Product on Review: B650 AORUS ELITE AX
UK: £269.99 (inc. V.A.T.)
AUS: $389.99 (inc. Tax)
AMD’s 600-series motherboards for Ryzen 7000-series CPUs now comprise models from US$200 all the way to US$800 (and in some instances far beyond that), but it’s also one of the more complex platform ecosystems in recent memory. The innovation of the dual-chipset X670-series added cost, and a means to ameliorate that cost was offered in the form of the B650-series; however, PCI-Express 5.0 graphics and storage options also called for both E (for EXTREME) and non-E sub-types which portion off this functionality. As a consequence we have X670E, X670, B650E and B650 chipsets, and each motherboard based on a chipset might have contrasting capabilities due to proprietary or SKU-specific features. And that’s before the expected introduction of the A620 chipset later this year.
Today we’re looking at GIGABYTE’s B650 AORUS ELITE AX, a Socket AM5 motherboard adhering to the ATX form factor and one of a limited number of B650 designs in GIGABYTE’s range. It’s not the most affordable B650 motherboard but is also far from the most expensive, and thus should be considered something of a mid-range option.
As a B650 (non-E) design the AORUS ELITE AX eschews PCIe 5.0 GPU signalling in favour of PCIe 4.0, but does support PCIe 5.0 signalling through one full-length M.2 storage slot. B650 also incorporates only one of the chipsets present in X670, thereby reducing its total I/.O capabilities by roughly half. Its suitability as a platform is therefore largely determined by your budget and need for the fastest GPU interface, although your budget will take a slight hit due to the platform’s DDR5 memory requirement.
That’s not to say that the AORUS ELITE AX lacks features, quite the contrary in fact. The model still boasts WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, 2.5GbE LAN, two more M.2 slots (at PCIe 4.0 speeds), and USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C and other USB ports. Cooling is in theory excellent - particularly for a B650 design - thanks to two large heatsinks marshalling the MOSFETS into line. Plus, proprietary features such as PCIe EZ-Latch, M.2 EZ-Latch, Q-Flash and RGB Fusion customisable LED lighting are all present on this design that at a glance looks to punch well above its weight.
So, with competition keen in the $200-$350 price bracket from other B650 boards, the cheapest X670 designs, and indeed Intel’s own comprehensive range for their 13th Core processors, can this motherboard live up to its ‘Elite’ billing?