Topic:- Best Motherboard for Ryzen 3700X – NZXT N7 B550 – Review – 2021
In this article, we are going to talk about the NZXT and they make pretty good cases and coolers but in recent years, they have also dabbled in GPU coolers PSUs RGB accessories and even, they also have a motherboard lineup.
Well yes they do and it started with the N7 Z370 and it was followed by the Z390 and the Z490 series of Intel boards but as you may have noticed, they did not have an AMD board till now. Because it changes today with, the launch of N7 B550 which is a standard-sized ATX board that features, AMD’s mid-range B550 chipset, it will be priced at around $229, with this price they are surely competing with the big boys.
The Design: All Geared Up Again
So is it any good, let’s find out NZXT always had a clear focus on aesthetics, just look at the case H510, the H700i everything looks clean and pristine, and the motherboards are no different N7B550 is a standard size board with, the whole PCB covered.
White metal armour or you can call it a shroud which, I think will be the main selling point of this board usually, this design is found in high-end boards but here you are getting this design at a comparatively cheaper price, just like the design of the board the packaging is very basic and minimal you only get two M.2 screws, 2 SATA cables and a very basic manual.
Let’s talk about the metal piece, a little more it’s a metal shroud and it’s held onto the board by little tabs on the sides, it’s easy to remove and you can still remove it, while it’s inside the case but it’s something I will not recommend you to do to get access to the SSDs.
You can remove these two covers, which are unfortunately made of plastic, at least the inner part of it unlike most of the boards, in this price category this board does not feature any kind of SSD heat sinks during testing.
I was using a PCI Gen 4 SSD and it overheated during my benchmarking test, honestly, it’s kind of disappointing at this price point to not see them included, at first I was surprised why I was getting lower scores than expected, then I realized it may have to do something with the temperatures and I was right most higher-end SSDs, do come with heat sinks.
But there are always exceptions, so if you are considering this board then please do keep these covers out, if you have a PCI Gen 4 SSD or just an SSD that turns hotter after removing the white shroud or cover you get a black shroud.
Unlike the white shroud, this is not made of metal and you will have to use a screwdriver to remove this black cover, fortunately, it’s not covering any essential connectors so it’s good to stay on the socket area is very clean and you will have no problem installing large air coolers here.
History lesson for you guys, do you know NZXT also had air coolers well, they did and it looks something like, this not very minimalistic like the modern one’s right! There’s a large and ‘chunky’ aluminium heat sink here that matches the board’s overall theme.
It’s not here just for the show, as it weighs over 250 grams and has proper large fins to maximize, the surface area its better implementation of a heat sink than some mainstream motherboard manufacturers out there.
Push some air over this thick boy and the VRM should cool without issue. I will tell you more about the VRM soon in terms of layout; it has all the standard connectors located around the edges of the PCB.
There are 4 PCIe slots 2 full size, ones and two X1 slots these are spaced out decently and the bottom full-size slot only supports X4 mode which should be fine for plenty of users, there are two M.2 storage slots and the bottom one supports only X2 Gen 3 speeds.
I really think this should be upgraded to the X4 specification because, the competing motherboards in this price range offer full X4 speeds, the top M.2 and PCI slot supports Gen 4 speeds because of the B550 chipset.
It comes with seven fan headers four located at the top, and three at the bottom of the board all of them support PWM features and they put up to 24 watts of power individually, but I think the layout can be improved a bit because the single connector in the middle of the board for the rear case fan will be a great addition.
There are technically four RGB headers but only two are of the standard type because the other two are propriety and NZXT headers, so if you have NZXT hue accessories then you can connect them to the motherboard directly for easier access.
It’s a great feature and it makes sense as a person who will buy this board will obviously or somehow have another NZXT product but I also believe there are people who will buy this motherboard standalone just for the looks and would like to pair RGB accessories, from other manufacturers so the addition of one more ARGB port, will make for a great feature.
The internal USB port header selection is pretty good, there are three USB 2.0 headers two USB 3.2 gen1 headers which are side-mounted on the PCB and one 3.2 Gen 2 type-c header, it’s a good setup and a very capable one to help in faster setup and diagnostic.
There are four debug LEDs at the bottom edge, which I hope you don’t have to use much and you also get a set of power buttons and reset buttons on board, these are always welcomed once and good job NZXT but why not throw a postcode display to complete.
A Look at the Audio and Networking
The set I use this motherboard with my RYZEN 3700x and I also tested the audio during the setup and the audio is surprisingly good on this motherboard, it is using the ALC 1220 codec and this amplifier is usually used on dedicated DACs and amplifiers so it should be fine for most gamers out there,
The sound is wide and has good clarity and power to the audio for both games and music, the NZXT N7 B550 is pretty stacked starting from the top you get clear CMOS and BIOS flashback button flashback options, which always come in handy when you are trying to upgrade to the newer CPU or the latest BIOS.
Next to, it has a single HDMI port and a pair of Wi-Fi antenna connectors, it supports the latest Wi-Fi six protocol and these are sample USB options including two USB 2.0 ports, three USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, one USB 3.0 gen, 2 type-C port and 4 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports.
you also get a 2.5 gigabit LAN option and it’s from Realtek, Intel would be better but Realtek is fine and at last, the full set of audio ports overall, the onboard and rear panel connectivity on this board is on par with the price range and completely apt for most users now.
Let’s talk about the VRM setup on this board and actually using a very capable VRM configuration, the main PWM controller is the eight phases that handle the 12+2 phase VRM configuration.
The Building Experience
The 50 ampere Vishay SIC654 power stages are used for the main CPU and SOC MOSFETS ’12’ for the CPU and two for the SOC, the SOC phases are direct but the main CPU phases are doubled by the RENESAS ISL6617A doublers weirdly.
The reviewer’s guide, that I got with this motherboard stated that it was using the Vishay SIC 632 power stages but it’s not maybe they forgot to double-check because what they mentioned was old news because it was used on the N7 Z490 boards and not the AMD one.
They are also using some high quality 12000 hours rated Nichicon black capacitors and overall, this setup is very capable and has been used in many high-quality boards, from other manufacturers as well, it should be capable of handling even, the 5950x decent loads especially when paired with a big heat sink and some direct airflow.
The UEFI bios on this board come with a very clean and simple design it’s laid out with proper tabs and easy to use UI you have your main overclocking screen where all the CPU and DRAM voltage settings are present and you also get proper LLC options and some additional voltage settings to finely tune your overclocks for CPU and ram overclocks.
You will have no problems at all in the advanced app, you get access to the precision overdrive and other, AMD specific settings, and you also get proper fan control which is a little too basic in my opinion but there’s a reason for it.
NZXT wants you to use the dedicated NZXT cam software, which controls both fans and also monitors your pc settings, so the basic one will be fine for most users but you can always go back to the NZXT cam one some of you with keen eyes may have noticed that this BIOS layout looks very familiar to the AS rock one, and you are right because NZXT has actually partnered with AS rock for this bios design and some of the components on board.
So the overall layout and configuration are very similar to those ones and it seems NZXT is actually taking good care of the bios, because there was already a bios update for the board even, before I was ready to test it and in, the reviewer’s guide, they have mentioned some problems with the USB connection issues but they have also promised an update is coming soon once AMD releases it, but it has all the functions that you will need to use on a daily basis.
I was using my 3700x which I know for sure does 4.15ghz at 1.25 volts all-core loads, I put up my settings in the BIOS and the BIOS did not send in the right voltages to the CPU even after selecting the right LLC setting, usually when you set a specific V core on your BIOS.
The actual voltage supply to the CPU is lower than the one in the BIOS because of something known as V droop or voltage drop but here, it was not the case as the actual voltage supply to the CPU was almost 40 mill volts higher than required and this is with the strictest LLC setting of level 1, it’s easy bios fix and I hope NZXT looks into it.
I tried some RAM overclocking on this board and I used my T-Force Delta R 3200mhz 16GB kit and I was able to boot into windows and do a proper test run with 3600 MHz, this kit could be tuned further unfortunately, time was limited for our testing.
The overall process was very smooth without any hiccups, all of this helped me get a score of 4845 on Cinebench R20 which is in line with some other b550 and x570 boards I have tested, and I am not doing any thermal testing of the VRMs as my configuration is nowhere near the limits to push this VRM setup.
But from the other implementations of this configuration I have seen, I can safely say, it will even be fine for the 16 core monsters out there, NZXT has always been very proud of the NZXT cam software, it did have issues or some controversies from the past but, it has improved a lot.
It’s a lot lighter now and also very fast to load and operate, it’s a proper monitoring software so you get all the details of the hardware that you have installed on the board, you can also use it for overclocking but the overclocking is only limited to the GPU section.
There’s also an audio section that was not working on a better version but the future updates may have it figured out, there’s a very easy to use fan controller configuration and you can use the pre-configured profiles or you can create your own custom profile separately for each fan connector.
A Look at the Rear I/O
The lighting options are also plenty, you can create custom effects or use pre-built ones and you can customize every effect as desired you can also address each LED separately, and I think up to 40 LEDs are supported on all the headers.
While the effects are not the best that I have seen but the customizability and the flexibility is better than most of the brand’s RGB software, overall the NZXT cam software is not as bad as I thought, it has all the features that you would require from motherboard software and the effects are also decent
The main complaint people always had with NZXT cam is the privacy intrusion or the data collection it requires you to send your data, it collects your data which may or may not affect you depending on your thoughts about online privacy, but you can always turn it off because it’s an optional feature.
conclusion time, what about the NZXT N7 B550 should you buy it, should you consider it, well the answer is a little bit tricky because this motherboard cost $229.99 and at this price, this is one expensive B550 motherboard.
The main attraction of this board is the visual design and the aesthetics which I think stands out above the rest of its competition, apart from the basic design changes to the SSD covers and tighter voltage regulation in the BIOS, there’s not much wrong with the board.
But I still think, the software package on this board is not at the level that some other manufacturers provide, the price is high, there’s no denying it and this needs a price cut that’s the biggest con but I do understand, it’s a niche product and maybe some will call it a fanboy product but let’s say it’s a decent offering with aesthetics that will satisfy the target audience really well.
And you are not getting bad performance either if NZXT manages to provide timely updates for the board or lower the prices, this is a special recommendation from my side for the NZXT.
If you have any questions about the NZXT board then please do let me know in the comments.