Tom's Hardware Verdict
A gaming centric motherboard with a $120 price tag that looks good and includes a well rounded feature set assuming Wi-Fi isn’t tops on your list of needs.
Overclocks our 2700X without issue
Integrated Rear IO panel
Debug Panel LEDs
No M.2 heatsinks
Higher idle power consumption
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Asus ROG Strix B450-F Gaming Motherboard Review
The Strix B450-F Gaming is classed as a mid-range board and is part of the Republic of Gamers lineup, which places an emphasis on gaming and related premium features. The board supports both Crossfire and SLI multi-GPU configurations, has a 6+2 phase VRM and uses the SupremeFX S1220A audio (an Asus-tweaked Realtek codec) while supporting the full range of Ryzen processors, up to the flagship mainstream processor in the Ryzen 7 2700X.
Asus places the B450-F Gaming as a middle of the road gaming motherboard from its ROG lineup. With a price of $120 and support for both AMD- and NVIDIA-based multi-GPU builds, it’s a solid mid-range board, with some premium aesthetics, which we’ll delve into below.
The Asus Strix B450-F Gaming costs $119.99 at Amazon and is, for the most part, a fully featured board and based off its big brother from the X470 chipset. The B450-F gaming includes six SATA ports, two M.2 slots for storage plus an M.2 Key E slot for a Wi-Fi module, premium audio, USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) ports, as well as tastefully implemented RGB LEDs. A full list of specifications are found below.
|Voltage Regulator||6+2 Phase|
|Video Ports||DisplayPort, HDMI 2.0|
|USB Ports||USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps): 2x Type-A (Chipset)USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps): 3x Type-A + 1x Type-C (CPU)USB 2.0: 2x Type-A (Chipset)|
|Network Jacks||(1) Intel I211-AT Gigabit LAN|
|Audio Jacks||(5) Analog + S/PDIF|
|PCIe x16||With Ryzen 1st/2nd Gen CPU:(2) v3.0 x16 (x16 or x8/x4)(1) v2.0 x16 (max x4 mode) - shares b/w PCIe x1_2 and PCIe x1_3With Ryzen+Vega CPU:(1) PCIe 3.0/2.0 (x8 mode)|
|PCIe x1||(3) v2.0 x1|
|CrossFire/SLI||Crossfire X (Up to 3-Way)|
|DIMM slots||(4) DDR4|
|M.2 slots||With Ryzen 1st/2nd Gen CPU:(1) PCIe 3.0 x4 / SATA (when in use, SATA6G_5/6 are disabled)(1) PCIe 3.0 x4 (when in use, PCIE x16_1 will run at x8 mode)With Ryzen+Vega CPU:(1) PCIe 3.0 x4 / SATA (when in use, SATA6G_5/6 are disabled)|
|SATA Ports||(8) 6Gb/s|
|USB Headers||(1) v3.0, (2) v2.0|
|Fan Headers||(5) 4-Pin|
|Other Interfaces||FP-Audio, RGB-LED, TPM,|
|Internal Button/Switch||✗ / ✗|
|SATA Controllers||Integrated (Supports RAID 0/1/10) and ASMedia|
|Ethernet Controllers||Intel I211-AT|
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||✗|
|HD Audio Codec||Realtek ALC1220-VB|
|DDL/DTS Connect||✗ / ✗|
The included accessory stack is appropriate for the board and should contain what is needed to get started. The accessories included are:
- 4x SATA cables
- M.2 screws
- RGB LED extension
- 7x zip ties
- Alternative chipset cover
- Installation manual
- Driver disk
- ROG door hanger
- ROG stickers
The board itself is matte black with shiny black stenciling around the PCI and chipsets, with ROG-related slogans, like Republic of Gamer, Hybrid, and some characters from languages other than English. It’s worth noting this design is also on the back of the board in grey, but unless you happen to have a case with a see-through motherboard tray, this isn’t something you’re going to see once the board is installed.
Covering the Rear IO area and part of the VRM heatsink is a plastic shroud with the only RGB LED implementation on the board, embedded in the ROG logo. The heatsinks for the VRMs are grey and have a fair amount of surface area to keep the heat-producing components underneath running in spec.
Asus employs its Safeslot reinforcement technology (in the form of metal slot wrappers) on the first two full-length PCIe slots, identifying the primary PCIe slots in the process. Another design feature similar to what we saw in the PCIe area is located on the chipset heatsink as well. Asus calls this styling a “...futuristic cyber-test pattern which fuses multiple gaming cultures to create a unique identity for this generation.” according to Asus. If the brighter plate on the chipset heatsink isn’t your style a more subtle option is included. In order to swap these out, simply peel off the cover protecting the tape and stick it on.
Overall the Strix B450-F Gaming presents users with a fairly blank black slate to work in with a build theme. If the single RGB LED section isn’t enough, there are two headers on the board to expand your lighting options. Both the integrated and external RGB LEDs are controlled via the Asus Aura RGB Software.
Taking a look at the top half of the board, we’ll focus around the AM4 socket first where you’ll find VRMs and DRAM slots as well as some fan headers. On the left side, we get a better look at the shroud, which partially covers one of the two VRM heatsinks and holds the RGB LEDs under the ROG symbol. The heatsinks themselves are tall and able to dissipate the heat generated from the 6+2 phase VRM in our testing. Just above the heatsink is a single 8-pin EPS connector for the CPU.
The VRM is 6 total phases managed by a 4+2 channel controller. The SOC uses a split/teamed 2+2 configuration. In a nutshell, we shouldn’t have an issue driving most CPUs with this setup. We didn’t have an issue with our 2700X overclocked at 4.2 GHz, which is about the end of the road for current-generation Ryzen based CPUs, anyway.
Of the board’s six total fan headers four are located on the top half, two sit on the right of the top VRMs and two more live above the PCIe x1 slot. The two located to the right of the VRMs are for the CPU fan(s), with the other two (CHA_FAN1 and AIO_PUMP) designated for case fan and an AIO pump duty. All headers on the board support both DC and PWM fans and can be controlled through the QFan in the BIOS and Fan Expert 4 in AISuite.
Just below the two fan headers is the QLED, which displays a different color LED to identify where in the boot process the board may be. The four options are Boot (Yellow/Green), VGA (White), DRAM (Yellow), and CPU (Red). If it gets hung up in one of those areas, the LED remains lit, letting you know there is an issue in that area. This is an important feature, especially since the board doesn’t include a POST code LED debugger or beep speaker.
In addition to the fan headers to the right of the VRM, we see the first of two RGB headers -- the other located across the bottom of the board next to the other fan headers. Both RGB headers connect to standard 5050 digital LED strips and will output a maximum of 3A/36W. Both the integrated and connected RGBs are controlled through the Asus Aura software.
Continuing to move right, we run into the four DRAM slots. They lack any metal protection or RGB lighting (not that we expect them at this price point) but do use a single latch to lock the memory sticks down securely. If you happen to swap out RAM frequently, you may learn to like them (as I do) for easier removal. Either way, the sticks aren’t going anywhere once you get them latched in.
Finally, on the far right side is the 24-pin ATX connector and a front panel USB 3.1 Gen1 header.
Looking at the bottom half of the board, on the left side we find the audio bits which are separated from the rest of the board by a small yellow line. Under the shiny faraday cage labeled “SupremeFX” is the audio module with the same namesake. Marketing aside, what you’re looking at here Asus’ twist on the Realtek ALC1220. The dedicated audio capacitors (in yellow) are made by Nichicon and said to produce warm and natural audio. Pumping out the tunes to your headphones are dual op amps able to support input impedance of 32-600Ω, which is fairly typical.
In the middle of the board are three full-length PCIe slots along with three x1 length slots peppered around them. The primary GPU slots (the two using Asus’ Safeslot reinforcement) will run at x16 or x8/x4 using Ryzen 1st/2nd gen CPUs or x8 using a CPU with Ryzen + Vega integrated GPU (like the Ryzen 5 2400G). The last full-length slot sources its bandwidth from the chipset, runs at PCIe 2.0 x4, and shares bandwidth with the bottom two PCIe x1 slots.
Between the PCIe slots are two M.2 slots with the top slot, M.2_1, supporting up to 80mm SATA or PCIe 3.0 x4 based modules, while M.2_2 supports PCIe modules only up to 110mm. Unlike the Gigabyte B450 Aorus Pro Wi-Fi we’re benchmarking this against, the Asus ROG Strix B450-F Gaming doesn’t supply heatsinks for the modules. If you plan on using an NVMe based drive with sustained writes, consider getting aftermarket heatsinks for keeping the drives cooler. But for most common workloads, like gaming and common productivity programs, storage access is mostly bursty. So for most users, M.2 heatsinks are more a nice thing to have, adding to the overall aesthetics, rather than something that’s necessary.
The top socket will disable SATA ports 5 and 6 regardless of the device type installed. Meanwhile, the second M.2 socket supports PCIe only and will force the primary PCIe slot to run in x8 mode. So choose your poison there: either disable SATA ports, or run PCIe in x8 mode.
Sliding right a bit, we can see a better shot of the chipset heatsink, as well as the six SATA ports on the far-right side of the board.
Across the bottom are several headers and ports from USB 2.0 and 3.0, front panel audio, and another RGB header. The items below are listed from left to right.
- Front Panel Audio
- Serial Port connector
- TPM connector
- 2x USB 2.0 headers
- Clear RTC RAM jumper
- RGB header (4-pin)
- Chassis fan 2 and 3 headers
- System Panel connectors
The Rear IO panel has a fairly typical assortment of ports and plugs out back, including two USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A ports, four USB 3.1 Gen1 ports (one Type-C), and two USB 2.0 ports. We found it unusual the Type-C port was running Gen 1 (5 Gbps) speeds as typically the newer connector runs Gen 2 (10 Gbps) speeds. For video outputs, the board includes a full-size DisplayPort as well as a single HDMI port. Other ports include the Intel I-211AT NIC, along with five 5-plug audio jacks and an S/PDIF port. Legacy support at the back is provided by the PS/2 port, which seemingly will never die.
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Joe Shields is a Freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews motherboards.