In the middle of 2019, MSI announced new motherboards that differ only slightly from some previous models. To enable greater compatibility with the various AMD Ryzen processors, the boards have been given a larger BIOS chip. The boards can be recognized by the addition “Max”. As an example, the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max had to compete with the AMD Ryzen 3700X. Can it keep up with the X570 boards?
The manufacturer guarantees that the AMD Zen 2 CPU can run directly on the motherboard. The larger BIOS chip enables compatibility with Ryzen generations 1 to 3 as well as all AMD APUs with Vega graphics. The AMD A processors (Bristol Ridge) are excluded. Apart from the BIOS chip, there are no or hardly any differences to the MSI B450 Tomahawk. Although this can also deal with the new CPUs, you lose the Click Bios 5 surface with the necessary BIOS update. That’s just not the case with the Tomahawk Max.
Another small difference is that the cooler on the Max-Board has been repainted. Instead of silver-gray, they are now black. Compared to the MSI B350 Tomahawk, a lot has changed both optically and technically. For example, there are no more PCI slots and the arrangement of the slots has changed compared to the B350 Tomahawk Plus. Also, the coolers of the voltage converters have been enlarged.
Before taking a closer look at the circuit board, the specifications should be briefly reviewed. Since it is a B450 board, the Tomahawk Max is of course subject to the capabilities of the older chipset. That means z. B. that less “fast” PCIe lanes are available. The result here is that only one M.2 slot is offered, which is connected to the CPU via four PCIe 3.0 lanes. Alternatively, you can also install a SATA SSD here. The data carrier section is supplemented by six SATA sockets. The other PCIe slots are only connected to the chipset with 2.0 lanes because it is no longer available. Overall, the favorable course of the board is also noticeable in the network and audio expansion. The NIC is from Realtek (8111H), there is no WLAN (also no direct preparation) and the weaker ALC892 is used for the audio codec. Everything else is recorded in the following table, but will also be discussed in more detail.
|The mainboard at a glance|
|designation||MSI B450 Tomahawk Max|
|price||~ 100 EUR|
|Chipset key data|
|Chipset||AMD B450 chipset|
|Memory banks and type||4x DDR4 up to 4133 MHz (OC) – Dual Channel|
|Random Access Memory (RAM)||max. 64 GB|
|SLI / CrossFire||– / 2-way|
|Phases||6 (4 CPU + 2 SoC)|
|Power connections|| 1x 8-PIN
1x 24-PIN ATX
|Features key facts|
|PCI-Express|| 2x PCIe 3.0 x16
1x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 lanes)
3x PCIe 2.0 x1
|Serial ATA and M.2|| 6x SATA 6G
1x M.2 PCIe x4 Gen 3.0 / SATA3 – 2242/2260/2280/22110
|RAID||RAID 0, 1, 10 (SATA)|
|USB|| 2x USB 3.1 Gen2 (2x I / O panels; Type-C + Type-A)
4x USB 3.1 Gen1 (2x I / O panels; 2x via front header)
6x USB 2.0 (2x I / O panels; 4x via front header )
|Graphic interfaces|| 1x HDMI
|LAN||1x Gb LAN (Realtek 8111H)|
|WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS||–|
|Audio|| Realtek ALC892
6x analog-out (3.5mm jack)
|Fan header||6x 4-pin (PWM / DC)|
|lighting|| 1 zone (rear right edge)
2x 4-pin; 12V
|Others||supports AMD Ryzen 1 to 3 and all APUs with Vega graphics
Steel Armor PCIe slot
USB Bios Flashback function
EZ Debug LEDs
Game Boost (automatic overclocking)
|scope of delivery|| Mainboard
Quick Installation Guide
I / O
Cover SATA 6G Cable x2
Product Registration Card
M.2 Screw x1
MSI speaks of “extend” when it comes to the cooler design. This also applies to the left cooler, which is responsible for the CPU phases. Overall, this is also very reminiscent of the MSI B450M Mortar, except that the color has been changed. The chipset cooler is also similar to that of the B450M Mortar, if not identical. If you add the MSI B350 Tomahawk for comparison, it is significantly less bulky. Since the cooler weighs less, it has also developed from a screw connection back to push pins. This is theoretically sufficient, but it just looks cheaper.
It should be more important that the VRM cooler of the CPU phases on the Tomahawk (Max) is almost twice as heavy as on the B350 Tomahawk (~ 65g vs ~ 115g). This should significantly delay the heating. The power supply itself consists of six phases. These are addressed by the Richtek RT8894A, with four phases for the CPU and two for the SoC. Each phase is composed of two 4C029N high-side MOSFETs and two 4C024N low-side MOSFETS. No doublers are used, so both pairs are addressed identically, so the board is actually quite well positioned and competes with simple X470 boards. The use of an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X with “only” 65W TDP should therefore not cause any problems and the larger CPUs should theoretically not cause any complications. The temperature test should provide clarity here later.
As mentioned, the AMD B450 naturally has limitations in the I / O configuration compared to the new AMD X570. This is of course particularly noticeable with the PCIe slots. With 3.0 lanes, only the upper x16 slot is used here. The lower one is only mechanically an x16 slot and is actually only connected with four 2.0 lanes. The three PCIe x1 slots are also addressed with the slower standard and even share the connection with the longer slot. Fast expansion cards like MSI M.2 Xpander Aero cannot be used here or their usefulness is questionable. However, WLAN adapters with WiFi 6 would not run into bottlenecks here and even current, internal sound cards actually only need an x1 slot, whereby the speed does not play a role.
The lack of fast data lines also means that the Tomahawk only has one M.2 slot. This can be equipped with SSDs from 42mm to 110mm in length and is fired directly by the CPU. With all Ryzen CPUs, the maximum is four 3.0 lanes, with all Ryzen APUs two 3.0 lanes. PCIe 4.0 does not play a role here either with the Zen 2 CPU. The M.2 slot can also be equipped with a SATA SSD, but this sacrifices two of the six SATA3 sockets, which are located on the right and at the bottom of the board. The advantage over the B350 chipset is that you can also use StoreMI directly here.
The audio expansion is rather spartan. The older Realtek ALC892 codec is paired with four audio capacitors. At least one has decoupled the area on the PCB from the rest. It won’t be an audiophile, however, but with simple headsets the set-up is adequate. Alternatively, you can simply use a gaming headset with a USB DAC. We have already tested a few of them. The austerity course was certainly taken here to keep the overall price at a good level. Also, the more expensive boards have to be able to set themselves apart at some points (…)
At least the sounds are released via the (subjectively) better metal jack connections, but Toslink is searched in vain. Overall, the back panel is also rather spartan. Two USB 2.0, 3.2 Gen and 3.2 Gen2 are available, one of which comes as Type-C. There is also a DVI-D and an HDMI output, the latter also making the 2.0 standard possible with Ryzen APU. There would theoretically be space for more USB ports. However, all USB connections are actually used by the chipset and Ryzen CPU. The fact that the newer Ryzen 3000 processors could theoretically provide more connections plays less of a role here, as these would then lie idle with a Ryzen 1000 or 2000 CPU. Here, the manufacturer, so to speak, bypasses user complaints about non-functioning ports. Do you need something more?
The I / O configuration of the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max
Due to the different Ryzen types, there are the usual differences in connection with the first PCIe slot (PCIE_E1). But that has nothing to do with the board. Only the first slot is affected by this, as the others are attached to the chipset. There is a maximum of PCI-Express 2.0. So-called lane sharing is also used. The second mechanical PCIe x16 slot can only be addressed with its full four lanes if the top two x1 slots remain unoccupied. If one of the two is optionally equipped, only two lanes remain for the PCIE_E4 slot. The lowest x1 slot is always addressable. The M.2 socket and SATA 5 & 6 have further divisions. If the M.2 slot is used, the SATA connections are deactivated. It has to do with the that the manufacturer uses the CPU option here. It would have been nicer if this fact had been made optically clearer by separating the affected SATA ports.
Internal connections at a glance
The internal connections of the board are sensibly divided. This applies above all to the fan connections, which can be found in all important areas. But there is still criticism of this. MSI still does not give a specification for the connections. It is therefore not known how much electricity one can trust them. As a precaution, a maximum of 1A should always be calculated here. The fact that there is no USB-C header is bearable. The B450 couldn’t provide another one anyway, which is why an additional chip would have to be used, which in turn would be reflected in the price. Also due to the B450, there is only one USB 3.1 Gen1 header. No problem for most cases, since there are usually only two connections on the front panel. However, the position of the connector is not the most optimal. The associated cable can usually be laid more beautifully if the header is angled on the right edge. The two RGB headers only address analog RGB LEDs (12V, 4-pin). The manufacturer speaks of 2m long strips per header, which is a bit generalized, as the density of the diodes is different. More important is the reference to 3A per header.
Overview of the test system
For the tests of the boards with the AMD X570 chipset, we decided on a slightly different approach. The system is installed in the NZXT H710 instead of on a bench table. The reason for this is that we can control the behavior of the installed fans more realistically. The NZXT E850 with CAM support is also used as the power supply unit, as this allows direct control of consumption. An AMD Ryzen 7 3700X (Retail) is used, which is supposed to clock at up to 4.4 GHz in series production. The NZXT Kraken X62 with a 280mm radiator should ensure that this is achieved. So that you can understand the overclockability in terms of RAM, the Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4-3200 CL14 is used, which reached 4600 MHzon the ASUS ROG Maximus XI Gene, so it allows a certain margin.
Very fast representatives of the respective guild are also used for the drives. The system is based on the Patriot Viper VPN100 1TB (PCIe 3.0 x4). It is accompanied by the Corsair MP600 with also 1TB (PCIe 4.0 x4) to test the higher bandwidth. The Corsair Voyager GTX with 128GB and the Sandisk Extreme 900 Portable with 480GB is still used on the external connections.
AMD AM4 test system
|Processor:||AMD Ryzen R7 3700X (Retail)|
|Mainboard:||MSI B450 Tomahawk Max (Bios 3.4)|
|Cooling:||NZXT Kraken X62|
|RAM :||Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 2x 8GB|
|Storage :||Patriot Viper VP100 1TB (PCIe 3.0 x4)|
|Power supply :||NZXT E850 (850W)|
|Graphics card :||MSI GTX 970 Gaming OC|
|Operating system:||Windows 10 x64 (1903)|
The Bios 3.40, which contains Agesa 22.214.171.124b, was already installed. At the time of the test, only a beta version of the BIOS was available.
There were no problems with the assembly. Actually, all connections are easily accessible. Nevertheless, it is advisable to plug the EPS connector into the housing before installing it on this mainboard. Depending on the cooler, the act could be complicated due to the surrounding coolers.
The lighting of the board itself is dealt with quickly. Eight addressable RGB LEDs are soldered onto the back on the right edge from the top to about the first PCIe slot. These provide a little bit of ambient lighting. You could say “all or nothing” here because effective lighting looks different. The popularity of the MSI MEG X570 Unify shows that the community likes to do without onboard lighting completely. If MSI didn’t donate any lighting to the next Tomahawk, only a few would be angry with it. Also, the lighting could be expanded with the RGB header, but this only addresses “analog” LEDs.
Since it is basically an older mainboard, the older Command Center is used with the B450 Tomahawk Max instead of the newer Dragon Center such as the MSI MEG X570 ACE. It doesn’t really need a lot of words here, as we have already examined the software on countless boards of the manufacturer (e.g. MSI B450M Mortar ). The surface remains identical. So you can configure the individual fan channels, monitor all possible system parameters, and also activate the Game Boost.
There is no summary of all software on the board in one interface, but the MSI App Manager offers a list and quick access to it. If you haven’t installed everything, you can quickly do it here, as you can see below. However, MSI Mystic Light is missing here, which should otherwise also be displayed here.
The sound is also left out in the App Manager. Settings can be made in the Realtek Audio Console, although the scope is very poor. There is no equalizer and the amplifier is not matched to the impedance of the headphones. Nahimic 3, which can be used with the manufacturer’s higher-priced boards (e.g. MSI MEG X399 Creation ), offers significantly more setting options here.
The gaming app actually only offers the option to select one of three profiles, which should affect the entire system. For example, the fans are addressed differently, but the picture is also changed. You can also do this manually with Eye Rest.
Mystic Light is the manufacturer’s RGB software. The header and onboard lighting of the board can be configured here. where the headers do not act separately from the rest. If you have other RGB components (e.g. Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB or XPG Spectrix S40G ), these can also appear here.
The UEFI BIOS
Due to the larger BIOS chip, the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max offers the usual interface and still supports all Ryzen CPUs and Athlon APUs with Vega-IGP. This is not the case with the non-Max. Overall, you get the familiar surface, as you can find it on the X470 (Max) and X570 mainboards. The homepage has no surprises in store. In contrast to the newer MSI MEG X570 ACE, you cannot deactivate the lighting in the BIOS, for example. What you can find out here under “Help” is that the Game Boost enables the base clock to be increased by 600MHz, i.e. to 4.2 GHz for the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X.
The following benchmarks are intended to compare the basic performance of the boards with one another. Before the benchmarks, a fresh operating system was always set up for the respective mainboard and all settings, except for the memory setting, were set to AUTO or left as they were. The Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 2x 8GB DDR4-3200 CL14 was operated with its XMP.
The benchmarks are always available in the following versions:
- Cinebench R15-15.038
- Cinebench R20-20.060
- SuperPi – Mod 1.5 XS
- PCMark8 – 10/2/901
- PCMark10 -1.1.1739
- 3DMark – 2.9.6631
- AIDA64 Extreme – 6.00.5100
Data carrier interface benchmarks
Even if the AMD Matisse CPU (3rd Ryzen generation) cannot use its PCIe Gen4 lanes here, the adapted scenario was used. The Samsung 860 Evo had to give way to the Patriot Viper VPN100 1TB as a system drive. The Corsair MP600 1TB lingers in its packaging this time, as PCIe Gen4 is not an issue with the B450 Tomahawk Max. The external connections are still checked with the Sandisk Extreme 900 Portable 480GB and Corsair Voyager GTX 128GB. Since the test system is installed in the NZXT H710, the Type-C header can also be tested, if available. The benchmarks were used in the following version and test section:
- CrystalDiskMark 6.0.2. – Seq Q32T1
- AS SSD Benchmark 2.0.6821.41776 – Seq
Since the system is operated using the NZXT E850, the energy supply can also be controlled internally. The power supply allows, among other things, to read the 12V rail of the CPU, so that the energy consumption of the processor can be estimated more precisely. Also, the total energy consumption can be read out using the NZXT CAM software. The power consumption of the overall system is also used as a check determined using the Voltcraft Energy Logger 4000. The three measurement methods were used in three situations: While Windows 10 is operating in idle mode, in the Cinebench R15 single-core benchmark, and the Cinebench R15 multi-core benchmark.
The more opulent a mainboard is equipped, the higher the power consumption. The MSI B450 Tomahawk Max can be seen as rather simple, so that overall low rates were expected, at least in terms of overall power consumption. Another advantage is that the B450 chipset requires less power than the X570. This can be seen in the overall measurements in idle, both of which are lower, even though the CPU apparently even approves more than with the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming-ITX / TB3 and MSI MEG X570 ACE.
When loading a core, the board is also more economical. Although the CPU needs a little more juice here too, it is enough for first place in the overall measurements. The fact that the CPU demands a bit more power here could also be due to the voltage phases, which tend to be of higher quality or work more efficiently on the two X570s.
Note: Achieved values are not generally valid. Possible clock rates and set voltages vary between CPUs, mainboards, and power supplies. The following representations are only to be understood as guidelines. Overclocking is done at your own risk and we accept no liability for any damage caused.
PBO – Precision Boost Overdrive
The Precision Boost Overdrive can be set to different levels on the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max. You can switch the machine on or off and choose between four performance-enhancing levels. There is also an energy-saving mode. All of these options set a power limit, so to speak, which either unleashes or slows down the CPU. In the following, you can see this clearly based on the series status (Auto) as well as Enable and the Eco mode.
|PBO mode||CB R15 Multi
|CB R15 multi
power consumption CPU
|CB R20 Multi
|CB R20 Multi
power consumption CPU
|automobile||2105 points||87 W||4815 points||88 W|
|Enable||2172 points||112 W.||4967 points||117 W|
|Eco 45W||1889 points||56 W||4368 points||56 W|
If you activate the PBO, the performance in Cinebench R15 and R20 Multi increases by ~ 3.3%, which is not really much, but free of charge and without great effort. The downside is that the power consumption increases significantly. In the R15 benchmark by ~ 28.7% and the R20 by ~ 33%. So here you should really consider whether the small gain in performance is worth it.
Eco-mode really lives up to its name. The power consumption was measured at a capped 56W for the CPU, which is ~ 36% less than in the series state. The performance drops by ~ 10% in the same step. As you can see, the CPU works here as being significantly more efficient. For comparison: The AMD Ryzen 7 2700X required 189W (total system) for 1819 points on the MSI B450M Mortar, while the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max and the Ryzen 7 3700X in Eco Mode needed 107W (total system) for 1889 points.
Game Boost is a simple procedure to elicit even more power from the CPU. The board automatically overclocks the CPU here. The clock rate of the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X is increased by 600 MHz. With this, 199 points in the single-core and 2196 points in the multi-core test were achieved in Cinebench R15. The power consumption was 110W in the multi-test. If you compare this with the performance of the PBO, the implementation can be seen as very positive. That was not always the case; the Game Boost was usually accompanied by a sharp increase in VCore. The whole thing works quite well here, even if you move out of the more efficient area of the CPU here as well.
During manual overclocking, the lowest voltage for an all-core clock of 4.2GHz has been sought again. This was found to be 1.33V. This puts the board on a similar level to the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming-ITX / TB3, which required 1.32V for it. Overall, this setting brought almost the same performance as the Game Boost. In Cinebench R15, 2206 points were achieved with 109W power consumption, which is a minimal plus. With this setting, however, less power is achieved in the single-core run, as the boost mechanisms are bypassed. In the CB R20, 5084 points were achieved.
The RAM-OC was also tested on the board. The manufacturer speaks of 4133 MHz via XMP, which could not be verified in the absence of a suitable kit. However, the built-in kit could be operated at 4133MHz. Also, there were problems, so that no further testing was carried out. The reason for this is that the speed of the Infinity Fabric of the Zen 2 CPU also depends on the RAM or the divider on the B450 board. Settings such as DDR4-3600 CL14-14-14-34 or DDR4-3800 CL18-18-18-38, which can be found directly in the BIOS under the Memory Try It! Profiles templates. The table shows how the different profiles affect storage performance. Of course, you can always get more out of this manually, but it should only be shown here that MSI is now making a little more effort with the profiles. The IF cycle is always specified for the profiles, which was always implemented 1: 1 in the present case. The RAM-OC over 3800MHz could no longer be operated with this divider so that the latency of the memory has or would have increased again significantly and therefore was not taken into account.
|Storage settings||Reading speed||Writing speed||latency|
|3200 MHz CL14-14-14-34||46607 MB / s||25599 MB / s||72.3 ns|
|3600MHz CL14-16-16-36||51282M fps||28799 MB / s||68.1 ns|
|3600MHz CL14-15-15-35||51746 MB / s||28799 MB / s||67.9 ns|
|3600MHz CL14-14-14-34||51931 MB / s||28800 MB / s||68.0 ns|
|3800MHz CL18-18-18-38||53973 MB / s||30399 MB / s||65.6 ns|
Overall, accelerating the IF speed does more here than the tighter timings. The Cinebench R15 Multi-Run benefits only a little in combination with the fixed 4.2 GHz. It went from 2206 points to 2212 points. The 3D Mark Firestrike showed that there was no increase in performance, which seems a bit strange. Tuning the sub-timings should be able to provide a boost here, however. A couple of real Ryzen RAM tuning profiles for Samsung B or Micron E dies would be nice, although of course not every memory kit behaves the same.
Prime95 29.8 Small FFTs were used to check the temperatures of the mainboard and the effectiveness of the cooler. The tool for the utilization of the CPU was left to run for 30 minutes and the individual sensors were examined via HWinfo64. The ambient temperature during the run was 21 ° C. The fans of the NZXT Kraken X62, the E850, and the Aer RGB 2 120mm were constantly operated at ~ 800 rpm. The following screenshot shows very clearly that the board has no problems whatsoever with the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X. The MOSFETs got a maximum temperature of 49 ° C, so there is still room for improvement, as they can only deliver less current from 80 ° C (34A instead of 46A). With a little more aggressive ventilation, based on the temperatures, one could counteract this even further. Especially since you can also choose the MOSFET temperature in the fan configuration as a guide.
Fortunately, the chapter on fan control can be ignored for the B450 Tomahawk Max, as the chipset is passively cooled. At 32 ° C, it remains very cool, although it has to be said that it actually did not experience any stress in this test. It only gets a load if the SATA and USB ports and the PCIe lanes are used. But even then, experience has shown that the cooler does not become a problem.
The fact that MSI has not already prepared the non-MAX mainboards accordingly is in a way an annoying move when you are in the best of such aboard. Whereby you also have the option of installing the latest BIOS variants, but without the Click Bios 5 interface. The advantage of the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max is that if you want to use a Ryzen processor, no matter which generation and whether with or without a GPU, the board accepts this directly. The sample at hand was even already equipped with the Bios 3.4, which Agesa 126.96.36.199b provides, and thus many optimizations. This is noticeable when operating with the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X in the form that with the X570 boards in the test field not only in terms of performance keeping pace but often a small lead can be worked out. The board has enough power reserves ready, which the temperature test reveals. The build-up of tension is at the level of a cheaper X470 board and the cooler is so massive that the temperatures are well below the pain threshold, even with long-term use.
Of course, the “old” AMD B450 chipset makes itself felt in the equipment. Since there are only very few lanes, you save a second, “slow” M.2 slot, and leave it to the one that is connected to the CPU. The expansion via the slots would consequently only take place according to PCIe 2.0, which would be sufficient for WLAN or sound cards. The number of SATA ports is okay with six in terms of the target group. The same also applies to the number of USB ports, which MSI fully exploits in terms of the availability of the CPU and chipset. The Realtek NIC and audio codec, on the other hand, look a bit outdated, but shouldn’t be a big deal for the price-conscious user. For example, there are plenty of good headsets with USB-DAC.
The software is a bit older than the original product; the manufacturer has actually replaced the Command Center with the Dragon Center. It is a shame that the individual software has to be installed separately and cannot be found under GUI, but you can easily decide what you need and whatnot. The BIOS offers everything that the X570 can offer. This also applies to the newer OC options, which unfortunately are also duplicated on this board and are sometimes very nested. Another good thing about the BIOS is that the stored RAM profiles appear to be better coordinated, which was not always the case in the past or had the appearance.
Overall, the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max leaves a very good impression. The board is suitable for all Ryzen CPUs and not only because of the BIOS compatibility. It can also keep up in terms of performance and shouldn’t break a sweat even with more cores. All of this is combined with a pleasantly simple look without a lot of bling-bling and at a fair price. The board is therefore a clear recommendation for those who simply want to build a fast system and do not need every chichi of the AM4 platform.
MSI B450 General SummaryMSI B450 To summarize, we see that it has very good features in terms of design, price and performance. MSI B450, which has given a successful performance compared to its competitors in this segment, has not received any serious complaints from its users until now and has given its users confidence with maximum positive feedback. With the MSI B450 2-year warranty, it continues to support any problem after the sale and does not suffer the user.
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Installation of the Product is Extremely Simple. You can set it up easily with the included Guide.
Has no known chronic problems.
Yes, they say they are generally satisfied.
The minimum warranty period is 2 years.
You can buy it from sites like amazon, ebay.