It's been a long time coming, but AMD has officially released its entry-level A520 chipset. Along with the launch comes a plethora of A520 motherboards that will absolutely steal your attention.
Focusing on providing the best bang for your buck, the A520 chipset does check in without some key features that you may or may not miss. For starters, the chipset doesn't support CPU overclocking, which shouldn't be a huge deal breaker since Ryzen 3000-series (opens in new tab) (codename Matisse) processors don't have much manual overclocking headroom (opens in new tab) to start with. Furthermore, A520 motherboards are low-cost options for budget-constraint pockets so they often come with modest power delivery subsystems, which are sufficient for stock usage but not really adept for overclocking.
Above all, the A520 chipset loses out on the most important feature that's innate to AMD's 500-series chipset - PCIe 4.0 support. PCIe 4.0 shouldn't matter for graphics cards since a PCIe 3.0 x16 interface is more than enough. Unfortunately, the lack of PCIe 4.0 on the A520 chipset means you will miss the experience of having a speedy PCIe 4.0 SSD.
AMD A520 Chipset Specifications
|Header Cell - Column 0||A320||A520||B550||X570|
|CPU Graphics Support||x16 PCIe 3.0||x16 PCIe 3.0||x16 PCIe 4.0||x16 PCIe 4.0|
|CPU Storage Support||PCIe 3.0||PCIe 3.0||PCIe 4.0||PCIe 4.0|
|CPU USB Ports||1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2||1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2||2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2||8 x USB 3.2 Gen 2|
|Dual Graphics Support||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|General Purpose Lanes||PCIe 2.0||PCIe 3.0||PCIe 3.0||PCIe 4.0|
|CPU Chipset Uplink||PCIe 3.0||PCIe 3.0||PCIe 3.0||PCIe 4.0|
In regards to processor compatibility, you may be disappointed to hear that the A520 chipset only supports Ryzen 3000-series processors and the recently announced Ryzen 4000-series (opens in new tab) (Renoir) APUs.
Officially, there is zero retrospective compatibility with older AMD Ryzen processors, but as we've seen before, some motherboard vendors aren't always obedient with AMD's parameters. The good news, however, is that the A520 chipset will support AMD's upcoming Zen 3 processors (opens in new tab) (codename Vermeer), whether the chipmaker decides to label them as Ryzen 4000-series or Ryzen 5000-series.
The A520 does bring one significant upgrade over the previous A320 chipset though. The general purpose lanes on the A520 chipset conform to the PCIe 3.0 standard as opposed to the sluggish PCIe 2.0 lanes on the A320 chipset.
The A520 chipset lands with 26 usable PCIe 3.0 lanes when a Ryzen 3000-series processor is inhabiting the motherboard. The storage design allows for up to four SATA III ports. Connectivity-wise, the chipset can accommodate up to five USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, two native USB 3.1 ports and six native USB 2.0 ports.
The price expectations for A520 motherboards are pretty low since these motherboards are aimed at consumers with very tight budgets that only require the bare minimum. Amazon listings show Gigabyte A520 offerings (opens in new tab) going for as low as $69.99, but we expect to see even cheaper models.