We’re taking a look at some affordable ways to build a system based on one of Intel’s 12th-gen CPUs. Motherboards based on Intel’s B660 chipset have landed, offering a drop in prize compared with Z690 motherboards, and they offer a range of features to suite various budgets.
Our motherboard test kit includes a Core i5-12600K, a GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition graphics card and either 16GB of 3466MHz Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro DDR4 RAM, or 32GB of 5200MHz DDR5 memory, as B660 boards support one or the other.
We also use Windows 11 installed on a WD Red SN750 SSD, along with a WD Black SN850 SSD to test the speed of M.2 ports. We use the latter to test heatsink performance, tapping into the SSD’s internal temperature sensor to see how well any M.2 heatsinks perform under load, using back-to-back runs of CrystalDiskMark’s entire battery of storage tests.
We use the latest BIOS version for each motherboard, and our motherboard test rigs are built on a Barrow Rhopilema test bench, using full custom water-cooling systems, including two 240mm radiators and a Laing DDC pump in order to eliminate any cooling bottlenecks.
We use RightMark’s Audio Analyzer software to measure the dynamic range, noise level and total harmonic distortion of the on-board audio. Other tests include our RealBench suite of application benchmarks, Far Cry 6, Cinebench R23’s single and multi-threaded tests and total system power consumption at stock speed. Our scores are based on a weighted calculation, which includes performance, features and value, with the overall score being the sum of those three values.
Here is the list of best b660 motherboard
- Asus Prime B660M-AD4
- Asus Prime B660-Plus D4
- Gigabyte B660 Aorus Master DDR4
- Gigabyte B660 Gaming X DDR4
- MSI MAG B660 Tomahawk WiFi
- MSI MAG B660M Bazooka DDR4
1. Asus Prime B660M-AD4
As one of Asus’ cheapest LGA1700 offerings for Intel’s 12th-gen CPUs, the Prime B660M-A D4 has clearly had to cut a few corners to nip under the $150 barrier. For starters, only half of the usual area of VRMs is equipped with a heatsink, and the slab of aluminium that sits on top of the uppermost M.2 port is rather thin too. We measured a peak M.2 temperature of 66°C with our PCI-E 4 SSD under this heatsink, which was the highest on test, although admittedly only a degree or two higher than the Gigabyte B660 Gaming X DDR4 and MSI MAG B660M Bazooka DDR4.
Asus doesn’t mention the power phases, but there appear to be at least eight in total. Annoyingly, though, neither of Asus’ motherboards had VRM temperature sensors that our software could read, unlike all the other boards on test. The Prime B660M-A D4 had a peak VRM temperature of 60°C on the areas we could measure with our IR laser probe, which was reasonably high, although we measured the other motherboards slightly differently using software.
As its name suggests, the Prime B660M-A D4 supports DDR4 rather than DDR5 memory, which is sensible at this price, but while PCI-E 5 support doesn’t make an appearance, both the main 16x PCI-E slot and both M.2 ports support PCI-E 4 devices. Disappointingly, there are also only four 4-pin fan headers to power your cooling equipment, though. What’s more, while the Realtek ALC897 audio codec is adequate, it’s quite dated now.
The rear I/O panel is equally sparse, with just six USB ports and no Wi-Fi included and no optical output for the audio. There’s no USB Type-C port here either, but there is at least a Type-C header on the PCB to connect to your case if your chassis has a Type-C port on the front panel. You only get Gigabit Ethernet too, which is still fine for most networking kit at the moment, but isn’t really future proof – the MSI MAG B660 Bazooka also offers 2.5 Gigabit networking (plus better looks) for just $10 more.
Thankfully, in the performance tests, the Prime B660M-A D4 handled every test we threw at it with our Core i5-12600K installed. The system score of 147,589 was on par with the rest of the field, with only a slightly slow Cinebench R23 single-threaded score raising any eyebrows. The audio performance was typical of the ALC897 codec, outputting a dynamic range of 95dBA, for example, but only the much more expensive MSI MAG B660 Tomahawk WiFi fared much better here.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Asus Prime B660M-A D4 – it has a reasonable price tag and will make an excellent home for a non K-edition 12th-gen Intel CPU. However, its lacking in terms of features and aesthetics compared with the competition. Its skinny in both these areas, and we’d definitely pick the MSI MAG B660 Bazooka over it for those reasons.
Prices of B660 boards have been fluctuating a lot, though, so if you find the Prime B660M-A D4 for a tenner or two less than this price, then it will make for a decent cut-price motherboard. Its plenty quick enough – its just basic.
2. Asus Prime B660-Plus D4
With a significantly higher price tag than its micro-ATX sibling, the Asus Prime B660-Plus D4 needs to offer noticeably more to justify its extra outlay, but at first glance, the boards appear to be very similar. There are the same eight power stages, along with a slightly bland design and no Wi-Fi included. The latter feels particularly tight on a board that costs nearly $200 It doesn’t even include an integrated I/O shield.
Thankfully, on closer inspection, you do get a few extra bits and pieces. Both banks of VRMs are now heatsink-equipped, unlike the micro-ATX board, although temperatures were similar to its sister board at 58°C. There’s an extra fan header as well, although the total here still stands at a paltry five. There’s also a Type-C USB port on the rear I/O panel, 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet instead of Gigabit and, while it lacks Wi-Fi, it does at least include a shortened M.2 port to drop a cheap M.2 Wi-Fi card into the board instead of dealing with dongles or PCI-E cards.
This is just as well as the amount of USB ports on the I/O panel is even worse than the line-up on the cheaper Asus board, with just five Type-A ports included, with a USB Type-C port occupying the place of the sixth port on the cheaper Prime B660M-A D4. The single M.2 heatsink is identical to that of the cheaper board too, so it was no surprise to see the same slightly toasty 66°C, which won’t leave much room for throttling in a stuffy case on a warm day for extended heavy loads.
The on-board Realtek ALC897 audio is also fairly basic and lacks the full complement of ports, with just three standard 3.5mm mini jacks, while the number of SATA 6Gbps ports sits at the bare minimum of four. The only real stand-out item is the trio of M.2 PCI-E 4 ports.
On the plus side, Asus’ EFI and software are thankfully the best out there, with a particularly useful fan control suite in the EFI and Windows-based FanXpert2+ software. It’s a shame, then, that the board’s cooling credentials sit at a bare minimum despite this board costing nearly $200.
Again, though, we can’t really fault the Asus in our performance benchmarks, with the system score of 148,070 being similar to the rest of the field, as were the Cinebench R23 scores and audio performance. The Far Cry 6 frame rates were a frame per second or two lower than the competition, but this is a small difference. Likewise, the Asus had some of the higher power draw readings on test too, but the difference between other boards was only in single figures.
Once again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the Asus Prime B660-Plus D4, but we were expecting more for another $40 or so compared to the cheaper Asus Prime B660M-AD4.
Its mostly just as bland and unexciting, with just a few extra features to justify the higher price tag. The Gigabyte B660 Gaming X DDR4 looks far more attractive, has more fan headers and more USB ports, so we suggest saving some cash and going for that board instead.
3. Gigabyte B660 Aorus Master DDR4
A quick scan of popular retailers reveals quite a few Z690 motherboards available for under $200, so spending $220 on a B660 board that lacks multiplier overclocking for Intel’s K-series CPUs might seem like a strange decision. Put simply, the Gigabyte B660 Aorus Master DDR4, which is also available in a DDR5 flavour, is for people who want all the extra features you get with a premium board, but have no intention of overclocking their hardware.
This makes sense, especially as the Z690 version of this board costs twice as much. You get an impressive count of eight fan headers, 802.11ax W-Fi, 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet and three M.2 ports covered by heatsinks. The latter helped the Aorus Master to get the second lowest M.2 temperature when stress-testing our PCI-E 4 SSD of 58°C, while its large VRM heatsinks helped to cool the 18-stage power delivery to 45°C, which was the lowest result on test. That bodes well for coping with a Core i7-127OO or Core i9-12900.
The rear I/O panel was night and day compared with the Asus B660-Plus D4 as well, with it including the Wi-Fi antenna outputs, nine USB Type-A ports, the full complement of audio outputs and even QFlash Plus – Gigabyte’s USB BIOS FlashBack. You’ll need to look elsewhere if you need more than four SATA ports, but this is enough for most people these days, especially if you’ll be investing in an M.2 SSD and just need those ports for mass storage.
The lavish features continue with an on-board reset button and temperature sensors too, which can be handy for water- cooled systems, although admittedly that s an unlikely scenario given that potential owners won’t be overclocking. Aesthetically, it looks fantastic too and its hard to believe it costs just $30 more than the decidedly bland Asus B660-PlusD4.
Despite the board featuring RGB lighting and more gubbins than most other boards on test, it also had the lowest power draw, with our system sipping 192 W from the wall under load and just 61W at idle with our Core i5-12600K. Performance numbers were on the money across the spectrum too. We were a bit disappointed with the audio performance though – despite the board sporting the reasonably premium Realtek ALC1220 codec, it could only offer a dynamic range of 93dBA and noise level of -93dBA.
Fora motherboard, $220 is a lot to spend, especially one that lacks the ability to overclock K-series CPUs using their multipliers. However, not everyone wants to overclock, and the likes of the Core i9-12900K and Core I7-12700K have limited overclocking headroom anyway.
Also, the typical non-Z-series motherboards are often rather lack lustre products devoid of any premium or exciting extras.
This is where the Gigabyte B660 Aorus Master DDR4 steps in. You get enough fan headers, USB ports, cooling headroom, heatsinks and networking hardware to cater for a modern high-end system, but for significantly less money than a premium Z690 board. Thunderbolt 4 support would have been welcome too, but for its price, the B660 Aorus Master wants for very little.
Ideal for a high-end PC if you don’t plan to overclock your CPU.
4. Gigabyte B660 Gaming X DDR4
We felt sure that spending under $150 on a B660 motherboard wouldn’t always have to land you with a bland and uninspiring board, so we hoped that Gigabyte might have the answer with the B660 Gaming X DDR4. First up, it looks great and costs just $133, which means two very important boxes are ticked in our search for the ideal affordable LGA1700 board.
Unlike the Asus B660M-A D4 Prime, it has full VRM heatsink coverage and doesn’t look half-bare as a result, and it has a much more substantial M.2 heatsink as well. However, this didn’t prove to be as effective as that on the Gigabyte B660 Aorus Master DDR4, with a peak temperature of 65°C when cooling our PCI-E 4 SSD. This will only be an issue if you plan to throw hundreds of gigabytes at a very fast SSD on a regular basis though.
The VRM temperatures were also warmer than the rest of the field at 60°C, which was 15°C warmer than those on the Gigabyte B660 Aorus Master DDR4. They’re still well away from causing any sort of throttling, but the MSI MAG B660M Bazooka DDR4 was noticeably cooler here, even if this won’t amount to much of a difference in reality. Underneath the heatsinks sits a 10-phase power delivery system made up of 60 A phases.
Not surprisingly, there’s no Wi-Fi at this price, but you do at least get 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, and Gigabyte has even managed to include eight USB ports and six fan headers, which is more than you get from the pricier Asus B660-Plus D4. You get all six of the usual audio ports and an integrated I/O shield as well, which is absent from both Asus boards, plus there’s even a reset button.
Of course, hoping for advanced testing tools is asking too much at $133, as is expecting more than four SATA 6Gbps ports, but Gigabyte has struck a decent balance. Thankfully, the performance numbers were also on par too, with the Gigabyte’s RealBench system score of 149,867 being level with the rest of the field. Meanwhile, the respective Cinebench single and multi-threaded results of 1,875 and 17,177 were within a few points of the Gigabyte B660 Aorus Master DDR4.
The only slight negative point is above average total system power consumption at 205W under load, but this was only 13 W more than the lowest figure produced by the Gigabyte B660 Aorus Master DDR4. Audio performance was also mediocre, but was actually slightly better than its sibling and on par with the majority of other boards. Finally, Gigabyte’s software and EFI is also decent, even if they’re a little less slick than the best examples on test.
Its not perfect, but the Gigabyte B660 Gaming X DDR4 strikes a great balance between aesthetics, features and price with which other manufacturers struggled in our sample set. It lacks Wi-Fi, and its VRM and M.2 SSD temperatures weren’t the lowest on test, but these factors won’t impact on performance, especially when it comes to the VRMs, as overclocking isn’t an option anyway. It even has more fan headers and USB ports than more expensive boards, and these are the aspects that really matter at this price.
A well-rounded board with plenty of features for a super-low price tag.
5. MSI MAG B660 Tomahawk WiFi
Another pricey option for Intel’s B660 chipset is MSI’s MAG B660 Tomahawk WiFi, which is available in several guises, including versions with either DDR4 or DDR5 memory support. MSI sent us the latter, which is around $30 more expensive than the DDR4 version.
That’s worth bearing in mind, as any conclusions we draw here would likely be bolstered by a lower price tag, given that DDR5 offers little benefits for most people. In fact, including it on a B660 board at all is a questionable decision.
The board itself offers 14 power phases cooled by two large heatsinks. With a super low VRM load temperature of just 48°C, the MAG B660 Tomahawk WiFi is a perfect home for one of Intel’s high-end 12th-gen CPUs. All three of the M.2 ports are also covered by large heatsinks, which did a great job of cooling our PCI-E 4 SSD, with a temperature of just 55°C, which was the lowest result on test.
As its name suggests, you also get 802.11ax Wi-Fi, which is in addition to a single Realtek 2.5 Gigabit LAN port. Ifyou wanttokit your system out with fans, then the seven fan headers will also come in handy, although we recommend using the excellent fan control suite in the EFI rather than MSI’s poor Windows software. The Tomahawk is also the only board on test to include six SATA ports, so if you’ll be building a system with a stack of hard disks to transplant, the MAG B660 is a good option.
Meanwhile, you’ll find USB Type-C support both on the rear I/O panel and in the form of a header on the PCB for compatible cases, but you still get a generous count of eight Type-A USB ports as well. MSI has included the Realtek ALC1220 audio codec as well, and you get the full complement of audio outputs, including an optical S/PDIF output.
Audio performance was the best on test, with the Tomahawk being the only board to get to a dynamic range of 100dBA, with a noise level of 99dBA, although its total harmonic distortion (THD) was higher than the rest of the field. In power consumption, our system setup with the Tomahawk drew nearly 10W more than it did with the Gigabyte B660 Aorus Master DDR4 under load, but this is only a small difference.
Performance elsewhere was mostly indistinguishable from the rest of the field, except for some slightly lower M.2 speeds. Even here, though, the differences were small and pale in comparison with the board’s very low VRM and M.2 temperatures.
MSI’s Tomahawk range has a reputation for being value-conscious, but not skimping on features, and punching above its weight. It certainly offers a generous set of features, but this is marred by the fact that this DDR5 version doesn’t quite match the Gigabyte B660 Aorus Master DDR4 in terms of specification. Had MSI sent us the DDR4 version, the situation could be very different – it’s $30 cheaper and gets all the above for just $190, albeit with DDR4 support, and would be a much better deal indeed.
A great board for the cash, but go for the DDR4 version.
6. MSI MAG B660M Bazooka DDR4
Going with a color as a motherboard theme is always a risky move, but with a name such as Bazooka, an army green seems apt. In real life, the board is actually much darker than the photo, but it looks very attractive and it certainly has a more striking appearance than the bland Asus B660M-A D4 Prime. At $150, though, it’s the pricier of the three least expensive boards, and with the Gigabyte B660 Gaming X DDR4 retailing $18 less, the MSI MAG B660M Bazooka DDR4 has its work cutout.
Being a micro-ATX board, there’s less PCB real estate on offer than an ATX board for starters, but you still get two PCI-E 4 M.2 ports, plus a trio of PCI-E slots with the top one offering PCI-E 4 support. There’s also a decent array of heatsinks for the top M.2 port and both banks of VRMs, which sit at a total of 14 phases.
According to the software we used, the VRMs hit 50°C under load, which was on the cooler side of the results from the test. However, the opposite was true for the MSI’s tiny M.2 heatsink, with our M.2 SSD temperature sitting just a couple of degrees from the hottest result on test, although that’s still a good 10-15°C away from potentially resulting in throttling.
You don’t get Wi-Fi with the Bazooka, but unlike the Asus B660M-A D4 Prime, you do get an integrated I/O shield. The I/O panel is rather spartan, though, with six USB ports, just three 3.5mm mini-jacks for audio and no USB Type-C port. You do at least get 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, and should you wish to use your 12th-gen CPU’s on-board graphics, there are HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 outputs too.
Still, the feature set is lacking compared with that of the Gigabyte B660 Gaming X DDR4, which has more USB and audio ports and two extra fan headers, while costing less money. There isn’t much else to write home about that would persuade you to get the Bazooka over the Gigabyte board either. You get a Type-C header and four SATA 6Gbps ports, which is line with most of the other boards on test. While Arnold Schwarzenegger would approve of the name and color scheme, you’re clearly paying a premium for it.
There was no miraculous turnaround in the benchmarks either, with no results that stood out from the crowd, but equally nothing of concern either. The RealBench system score of 149,555 was similar to the rest of the field, as was the minimum 99th percentile frame rate of 81fps in Far Cry 6, while it topped the rest of the field by 100 points or so in the Cinebench multi-threaded test. Sadly, even that wasn’t anything to get excited about.
If you want a green-themed motherboard, or are otherwise taken in by the MSI MAG B660M Bazooka DDR4’s design, then it’s a solid effort with a reasonable amount of features for the cash. It’s also a much better bet than the Asus B660M-A D4 Prime. However, if you can house a larger ATX motherboard, the Gigabyte B660 Gaming X DDR4 is better in nearly every way, and it costs less money too.
An attractive micro-ATX B660 board, but it doesn’t offer quite as good value as the ATX competition.