When it comes to the AM4 platform, MSI have always used the B-series chipsets for their mini ITX boards. It’s a reasonable decision – X-series chipsets add connectivity, but that’s not really usable in a mini ITX size. Unfortunately B550 ended up delayed. Now, at last, B550 is out and MSI have an up-to-date mini ITX offering on AM4 with the MPG B550I GAMING EDGE WIFI.
MSI MPG B550I GAMING EDGE WIFI VRM
Mini ITX boards often struggle in the VRM department – you have to fit a lot of power in a small space. MSI have managed to squeeze in an 8+2-phase solution, which according to MSI is directly driven without doublers or ‘teaming’. The power stages are in an unusual space-saving rectangular package, but are still rated for 60 amps of current each. SMD capacitors and the directly driven phases make this promising in terms of power quality.
On top of the 8+2-phase VRM is a large “extended” heatsink. This single piece of aluminium extends from the VRM itself up and over the I/O area. Oddly there aren’t any fins, but surface area is still high just by virtue of the size. MSI also have a backplate, which should help with even mounting pressure as well as direct cooling. The VRM cooling setup is completed with high performance 7W/mK thermal pads, connecting both the power stages themselves and the chokes to the heatsink.
We should acknowledge that one of the power stages dedicated to SoC isn’t covered by the heatsink. This shouldn’t matter – SoC isn’t a very power-hungry rail. The 8 2oz copper layers of the PCB will carry heat away from the part, and the choke is cooled directly. Chokes don’t themselves produce much heat, but have a very direct connection to the silicon inside the power stage. Future APUs might create more load on the two SoC phases, and the impact is worth testing.
MSI MPG B550I GAMING EDGE WIFI Connectivity
Mini ITX motherboards have limited space for expansion, so onboard features are especially important. The networking on the B550I is well provisioned. MSI have equipped the board with Wi-Fi 6, using an Intel AX200 card. Alongside this comes 2.5Gbps ethernet – as on their Z490, MSI are using a Realtek chip here.
With limited space for routing, the rear IO is a little sparser than on the MPG B550 GAMING CARBON. There are six total USB ports on the rear panel – two 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen2 ports, two 5Gbps USB 3.2 Gen1 and two USB 2.0. The USB 3.2 ports are all fed directly from the processor, ensuring full bandwidth. One of the 10Gbps ports also has a Type-C connector.
MSI have kept the PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, which a small number of users will be very glad of. There’s also an HDMI 2.1 port, supporting 4K 60Hz with future APUs, and a flash bios button.
Internally there’s a header for two more USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports, a Type-C header and a USB 2.0 header. MSI provide the typical 4 SATA ports for a Mini ITX board, and cram in two M.2 NVMe slots. An M.2 slot on the back has a PCIe 3.0 x4 connection, provided by the B550 chipset. On the front is a slot supporting PCIe 4.0 speeds with a 4.0-capable processor. Somewhat uniquely, MSI have included a semi-passive fan despite this being the cooler-running B550 chipset. Seemingly the aim is to keep a PCIe 4.0 SSD cool.
RGB is mostly absent but never fear – there’s a single JRAINBOW 5V addressable RGB header between the memory and PCIe slots.
Pricing and Availability
B550 motherboards are available now, though supply is short. The MSI MPG B550I GAMING EDGE WIFI is listed for £189.95 at Overclockers UK and $199.99 at Newegg in the US. As always, UK prices include VAT whereas US list prices exclude sales tax.
You can read more about the MPG B550I GAMING EDGE WIFI on the MSI website.