If you’re in the market for one of the best AM4 motherboards for your current-gen AMD CPU, you’re likely deciding between a B550 and X570 motherboard.
B550 and X570 chipsets are the two most popular mainstream chipsets for AMD Ryzen 5000-series CPUs. The former is a midrange chipset, and the latter a higher end chipset.
While there are different motherboard implementations of each of these, there are some differences between the chipsets themselves that might influence your purchasing decision.
The main difference between the two chipsets is in how many PCIe lanes and ports they can offer, and what PCIe generation these are. In other words, how many expansion cards and storage drives you intend to use will be a big factor in deciding between B550 and X570 chipsets.
What is a Chipset?
Every motherboard has a chipset, which is a physical chip sitting somewhere on it. Motherboards are what allow all your various components – CPU, RAM, graphics card, and so on – to communicate with one another, and the motherboard’s chipset defines how it does this.
Your chipset defines your motherboard’s most essential capabilities, such as how many RAM sticks and video cards are supported, how fast this RAM can be, how many USB ports there can be and how fast they are, how many PCIe lanes are supported, and so on.
When comparing two similar chipsets like the B550 and X570, many of these capabilities will be the same. But there will be some differences – perhaps one offers more high-speed USB ports and PCIe lanes, for example.
Different motherboard implementations might offer less than their chipsets allow, but understanding your chipset is a quick way of gauging the kinds of capabilities your motherboard could have.
AMD B550 vs X570: Supported CPUs
|AMD Ryzen 7000-series CPUs
|AMD Ryzen 5000-Series CPUs
|AMD Ryzen 4000-Series CPUs
|AMD Ryzen 3000-Series CPUs
|AMD Ryzen 2000-Series CPUs
AMD’s B550 and X570 chipsets are part of its latest chipset generation, meaning they’re designed for some of the best gaming CPUs currently on the market: AMD’s Ryzen 5000-series processors.
Both B550 and X570 chipsets are backwards compatible with AMD Ryzen 3000-series and 4000-series CPUs, because they support AM4 socket CPUs. So, if you have an AMD Ryzen 5 3600, for example, it should work with either chipset.
X570 chipset motherboards should also work with AMD Ryzen 2000-series CPUs, but B550 chipset motherboards will not.
Both chipsets use the AM4 socket, but AMD’s next generation of desktop processors – AMD Ryzen 7000-series CPUs – will use the new AM5 socket. So, unfortunately, B550 and X570 chipset motherboards won’t run next-gen AMD CPUs.
AMD B550 vs X570: Specs
|AMD B550 Chipset
|AMD X570 Chipset
|Usable PCIe 4.0 Lanes
|Usable PCIe 3.0 Lanes
|PCIe 3.0 (x4)
|PCIe 4.0 (x4)
|SATA III Ports
|USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 Ports
|USB 3.2 Gen 1×1 Ports
|USB 2.0 Ports
Both B550 and X570 chipsets should offer enough for most PC gamers running a current- or previous-gen AMD CPU.
These specs are theoretical maximums and can be interpreted in different ways. For example, if you use all SATA ports that the chipset can theoretically allow then you’ll have to sacrifice some PCIe lanes. There’s a lot of mix-and-matching possible with the lanes in both chipsets, but especially with the X570.
In simpler terms, though, all B550 and X570 chipset motherboards should allow you to run one graphics card in a PCIe 4.0 x16 slot, and one PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD in an M.2 expansion slot. This is all that most gamers will need from their chipset.
They also both offer more than enough LAN bandwidth, and a broad selection of USB 3.2 Gen2, USB 3.2 Gen1, and USB 2.0 ports.
AMD B550 vs X570: Differences
Apart from the higher price tags on X570 motherboards, the main differences between the B550 and X570 chipsets concerns their lanes and ports.
AMD X570 motherboards have four PCIe Gen 4 lanes running from the CPU to the chipset, whereas AMD B550 motherboards have four PCIe Gen 3 lanes running from the CPU to the chipset. The chipset can connect other components indirectly to the CPU using these lanes. This means that X570 boards should have faster connectivity capabilities to other PCIe components via the chipset.
Of note is that, because of the extra PCIe 4.0 lanes that the X570 provides, you should be able to run two M.2 NVMe SSDs over PCIe 4.0, providing the specific motherboard implementation allows it. AMD B550 chipset motherboards, on the other hand, will only allow for one M.2 NVMe SSD running over PCIe 4.0.
Similarly, according to AMD’s specification snapshots, X570 boards can have more SATA III ports than B550 boards. But note that, as explained above, these theoretical maximums are only possible if you sacrifice transport lanes to other devices. For most gamers, both chipsets will offer enough SATA capability.
Finally, the X570 chipset can offer more high-speed USB ports. Again, though, this depends on the specific motherboard manufacturer’s implementation.
AMD B550 vs X570: Performance
One of your main considerations when buying a motherboard should be how many VRMs (voltage regulation modules) it has and how they perform. VRMs step down voltages from the power supply, ensuring that all your components get supplied their electricity at voltages they can handle.
A motherboard that has better voltage regulation should have components that are less likely to degrade over time or suffer damage from high voltages. It should also allow you overclock more safely, with less risk of overvolting damage.
Unfortunately, which chipset is used won’t tell you whether a motherboard’s voltage regulation is good or bad. Chipsets don’t define which VRMs, or how many, are used. Instead, individual motherboard manufacturers implement their own VRM solutions.
This means that one B550 motherboard model might have better voltage regulation than another X570 motherboard model, or vice versa. While the very best and most expensive X570 motherboards are likely to have better voltage regulation than midrange B550 or X570 boards, VRM performance should still be judged on a case-by-case basis.
Both B550 and X570 chipsets support CPU overclocking by default. As is the case with VRMs, you should judge a motherboard’s overclocking performance not by its chipset, but by its specific manufacturer implementation.
Finally, most gamers will be using one graphics card and one NVMe SSD. And because both chipsets can run these over PCIe 4.0 lanes, there shouldn’t be any performance difference between the two chipsets in most gaming scenarios.
But if you plan on running multiple high-speed NVMe SSDs, or other high-speed expansion cards or storage drives, then opting for an X570 board might net you faster performance on these thanks to the increased number of PCIe 4.0 lanes that the X570 chipset can provide.
Summary: Should you Buy a B550 or X570 motherboard?
B550 and X570 specifications only describe the theoretical maximum capabilities that these chipsets can handle. To see what you’ll get in practice, you should compare individual motherboard manufacturers’ implementations.
The main difference between AMD’s B550 and X570 chipsets is that the latter offers more higher speed ports and lanes. It should allow you to run more components and peripherals via PCIe 4.0, SATA III, and USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 connections.
However, most gamers will only make use of the few PCIe 4.0 lanes that the B550 also offers – to your graphics card and to one M.2 NVMe SSD. And most gamers won’t need a plethora of high-speed USB ports. Furthermore, both chipsets should be capable of offering the same level of CPU, GPU, RAM, and single SSD performance, and both support overclocking.
As such, for most gamers, a cheaper B550 motherboard will be a better option. If you only want a standard gaming setup, then a B550 motherboard should give you everything you need.
But if you anticipate needing multiple PCIe 4.0 expansion cards, high-speed storage devices, or high-speed USB connections, then you’ll likely find a better solution from X570 motherboards.