ASUS B450 Prime Plus Review
Published: 31st July 2018 | Source: ASUS | Price: |
Any time you're getting a motherboard that is a cut down version of a higher chipset then there is an understanding that there will be fewer features and maybe less performance prowess. Given that not everybody has a huge budget from which to build their system doesn't mean that they should accept lesser quality. Pricing has to be taken into account, but not at the expense of all other considerations. After all, if we gave extra points for being below a certain price point then, taken to extremes, the best value product is not buying one at all. Clearly that's insanity, so how does the B450 Prime Plus match up to its illustrious forebears?
Looking at our results as a whole it is definitely a mixed bag.
Starting with the bad, AIDA64 CPU tests, SiSoft Sandra CPU Arithmetic tests, x265 encoding and Cinebench R15 all were not only poor, but significantly worse than any other of the 2nd Generation Zen setups we've tested. A few points here and there are part and parcel of how we differentiate between models in performance terms. However, we also use identical hardware so that we should only see minor variances in scoring, particularly when everything is running at stock. Stock CPU speeds should mean results within error tolerance. With the B450 Prime Plus in those aforementioned tests we ended up with results so far from the norm that we'd have thought we'd accidentally installed an AMD Ryzen 3 rather than our Ryzen 7 2700X.
Which leads us on to the good. In all the other tests the ASUS B450 Prime Plus was every bit as good as we hoped it would be prior to testing. We saw that the ASUS Strix B450-I managed to be much closer to the X470 equipped motherboards than the pricing would indicate, and we know from past experience that ASUS Prime motherboards have excellent consistency. Away from the tests named above the ASUS Prime Plus unquestionably matched up to its Strix brethren and certainly in the benchmarks which reflect the type of general tasks that most computers are asked to perform - browsing, media, mild image editing, gaming - it ticked all the boxes and did everything asked of it.
Two areas where you can see the parts of the B450 arrangement that allow the Prime to be so affordable are the amount, or rather lack of, USB ports and the overall design of the PCB from an aesthetic standpoint. If you have a printer and a different game controller alongside a pad - like a wheel and pedals or HOTAS - you're definitely going to run low on USB ports you can get around this with a USB3 hub though. The heatsinks are definitely functional rather than pleasing to the eye and remind us of the type of heatsink we saw back in the early noughts plus its a massive shame this Prime is so basic that there isnt a single hint of the brands white colour scheme. Vertical SATA ports will never win any design awards, nor do they make it easy to hide all your cables. Lastly there are five headers on the B450 Prime Plus for cooling which means if you're running the expected setup of a 120mm AIO in the exhaust port of your case then you're left with two fan headers at the top and one at the bottom front. So whilst you might be saving money on the initial purchase of the Prime Plus you'll have to allow for a little extra money for some extra cables or controllers if you run more than the minimum amount of fans in your case.
All in all the B450 Prime Plus is a little bit of a mixed bag in performance terms, lacking in manual overclocking options and best suited for a simple setup with a single GPU, minimum peripherals and the like. However, if you are looking to take your first step onto the AM4 ladder and don't want to overclock or render lengthy videos with it, then the ASUS B450 Prime Plus provides a half decent initial dabble into the AMD Zen world. We cant help but think that this shouldnt have been called a 'Prime' though and that this really should have been one of the lower end boards, thats a big statement when we normally go out of our way to make sure we test them for launch.