MSI B450 Tomahawk Review – Abstract review

MSI B450 Tomahawk

AMD recently launched the B450 chipset for their new Ryzen 2 CPUs which gives us a nice option under the X470 motherboards. For my first B450 board we’ll be taking a look at the MSI B450 Tomahawk and seeing what features it’s got to offer.

Why you should choose the MSI B450 Tomahawk for your Ryzen 3000 processor

The Simplistic Design

The ATX board has a nice clean black and grey metallic color scheme, nothing flashy going on here. There is some RGB lighting toward the top right-hand side, and this can be controlled using MSI’s light sync software. In total there are about 10 different built-in effects, but you can always turn it off if you don’t like it.

Starting with the IO from left to right there’s a BIOS flashback button, your classic PS/2 port, two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, DVI-D and HDMI 1.4 outputs which are only usable if you’re using an APU with Vega graphics, two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, gigabit Ethernet port, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A and Type-C ports, followed by the audio ports using Realtek ALC892.

There’s also this black and white IO shield included. At the center of the board is the AM4 socket, which supports both AMD’s new Ryzen 2 CPUs but is also compatible with the first generation, and for my testing, I’m using the Ryzen 7 2700 CPU with the stock cooler. Next to the socket are the four memory slots which run in dual-channel, and can support up to 64GB of memory at DDR4-2666 speeds.

In my system, I’m just running two 8GB sticks as it’s what I’ve got available, and with overclocking, you can run up to DDR4-3466. I’ve heard that with the second generation of Ryzen memory support has improved, so compared to say B350 you should have better luck with memory overclocking, but as mentioned I don’t have any exciting memory so wasn’t able to test that out.

Extensive Connectivity

The PCIe slots from the top down, there’s a PCIe 3.0 slot with x16 speed, although if you’re using Vega graphics from an APU, you’re looking at x8 speed, and this top slot is also reinforced with metal. The rest of the slots are all PCIe 2.0, and we’ve got three x1 slots and another x16 slot although it’s only wired for x4 speed, giving us support for two way crossfire, no mention of SLI though.

Just above the PCIe slots is the single M.2 slot, which is another change from the B350 version which had it covered by a graphics card in the top PCIe slot. It uses four lanes of PCIe 3 and supports drives of these lengths. It’s important to note that if you use this M.2 slot, then the two SATA connectors on the right will not be usable.

Along the top, there’s an 8 pin power connector, CPU fan and RGB header. Along the right-hand side, there are 4 SATA 3 connectors, fan header, 24 pin power connector, followed by another fan and pump header. Finally, along the bottom there’s the front panel audio, second RGB header, another fan header, TPM connector, two USB 2.0 connectors followed by a single USB 3 connector. The B350 model did have two of these so not sure why they needed to step down to one, and then two more SATA 3 connectors for a total of 6.

Fast and easy to use with Ryzen 3000

Using the SATA ports there’s support for RAID 0, 1 and 10, and you can also use AMD’s Store MI with the board, which uses an SSD to cache frequently accessed items from a hard drive, resulting in faster overall performance. Finally, for the last of the I/O, there’s also a 6th fan header just above the M.2 slot. To boot into the BIOS simply press the delete key during boot.

 I found it fairly easy to navigate through and make changes. I had no issues while updating to the latest version noted here which is what I was testing with, and that sums up my experience with the board, everything just worked for me as expected with no issues. The BIOS can be upgraded easily by copying the update files onto a USB stick, plugging in and pressing the BIOS flashback button on the back of the board, it just takes a few minutes to complete.

This feature wasn’t present in the B350 model and gives us the ability to easily upgrade the board, which is useful given the AM4 socket will be supported for a long time. So, when new CPUs come out, you won’t have any issues if you buy the board with say 3rd generation Ryzen in the future. The B450 also gives you the option of overclocking, in my testing I was able to easily get my 2700 to 4GHz on all cores.

We’ve got 4+2 VRMs here, and I wasn’t able to measure temperatures with Hardware Info because there didn’t seem to be a temperature sensor for the VRM. Here’s what the heatsink areas look like at idle using a thermal camera, around the mid-20s, then with the overclock applied under stress test this area went up by 20 degrees after an hour.

Final Words

We reviewed some other good B450 motherboards, you can check them out if you want to explore more options.. As for the pricing the MSI B450 Tomahawk motherboard is going for around $110, you can check updated pricing here. There are both cheaper and more expensive B450 boards, but overall I think this one is offering pretty good value for the features and you should be fine running any Ryzen 2 CPU even while overclocked here.

It’s got decent features for the price, and I think it’s got a nice clean look without being too flashy. Let me know what you guys thought down in the comments. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to bookmark us for future tech articles like this one.

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