AMD's B550 motherboards will bring PCIe 4.0 to the masses, $99 Ryzen 3 CPU in tow

The cutting-edge gets more affordable

Credit: Gordon Mah Ung/IDG

When AMD’s excellent Ryzen 3000-series processors released last summer, snatching the desktop computing crown from Intel, one of their key features was support for the blazing-fast PCIe 4.0 interface—but only if you purchased a pricey X570 motherboard, too. No more. After months of constant leaks (and constant pining by enthusiasts) AMD confirmed Tuesday that it’s bringing PCIe 4.0 to the masses with the announcement of B550 motherboards, revealed alongside two extremely affordable new Ryzen 3-series processors.

The twist? Motherboards with the B550 chipset aren’t launching until June 16. But if you’ve already waited this long without splurging on an X570 upgrade, what’s another couple of months?

B550 motherboards are exactly what you expect: They’re like the existing B450 mainstream Ryzen motherboards, built around the backward-compatible AM4 socket, but with support for PCIe 4.0 included. The cutting-edge interface promises faster speeds for any device that taps into it, but it’s especially beneficial for storage. PCIe 4.0 SSDs hit ludicrous speeds—and this first wave doesn’t even come close to maxing out the technology’s potential. Check out our PCI 4.0 primer if you want to know more.

ryzen lineup AMD

The new Ryzen 3 processors join existing Ryzen 5, 7, and 9 CPUs in AMD’s 3rd-gen lineup.

It remains to be seen just how expensive the new boards are, however. PCIe 4.0 achieves a lot of its speed increases through faster clock speeds, which means more heat. Existing X570 motherboards pretty much universally include enhanced heatsinks and even dedicated chipset fans to tame temperatures. If B550 boards need similar hardware, they’re sure to be more costly than prior generation x50-class Ryzen boards.

Ryzen 3 gets company

You need to pair PCIe 4.0 motherboards with a Ryzen 3000-series processor to unlock their fantastic speeds, and to that end, AMD also announced a pair of inexpensive 3rd-gen Ryzen 3 processors today. The $99 Ryzen 3 3100 and $120 Ryzen 3 3300X are both four-core, eight-thread chips, rated for 65 watts and with full PCIe 4.0 support in tow. The cheaper Ryzen 3 3100 sports a 3.6GHz base clock and 3.9GHz boost clock, while the Ryzen 3 3300X ups speeds to 3.8GHz base and 4.3GHz boost for $20 more. Look for both to land in May, well ahead of B550.

The burning question: How will AMD’s quad-core, 3rd-gen Ryzen 3 chips stack up against the venerable Ryzen 3 1600AF, a still-available budget barnstormer that packs six cores and twelve threads, but at lower frequencies (and without PCIe 4.0)? The wait for benchmarks shouldn’t last long.

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Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
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