case recommendations that may also be interest for you – should you be looking to do a mini-ITX build.
The next sections will also contain recommendations which will be a lot shorter though, because there isn’t too much of a difference between them and the already mentioned boards.
Best value B450 motherboard
The best value motherboard as an all-around package, which is also very well-received by the community is the B450 Tomahawk from MSI. It is a step down from the Gaming Pro Carbon AC, featuring more simple looks, no DisplayPort and optical S/PDIF and no Wi-Fi, but keeps pretty much all of the other features including the VRM and a decent heatsink. If you don’t need these mentioned functionalities, then you will be pretty happy with the B450 Tomahawk as it will cost you only around $100.
Best B450 motherboard for APUs
In my opinion, the best value B450 motherboard you can get for your Ryzen 3 3200g or Ryzen 5 3600X is the ATX version of an already mentioned motherboard, the ASRock B450 Pro4. With its 3+3 phase VRM design you should be able to overclock both the CPU and the iGPU pretty well. It also adds a DisplayPort output that was missing on the micro-ATX variant and only costs slightly more while keeping all the other features present on it.
Best low-budget B450 motherboard
Yet another offering from MSI, the B450-A PRO, gets my vote for the best “cheap” B450 motherboard. It again keeps the same VRM that the Tomahawk and Gaming Pro Carbon have, just with smaller heatsinks. It comes in a very simple black design and the only other really noticeable feature losses that I have found is the missing USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port on the rear I/O panel and one less RGB header. But coming in at only around $70 I think these things are forgivable, as it is the cheapest B450 motherboard in the ATX form factor on the market.
Well, as you most likely have seen, this article was pretty much MSI dominated with some motherboards from ASRock in the mix for our top B450 motherboard recommendations. The reason for that is that MSI is the only manufacturer that has made real improvements on their B450 motherboards instead of pretty much releasing the same motherboard on another chipset (especially on the VRM).