Asus ProArt B660-Creator D4 Review: Pros on a Budget

A well-priced (sub-$200) board for creative professionals.

Asus ProArt B660-Creator D4
(Image: © Asus)

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Our standard benchmarks and power tests are performed using the CPU’s stock frequencies (including any default boost/turbo), with all power-saving features enabled. We set optimized defaults in the BIOS and the memory by enabling the XMP profile. For this baseline testing, the Windows power scheme is set to balanced (default), so the PC idles appropriately.

To get the most out of the Intel Alder Lake chips, you need to be on Windows 11 with its updated scheduler. In most cases, Windows 10 performs well. However, some tests (Cinebench R20, Corona and POVRay) take a significant hit. In short, if you’re going with Alder Lake, you must upgrade to Windows 11 for the best results across the board. That may change with patching and updates in the future, though.

Synthetic Benchmarks

Synthetics provide a great way to determine how a board runs, as identical settings should produce similar performance results. Turbo boost wattage and advanced memory timings are places where motherboard makers can still optimize for either stability or performance, though, and those settings can impact some testing.

The B660-Creator D4 performed well during many synthetic benchmarks, including 7Zip and POV-Ray (single-core), Procyon Office (and Video/Photo editing), and Blender. AIDA bandwidth results were average. Things went south a bit in Cinebench and POV-Ray multi-core, where thermal throttling of the processor held things back. To get the most out of the high-end i9-12900K on this board, you’ll want to adjust the voltage (a negative offset) so it doesn’t throttle.

Timed Applications

In the timed applications the ProArt B660-Creator D4 was average to just slower than average, depending on the test. The LAME benchmark completed in 9.67 seconds, with Corona ray tracing finishing in 52 seconds, both average. Our Handbrake benchmark results were on the slower side, with the ProArt board completing the x264 portion in 118 seconds (against a 115 second average) and the x265 test in 304 seconds (against a 303 second average). As you can tell, the scores weren’t off by much.

3D Games and 3DMark

Starting with the launch of the Z690 chipset, we’ve updated our game tests, updating to Far Cry 6 and shifting from F1 2020 to F1 2021. We run the games at 1920x1080 resolution using the Ultra preset (details listed above). As the resolution goes up, the CPU tends to have less impact. The goal with these settings is to determine if there are differences in performance at the most commonly used resolution with settings most people use or at least strive for. We expect the difference between boards in these tests to be minor, with most falling within the margin of error differences. We’ve also added a minimum FPS value, as that can affect your gameplay and immersion experience.

In F1 2021, the B660-Creator averaged 164 frames per second (fps) with minimums of 142 fps, an average result. In Far Cry 6, the board averaged 138 fps, with a minimum of 125 fps, another average result.

In our synthetic 3DMark tests. the Asus scored 14,322 on Time Spy and 17,051 on Fire Strike Extreme. All the results for games and gaming benchmarks blend in with our other results. If you plan to play some games on this system, it will be just as performant as any ‘gaming’ motherboard.

Power Consumption / VRM Temperatures

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

We used AIDA64’s System Stability Test with Stress CPU, FPU and Cache enabled for power testing, using the peak power consumption value. The wattage reading is from the wall via a Kill-A-Watt meter to capture the entire PC minus the monitor. The only variable that changes is the motherboard; all other parts are the same.

At idle, the DDR4-based Creator sipped on power consuming 47W, but load power use was a different story. Peaking at 357W, the Creator board used more than the average. If you’d like to lower the load wattage and mitigate thermal throttling in heavy multi-threaded loads, lower the Vcore.

During stress testing, we saw thermal throttling of the processor almost immediately because of the high voltage by default. In turn, this keeps the VRM temperatures in order, but even if there wasn’t any throttling, the VRMs and the large heatsink work out well. The board peaked around 57 degrees Celsius on our external sensors, which is well within spec for the 50A MOSFETs.

Overclocking

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Overclocking the CPU isn’t possible on B660-based chipsets, but the platform allows memory speed adjustment. With our DDR4-3600 and DDR4-4000 kits, we simply set XMP and off we went without a hitch. Surely there’s some headroom left, but unless you are that professional where every fraction of a second matters, stick with the sweet spot around DDR4 3600 with the low CL rating.

Bottom Line

The Asus ProArt B660-Creator D4 is an inexpensive ATX option designed for creative professionals. The board comes with ample storage options, between the three M.2 sockets and four SATA ports, a Thunderbolt header for add-in cards and a USB Type-C DisplayPort capability to connect displays/peripherals. It also has a professional RGB-free appearance that won’t distract you or others from their work. Priced at $199.99 (Newegg (opens in new tab)) and $219.67 (Amazon (opens in new tab)), it’s a reasonably priced ATX-size ‘professional’ board. While it may not have all the accouterments of the much more expensive Z690 Creator (Wi-Fi 6E, integrated Thunderbolt, 10 GbE LAN, CPU overclocking), it’s still a worthwhile option in this space.

As far as comparables go, there aren’t many B660 ATX size designed for creators. MSI has the Pro B660-A DDR4 ($129.99 (opens in new tab)), but it falls short on M.2 storage and doesn’t have two Ethernet ports or any Thunderbolt connectivity. Other B660 DDR4 boards around the $199.99 price point include the Gigabyte B660 Aorus Master ($209.99), MSI MAG Tomahawk WIFI DDR4 ($189.99) and ASRock’s B660 Steel Legend ($159.99). None of these have a focus on the creative professional, but if you’re looking for a bit more on the aesthetics front, including RGB LEDs, the ASRock and Gigabyte will do so. However, none of these boards offer USB Type-C DisplayPort or other features that could be helpful for creatives.

In all, the ProArt B660-Creator D4 is a cheaper way to get into boards designed for the creative professional. While it’s missing some of the features more expensive ‘pro’ boards come with out of the box, if you’re not looking for integrated Thunderbolt 4 and extreme speed and connectivity aren’t required, a board like this is a great option to get into the latest generation platform without breaking the bank.

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Joe Shields
Motherboard Reviewer

Joe Shields is a Freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews motherboards.

  • HideOut
    a "creator" board with 10 year old audio? wow. I understand not spending the $ on the newest 4xxx chipset for sound, but the ALC 1200 family is still really nice and barely more $ than this crap.
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    A question that I would like to see answered is - what level of chip could this board handle with no throttling?

    i7 or i5K?

    What is different that allows the board to dominate the Office benchmarks? It seems like the biggest best most expensive should still lead those too.

    These moderate boards will help Raptor Lake a bunch at launch. DDR5 still doesn't look worth it in most cases to me. Intel could have a little motherboard advantage for the first time in a long time.
    Reply
  • Geezer760
    $199!! is hardly under $200, don't for get to add taxes, a budget board would be more like $79-$100, mid-range-$159-$169 range.
    Reply
  • Tom Sunday
    Geezer760 said:
    $199!! is hardly under $200, don't for get to add taxes, a budget board would be more like $79-$100 range.

    Greetings from Stehekin, WA. You are right on the money! At $199 the ASUS Creator MB for us still relegated by HR to WFH is a reach! Nice to have though! At the latest local computer show in Wenatchee I noticed many WFH shoppers trying to upgrade and grabbing a new ‘working class’ or cash generating (Pro) MB across the folding tables for less than $100. No sales tax and another 5%-10% discount if paid in cash and as shouted by the dealer boys from Bangladesh! After all a new MB generation is virtually around the corner! So prices are going way down and into the right direction.

    The mentioned MSI Pro B660-A however looks like a price and performance winner and especially in the trying times of today! I am sure however that many here will wait a few months longer before jumping into a new MB purchase as the word on the ‘floors’ and the show hot-dog stand was that very soon package Z690 deals will be forthcoming and as 99% of the buyers here only have CPU’s from several generations ago! Welcome to the man on the street and where reality bites more often than not!
    Reply