Reviewed: ASRock B450M Pro4 Motherboard

ASRock has a new value MATX board with the latest B450 chipset from AMD; it’s got everything you need and nothing you don’t.

The ASRock B450M Pro4 MATX motherboard has all the essentials. There are plenty of ports on the back and a PS/2 port for those with old school peripherals. You’ll find 4 SATA ports and 2 M.2 slots for storage, RGB headers for aesthetics and gigabit Ethernet for connectivity. Whilst the audio is the Realtek ALC892 codec and not the ALC1220 we see on ‘gaming’ products it’s still going to be good enough for all but the most hardcore of gamers and it fits the price point well.

There are three PCIE slots:

  • 1x PCIE 3.0 x16 (at x16 mode)
  • 1x PCIE 2.0 x16 (at x4 mode)
  • 1x PCIE 2.0 x1

For aesthetics there are two RGB headers and an addressable LED header to suit LED coolers and lighting strips. All 4 of the fan headers are in logical places – circled on the photo below.

The VRM heatsinks look large enough to be effective and we didn’t notice any issues or excessive heat when testing the overclocking capabilities with our Ryzen 5 2600 CPU. It’s good to see two M.2 slots on the board for solid state storage;one is NVME/SATA and the other is pure SATA M.2 and shares lanes with the SATA_3 port.

We also see a USB 3.1 Gen 1 front panel header, two USB 2.0 headers along with four SATA 3 connectors. If you were to pair this board with a Ryzen 2200G or 2400G APU you would be able to use the VGA, DVI and HDMI ports on the back (either individually or all at once for 3 screens). We’ve seen that those APUs can be quite effective when it comes to entry-level gaming and this is an upper entry-level board.

At the time of review, the pricing hasn’t been released but if this comes in at the same price or similar to the ASRock AB350M Pro it could well be a bargain as it essentially has everything a gamer needs.

Aside from the second full-length PCIE slot being 4X, there don’t seem to be many obvious compromises for mid-range or upper entry-level builders. This offering from ASRock effectively allows gamers to focus their budget on a decent CPU and graphics card by shaving some cost off the motherboard.

Specifications

CPU- AMD AM4 Socket
- Digi Power design
- 9 Power Phase design
- Supports 105W Water Cooling (Pinnacle Ridge); Supports 95W Water Cooling (Summit Ridge); Supports 65W Water Cooling (Raven Ridge)
Chipset- AMD Promontory B450
Memory- Dual Channel DDR4 Memory Technology
- 4 x DDR4 DIMM Slots
- AMD Ryzen series CPUs (Pinnacle Ridge) support DDR4 3200+(OC)/ 2933/2667/2400/2133 ECC & non-ECC, un-buffered memory*
- AMD Ryzen series CPUs (Summit Ridge) support DDR4 3200+(OC)/ 2933(OC)/2667/2400/2133 ECC & non-ECC, un-buffered memory*
- AMD Ryzen series CPUs (Raven Ridge) support DDR4 3200+(OC)/ 2933(OC)/2667/2400/2133 non-ECC, un-buffered memory*
* For Ryzen Series CPUs (Raven Ridge), ECC is only supported with PRO CPUs.
* Please refer to Memory Support List on ASRock's website for more information. (http://www.asrock.com/)
- Max. capacity of system memory: 64GB
- 15μ Gold Contact in DIMM Slots
BIOS- 128Mb AMI UEFI Legal BIOS with multilingual GUI support
- Supports "Plug and Play"
- ACPI 5.1 compliance wake up events
- Supports jumperfree
- SMBIOS 2.3 support
- DRAM Voltage multi-adjustment
Graphics- Integrated AMD RadeonTM Vega Series Graphics in Ryzen Series APU*
* Actual support may vary by CPU
- DirectX 12, Pixel Shader 5.0
- Max. shared memory 2GB
- Three graphics output options: D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI
- Supports Triple Monitor
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution up to 4K x 2K (4096x2160) @ 24Hz / (3840x2160) @ 30Hz
- Supports DVI-D with max. resolution up to 1920x1200 @ 60Hz
- Supports D-Sub with max. resolution up to 1920x1200 @ 60Hz
- Supports Auto Lip Sync, Deep Color (12bpc), xvYCC and HBR (High Bit Rate Audio) with HDMI Port (Compliant HDMI monitor is required)
- Supports HDCP with DVI-D and HDMI Ports
- Supports 4K Ultra HD (UHD) playback with HDMI Port
Audio- 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec)
* To configure 7.1 CH HD Audio, it is required to use an HD front panel audio module and enable the multi-channel audio feature through the audio driver.
- Premium Blu-ray Audio support
- Supports Surge Protection
- ELNA Audio Caps
LAN- PCIE x1 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
- Realtek RTL8111H
- Supports Wake-On-LAN
- Supports Lightning/ESD Protection
- Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
- Supports PXE
SlotsAMD Ryzen series CPUs (Summit Ridge and Pinnacle Ridge)
- 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 Slot (PCIE2: x16 mode)*
- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 Slot (PCIE3: x4 mode) AMD Ryzen series CPUs (Raven Ridge)
- 1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 Slot (PCIE2: x8 mode)*
- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 Slot (PCIE3: x4 mode)
* Supports NVMe SSD as boot disks
- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 Slot
- Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX and CrossFireX
Storage- 4 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s Connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1 and RAID 10),
NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug*
* M2_2 and SATA3_3 share lanes. If either one of them is in use, the other one will
be disabled.
- 1 x Ultra M.2 Socket (M2_1), supports M Key type 2242/2260/2280 M.2 PCI Express
module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s)
- 1 x M.2 Socket (M2_2), supports M Key type 2230/2242/2260/2280 M.2
SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module**
** Supports NVMe SSD as boot disks
** Supports ASRock U.2 Kit
Connector- 1 x COM Port Header
- 1 x TPM Header
- 1 x Chassis Intrusion Header
- 1 x Power LED and Speaker Header
- 1 x RGB LED Header * Supports in total up to 12V/3A, 36W LED Strip
- 1 x Addressable LED Header
* Supports in total up to 5V/3A, 15W LED Strip
- 1 x AMD Fan LED Header
*The AMD Fan LED Header supports LED strips of maximum load of 3A (36W) and length up to 2.5M.
- 1 x CPU Fan Connector (4-pin)
* The CPU Fan Connector supports the CPU fan of maximum 1A (12W) fan power.
- 1 x CPU/Water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
* The CPU/Water Pump Fan supports the water cooler fan of maximum 2A (24W) fan power.
- 3 x Chassis/Water Pump Fan Connectors (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
* The Chassis/Water Pump Fan supports the water cooler fan of maximum 2A (24W) fan power.
* CPU_FAN2/WP, CHA_FAN1/WP, CHA_FAN2/WP and CHA_FAN3/WP can auto detect if 3-pin or 4-pin fan is in use.
- 1 x 24 pin ATX Power Connector
- 1 x 8 pin 12V Power Connector
- 1 x Front Panel Audio Connector
- 2 x USB 2.0 Headers (Support 4 USB 2.0 ports) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Header (Supports 2 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports) (Supports ESD Protection)
Rear Panel I/O- 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard Port
- 1 x D-Sub Port
- 1 x DVI-D Port
- 1 x HDMI Port
- 2 x USB 2.0 Ports (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A Port (10 Gb/s) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C Port (10 Gb/s) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Ports (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
- HD Audio Jacks: Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone
Unique Feature ASRock USB 3.1 Gen2
- ASRock USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A Port (10 Gb/s)
- ASRock USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C Port (10 Gb/s)
ASRock Super Alloy
- Premium 42A Power Choke
- Sapphire Black PCB
- High Density Glass Fabric PCB
- 2oz Copper PCB
ASRock Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4)
ASRock Full Spike Protection (for all USB, Audio, LAN Ports)
ASRock Live Update & APP Shop
Software and UEFISoftware
- ASRock A-Tuning
- ASRock Polychrome RGB
- ASRock XFast LAN
* These utilities can be downloaded from ASRock Live Update & APP Shop.

UEFI
- ASRock Full HD UEFI
- ASRock Instant Flash
- ASRock Easy RAID Installer
Support CD- Drivers, Utilities, AntiVirus Software (Trial Version), Google Chrome Browser and Toolbar
Accessories- Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
- 2 x SATA Data Cables
- 2 x Screws for M.2 Sockets
Hardware Monitor- Temperature Sensing: CPU, CPU/Water Pump, Chassis/Water Pump Fans
- Fan Tachometer: CPU, CPU/Water Pump, Chassis/Water Pump Fans
- Quiet Fan (Auto adjust chassis fan speed by CPU temperature): CPU, CPU/Water Pump, Chassis/Water Pump Fans
- Fan Multi-Speed Control: CPU, CPU/Water Pump, Chassis/Water Pump Fans
- CASE OPEN detection
- Voltage monitoring: +12V, +5V, +3.3V, Vcore
Form Factor- Micro ATX Form Factor: 9.6-in x 9.6-in, 24.4 cm x 24.4 cm
- Solid Capacitor design
OS- Microsoft® Windows® 10 64-bit
Certifications- FCC, CE
- ErP/EuP ready (ErP/EuP ready power supply is required)

Software

The software offerings are limited but not absent. The ASRock App Shop is the best way to access and download the latest version of the utilities.

  • ASRock A-Tuning allows for overclocking, monitoring and fan control.
  • ASRock Polychrome RGB manages the LED effects and we found that it was also 100% compatible with the new HyperX Predator RGB modules.
  • ASRock Xfast LAN will provide software based QoS. Whilst this seems to work fine, we always recommend shutting down any apps that impact bandwidth when gaming online.
  • ASRock Live Updates helps to find the latest versions of drivers and utilities. I’ve used this in the past on other ASRock motherboards and haven’t had any issues with it. The application didn’t have any updates to find for the B450M-Pro4 as the board was unreleased at the time of review.

Build quality and unboxing

Essentially the packing consists of a standard quality box, anti-static bag and a foam mat under the board for some added protection. We don’t often see the latter – especially on the more budget friendly motherboards.

The rear I/O shield looks cheap as a single metal piece with stamped port labels but everything else looks similar to the more expensive ASRock motherboards as far as the components go. ASRock has confirmed that Electrostatic Discharge protection has been implemented on the USB ports, audio jacks and RJ45 LAN port which is becoming standard and I’m glad to see it wasn’t economised out.

Whilst I’d like to have seen a DisplayPort on the back instead of the VGA or DVI port, the included connectivity should be more than adequate for anyone wanting to use an APU.

ASRock’s “SuperAlloy” features are present on the B450M Pro4, including:

  • Premium 42A Power Choke
  • Sapphire Black PCB
  • High Density Glass Fabric PCB
  • 2oz Copper PCB

Audio

The onboard audio solution uses the Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec with ELNA Audio Caps. The ELNA caps are rated at 3uA leakage current which should reduce the noise levels compared to lesser rated caps. In order to use 7.1 channel audio you will need to also use the front panel audio connections as there are only 3 x 3.5mm plugs on the rear I/O section of the motherboard. There is no provision for optical output but digital output is available through the HMDI port if you use an APU like the Ryzen 2200G or 2400G.

UEFI BIOS

The UEFI BIOS interface is logical with all monitoring, overclocking and advanced options easy to locate and adjust.

Experience and test setup

Overclocking

I was hoping for the same overclocking result that we saw with the X470 boards and our Ryzen 5 2600 CPU but honestly expecting less. When we managed to achieve the same stable 4.2GHz overclock at 1.425V I was pleasantly surprised, perhaps even mildly impressed.

Practical build

I tested the ASRock B450M Pro4 in the practical build setup instead of the open test bench because of time constraints. The Fractal Design Meshify C Mini is a great case for unobstructed airflow with plenty of ‘elbow’ room for building.

When installing the board, I found all the headers in practical places and the motherboard mounting screws are all clear of heat sinks, shrouds and connection ports. Installing the board and connecting all of the headers was quick and easy – and made for a neat result in the Meshify C Mini case.

The test-setup was:

I’d had some reader queries about fitting a 140mm cooler in the Meshify C Mini case after we published the case review so I wanted to show how the Noctua NH-D15S fits in there. Given that this is a budget board and potential, owners may prefer to avoid the cost of a water cooling setup, I went with the best air cooler going around as it delivers similar performance at a much lower price point. The large twin tower NH-D15S fits on the B450 Pro4 without any issues and you can even get to the NVMe slot with the cooler installed. Accessing the graphics card with the NH-D15S cooler fitted is also no problem at all. It’s like this configuration was meant to be used.

Our choice of CPU was also down to a likely use case. The AMD Ryzen 5 2600 is one of the better value Ryzen CPUs going around and we knew our sample will overclock to 4.2GHz based on our X470 motherboard results. If a budget board like the B450M Pro4 could bring the 2600 up to 2600X performance levels with air cooling it would make a compelling value argument.

So how did it do? When I break it down per the list below, the B450M Pro4 did just fine.
Speed and overclocking? Yes
RGB strips for aesthetics? Yes
PCIEx16 for a high end graphics card? Yes
Fast NVMe M.2 storage? Yes, one slot
Gaming Grade Audio? Pass, ALC892 isn’t “great” but it’s good enough
Software? Pass, it covers the essentials
Storage? Pass, there are 4 SATA ports including a shared M.2 SATA for storage
Intelligent and practical board layout? Yes, the CPU socket is clear and headers are in all the right places.

If I was building a system on a budget, I’d probably look at something very similar to our practical build specs. The Meshify-C Mini is a well-priced functional case that looks good and can support larger components like big air coolers or longer graphics cards. The B450 chipset supports StoreMI so I’d also recommend a 250GB SSD and a 2TB mechanical HDD using AMD’s tiered storage as it takes the pain out of manually prioritising what files you have on the SSD. Although we used the HyperX Predator RGB, I’d be looking at some DDR4 2400MHz if it meant being able to squeeze a Ryzen 5 2600 and a mid-range graphics card into the build. Our testing demonstrated that the B350M Pro4 can support an overclock if the CPU and cooling are up to it so there is room for a system build on this platform to punch above it’s weight class.

Credit to AMD

There are two key software elements that boost the value of this (and every other B450/X470 board in the current market.) These are the Ryzen Master overclocking utility and the StoreMI tiered drive fusing application – both are free for owners of AMD’s 400 series chipsets.

The ASRock B450M Pro4 is already good value but being able to easily access additional performance via relatively safe CPU overclocking and intelligent data prioritisation for frequently accessed files will benefit owners.

Pricing

At the time of writing we don’t yet have an RRP for the ASRock B450M Pro4, but if it comes in around the $140 mark it’s good value.

Final thoughts

As someone who tends to spend more time with the higher-end motherboard models, I really appreciated what the ASRock B450M Pro4 had to offer at the price point it occupies. After running up the system, running benchmarks and just using it as I would if it was my personal system for gaming, the end experience was basically on par with a much more expensive system. This board doesn’t feel premium but it isn’t cheap and nasty either – the ASRock B450M Pro4 finds the ‘honest’ middle-ground with a well-balanced feature set.

At the end of the testing, I couldn’t fault the board. It overclocked well, has all the storage and PCIE connectivity I need in an MATX form factor, plus some RGB functionality to personalise the build a little. ASRock designers have done a good job with the layout, in particular the positioning of the M.2 slots away from the warmer sections of the board and the sensible locations of the onboard connectors/headers.

The B450M Pro4 was a pleasure to work with and will bring decent value to the market if it comes in at the price point we’re hoping for.

  ASRock B450M Pro4 Motherboard
 

PROS

Has all the essentials
Overclocked our Ryzen 5 2600 to 4.2GHz
2x RGB headers and 1 addressable
2x M.2 slots
Practical Layout

CONS

– 4 SATA ports may limit future expansion
Awards

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