While we all love our powerful gaming towers, sometimes you need a slightly smaller gaming build. The Mini ITX form factor is a bit more limited, with less room to work with, but thanks to the portability and unique case options, it is a size that is catching on. To this end, we decided to give the ASUS ROG Strix B550i gaming motherboard a look and see how it stacks up. It houses all the features you could hope for from a gaming board, all in a size that feels almost impossible.
The ASUS ROG range has long stood as some of the best PC parts you can buy. Chances are, if you demand performance, you have at least tried some of what ROG has on offer. While they are known for their boards that deliver everything you could want, the ROG Strix B550i gaming motherboard is a much different beast. Forgoing all the bulk and power you normally expect from an ROG motherboard, this is made from the ground up to deliver what is needed for gaming.
The ROG Strix B550i runs on the B550 chipset, meaning it will allow you to run the latest and greatest in AMD Ryzen gaming. Provided you update the bios, the B550i will let you run up to Zen 3 processors, with the board supporting up to two sticks of DDR4 memory and has a bit of room to overclock should you choose to go down that path. The motherboard has limited space for expansion, but features a single PCIe x16 Gen 4.0, and has space for a single M.2 PCIe 3.0 drive. It also has space for four SATA cables, giving plenty of options considering the size of the board.
On the networking side, the ROG Strix B550i gaming motherboard boasts an Intel i225-V 2.5Gbe Ethernet port, along with a AX200 Wi-Fi 6 module that also supports Bluetooth 5.1. It features SupremeFX audio powered by the S1220A CODEC,32Bit/192KHz with Dual OP Amps supporting impedance sense; 120dB SNR on playback and 113dB SNR for recording.
“The ROG Strix B550i runs on the B550 chipset, meaning it will allow you to run the latest and greatest in AMD Ryzen gaming.”
Due to the size, the I/O is a bit limited, but for a smaller build, you should have all you need. The ROG Strix B550i has 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, one of which is USB-C, with the other three being USB Type A. It also features 2x USB 2.0 Type A ports, audio jack ports, along with an HDMI port, DisplayPort, and Wi-Fi connections to connect to the included antenna.
The overall design of the board is very in line with what we have come to expect from the ROG brand. It features an all-black PCB with a very well-thought-out board layout. ASUS has maximized what they could fit on a board this small. Even the placement of the M.2 drive connector and RAM slots all feels tailor-made to deliver the most computer in the smallest footprint.
Building on the board felt very easy. Everything was simple to install, even in the small case we were working with. There was a lot of attention to detail in the ROG Strix B550i, giving enough cooling for the different components, while delivering the power where it needs to go. While I am still a fan of the bigger form factors, ASUS has done all they can to make this as painless a transition as possible. I love the fact that even in this small size, ASUS managed to fit in active cooling for the chipset, and a well-thought-out heat sink for your M.2 drive, something I could see many lesser boards skimp on.
If you have used an ASUS motherboard in the past five years, you should feel right at home with the BIOS for the ROG Strix B550i. Everything is well laid out, and it allows for plenty of customization and tweaking should you want to dive deep. For the average PC builder, the interface is painless and should be enough to get you up and running in no time.
Running the new build with our trusty AMD Ryzen 9 3900, everything was shockingly painless. Even with our RTX 2080 Super, running some of the latest AAA games, we found there was no issue with overheating, or any issues with power draw. ASUS has put the time in to build a gaming motherboard that even enthusiasts can push to the limits, and it feels great. The read/write speeds feel on par with the B550 platform, meaning even with this board being tiny, you won’t be sacrificing performance in the process.
If we had any complaints, it would simply be the lack of fan connectors on the board. While it is hard to imagine where ASUS could have placed them, in any performance PC built that you want to push cooling is a must. Thankfully, there are plenty of AIO cooling solutions available that should solve most of these issues. We also found the limited rear I/O a bit frustrating, since you will really need to pick and choose what you connect or invest in a USB hub.
Even with these minor complaints, the ROG Strix B550i is a winner. ASUS has delivered in the areas enthusiast gamers care about, offering up a board that has amazing audio, great layout and support for some of the best chips on the market. While you may want to invest in an AIO cooler if you want to push a PC built with the B550i, the overall performance felt amazing considering the size. If you are looking to make a new Mini ITX AMD Ryzen based PC, look no further than the ROG Strix B550i.