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**CPU** | [Intel Core i9-9900K 3.6 GHz 8-Core Processor](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/jHZFf7/intel-core-i9-9900k-36ghz-8-core-processor-bx80684i99900k) | $399.99 @ Amazon
**CPU Cooler** | [NZXT Kraken X63 98.17 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/JfVG3C/nzxt-kraken-x63-9817-cfm-liquid-cpu-cooler-rl-krx63-01) | $149.99 @ B&H
**Thermal Compound** | [Arctic Silver 5 High-Density Polysynthetic Silver 3.5 g Thermal Paste](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/6RrG3C/arctic-silver-thermal-paste-as535g) | $6.99 @ Amazon
**Motherboard** | [MSI MEG Z390 ACE ATX LGA1151 Motherboard](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/FgyV3C/msi-meg-z390-ace-atx-lga1151-motherboard-meg-z390-ace) | $387.83 @ Amazon
**Memory** | [Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 Memory](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/NyTPxcorsair-vengeance-rgb-pro-32gb-2-x-16gb-ddr4-3200-memory-cmw32gx4m2c3200c16) | $129.99 @ Best Buy
**Memory** | [Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 Memory](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/NyTPxcorsair-vengeance-rgb-pro-32gb-2-x-16gb-ddr4-3200-memory-cmw32gx4m2c3200c16) | $129.99 @ Best Buy
**Video Card** | [EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 8 GB XC BLACK EDITION GAMING Video Card](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/K2vbt6/evga-geforce-rtx-2080-8-gb-xc-black-edition-gaming-video-card-08g-p4-2082-kr) | $1118.00
**Case** | [Lian Li PC-O11 Dynamic ATX Full Tower Case](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/VxRzK8/lian-li-pc-o11dw-atx-full-tower-case-pc-o11dw) | $139.99 @ Adorama
**Power Supply** | [Corsair RM (2019) 850 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/jtm323/corsair-rm-2019-850-w-80-gold-certified-fully-modular-atx-power-supply-cp-9020196-na) | $139.93 @ Newegg
**Operating System** | [Microsoft Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/wtgPxmicrosoft-os-kw900140) | $108.78 @ Other World Computing
**Wireless Network Adapter** | [TP-Link TL-WN725N USB 2.0 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi Adapter](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/wQmLrH/tp-link-wireless-network-card-tlwn725n) | $9.99 @ Amazon
**Case Fan** | [Corsair LL120 43.25 CFM 120 mm Fans 3-Pack](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/8KFXsY/corsair-ll120rgb-led-4325-cfm-120-mm-fans-3-pack-co-9050072-ww) | $129.99 @ Best Buy
**Case Fan** | [Corsair LL120 43.25 CFM 120 mm Fans 3-Pack](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/8KFXsY/corsair-ll120rgb-led-4325-cfm-120-mm-fans-3-pack-co-9050072-ww) | $129.99 @ Best Buy
**Custom** | [Corsair Fan Controller Commander Pro (CL-9011110-WW)](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/WkQRsY/corsair-fan-controller-commander-pro-cl-9011110-ww) | $74.29 @ Newegg
**Custom** | [Corsair Hydro X Series, XR5, 240mm, Water Cooling Radiator](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/z9JmP6/corsair-hydro-x-series-xr5-240mm-water-cooling-radiator) | $59.99 @ Amazon
**Custom** | [Authentic Intel AX200NGW Wireless Card, Wi-Fi 6 11AX WiFi Module 2 x 2 MU-MIMO Dual Band Wireless Card with Bluetooth 5.0 Internal WiFi Adapter Support Windows 10 64bit, M.2/NGFF](https://pcpartpicker.com/product/G39tt6/placeholder-) | $22.99 @ Amazon
**Custom**| wd black SN750| $155.00
| *Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts* |
| **Total** | **$3293.72**
| Generated by [PCPartPicker](https://pcpartpicker.com) 2020-09-15 17:00 EDT-0400 |
A Hyper In Depth Guide to B550 boards that out compete a B450 Tomahawk Max for a Similar Price.
Welcome to the hyper in-depth guide B550 boards that outcompete a B450 Tomahawk Max at a similar Price Point.
Final edit: Now that I have had time to sleep on it, I like MSI B450 Pro VDH WIFI better. I still like the Pro 4 more.
EDIT3: Guys I have spent 16 hours today writing this and answering questions with almost no breaks. I'm done for the night, a lot people are asking questions I've already answered down below. Read some of my responses down below, for example I've explained why the B550 Rog Strix Gaming F is a bad choice 3 times now. You guys are probably going to have to wait for my comprehensive how to choose a good Motherboard guide, and that is still maybe a month out. It will be even longer then this and explain a lot of concepts I used here to review these mobos.
Edit: Fixed some typos and move the section on Bios flashback to the B450 Tomahawk Max section. I meant to move it before but forgot.
After 8 hours of straight work beginning at 4AM Pacific time here we are. It was supposed to take 2 and then I ended going way more in detail then maybe I needed to. Expect typos, missed words, and grammar errors. I finally feel I have enough data to kill the B450 Tomahawk max. For weeks I have been waiting to write this thread. Unfortunately, English language reviews and data on the VRMs of one of these boards has been almost worthless. So I finally found the data I need by looking at random non English reviews. Since I don't speak these languages I have had parse what they are talking about, thankfully, a Chinese review had some English translation I was able to use.
EDIT2: This morning, as I was typing this up, hardware unboxed finally posted their B550 guide with the board I was looking for VRM data + a lot more, I was busy here writing this and that I missed the post. That is an excellent video on VRM thermals.
However that video does have an error. He keeps saying certain boards have a USB 3.2 Gen 2 internal port. That is wrong. They do not. They have a USB 3.2 gen 1 half power port. Most B550s have this half power port, including MSI's line up. Only very high end boards have true USB-C internal connectors. So while it connects to the USB-C port on case, it only provides USB 3.2 gen 1 speeds (aka USB 3.0 speeds). You can check this on the specs sheet for the MSI B550 Pro VDH WIFI and click the detail tab. Scrolling down you will see this line: 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps Type-C port. A USB 3.2 gen 2 port should run at 10GBps. Here is a board with a True USB-C internal connector scroll down, and you will see - 1 x Front Panel Type C USB 3.2 Gen2 Header.
The reason this error happened is because USB Naming conventions fucking suck.
end Edit2, more edit2s below.
Disclaimer: the coronavirus is wrecking stocks. Prices listed here do not take into account COVID 19 stock issues. MSRP will be listed so you know if you are being gouged, and there will be some options if a board goes out of stock. MSRPs are taken from this list.
The price range we are looking at is 100-130 dollars. I don't consider it a Tomahawk class board if it is priced outside of this range. However I will cover a few more expensive boards to show what you get for more money. If a board is not on the list, I don't consider it a B450 Tomahawk Max replacement.
The B450 Tomahawk MAX MSRP $115
First, let's talk about why the Tomahawk Max was and still is a great board. You don't have to return it if one is in the mail. However, this sub did have an unhealthy obsession with that board, and way too many people suggested it in situations where there were much better x570 options, such as people who need advanced workstation features like thunderbolt 3, for example.
Here is how this board became defacto midrange MOBO for Ryzen 2000 and 3000 CPUs:
We need to understand that B450 was terrible. MOBO manufactures used B450 as a dumping ground for low end parts. So many B450s are almost unbuyable junk in terms of features. A B450 DS3H is a perfect example. Costs almost the same as the excellent Asrock B450m Pro4, but only has 1 fan header, no 5v RGB, bad VRMs, no USB-C support for VR or USB-C devices, whereas for few bucks more, you can get all that on the Asrock B450m Pro4. And when boards had excellent non VRM featuresets, such the Gigabyte B450 Aorus Pro, well, the VRMs were bad and couldn't even run a 3900x at stock, let alone overclock a 3700x. This is why only a tiny amount of B450 boards were worth buying.
The B450 Tomahawk stepped up. It's primary quality was that it had zero flaws. Most B450s have some flaws, and many, many had severe flaws. So while the Tomahawk Max did nothing amazing, it also did nothing wrong, and just not having a flaw is amazing in itself. So many of it's price point competitors had some issue where we had to say, hey your rando b450 mobo can't run a 3900x at all even at stock so stop overclocking it and your system will work, or this mobo lacks USB-C so your VR headset needs an add in card, or this mobo has limited fan headers so you may need to buy a splitter cable. None of that with the B450 Tomahawk.
As for the Tomahawk's Features:
VRMs: It had VRMs that could run the whole Ryzen 3000 stack at stock and overclock everything up to a 3800x without overheating. Very few b450s and even some x470 boards could not do that simple task.
Non VRM featureset: It's back panel I/O was a bit sparse with 5 USB ports which is a bit low, but it also had USB-C which was great at this price point. And it add 6 audio jacks.
Internal connectors: Were ok and competitive with most boards within 20 dollars of this board. You would have needed a a case with 6 USB ports for this to have an issue. If you need RGB, well it had the older 12v RGB standard so can still have some RGB, but it didn't have the most advanced at the time 5v RGB.
Audio codec: It's audio codec was a lower end Realtek 892 codec, and it's implementation wasn't great. But it still outperformed the lowest end Realtek 887s and the audio was still fine. If it had bad sounding audio, half the internet would be up in arms as it was by far the most popular board, and instead it's considered acceptable.
LAN The Realtek 8111h LAN chip (NIC) is a perfectly acceptable chip that works fine. Especially at this price point.
The Tomahawk Max has Bios Flashback. This allows you to update the BIOS without a CPU. So you can buy this board and update the BIOS without a CPU. This can also save borked overclocks. This is a cool feature.
There are several misconceptions that have been spread about this that I need to address.
First: This the default way to upgrade your BIOS. WRONG. This was always meant to be an emergency feature rather then the defacto way to update your BIOS. Ask the massive amount of people had their B450 Tomahawks bricked at the launch of Ryzen 3000. This should not be trusted as 100% way to update a BIOS and a CPU update is always better.
Second: Boards that don't have this feature will never be compatible with next gen CPUs without a BIOS update from the user. WRONG. Before Ryzen 3000, MOBO manufacturers already had the Ryzen 3000 update in March 2019, 4 months before the launch of Ryzen 3000. Most MOBOs on the market will very quickly support Ryzen 3000, and many legit retailers update their BIOS in store, both Newegg and Microcenter in the US had employees who posted here that they were updating their B450 MOBOs BIOS before launch. Whether that was 100% true, or they only updated MOBO boxes that weren't sealed as some companies do, I don't know. I know the vast majority of people in the US who bought near the launch got already updated MOBOs.
Within a very short time, every mobo on the market will have the new BIOS update. If you do get a MOBO with an incompatible BIOS and no RYZEN 4000 sticker, just return it and demand an updated one. There is no reason you should receive a non updated board from a legit retailer even at launch.
Tomahawk Max Conclusion:
So as we can see, this board isn't perfect, but it does everything just fine. The issue I always had with it was when people started adding things like 35 dollar WiFi cards making this board a $150 board instead of buying a $150 Asrock X570 Phantom Gaming 4 WIFI which is better in nearly every way, and had built in WiFi. Or adding a 12v to 5v RGB converter for $15 so now you have a $130 board, when the Asus Prime x570 P is $140 and is better in almost every way again, and you get ASUS aura sync for your RGB, a much better software then MSI Mystic Light, which is famously bad.
This is the reason the B450 Tomahawk Max became the default lower end and lower midrange Ryzen mobo. While I do feel this sub had an unhealthy obsession with it, in the end it is a perfectly fine option that will power your build for years. No reason to send it back if you have one coming.
Requirements for a Tomahawk Class B550 board:
So what we need are boards that have these requirements. VRMs capable of overclocking an 8 core and running a 3950x at stock. It needs solid internal connectors that can connect to nearly all of the common Cases on the market. It needs back panel I/O with USB-C. It needs at minimum a Realtek 892 audio codec, and a realtek 8111h LAN chip. I don't consider special features a requirement, but if they are there I will list them. Finally the board must be priced as close to $115 USD as possible.
So let's get look at B550 Options:
Board 1: The Board that has has killed the Tomahawk MAX dead. I actually put my money where my mouth is and bought this board.
The B550m Pro4 MSRP: $115
Overview: This micro ATX board has done what no other micro ATX board has done yet. Made an mATX board that has been so much better then any of it's ATX price point competitors that it is massively worth buying over the ATX boards. For years mATX and SFF fans have been asking why people don't buy mATX boards when they never use the extra PCIe slots. The answer is simple. Most mATX boards are dumping grounds for low end parts, and the ones that were competitive just weren't compelling over the ATX counterparts. NOT HERE. This board is amazing. Every concern you have with an mATX board is mitigated with this boards excellent, and best in class at this price point, featureset.
VRMs: This boards VRMs are the thing that has single handedly kept this post from going up. Hey, here is a little hint, as nice as the high end boards are, the midrange and lower boards are where the volume is, get that info out quicker.
Edit2: Hardware Unboxed has done a VRM video on these boards. You can see my info down below turned out to be correct. The Pro4 has good Tomahawk Class VRMs.
So according to this sweary Chinese review with some English subtitles, the VRMs on this board can OC a 3800x just fine. And a max OCed 3900x will cause thermal throttling and crash the board. That is fine and what we would expect from a Tomahawk MAX. So the conclusions that can be drawn are the VRMs are fine for overclocking 3800x and should run a 3950x at stock speeds no problem. I have yet to find any one who has tried this, but I 99% guarantee they will run a 3950x at stock no problem. All the data indicates the VRMs are exactly the same tier as a Tomahawk max, or may be even slightly better within that tier.
I do need to address one thing, as it has already come up from some people, in Gamers Nexus best b550 boards buildzoid lists this board. So it made GNs best B550s list. Unfortunately, he used the the term terrible for this board's VRMs, and now many think it has actually terrible VRMs despite him in that very same review saying they can run a 3950x at stock. That would mean the VRMs are not terrible but good. I think GN Steve needs to get on buildzoid a bit about hyperbole, because these VRMs are not terrible, as my data above shows. A defacto language has sort of sprung up, where terrible VRMs mean can't overclock a 6 core. Bad VRMs can't OC an 8 Core, Good VRMs like a Tomahawk max can OC an 8 core but not a 12 core, great VRMs can handle a 12 core, and excellent can handle everything and top tier is even better. Overwhelmingly, people describe the VRMs on a TOMAHAWK MAX as GOOD, so to call VRMs in that tier terrible is not a great look, especially when buildzoid didn't hate the B450 Tomahawk VRMs back in the day at the Tomahawk's price point.
On that note, I'm going just copy pasta something I said to someone who brought this up, Buildzoid's overview was done without real world testing, and that has been come up before. He doesn't test most of the VRMs he reviews in the real world, but he goes by listed specs of circuits and mosfets and theory crafts from there. Buildzoid hated the VRMs on the Asrock X570 Pro4 but he never did real world testing, only theory. Hardware unboxed tested the x570 Pro4 in the real world and found they punched above their weight class, and were better then Buildzoid thought. Hardware Unboxed even felt they were good enough to show off as an example of good vrms on budget x570 in this b-roll shot here. This doesn't mean Buildzoid is wrong or a bad source, his info is top tier, but it does show where real world testing matters. Furthermore, Buildzoid is about hardcore overclocking, so if for example the x570 Pro4 runs a little too hot for him and his extreme OC, for a normal OCer they would be much more adequate. Finally, when buildzoid says can handle or is capable of, he means can overclock at high levels, not run at stock. Buildzoid is a great primary source for info for almost everyone, hardware unboxed, gamers nexus and so on, including me, I love the guy, but you really need to understand how the guy does his work to parse what he is saying.
The VRMs on the B550m Pro4 are the same as the x570 pro4 but they have 1 less phase. Every indication I have is that they punch above their weight class. I would love to see a comparison to the b450 Tomahawk. Hopefully we get real world testing in English soon.
Non VRM featureset:
This board is SO good here and better then the ATX versions in many ways. This excellent review covered this super in depth. By the way, that is one of the best MOBO reviews I have ever seen. Much better then most popular tech tubers.
Audio Codec: is the Realtek 1200 high end audio codec. This is a high end audio codec that appears on higher end midrange boards like the Gigabyte X570 elite/z490 elite. In the review I mentioned above, we actually have testing data on this. From the above review we can see the B550m Pro4 performs almost as well as $190 mobos. On top of that, it noticeably out performs the B350 Tomahawk, which had one of the better implementations of the Realtek 892, and much better implementation then the B450 Tomahawk, which had a rather poor implementation of it's realtek 892 audio codec.
So the B550m Pro4 notably outperforms the b450 Tomahawk Max in audio performance.
LAN chip: Both boards use the Realtek 8111h which is a perfectly fan lan chip, and exactly what you would expect at this price point.
The Tomahawk Max is equal to the B550m Pro4 here.
Internal Connectors: So good for this price point.
6 fan headers, 1 for the CPU, 1 for an AIO, amazing, equal to or better then many ATX boards. It has 2 more then an X570 Elite. So you can run this board in an standard size ATX case with a modern 3x1 3 intake 1 outtake fan setup. Or even a 3x2 setup if you are ok with the AIO pump header. That fan header may be limited in speeds or main run only at full speed, but the option is there.
4 internal USB connectors. 2 are USB 2.0 and 2 are USB 3.2 gen 1 (USB 3.0 is what that actually means, USB naming is fucked right now). This superior to the ATX B550 Pro4 version of this mobo that costs more money.
RGB support is great. 2 12v RGB connectors, and 2 5v RGB connectors. So you don't need to get $15 dollar 12v to 5v RGB converter for your colored lights. Be warned, the RGB software asrock has is ASS. But MSI Mystic light is also ASS. Both RGB software's suck ass.
It has 2 m.2 slots, and a special m.2 slot for a m.2 wifi card. I'll come back to this later.
It has 6 Sata ports just like many ATX boards.
No internal USB-C connector, so your NZXT h510 Case USB-C port won't work. Well, it won't work with most mobos at this price point unless you spend way more money. A tomahawk Max does not have this connector either. Instead of buying a 70 dollar thermally poor case with basically no I/O ports that requires a $190 dollar MOBO to have basic I/O functions (MOBOs cheaper then that use a half power fake USB-C internal port, such as the B550 A-Pro, see below). Buy better reviewed case with better or about equal thermals and better I/O for your MOBO, like the Cooler Master NR 600, Fractal Meshify C, P400a, Pure Base 500, P350x/P360x, Bitfenix Nova Mesh TG or if budget is a concern the venerable and excellent budget Cougar Mx330. There are probably more. Basically don't buy a case with I/O your MOBO can't handle when there are plenty of better options. The NZXT h510 is not even close to as good of a case as this sub thinks.
The Tomahawk Max has only 1 m.2 slot and that slot disables 2 sata ports, 1 USB 3.2 gen 1 header, no 5v RGB support, the same number of fan headers.
So the B550m Pro4 handily outperforms the B450 Tomahawk Max here.
Back Panel I/O: Great.
It has multiple types of video connectors display port 1.4, HDMI, and VGA, but those only matter for APU systems. Except, a lot of people on budgets buy really good MOBOs, and save money by putting in an APU, so there system has strong bones for upgrading later. For now, B550 does not support the 3200g and 3400g, but if the 4000 series apus ever come out, this is a good option.
Where it really shines is USB Ports. 6 USB-A ports, 4 are USB 3, 2 are USB 2. Even better it has USB-C and full power 3.2 gen 2 USB-A port, so you can USB-C speeds with USB-A port, or with a USB-A to USB-C cable.
It also has holes for wifi antennas on the I/O shield. This doesn't matter on the tomahawk, because a PCIE wifi card would just come out where the PCIe slot is. But for B550m Pro4, this matters because most people who add WIFI will want to add an M.2 card and antenna set.
It only has 3 audio connectorsm Line in, Front Speaker, Microphone. The tomahawk has 6 connectors, but at this price point most users will never need 6. Neither board has a SPDIF connector.
The Tomahawk Max has more audio connectors, but less USB ports although it does have USB-C, and only an outdated DVI video port.
In the end, B550m Pro4 is a bit better but not as much as the other categories.
None to speak of on the B550m Pro4.
The Tomahawk max is clearly superior here, Bios flashback is a cool feature and amazing at this price point. And it is a useful safety feature.
mATX? in an ATX Case?
So it's time to talk about the elephant in the room. The B550m Pro4 is a micro ATX board. A lot of people have concerns about this. For example, someone may have VR head set that needs extra USB-C ports, so they buy an add in card, and they also need a wifi pcie slot. Buying an ATX MOBO with multiple PCIE slots allows them to keep options like that open. So saying most people don't need it, doesn't allay the concerns that people might need it. Most people would rather have their computer have options they may never need, on the off chance they end up do needing it, then close the door completely. Piece of mind is huge. And there hasn't really been an mATX board that has solved this issue until the B550m Pro4.
Furthermore, many mATX cases aren't that good, or reviewers don't bother with them, so data is limited (that may change cause of how good this board is). They also have size limitations. A board this good can handle a 2080ti no problem, so I want a case that gives a monster GPU like that room to breath. So the safe option is an ATX case, but most mATX boards lack the fan headers to get optimal cooling in an ATX case.
For example, the best b450 mATX board, the MSI B450 Mortar Titanium, only had 4 sata ports, only 3 fan headers and 1 m.2 drive. Sure, it had lots of PCIe ports, but most would be blocked by a GPU.
So, how well does the B550m Pro4 solve the mATX issue?
First: It has fan case fan headers, and 6 total, more then many ATX MOBOs. They are sensibly placed and will allow great cooling in even high end cases.
Next: What about PCIe slots and expansions? Here is my board with my 3 slot EVGA 2080ti FTW3, one of the largest GPUs on the market. As you can see, even with a much bigger GPU then most of your 2070supers and so on, we still have access to the PCIE slot for expansion down below. And, with the excellent fan headers above, we can ensure good airflow even with a PCIE card installed below. Most PCIE cards are small, won't block air that badly. Especially if you have good case fan cooling (ie not an NZXT h510).
Third: What if I need a WIFI card, AND a PCIE card for something else. Well, this board has a special m.2 slot specifically for WIFI m.2 modules. Most PCIe WIFI Cards like this, the cheapest wifi 6 PCIe card on the market, simply have an m.2 slot with one of these cards slotted in. It is actually cheaper to buy the same intel m.2 module, and wifi antennas then buy a PCIE card. So those of you looking for WIFI, or end up needing wifi you can actually save money here buy using the M.2 wifi slot, and still have your PCIE card slot open.
And you can buy a PCIE card or cables that add even more PCIE slots if you need them, like many SFF people do.
Fourth: Aesthetics: This is a big issue for some. mATX boards can look a little weird in ATX cases. They may have a bit of dangle wires because the cable management ports on your PSU shroud are a few inches away from the bottom of the board, so wires are ran across the case a bit. Or some people just like their board to touch the PSU shroud. And there isn't good answer to this. Aesthetics can be important, so maybe the solution here is buy a good mATX case. Hopefully, the popularity of this board takes off like the Tomahawk Max, and we start getting better mATX options, and better case reviews of mATX cases. If everyone is buying this board, then maybe we can force GNs hand for mATX case reviews.
To conclude this section:
The B550m Pro4 is an absolute beast of a MOBO for 115 dollars. It can run in an ATX with better fan support then a Gigabyte x570 elite, it has good expansion options, good VRMs that can OC an 8 core and run a 3900x and likely a 3950x at stock. It has excellent internal connectors, and back panel I/O. It's audio codec is on the high end with decent implementation.
I believe this board is the best B450 Tomahawk Max killer on the market right now.
So, what about all the other options and what to do if this board sells out:
The B550m POro4 board has been selling out regularly, people in the know are buying it up in droves. I have even mentioned this board before in posts that have hit the front page, and seen this board sell out later that day.
Since we have established features in the above discussuins that are baseline. So I'm going to focus primarily on the differences of these boards.
Asrock B550 Phantom Gaming 4 MSRP $115
Asrock B550 Phantom Gaming 4 AC (WIFI) MSRP $125
B550 Pro4 ATX MSRP $135
We need to cover these first. As these boards are similar, and similarly priced.
These have same LAN chip and audio codec as the B550m Pro4.
VRMs: EDIT2: Now we have accurate VRM data. The what I said below is pretty accurate, since the VRMs on the Pro4 run close 50 on a oced 3700x, the worse heatsink should not take the Phantom Gaming 4 out of tomahawk VRMs tiers. A 3950x I would recommend a well ventilated case with at least 3 case fans, but even then it should be fine.
The Pro 4 has a slightly smaller VRM heatsink, and the Asrock Phantom Gaming 4 has a weaker heastsink. I cannot find good data on the weaker heatsinks of the PG4 models. However, I am keeping an eye out. My take is that the heatsink is less important then the actual components. My belief is the these VRMs punch higher then expected and once we get good VRM testing they will impress. So if thermal testing shows that a 3700x runs at 55c, well it might run at 70c with the shittier heatsinks on the PG4 and that would still be ok for Tomahawk tier. I can't guarantee that, but if say hardware unboxed gets off there ass and actually tests this thing, then if it is near the top of their charts, then we can infer that the crappier heatsinks will still be Tomahawk tier VRMs. But if they do run hot like 75 baseline then these VRMs would not quite be tomahawk tier with the worse heatsink
For now, based on my data, these are fine and should be Tomahawk Tier, even with worse heatsink.
This B550 PG4 has the same heatsink and VRMs as the X570 Phantom Gaming 4S for your reference, but the x570 Phantom Gaming 4 non S has better VRMs and heatsink.
I/O: All of theses boards have worse I/O and internal Connectors. I/O wise, The PG4 and PG4 AC (wifi) have no USB-C and only an HDMI port. The B550 Pro 4 ATX board has 5 USB ports, no display port, but it does have USB-C and full power USB-A port.
Internal Connectors: Are worse also, as all these boards lack the second USB 3.2 gen 1 (USB 3.0) internal connector, so if your case needs 4 USB 3.0 ports these boards can't do that. 95% of cases don't need that but it's worth noting.
Special Features. No Bios Flashback, But the Phantom Gaming 4 AC has WIFI. The WIFI Module on the is lower end model limited to 433 MBPS Bluetooth 4.2, but it is there for not that much more.
So all around these boards are bit worse then the B550 pro4. But they are still competitive with or outperform the B450 Tomahawk Max, unless you need USB C in the case of the PG4 models.
If the mATX B550m Pro4 is sold out, the PG4 boards are solid options. Or if you just want ATX cause you think it looks better, These are acceptable.
The B550 pro4 is a ripoff at $135, but it recently was on sale for $125, while it is still slightly worse then B550m Pro4, at 125 for ATX, it's still better then a Tomahawk Max.
Option 3: B550m Aorus Pro MSRP $130
Another great Tomahawk killer.
VRMs: EDIT2: Turns out these were a little worse then expected. Still close enough to a Tomahawk Max, and can run a 3950x at stock, although toasty, ventilated case and at least 3 case fans is a must here.
Are good. Buildzoid says they are better then the B550m pro4, but will run hot, so I am waiting for real world testing. That does indicate that they are at least Tomahawk Max class, if not better. VRM testing will be huge for this board, but I think they are at least Tomahawk max tier.
LAN chip is the same as the b450 Tomahawk max and B550m Pro4.
Audio: Same Realtek 1200 codec as the B550m Pro4.
Internal Connectors: Better then a B550m Pro4 in some ways worse in others. You do lose one USB 3.2 gen 1 (USB 3.0) internal connector, you lose the wifi specific m.2 port, but you can add Thunderbolt 3 header, with a 60 dollar add in card. This to my knowledge is cheapest way yet to add thunderbolt 3. This is actually a great thing for those of you switching from Apple audio engineering, and need a thunderbolt port on a budget. it only has 3 fan headers though, so keep that in mind.
Back Panel I/O: Much better. 9 USB Ports, USB-C, 5 Audio Jacks, Spdif connector. Also, better built in I/O shield.
Special features: Bios Flashback, also called Q-Flash. Again, CPUless BIOS updating here.
This is an excellent option and a decent upgrade from B550m Pro4 and Tomahawk Max. Note the places where it is weaker. Keep a watch out VRM data, if this thing is notably better then a B550m Pro4 VRM wise, then we get an great upgrade. If the VRMs are equal or even slightly worse, it's a decent upgrade especially for people who can make use of the SPDIF port, thunderbolt 3 header or or USB ports.
These are the best B550 Tomahawk Max Killer boards on the market.
So now let's look at some other boards people will ask about, but I don't consider Tomahawk Killers unless the price drops, or I just don't feel they compete or maybe lack data on:
MSI B550-A PRO MSRP $140
I disagree with hardware unboxed heavily that this is a tomahawk max killer. It is too expensive, and low end x570 out competes it.
VRMs: these are great, and will struggle overclocking a bit with a 3950x, but can handle a 3900x overclocked like a dream. Excellent overclocker. The issue I have is most people buying at the B450 Tomahawk Max price point of $115 are buying for value, not overclocking. Over 90% of pc builders never overclock, so for the people who are buying PCs because building is cheaper, and they don't plan to overclock those people don't need these VRMs.
Overclockers will find a lot to love here.
LAN Chip: same as the Tomahawk Max and B550m Pro4.
Audio: same as Tomahawk, realtek 892, so worse then the B550m Pro4 and Gigabyte B550m Aorus Pro.
Internal Connectors: Lacks m.2 wifi port the B550m Pro4 has. Has one less USB 3.2 gen 1 (USB 3.0) internal connector. But it has lots of RGB options. It also has a very interesting feature. A half power USB-C internal connector.
So it is not true USB-C speeds or power, but only usb 3.2 gen 1 (aka usb 3.0 again USB naming is fucked ) but with a USB-C connector, so that means the USB C on your NZXT h510 will not be true USB-C with 10 GBPS speeds and USB-C power delivery. However this board does have true USB-C with max speeds and everything on the back panel I/O.
What this means for you is that the USB-C port on your case will work, but some devices that require maximum USB-C power will need to plugged into the back of your MOBO. IMHO, this is a pretty good thing. Some functionality is better then none.
True internal USB-C support for Case USB-C connectors only appears on $200 mobos.
So IMHO, this is not better then the B550m pro4 or Aorus pro, just different, but it is better then a Tomahawk Max.
Back Panel I/O:** Better then a Tomahawk Max, 6 USB-A Ports, USB-C and USB A Gen2 ports. 6 Audio jacks, no SPDIF.
The Audio jacks make it slightly better then a B550m Pro4, but not a Gigabyte B550m Aurous Pro
Bios Flashback. already discussed. Can fix your borked OC. Also has debug LEDs which cna help trouble shoot issues.
The Issue I take with this board is that at $140 you are no longer competing the B450 or even B550, you are competing with x570 now. And now you are in the 140-160 dollar price range where this board is being outcompeted IMHO.
And at $140 (keep in mind Covid 19 stock issues messing with pricing, pricing is wrecked on these boards) you can get the excellent x570 Phantom Gaming 4, which has superior audio codec, a superior high end lan chip, thunderbolt 3 support, and slightly worse VRMs that are still capable of OCing a 3900x, you do lose USB-C. Or you can get the ASUS X570 Prime P for 140 dollars, which similar quality VRMs, better audio, ASUS RGB software which is much better then mystic light. And at 150 dollars we can an Asrock X570 Pro4 which is the same board as the X570 Phantom Gaming 4 but with USB-C. And X570 ASUS TUF non wifi is another good option, and that goes on sale for 160 a lot.
Also, personally, I don't think a half power USB-C connector hiding a USB 3.0 port is worth spending $20-25 more for this board just to work with an H510. Buy a better case with better thermals and I/O like a cooler master NR 600, with the better thermals and better I/O, and a cheaper MOBO and put that money elsewhere IMHO. You may disagree here.
Just like the B550 Pro4 atx version, sell this board at $130 and my opinion changes a lot. And there would be a lot of debate, do you want the better audio on the B550 Pro4 at 125, or do you want the better VRMs and half power USB-C on the A-Pro for 130. As of now, both boards are too expensive.
TLDR: Good featureset, excellent VRMs, like the board, but too expensive compared to the competition, and priced in the range of better X570 options.
MSI B550M PRO-VDH WiFi MSRP $130
EDIT 4: I Like this board more. Now that I could sleep on it, it's nicer then I thought.
VRMs: EDIT2: Hardware unboxed showed these are very nice VRMs similar to the B550m Pro4.
Lan and audio: Are the same as the B550 Tomahawk Max.
Internal connectors: It has the same half power connector as the MSI B550 A-Pro. 5v RGB, 2 m.2 slots, 4 case fan headers though.
Back Panel I/O: No usb C support. Not really different from other board discussed.
Bios Flashback and 433 mbps WIFI.
This board is a clear example of why bother buying an mATX board when an atx board exists. The Asrock Phantom Gaming 4 has a better audio codec, similar USB-C support, same wifi, and is ATX for $5 dollars cheaper. Unless you need Bios flashback this isn't worth buying over the Phantom Gaming 4. Now, if it's VRMs are really good, and I mean like 3900x overclocked good, then maybe, but again for $10 you can an x570 Phantom Gaming 4 which is better all around. Bios Flashback is nice, but to sacrifice everything else.
With accurate VRM data, I still don't like this board better then a PG4. It's VRMs aren't so much better, and it's lack of true USB-C just isn't compelling. If this board was cheaper, I would like. However, having said all that, I also don't hate it.
** Boards not worth discussing in depth at the 100 to 130 price point, and a couple others:**
MSI B550m Pro-Dash MSRP $120
Same audio and LAN as the Tomahawk, so worse then a B550m Pro4 but no USB-C, 5 dollars more then the B550m Pro4 for a mere fake USB-c internal connector and bios flashback.
I am paying attention though, as this is the best of the bottom, sell this at $100 and I perk up a lot, depending on the VRM quality. And If the VRMs are near Tomahawk class, 105 may be ok.
Gigabyte B550m Elite MSRP: $110
Lowest end Realtor 887 codec, no USB-c. Not competitive even if it has solid VRMs, if it doesn't hot garbage.
Asus B550 Prime all boards:
Lowest end Realtek 887 audio codec. VRMs suck.
Prime K MSRP $110
Lowest end realtek 887 codec, no usb-c. Not competitive even if it has solid VRMs, if it doesn't hot garbage.
Prime A/CSM MSRP: $135
Lowest end realtek 887 codec, no true usb-c, has the half power fake internal connector. Not competitive even if it has solid VRMs, if it doesn't hot garbage. Not worth it for half power USB-C fake internal connector.
ASUS PRIME B550M-A WiFi MSRP: $150
Lowest end realtek 887 codec, no usb-c. Has blazing fast 2.4 GBPS wifi. Not worth it at that price, the x570 Phantom Gaming 4 costs the same, has the same wifi, and high end audio, high end lan chip, and thunderbolt 3 support. On top of that the Asrock B550m Pro4 you could add the wifi same module for 28 dollars and it would still be 7 dollars cheaper with USB-C high end audio and just better features. Not worth the money.
ASUS PRIME B550-PLUS MSRP: $150
See all the other Prime boards descriptions, no Wifi, and add a Thunderbolt header that requires a 60 dollar add in card. For 20 cheaper the gigabyte b550m Aorus pro has this feature, and is better all around.
I was sick of typing at this point, with VRM data, this thing isn't godawful, its bad but it is better then the ASUS primes. It's VRMs run hot for a 3900x at stock. It's lack of fan headers make cooling difficult. I wouldn't run a stock 3900x or 3950x on it.
If you are at this budget, better to stick with B450 and buy an Asrock B450m Pro4 for $75 and then put the 20 into a better component somewhere else.
The Ranking list IMHO
- Asrock B550m Pro4 MSRP: $115
- Gigabyte B550m Aorus Pro MSRP $130
- Asrock B550 Phantom Gaming 4 WIFI MSRP $125 (note no USB-C)
- Asrock B550 Phantom Gaming 4 MSRP $115 (note no USB-c)
- MSI B550 Pro VDH WIFI, MSRP: $130
- Asrock B550 Pro4 ATX, MSRP: $135, Price it should be: $125
- MSI B550 A-Pro, MSRP: $140, Price it should be $130