AMD has announced its A520 motherboard chipset, found within a new affordable lineup of motherboards with the basics required to get AMD 3rd Gen Ryzen CPUs up to speed.
There are already a handful of motherboards ready to go with the new chipset. These include:
- ASRock A520M Pro4
- Asus TUF Gaming A520M-Plus
- Biostar A520MH
- Gigabyte A520 Aorus Elite
- MSI MAG A520M Vector Wi-Fi
So let's dive into how the A520 chipset differs from the B550 and X570 chipsets.
First off, A520 motherboards do not offer any PCIe 4.0 compatibility. Perhaps the headline feature of the mid- and high-end 500-series motherboards, PCIe 4.0 ports support greater bandwidth when paired with a compatible CPU—i.e. Ryzen 3000. The A520 motherboard lacks support for the latest PCIe 4.0 standard, which means your CPU won't be able to maximise the full bandwidth available to it. Instead both CPU and chipset will be limited to PCIe 3.0 speeds.
I wouldn't expect that to be a deal breaker for many, especially considering you'd need to throw down on a brand new and cutting-edge PCIe 4.0 SSD in order to make good use of the higher speeds—an unlikely pair with a budget board.
Similarly, AMD isn't offering any sort of overclocking on the A520—not a great loss for Zen 2 but worth considering if you are hoping to keep your chip going into old age.
Okay, so we've covered what the A520 chipset doesn't have, what are the positives?
For one, you'll receive support for far more USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports than with previous 400-series motherboards. The total USB port count hasn't increased over the A320 chipset of a few years back, but they're quicker, at least.
The A520 chipset is also guaranteed to work with both today's Ryzen 3000 chips and "future AMD Ryzen desktop processors with the 'Zen 3' architecture." That means, should you fancy an upgrade down the line, there's an easy upgrade path for you to take.
The A520 motherboard may be only a slight upgrade over those already in the market, but it at least brings the budget offering up to the modern day. What we want to know is whether these boards will be priced low enough to undercut 400-series boards, many of which support Ryzen 3000 CPUs and are easily found for cheap.
If you want to unlock the full potential of your Ryzen 3rd Gen chip, the best B550 motherboards for gaming are your best way in.
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Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would later go on to win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top team as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. He also enjoys making short videos for TikTok and believes everyone reading this should go follow our account immediately.