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The GIGABYTE B650 AORUS ELITE AX is a motherboard that offers a blend of performance and value. With a price tag of $230-250, it sits comfortably in the mid-range bracket, offering a compelling alternative to the more expensive X670-series motherboards.
- Excellent build quality
- Solid VRM and M.2 cooling
- 14+2+2 phase power delivery
- PCIe & M.2 EZ Latch for easy component installation and removal
- Thoughtful header layout
- Plenty of RGB support
- Attractive pricing compared to X670 motherboards
- Higher price outside the US
- Lack of advanced troubleshooting features
- USB 3.2 Gen2x2 support only through a motherboard header rather than on the rear I/O
The B650 AORUS ELITE AX: A Closer Look
The B650 AORUS ELITE AX is a Socket AM5 motherboard that adheres to the ATX form factor. It’s not the most affordable B650 motherboard, but it’s also far from the most expensive, positioning it as a mid-range option. The motherboard eschews PCIe 5.0 GPU signalling in favour of PCIe 4.0, but supports PCIe 5.0 signalling through one full-length M.2 storage slot.
Despite its mid-range status, the AORUS ELITE AX is far from lacking in features. It boasts WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, 2.5GbE LAN, two additional M.2 slots (at PCIe 4.0 speeds), and USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C and other USB ports. Cooling is excellent, particularly for a B650 design, thanks to two large heatsinks. Proprietary features such as PCIe EZ-Latch, M.2 EZ-Latch, Q-Flash and RGB Fusion customizable LED lighting are all present, making this motherboard a heavyweight contender in its price bracket.
Performance and Features
The B650 AORUS ELITE AX sports a predominantly black design with silver highlights, giving it a sleek and modern look. It incorporates heatspreaders for surface-mounted storage and the chipset, although it’s not as elaborate as its pricier siblings.
The motherboard sports an 8-pin + 4-pin 12V CPU power rather than the dual-8-pin connectors common to the premium chipset, hinting at the lesser power infrastructure on this model. Hidden under the oversized MOSFET heatsinks is a 14+2+1 power phase configuration, a step down from the 16+2+2 Digital VRM design of the X670E AORUS MASTER. This shouldn’t have a significant impact on stock and modestly overclocked CPU performance, but might restrict high-end and extreme overclocking potential.
Connectivity and Expansion
The B650 AORUS ELITE AX offers a wealth of connectivity options, including WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, 2.5GbE LAN, and a variety of USB ports. It also features three M.2 slots, one of which supports PCIe 5.0 signaling. The motherboard also includes proprietary features such as PCIe EZ-Latch and M.2 EZ-Latch, which simplify the installation and removal of components.
The B650 AORUS ELITE AX is a compelling option for those looking for a balance between performance and value. It offers a wealth of features and solid performance at a price point that is significantly lower than that of the X670-series motherboards.
However, it’s not without its drawbacks. The lack of advanced troubleshooting features and the absence of a USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C port on the rear I/O are notable omissions. Furthermore, the pricing outside the US may be a deterrent for some potential buyers.
Despite these shortcomings, the B650 AORUS ELITE AX is a solid choice for those building a new AMD system. It offers excellent value for money and should comfortably be the board of choice over most X670 SKUs for the vast majority of potential owners.
Who Should Buy the B650 AORUS ELITE AX?
The B650 AORUS ELITE AX is an excellent choice for mid-range builders who want a balance of performance and value. It’s perfect for those who want a feature-rich motherboard without breaking the bank. If you’re planning to build a new AMD system and don’t require the absolute top-tier features of the X670-series motherboards, the B650 AORUS ELITE AX is a compelling choice.
Who Shouldn’t Buy the B650 AORUS ELITE AX?
If you’re an extreme overclocker or a high-end enthusiast who demands the absolute best in terms of features and performance, you might find the B650 AORUS ELITE AX lacking. The absence of advanced troubleshooting features and the lesser power infrastructure might be deal-breakers for this group of users. Additionally, if you’re outside the US and sensitive to price, the higher cost in these regions might deter you.
Comparing the B650 AORUS ELITE AX to Similar Motherboards
When compared to other B650 boards and the cheapest X670 designs, the B650 AORUS ELITE AX holds its own. It offers a wealth of features and solid performance at a competitive price point. While it doesn’t have the advanced features of the X670-series motherboards, it offers excellent value for money and is a compelling choice for most users.
Gigabyte B650 AORUS Elite AX VS MSI MAG B650 Tomahawk WiFi
The GIGABYTE B650 AORUS ELITE AX and the MSI MAG B650 Tomahawk WiFi both offer strong features for AMD’s Ryzen 7000 CPUs, and they are priced similarly.
The AORUS ELITE AX, with its 12+2 phase digital VRM solution and dual M.2 slots, is a solid choice for users who prioritize stability and reliability. Its support for Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 ensures fast and stable connectivity. The customizable RGB lighting also adds a touch of personalization, making it a good fit for users who value aesthetics in their build.
On the other hand, the MSI MAG B650 Tomahawk WiFi offers slightly more features. With three M.2 slots, a 14+2+1 phase power design, and “screwless” M.2 slots, it’s designed for users who require more storage flexibility and a more straightforward building experience. Its stealth design and integrated I/O shield add to its appeal.
In summary, the GIGABYTE B650 AORUS ELITE AX is a great choice for users seeking a balance of performance, stability, and aesthetics, while the MSI MAG B650 Tomahawk WiFi is better suited for users who require more advanced features and storage flexibility.
Gigabyte B650 AORUS Elite AX VS MSI Pro B650-P WiFi
The GIGABYTE B650 AORUS ELITE AX and the MSI Pro B650-P WiFi are both competent motherboards for AMD’s Ryzen 7000 CPUs, but they cater to slightly different user needs and budgets.
The GIGABYTE B650 AORUS ELITE AX offers a higher RAM speed (5200MHz vs 4800MHz), more fan headers (8 vs 6), and more M.2 sockets (3 vs 2), which can be crucial for users seeking high performance and expandability. It also includes an S/PDIF Out port, an extra PCIe x4 slot, and more USB ports (including USB-C and USB 2.0), enhancing its connectivity options. These features make the AORUS ELITE AX a robust choice for users who require high performance and versatility.
On the other hand, the MSI Pro B650-P WiFi, while being more affordable, offers its own set of advantages. It has more PCIe 4.0 x16 slots (2 vs 1), more SATA 3 connectors (6 vs 4), and more DisplayPort outputs (1 vs 0), which can be beneficial for users who require more storage options and display outputs. It also has more audio jack connectors (6 vs 2), a newer HDMI version (HDMI 2.1 vs HDMI 2.0), and an extra PCIe x1 slot, making it a good choice for users who prioritize audio quality, display capabilities, and expansion slots.
However, the MSI Pro B650-P WiFi does have some limitations. It uses a low-end audio codec and only has 2 M.2 slots. Its design is also less appealing compared to the AORUS ELITE AX, and it has fewer VRM phases, which could potentially affect cooling performance. Despite these drawbacks, it still offers good cooling performance and includes M.2 and PCIe shields, making it a viable option for budget-conscious users.
In conclusion, the GIGABYTE B650 AORUS ELITE AX is a superior choice for users seeking high performance, expandability, and connectivity options. However, the MSI Pro B650-P WiFi, while having some limitations, offers good value for its price and is a suitable choice for users on a tight budget or those who require more display outputs and storage options.
In conclusion, the B650 AORUS ELITE AX is a solid mid-range motherboard that offers a wealth of features and solid performance at a competitive price point. While it has a few shortcomings, it offers excellent value for money and is a compelling choice for most users. Whether you’re building a new AMD system or upgrading your existing one, the B650 AORUS ELITE AX is a motherboard worth considering.