I have personally always been a fan of the minimalist style NZXT brings to the table. They deliver quality products that have a look all their own. Sadly, as a fan of AMD and what they have been doing with the Ryzen range of CPU’s I have not been able to jump onboard with their motherboards, at least until now. With the NZXT N7 B550, NZXT has delivered one of the more striking AMD motherboard options, and while it does lack some features more expensive boards offer, it stands as a fantastic entry point for new and experienced Ryzen PC builders.
Starting with how the N7 B550 looks, you will find the iconic NZXT style throughout with a simple matte black or white shroud aesthetic. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it gives the NZXT boards a unique style that few other brands can offer. Coming in both white and black, the N7 B550 will give any build a striking look that should go well with the companies own H Series cases that further bring forward the minimalist concept that many are a fan of.
This is not a board for people that want their system to light up in every possible way. NZXT have opted for a look that has little to no light, with any RGB or LED’s needing to come from external options. This is by no means a bad thing, the simple look the N7 B550 board offers makes it easy to add the lights that fit your style through any number of kits or even by selecting components that fit the desired concept. The N7 board does come with 4-pin RGB header and 3-pin aRGB header, and 4-pin NZXT, giving plenty of options to light your new build however you choose.
The N7 B550 will also work with most power supplies, offering an 8-pin and optional 4-pin lead to power the CPU. It also offers plenty of 4-pin fan headers, with seven of them scattered across the board for all the cooling you could ask for. The N7 B550 brings with it headers for NZXT products, giving plenty of options for how you want to deck out your new build, even if you don’t want to live in the NZXT ecosystem.
As this is a modern board, the N7 B550 has four DRAM slots, and supports up to 128GB RAM at speeds up to DDR4 4666. You will also find next to the DRAM slots a 24-pin ATX power connector, along with a front panel USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C Connector, that should be very helpful as more accessories use USB-C as a standard.
Along the bottom of the board you will find your front panel connectors, Realtek ALC1220 7.1 connector, along with USB 2.0 connectors. Due to the design, the N7 B550 will keep most mess hidden or at least out of the way, giving builds a clean, minimalistic feel. Even the six SATA connections along the right-hand side setup in a way that should keep the simple look that this board offers in full force.
“It allows for plenty of M.2 storage without clashing with the look or making things feel messy.”
Speaking of minimalistic, the N7 B550 also offers two full size M.2 sockets next to the PCIe 4.0 connectors on the board under metal shrouds. I am a fan of how easy these are to remove, and even through the testing of opening and closing these slots, they felt solid and should perform well in a build. It allows for plenty of M.2 storage without clashing with the look or making things feel messy.
The full size PICe 4.0 connectors give the options for graphics, and even a dual GPU system should you wish to go down that path. The board supports AMD Quad Crossfire X and Crossfire X (2-card) configurations. The board also has two 1X size PCIe connections for expansion cards and other IO that the board itself may not offer, such as capture or add in cards for storage.
On the M.2 front, the top slot delivers PCIe 4.0 x4 with support for drives up to 88mm long, with the second slot delivering PCIe 3.0 X2 support with the max size of 80mm. It should also be noted, that if you are using SATA M.2 cards in the slots, SATA ports 5 and 6 will be disabled.
The rear IO, while not the best I have seen, should be more than enough for most mid-range to high end builds. There are 10 USB ports, with four USB 3.2 Gen2 ports (3x Type-A, 1x Type-C), four USB 3.2 Gen1 ports and two USB 2.0 ports. If you are dropping an APU in the board, there is a HDMI 2.1 out for video. It also has a Bios flashback and Clear CMOS buttons at the top, with your standard array of 5 plug audio out along with a SPDIF audio stack at the bottom of the IO shield.
“NZXT has delivered one of the best B550 boards you can currently buy with the NZXT N7 B550.”
The NZXT N7 B550 also brings with it Wi-Fi 6E and a single 2.5 GbE port so connectivity on the board is as robust as you would hope from a new offering in 2021. This is also one of the few B550 boards that delivers Wi-Fi 6E, and for the price that is an amazing offering, especially as more routers are hitting the market that support it.
Once you get everything installed and working, you can jump into the BIOS to get a taste for what NZXT brings to the table. The minimalism seen on the overall design extends to the firmware, with NZXT delivering a simple black and purple interface that should allow easy access to all major settings on the board. It will also allow for overclocking, although for the process of this review, we have not tested these features at present.
Within around 5 minutes of turning the computer on, and looking over the menus, we were able to boot into windows to give the overall experience a test. NZXT have made the process painless, and this stands as a fantastic board for beginners thanks to the easy-to-tackle settings and overall setup, with more experienced builders finding enough to make a powerful gaming or editing rig with ease.
NZXT has delivered one of the best B550 boards you can currently buy with the NZXT N7 B550. While it is on the higher end of that chip range, they are bringing with it one of the more stylish and clean looking options, especially for builders that demand looks first and foremost. If money is no object, it could be worth investing in a X570 board, delivering an increase in PCIe lanes. But if you are like me, and you only ever plan to use one GPU and one PCIe 4.0 SSD, the stealthy look, Wi-Fi 6E and other features make the N7 B550 a fantastic option for AMD builders.