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Asus TUF Gaming B650-Plus WIFI

Asus gives us a cheap but still solid AM5 motherboard

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There is generally a lot of confusion about the differences between AMD chipsets, but in a nutshell, the key differences lie in how many PCIe lanes there are, how fast they are, and what they can be used for. There's actually an amazing amount of freedom for manufacturers to choose what to include and what to leave out, but with the B650 chipset you're at least guaranteed PCIe 5.0x4 for one of your NVMe drives. You're not guaranteed it for your GPU, but since a PCIe 4.0x16 connection is enough to pull even an RTX 4090, and the next generation isn't expected to max out the PCIe 4.0 standard (PCIe 3.0x16 hasn't really been fully utilized until the very latest generation of graphics cards), it's actually a very reasonable place to save.

And saving money has actually become more necessary, because while the prices of motherboards for AMD's Ryzen 7000 series were fairly expensive when it was launched, it hasn't exactly helped that you could only get "Extreme" motherboards, i.e. something made for hardcore overclocking. However, a few lucky ones try to sell more expensive.

TUF Gaming B650-Plus WIFI costs something completely different, £220 I could find it for the cheapest, which is well done as AMD has now switched to LGA - that is, the small pins that connect the processor and motherboard are now on the motherboard, which makes production a lot more expensive.

Asus TUF Gaming B650-Plus WIFI

The board is all black, with orange accents and TUF badges - it looks good in my book, some might find it a bit 00's inspired, but that's the aesthetic the TUF series has had for many years. And it's subtle enough that I just don't care. I would, however, recommend using a black cooler to complete the look. Even the many VRM heatsinks are completely black, and there are a lot of them and they are relatively large, but you just don't notice. And it's nice to have an obvious maximum surface design. Even the NVMe heatsinks are almost comically long, but at least you're sure to keep things cool. It's not 2x8 pin CPU, but 1x8pin + 1x4pin. But it's there, and it's enough.

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There is USB-C on the back of the motherboard itself, which I might have expected was spared. There is WIFI 6E and then 12+2, 60 ampere Power Stages which is more than enough to pull even a 230 Watt TDP such as Ryzen 9 7950X, which is specified at 170 Watt - but in our tests can pull a lot more. There is also 2.5G Lan. Moreover, there's room for a dedicated AIO fan header and three temperature sensors. There's even a Thunderbolt USB-4 header hidden if you look closely. Not exactly what I expected on what is defacto a cheap entry-level motherboard.

There's both HDMI and Displayport, and then two USB-C ports, one Gen 1 and one Gen 2x2, two USB 3.2, and four USB 2.0. There's also full output for audio ports, the only thing I'm missing is an optical port, and there's a BIOS Flashback button. Again, a CMOS button would have been nice, but at least that's out of the way. Unlike what we've been used to before, there are not two, but four RAM slots as is standard for DDR5.

Internally, there is everything you need, two USB front headers + one USB-C front header, three ARGB headers, a dedicated RGB strip header, four SATA connections, four USB 2.0 to the front, and then three PCIe to NVMe drives, two of them are 4.0x4, the last 5.0x4. Personally, I think it will take some time before we get games that can fully utilize the interface, but it's nice to have access to the latest technology. And then they have very sensibly chosen to use reinforced metal frames around the graphics card port, and antistatic material at most inputs.

It comes with some cables, M.2 standoffs and screws and a WIFI antenna and stickers. Everyone packs in those stickers, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone use them, but then again, I'm maybe 10-15 years older than the target audience.

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Asus TUF Gaming B650-Plus WIFI

Asus has always made great BIOS menus that are easy to understand and use, and this is no exception. Access to easy overclocking is paramount, and all essential settings are clearly laid out. There's even a dedicated power saving mode. If you don't want to use the BIOS, you can also use Asus Armoury Crate. It could perhaps be a little more aesthetically designed, but it works, and you can access quite a few of your settings through it. In fact, I see no reason why in 2023 you need to go into BIOS, you should be able to access everything via Windows apps, reboot, and then be flying. There are some other features like AI Noise Cancellation for the audio part, security circuits for individual fan headers and other little things that are just extra in the package. Then there are all the other bits and pieces like solid power pins in the motherboard and metal reinforcement of all PCIe connectors.

The bottom of the board is generally pretty easy to work with, not that the cooling fins are sharp, but they are solid and pointed. There is plenty of space between the various connections, and it feels like someone has actually tried to build a computer, because the cooling fins slope in a kind of cone shape down towards the CPU, which makes it nice and easy to mount the CPU and cooler. The back is made with rounded solder points for once, so you don't stick yourself in the same way as with many high-end motherboards.

For ordinary use, a couple of NVMe drives and a couple of SSDs, a new graphics card and a new AMD 7000 CPU, well then it can be difficult to see what you are missing in terms of options and inputs. People who just want to play games will certainly not lack anything. It is affordable, too, because together with a Ryzen 7600X CPU, you get an extremely hefty and competent package for less than 4000 kroner that can form the heart of your system for many years.

10 Gamereactor UK
10 / 10
overall score
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