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Choosing a b550/b450 Motherboard for my HTPC

Hey all, just hoping to get some advice on a getting a b550 motherboard for my weird use case. Looking at slowly piecing together a system that will be sued for a couple of different things. To start it’s mostly just going to run chrome for watching stuff off my plex server in the home theater. In future I the plan is to add a gpu for running my vr headset and also my fathers flight sim stuff, good chance we may upgrade the cpu at that time as well. For now, if possible, I have an r5 1600 that I would like to use if I can. mATX form factor is an added bonus if I can, just to take up less space on the av shelf in the theater.
TLDR: recommendation on a b550 mobo that might support r5 1600. Willing to go b450 if none of the b550 support the 1600. mATX form factor is a bonus.

b450 will only support Ryzen 3xxx (but not 3200G or 3400G) and above. So B450 it is (probably). Will provide three options, from cheap to expensive:

  1. mATX - ASRock B450M PRO4 ($94.99). Don’t put anything above a 3700X in this one, it may melt your VRMs. Pretty cheap though.
  2. mITX - Gigabyte B450 I AORUS PRO WIFI ($119.99). Going even smaller, a single form factor is great.
  3. mITX - Gigabyte B550I AORUS PRO AX ($179.99). Great VRMs, decent price. Pair it with a Ryzen 3 3100 for now (~$100) for best effect, will handle a 3950X without any problems (though cooling is a different matter).

I would go with one of the mITX options given the large availability of small good-looking cases, but that’s just me.

I bought that Asrock B450 Pro4 you mention. It was $75 at Newegg and was flashed to the latest BIOS on arrival, so it accepted the Ryzen 5 3400G I bought without using an older Ryzen to update BIOS as many people have had to do, before.

A few comments on things which are not obvious to the prospective buyer:

This mobo is rated for lower and lower RAM speeds as you increase the number of DDR4 sticks. I began with 4x 2400 sticks in the board and TrueNAS would not even install without many odd errors as the memory went nuts in the background. I dropped down to 1 stick and everything installed perfectly. The motherboard does not automatically remind you in the BIOS settings that using more sticks requires slower RAM speeds. You have to find that in the small print in the mobo manual. It will happily run 4 sticks at 2666 as the memory errors vomit on everything you try to install.

Next, the upper m.2 slot disables the lower pcie x16 slot. If you are running a mini SAS to 8x SATA card in the top pcie x16 slot and want to use any other cards at all on this board, they need to be PCIE 2.0 x1 cards which thankfully are cheap and plentiful.

Next, the lower M.2 slot disables 2 of the 8 onboard SATA ports, which you are probably not using anyway if you are building a TrueNAS machine with a mini SAS card, like you should.

Lastly, for the Picasso series, ECC is only supported with PRO APUs, for example Ryzen 3400G Pro.

Those are my “surprises” that I thought I would pass along to peeps.

edit - the ECC ram I ordered just arrived, so I swapped it in, flashed the venerable MEMtest util to bootable thumbdrive and am banging away on this new RAM like a madman, just to make certain it’s running properly before I button up the case again.

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