PERFECT for ovePERFECT overclocking- MSI B550 Unify-X, Ryzen 9 5900X review
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So you’ve seen all the news about the power the new AMD Zen 3 chipsets have to offer and are thinking team red? Want to pull the trigger on a new motherboard, but should you drop a few more dollars on an X570 motherboard, or get a B550 to save a few bucks towards an overpriced graphics card?
With x570 fully using PCIe Gen4, seems like a pretty easy choice right? Well, not exactly. By the way, as we went to film we caught an article on apparent failure rates for the latest AMD CPUs, which for some lines, can allegedly reach up to 5%, so be sure to save those CPU boxes for at least a month.
Today we’ll give a quick rundown on B550 vs X570 chipsets, then test the performance of this MSI B550 Unify-X board with some stock and overclocking results, and give you info as to why you might pick B550 for your motherboard chipset.
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Which Chipset: B550 or X570?
So B550 or X570, which to get? The newer B550 chipset is replacing it’s lower cost last gen B450 version, but also competes with the older, more costly high-end X570 boards with honestly not that much difference in price.
Either chipset is quite capable for a work or gaming PC with the fastest Zen 3 CPUs like the Ryzen 9 5900X, and there isn’t much separation between chipset lines; TLDR, B550 will be fine for most, while X570 is better for extreme overclocking, 6 more USB 10G ports, with workstation and future proofing in mind.
Where the X570 excels is full Gen4 PCIe, and it’s useful for running multiple PCIe Gen4 SSDs, more SATA drives, achieve better to extreme overclocking with Ryzen 7 and 9 CPUs with better VRM designs, have 5G or 10G LAN port options with high-end boards, or running two or more GPUs for workstation use. They have more USB 10G ports, and better support older Ryzen CPU, and the x570 boards use an active fan to cool the chipset on the motherboard.
|Zen 3, Zen 2 3rd Gen CPUs||Yes||Yes|
|Zen2 3rd Gen + IG||Yes||–|
|2nd Gen, 1st Gen AF CPUs||Yes||–|
|PCIe Chipset Lane||4.0 x4||3.0 x4|
|PCIe 4.0 / 3.0 lanes||16/0||0/10|
|USB 10G (3.2 Gen2)||8||2|
|USB 5G (3.2 Gen2) / 2.0||0/4||2/6|
If this is your pick, you can save with Gen3 right now as Gen4 NVMe SSDs and cards and have very little difference to normal productivity or even gaming. For example a Western Digital 1TB Gen3 SN750 goes for about 138 us dollars, the Gen4 SN850 is priced at 221 bucks (6200nt) at time of video production, that’s getting close to a 40% markup.
If you’re not running dual graphics cards or Gen4 NVMe SSDs, you can save cash going with B550 to get better components, still get some decent overclocking with Ryzen 5 or 7, and many B550s offer good VRM designs on-par with the X570 versions, and there’s better adoption of 2.5G lan internet. Just look for the features you need at the price you can stomach.
MSI B550 Unify-X Quick Summary
On to the board, and a Quick Summary: The MSI B550 Unify-X handles 5000 series AMD CPUs, has quad M.2 slots, and is a really solid performer with a very capable VRM solution. With a 5900X overclocked to 4.6 gigahertz we got over just over 9000 in Cinebench R20, and the first sub 5 minute time in Blender Classrooom.
With VRMs running around 58 to 59 degrees Celsius at a 4.6 gigahertz overclock, the B550 Unify-X has really solid construction, an all black design with none of that RGB nonsense, 2.5Gbe LAN with Wi-Fi 6, the non-X variant set a world record at 6.155 gigahertz likely with LN2. With great connectivity and surprisingly no real issues at all, it’s a solid pick for a new AMD setup.
MSI B550 Unify-X Features
MSI’s latest MEG B550 Unify-X motherboard supports the latest Zen3 architecture AMD Ryzen 5000 series CPUs including the 5900X and 5950X, and the Unify non X runs around 290 USD so hopefully the B550 Unify-X should run for about 300 to 320 us dollars, listings are a bit sparse on Amazon so we’re unable to confirm pricing.
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The ATX sized B550 Unify-X uses a 6-layer PCB design and a very robust power solution, with a direct 14 plus 2 VRMs into a 90 amp power stage, with Titanium Choke IIIs all on a 2 ounce thickened copper PCB. Notable is the dual dimm slots which run in dual channel, at a max of 64 gigs for memory.
This usually provides more stability when doing serious overclocking, and supports up to 5300 megahertz, with a max of 5800 with some verified modules. This is the difference between the X version and standard B550 Unify, that board has 4 DDR4 slots and supports 5100 megahertz ram.
Quad (!) NVMe m.2 slots
With Steel armor reinforcing the top PCIe, this board has four, yeah, four NVMe m.2 slots all with Shield Frozr heatsinks, top 3 are Gen4 capable, bottom is Gen3- however don’t expect to drop a graphics card in the top PCIe x16 slot and still get full speed to every m.2, as some will switch over to the Gen3 chipset.
An integrated heatsink design and extended heatpipe combo covers all the VRMs, and that’s built into the rear I/O shield cover, and this board needs dual CPU 8-pin for overclocking, so make sure your power supply has dual ATX 8-pin. With the B550 the chipset runs a bit cooler than the X570 so there’s no fan required on these boards.
The rear panel is equipped with Flash BIOS and Clear CMOS buttons, four USB 2.0 ports and legacy PS/2, onboard HDMI 2.1, quad 10G USB ports one of those a Type-C, 2.5 gig Lan, Wi-Fi 6 that’s the AX standard along with Bluetooth 5.1, and gold plated Realtek ALC1220P audio with optical.
Note the HDMI 2.1 is usable ONLY with a CPU with integrated graphics, designated with a G at the end, not an X. So most processors you’d be looking at, 5900X, 5950X, 3700X, anything that’s X and not G, won’t support this. A Ryzen 5 3400G with 4 cores/8 threads looks to be the highest end APU, Accelerated Processing Unit, which is what AMD is calling a CPU with onboard graphics combo.
I’d say most consumers would be looking at something more powerful to pair with this board though, so the onboard HDMI is there just-in-case. Internally the board has 6 SATA III ports with a 10 gigUSB Type-C, 2 Gen1 Type A’s- that’s 5 gig speed, and four 2.0 ports, and it does support AMD Crossfire.
While there’s no bling RGBs onboard, if you change your mind later, MSI has included one RGB 12 volt and two ARGB 5 volt headers, along with a corsair connector too, and in the box you’ll get a 1 to 2 RGB LED extension Y cable, a 5 volt ARGB extension, and also a Corsair RGB extension cable.
MSI B550 Unify-X overclocking
For our build we have a Ryzen 9 5900X under an MSI CoreLiquid 360R AIO water cooler, with 16 gigs of Trident Z Royal DDR4 ram overclock-able to 3600 megahertz.
Super fast Windows 10 loading is thanks to the 500 gig Kingston A2000 PCIe SSD, and graphics is an MSI NVidia RTX 2080 Super. Powering everything we have MSI’s MAG A850GF in the studio, which has enough headroom and cables like dual CPU 8-pin and quad PCIe power for the latest GPUs. And if you want to check out this setup running some Premiere benchmarks, get subscribed as that video should be coming out soon.
Let’s get onto the results, and always overclock your CPU first then when that’s stable, you can enable XMP to get the DDR4 at max speed. Cinebench R15 finished with a big 3566 points, and Cinebench R20 turns in a whopping 8338 marks, higher numbers are better. In Blender’s BMW test, it completed with a quick 1 minute, 58 point 60 seconds, lower times are better here. On to Blender’s Classroom, which gave us the fastest result we’ve ever seen, 5 minutes, 03 point 43 which is truly amazing.
So we did an All Core boost overclock to 4.6 gigahertz, and into Cinebench R15, we’re now 319 points higher at 3885. Next in Cinebench R20, we see a large 669 point gain as we get “over 9000” with a massive score of 9007. Over to our time tests, and we run almost 8 seconds faster in Blender BMW, coming in at 1 minute, 50 point 92 seconds. Launching Blender’s Classroom benchmark we’re 21 seconds quicker at 4 minutes 41 point 72 seconds. This is the first time we’ve seen under 5 minutes, which is very, very impressive.
B550 Unify-X VRM, CPU temps, PBO?
CPU temps were hitting around 82 to 84 at stock under full load and 90 to 93 Celsius overclocked, and VRMs were a hair under 58 at stock and 59 degrees overclocked after triple back to back runs. Now the new Ryzen Zen 3 CPUs have fine tuned Per-Core overclocking with PBO or Precision Boost Overdrive, and although we tweaked settings in here for a few days, we didn’t match our first OC results.
|Benchmark||Stock||4.6G no XMP||Gain|
If you find some ultimate settings, please drop them in the comments. Also, enabling XMP didn’t improve scores, landing within 1 percent or in the margin of error, though your results may vary. Speaking of RAM, there’s a slightly better performance gain going from 2666 to 3200 than say, 3200 to 3600, even though that’s the apparent sweet spot for latest gen AMD CPUs.
Realistically though, you won’t notice your fast ram or overclocks when surfing the web, mostly in gaming and processor-intense operations like rendering and 3D work.
B550 Unify-X summary
So there’s a lot to like about this MSI B550 Unify-X, build quality is excellent, the VRM design is great and sufficient to handle overclocking loads, and the all-black aesthetic with no RGB will definitely appeal to many. Having 4 m.2 slots with 3 at Gen 4 is… overkill, but there ARE users who will be looking for huge amounts of fast storage, so this will fit the bill.
Connectivity is also very good with the amount of fast USB and SATA, though they did take out a PCIe slot in order to make the extra m.2 slots available. For me personally instead of the B550 Unify-X I would probably be looking at the non-X version due to two versus four DDR4 slots, though the two here do support 64 gigs of memory, and that will be enough for everyone, provided you’re buying more expensive 32 gig DDR4 sticks. Onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are really handy, great for getting you up and going fast, and we like the 2.5 G lan port which is better than straight gigabit speeds.
This is really the only thing to be improved here, as we are still really pushing for 10 G to become more standard, especially on boards over 250 bucks, but this is an industry-wide issue, as there’s not much push to increase LAN speeds when many consumer modems are still so slow. If you’re a prosumer needing fast LAN speeds, 10G cards are going for just under 100 dollars at this time.
One thing to note about going team red is that while AMD is delivering great performance here, you will need to have a graphics card to get up and running. Most of the main AMD CPUs don’t have onboard graphics, you’ll have to shop for those specifically, and they really don’t make sense to buy as the 5900X blows it out of the water.
A lot of mainstream Intel CPUs, on the other hand, feature onboard graphics so you can use your PC in the meantime while you wait for the crazy GPU prices to come down to a more reasonable level. With better looks and higher-tier connectivity than z490 chipsets, we’re drooling at the various z590 offerings which have slowly started appearing on all the manufacturers websites, let us know if there’s one you want us to check out.
Thanks again to MSI for this test setup, which allowed us to do some testing and overclocking, and if you decide to pick up a MSI B550 Unify-X, using our affiliate links below will help us here with no extra cost to you.
Be on the lookout for a future Premiere benchmark video using the 5900X too, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at techspinreview to see when that drops, and we have posts up at techspinreview.com. Next we’ll have a review of the CoolerMaster TD500 Mesh case, so stay tuned!
If you’re thinking about a B550 or X570 motherboard for your AMD CPU, or are considering a new Intel with a z590 chipset, we want to hear your thoughts and questions, down in the comments.
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