Following the launch of its high-end X470 platform controller earlier this year, AMD has just released a mid-range counterpart, the B450. This chipset will support a wide range of AMD processors, including the current and previous-generation Ryzen 7, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 models, Ryzen APUs, and also legacy Athlon and legacy A-series CPUs designed for Socket AM4. AMD is touting the longevity of its Socket AM4 interface, and says that it provides a long-term upgrade path for buyers. The company has previously committed to support Socket AM4 till 2020.
The B450 will supplant last year's B350 for mid-range PCs. It does not introduce any dramatic new features, but an AMD spokesperson mentioned optimisations based on "lessons learnt over the past year". The B450 platform supports PCIe Gen 3.0 and USB 3.1 Gen 2, and thanks to AMD's architecture, total platform connectivity depends on which CPU is used. Motherboard manufactures get to decide how to implement Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi.
Compared to the high-end X470, the B450 drops support for multiple graphics cards (which is not a feature in high demand anymore) and has fewer USB and SATA ports. Manufacturers are also likely to use less robust power routing hardware given the target audience. However, the B450 still supports AMD's eXtended Frequency Range 2 (XFR2) and Precision Boost Overdrive features that allow a CPU to run at higher clock speeds if thermal and power conditions allow it. The B450 also supports all CPU and RAM overclocking features that the X470 does, which AMD highlights as an advantage over Intel's product segmentation strategy.
AMD is also offering its StoreMI software to all B450 motherboard buyers for free. This allows users to combine the strengths of two or more types of storage, such as a slower hard drive and faster SSD.
Motherboards from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock, and Biostar are already hitting markets around the world. In India, Asus has announced seven new models in its ROG, TUF, and Prime ranges. The top-end ROG Strix B450-F Gaming is an ATX motherboard officially priced at Rs. 9,630, and has a blacked-out design with a "futuristic cyber-text pattern" and Aura Sync RGB lighting. It's aimed at gamers and boasts of PCIe NVMe SSD RAID, SupremeFX S1220A audio, and support for up to DDR4-3200 RAM. The range also includes the mini-ITX ROG Strix B450-I Gaming.
The Asus TUF B450-Gaming and TUF B450M-Gaming are ATX and micro-ATX boards respectively, and claim to feature long-lasting military-grade power conditioning components. Both share the same core specifications including 8-channel HD audio with DTS, temperature sensors and overvoltage protection, and of course Aura Sync RGB LED lighting. The TUF B450M-Plus Gaming is priced at Rs. 7,200.
The entry-level Asus Prime B450M-K and B450M-A are priced at Rs. 6,310 and Rs. 6,975 respectively. Both are described as "retro-modern" and deliver scaled-back connectivity and no RGB LEDs, and are aimed at business environments or cost-conscious builders.
Gigabyte has also announced a new B450 range consisting of five initial models, and a new naming scheme under its Aorus brand. The B450 Aorus Pro Wifi and B450-I Aorus Pro Wifi feature onboard dual-band Intel Wi-Fi ac, Intel Gigabit Ethernet, and an updated ALC1220-VB audio codec, in ATX and mini-ITX form factors respectively. Gigabyte also boasts of its own RGB Fusion lighting feature. Prices have not yet been announced.