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Leaked AMD B550AM motherboard will end the PCIe 4.0 price premium

So, this is AMD's new B550 motherboard... right?

PC hardware

A complete specification list and user manual for ASRock’s long-awaited B550 motherboard has been leaked. Or is it the B550A? It’s hard to say. You see, the leak describes a motherboard titled ‘B550AM,’ which is odd considering B550A motherboards were supposed to be fitted with PCIe 3.0 capability only – or at least that’s what AMD told the public months ago – and yet the ASRock B550AM appears to be PCIe 4.0 compatible.

If the previous generation’s budget B450 motherboard is anything to go by, the B550 should also be easy on the wallet, which is what makes its impressive feature list so… well, impressive. With the small board’s user manual outlining its PCIe 4.0 and Gen 4 NVMe compatibility, as well as its 10-phase voltage regulator modules (VRMs), it’s an exciting time to be an AMD user. It might even end up in our list of the best AMD motherboards for gaming.

This leak comes Komachi Ensaka, who, as well as tweeting copies of the B550AM’s user manual and specification sheet, also tweeted a picture of the motherboard. There are two things worth discussing here. One is the board’s pretty impressive feature list, and the other is its name. Yeah, let’s start with the name…

‘B550AM.’ When we first came across Komachi’s tweet, it seemed clear: we’re looking at the specs of a new AMD B550 motherboard. But then it would appear that it’s utilising the same B550A chipset that was spotted last year… but wasn’t that supposed to be a B450 rebrand for OEMs?

That theory came right from the horse’s mouth, too. Robert Hallock, AMD’s senior technical marketing manager, corrected a Reddit user who claimed to be showing off a system with a B550 motherboard. Hallock responded by saying “no, it has a B550A motherboard. This is a version of the PCIe Gen 3 “Promontory-LP” (e.g. X470, B450) chipset specifically for use in pre-built systems (e.g. OEM customers).” If this leak is a B550A chipset with PCIe 4.0, then why the correction? See, these situations wouldn’t come up if companies used consistent and easily understandable naming schemes.

Anyway, enough of its confusing name, and on to the board itself. ASRock’s B550AM, according to the leaked user manual and specification sheet, promises a few things that might leave some (costly) X570 users feeling a little bitter. The first thing of note is its PCIe 4.0 compatibility. We were suspecting cheap motherboards for AMD Ryzen CPUs even before Gigabyte registered their own B550 lineup. Komachi’s leak confirms this. Only the uppermost slot and the M.2 slot will be PCIe 4.0, however, with the bottom slot being PCIe 3.0.

As well as PCIe 4.0 compatibility, ASRock’s B550AM will make use of 10 VRM phases – a massive number for a budget board such as this one. VRMs help ensure a consistent and steady supply of power to your PC components. For the end-user, what these 10 VRM phases mean is the ability to safely push your CPUs even further when overclocking and delivering clean power in the process.

So, despite its confusing name, it looks like the ASRock B550AM has a lot going for it, especially considering the likelihood that AMD Zen 3 CPUs will be sticking to the AM4 socket. In short, it looks like it’s going to be well worth the money and the wait, especially if it retains the ‘budget’ price tag of its previous generation B450 counterpart.