ASUS serves up a full-fledged AMD B650E offering that gives X670E and X670 motherboards a run for their money.
If you've been following the PC hardware scene in the past few weeks, you'll probably be familiar with the value conundrum that the AMD AM5 platform has been facing, which, as of the launch of Intel's 13th generation Raptor Lake processor offerings on 20 October 2022, has only further intensified. How did they get to where they are today? Take a new processor platform that is DDR5-only, and couple it with the fact that Team Red's top-of-the-line X670E and X670 chipset motherboards are pricey, and you have a situation where AMD's effectively priced itself out of the mid-range PC market, where offerings such as the mid-range Ryzen 5 7600X processor struggle for relevance against say, a full PC sporting Intel's new king-of-the-value-hill - the Core i5-13600K, built on a cheaper Z690 motherboard using even cheaper DDR4 memory.
Now that AMD's mid-range B650E and B650 chipsets have launched, could AMD have some ammunition with which to fire a return salvo at Intel?
Source: AMD website
As can be seen from the screenshot above, AMD's pared away PCIe lanes, USB 3.2 ports as well as SATA ports to create the B650 product stack. For today's article, we'll be checking out an ASUS motherboard sporting the more "premium" B650E chipset - the ROG STRIX B650E-F GAMING WIFI. As a product from the ROG STRIX series, the B650E-F GAMING WIFI places at the higher end on the spectrum of B650E motherboards, and in view of this, the value proposition that this board could have, might be to serve as a cheaper alternative to X670E and X670 boards for a higher-end PC build with say, a Ryzen 7 7700X or a Ryzen 9 7900X.
Summary of Specifications
- Processor Support: AMD Ryzen 7000 series (Zen 4) AM5 processors
- Chipset: AMD B650E
- Memory: 4x DDR5 slots, max 128GB, up to DDR5 6400+ (OC) support
- Audio: Realtek ALC4080 audio codec with premium audio capacitors and Savitech SV3H712
- LAN: Intel I225-V 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet
- WIFI: AMD RZ608 WIFI 6E module with built-in Bluetooth 5.2
- Expansion Slots: 1x PCIe 5.0 x16, 2x PCIe 4.0 x1, 1x PCIe 4.0 x16 (x4 mode)
- Storage: 4x SATA III, 1x PCIe 5.0 x4 M.2, 2x PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 (M.2 slots support NVMe drives only)
- Form Factor: ATX
Packaging & Contents
As a product from the Republic of Gamers (ROG) line-up, the box comes in the usual black and red colourway that has come to be associated with ROG products, and sports motifs that hint at the motherboard's gaming pedigree.
The board comes with an extensive set of accessories - unsurprising really, given that the B650E-F GAMING WIFI is a more premium motherboard offering after all:
- WIFI antenna
- 2x SATA III cables
- Spare M.2 Q-Latch
- 2x M.2 rubber pads (adds height clearance for single-sided M.2 SSDs)
- Spare M.2 thermal pad
- Cable ties
- Thank You card
- User manual
- ASUS WebStorage promotional leaflet
- ROG sticker sheet
- ROG keychain
ASUS has gone for a predominantly black-coloured aesthetic, with light grey motifs on the PCB, and pink accents for visual contrast.
Sporting an integrated I/O shield design, the board certainly looks the part with lots of ROG gamer motifs and marketing text all around...
...where the passive chipset heatsink even has two lines of text that go on about "true game-ruling innovation".
To further spruce up the appearance of the board, ASUS has included RGB LEDs that are built into the integrated I/O shield cover.
Also included are heatsinks for all three of the M.2 drive slots that come included with the B650E-F GAMING WIFI.
Interestingly, ASUS has chosen to adorn the rear of the motherboard with ROG motifs too - a nice touch that unfortunately might go unappreciated, as most PC cases do not have transparent side panels all around, or even motherboard trays with cut-outs in the right positions so that owners can catch a glimpse of these motifs.
VRM & Memory Support
The board comes with 12+2 power stages that are rated for up to 80A each, and sports four DDR5 slots with support for up to 128GBs of RAM, and the DDR5 6400+ standard when overclocked. The memory slots are of a single-tabbed design - what ASUS calls "Q-DIMM", which makes memory removal a breeze especially when a lengthy graphics card is installed, where such graphics cards might block the lower retention tabs of the memory slots. With the AM5 platform's launch comes the introduction of AMD EXPO - Extended Profiles for Overclocking, which are built-in overclocking profiles for DDR5 memory, similar to what XMP stands for in Intel's world.
Front Panel USB Headers
The ROG STRIX B650E-F GAMING WIFI comes with a USB 3,2 Gen 2 Type-C front panel header that provides for a single front panel USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, as well as a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A front panel header that provides for up to two front panel USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports.
Also included are two front panel USB 2.0 headers, with each header providing support for up to two front panel USB 2.0 Type-A ports.
Expansion Slots & Storage Options
In terms of expansion slots, the board comes with a single PCIe 5.0 x16 slot for a graphics card, two PCIe 4.0 x1 slots, as well as a PCIe 4.0 x16 slot that operates at x4 mode.
The PCIe 5.0 x16 slot features SafeSlot, which is ASUS marketing-speak for a reinforced slot design that takes into consideration how heavy high-end graphics cards can get. Also included is Q-Release, which is a great quality-of-life feature that facilitates the easy removal of a graphics card from the PCIe 5.0 x16 slot. With this feature, end-users need only press a button to undo the catch on the PCIe slot, before pulling the graphics card out and away from the slot.
Moving on to storage device support, ASUS has included four SATA III ports, with all ports in a right-angled configuration to aid with cable management. In terms of M.2 drives, the B650E-F GAMING WIFI comes with a single PCIe 5.0 x4 M.2 slot and two PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots.
Do note that 0ne of the PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, slot M.2_3, shares bandwidth with the full-length PCIe 4.0 x16 slot that operates at x4 mode, where if a NVMe M.2 SSD is installed on the M.2_3 slot, the said PCIe 4.0 x16 slot will be disabled.
To facilitate the tool-less installation of M.2 drives, ASUS has included its Q-Latch feature for all three of the board's M.2 drive slots.
Audio & Internet Connectivity
Powering the board's audio is Realtek's ALC4080 audio codec, which is coupled with a Savitech SV3H712 amplifier chip. Together with what ASUS touts as "premium audio capacitors", this combination should provide for a premium audio experience for end-users of this motherboard.
Intel's I225-V chip comes included with the board, serving up 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, while WIFI duty is courtesy of AMD's RZ608 WIFI 6E module that also serves up Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity as well.
Fan & RGB Headers
The ROG STRIX B650E-F GAMING WIFI comes with seven fan headers:
- 1x CPU_FAN
- 1x CPU_OPT
- 4x CHA_FAN
- 1x AIO_PUMP
Also included are three addressable RGB headers, and a single 12V RGB header.
A handy feature that ASUS has included is Q-LED, which are LEDs on the motherboard that help with troubleshooting Power On Self Test (POST) issues.
While the board does not come with built-in Thunderbolt ports, it does come with a Thunderbolt add-on card header, which is to be used in conjunction with a Thunderbolt 4 add-on card that is sold separately by ASUS.
Also included is a thermal sensor header that allows one to connect an optional sensor to monitor the temperature of devices within your PC, as well as a CPU Over Voltage jumper - the said jumper allows end-users to unlock a wider range of voltage options for overclocking purposes.
The rear I/O of the board comprises the following ports:
- 1x DisplayPort 1.4 (max 8K resolution @ 60Hz)
- 1x HDMI 2.1 (max 4K resolution @ 60Hz)
- 4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (5 Gbps)
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (10 Gbps)
- BIOS Flashback button
- 4x USB 2.0 Type-A
- 1x 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet port
- 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (10 Gbps)
- WIFI antennae connectors
- 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C (20 Gbps)
- Audio jack connectors
The BIOS Flashback feature allows end-users to update the motherboard's BIOS without needing a processor, RAM and graphics card installed - given that the AM5 platform should support several generations of new Ryzen processors in the future, this is a much needed feature for sure.
Given its features, the ASUS ROG STRIX B650E-F GAMING WIFI shapes up to be a full-fledged AMD B650E motherboard that in my opinion, hits the sweet spot in terms of its feature set for a mid-range to high-end Ryzen 7000 series PC build. Serving up PCIe 5.0 support for a graphics card and M.2 drive, 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, WIFI 6E support and a premium audio solution, all in a pleasant-looking gamer-oriented aesthetic, ASUS might have a winner here - a higher-end B650E motherboard that can hold its own against lower-end X670E and X670 motherboard offerings.
Being the higher-end B650E board that it is, it definitely isn't cheap, and isn't going to help with the AM5 value issue that was mentioned at the start of this article. But that said, this could well be a board to consider getting especially if you're intending to say, build a higher-end Ryzen 7 7700X or Ryzen 9 7900X PC, and would like to channel more funds into a better graphics card or more memory, rather than spending the said money on a X670E or X670 motherboard.
As of end-October 2022, the ROG STRIX B650E-F GAMING WIFI is available for around $510 Singapore dollars through online and physical retailers in Singapore, while international readers can purchase this board from eCommerce sites such as Newegg for around $300 US dollars.
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The motherboard featured in this article was a review unit provided on loan from ASUS Singapore.