MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk Review

The Tomahawk motherboards from MSI want to offer solid features at a fair price. Chichi is usually completely avoided. The MSI B450 Tomahawk Max has proven to be particularly popular and is being replaced by the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk tested here . Our test on the current board clarifies what has changed.

 

As you can quickly see, as with the MSI MPG B550 Gaming Carbon WiFi, the newer naming scheme is also used here, which was already used a generation earlier on the Intel boards (e.g. MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Pro Carbon AC ). MAG stands for MSI Arsenal Gaming and is again below MSI Performance Gaming (= MPG) is or should be. However, this board raises the bar for the mainstream, which you can see especially in direct comparison with the predecessor, but is also not bad in terms of the MSI MAG X570 Tomahawk WiFi.

The specifications

As with the MSI MPG B550 Gaming Carbon WiFi, the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk was also compared with its predecessor in the following. The first obvious difference is a thicker power supply and support for faster RAM. There are also differences in the slots – there are now two M.2 slots in particular. There are further upgrades to report on the network, the sound processing, and the USB connections, albeit only minimally in the latter. We have listed below what has actually been installed or can be found:

The mainboard at a glance
 Mainboard format  ATX
 designation  MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk  MSI B450 Tomahawk Max
 base  PGA AM4
 price  ~ 174 EUR
 Manufacturer homepage  www.msi.de
Chipset key data
 Chipset  AMD B550  AMD B450
 Memory banks and type  4x DDR4 up to 5100 MHz (OC)  4x DDR4 up to 4133 MHz (OC)
 Random Access Memory (RAM) max. 128 G
 SLI / CrossFire – / 2-way
 Phases  5 + 2 (5x 2 + 2)  4 + 2 (4x 2 + 2x 2)
 Power connections 1x 8-PIN
1x 24-PIN ATX
Features key facts
 PCI Express  1x PCIe 4.0 x16 (x16)
1x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x4)
2x PCIe 3.0 x1
1x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16)
1x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4)
3x PCIe 2.0 x1
 Serial ATA and M.2  6x SATA 6G
1x M.2 PCIe x4 Gen4 / SATA3 – 2242/2260/2280/22110 1x M.2 PCIe x4 Gen3 – 2242/2260/2280
6x SATA 6G
1x M.2 PCIe x4 Gen3 / SATA3 – 2242/2260/2280/22110
 RAID  RAID 0, 1, 10
 USB  2x USB 3.1 Gen2 (2x I / O panels; Type-C + Type-A)
5x USB 3.1 Gen1 (2x I / O panels; 3x via front header)
6x USB 2.0 ( 2x I / O panels; 4x via front header )
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 2.1
1x DisplayPort 1.4
1x HDMI 1.4
1x DVI-D
 LAN  1x 2.5Gb LAN (Realtek RTL8125B-CG)
1x 1Gb LAN (Realtek RTL8111H)
 1x 1Gb LAN (Realtek RTL8111H)
 WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS  –  –
 Audio  Realtek ALC1200
5x analog (3.5mm jack)
1x Toslink
Realtek AL892
6x analog (3.5mm jack)
 Fan header  8x 4-pin (PWM / DC) 6x 4-pin (PWM / DC)
 lighting  1 zone (PCH cooler)
2x 4-pin; 12V
2x 3-pin; 5V
1 zone (right side)
2x 4-pin; 12V
 Others  EZ Debug LEDs
Bios Flashback function
2x M.2 cooler
LED switch
 EZ Debug LEDs
Bios Flashback function
 scope of delivery  Instructions
Quick Installation Guide
Drivers DVD
2x SATA cable
Cable label
3-pin RGB extension
 Instructions
Quick Installation Guide
Drivers DVD
2x SATA cable
Cable label
4-pin RGB extension

Detail view / features

The new Tomahawk inherits the newer look of the MSI MAG X570 Tomahawk WiFi . The big difference is that the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk doesn’t use a fan on the chipset cooler. Otherwise,e the two boards are visually quite similar. The color design has remained the same in comparison to the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max , which is largely characterized by black elements and light gray accents.

As with the Gaming Carbon Sibling Board, there is also a power supply upgrade for the Tomahawk update. Not only are more phases used, but the MOSFETs used are also more powerful. A total of 10 ISL99360 (60A) MOSFETs take care of the CPU, which in pairs form five real phases. There are two more for the SoC. The RAA229004 is used as the controller, which theoretically could control another phase. This would then, however, catch up with the higher-level MSI MPG B550 Gaming Carbon WiFi . Unlike this one, only an 8-pin EPS socket is soldered on.

There are minimal compromises compared to the performance gaming board with the expansion slots. With one x1 slot less you have to put up with the Arsenal Gaming motherboard. This leaves two of the short and two of the long x16 slots. The lower one is connected electrically as usual, but only with four lanes. Besides, the longer slot, a shorter, and the lower M.2 slot are linked via a switch. The extent to which the connections can be combined is explained on the following page. For completeness, it can be mentioned that only the upper M.2 and PCIe x16 slot can be addressed via PCIe 4.0.

On the back, there are hardly any differences compared to the carbon fiber sibling board. The connections for the WLAN antennas are missing. In exchange, there is an additional 1G Ethernet connection. So there are 2.5G and 1G. There are two 2.0, 3.2 Gen1, and Gen2 USB ports, the latter being a Type-C. BIOS flashback is also available here – very good!

The latest version of the tomahawk also has lighting. There are several digital LEDs below the PCH cooler, so that flowing light effects can be displayed there. Of course, there are also headers onboard. In contrast to the previous model, digital connections are now also available (5V, 3-pin). Two analog ones also remain (12V, 4-pin). If you don’t feel like lighting, the headers and on-board lighting can be deactivated using a switch at the bottom.

The I / O configuration of the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

 

The configuration of the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk is almost identical to the MPG B550 Gaming Carbon WiFi. Because only one PCIe x1 slot is actually saved. Further differences are that a LAN port is built-in, but there is no WiFi. Here, too, it is a pity that not all of the available USB ports make it onto the board. The internal Type-C header-only communicates with USB 3.2 Gen1, instead of the faster Gen2 standard.

Internal connections at a glance

Since the B550 chipset does not provide as many lanes as the X570, the MAG B550 Tomahawk also uses lane sharing. PCI_E2, PCI_E3, and M2_2 share the connection to the chipset and can therefore not all be used at the same time. The bottom x1 slot, as well as the top x16 and M.2 slot, can be used completely independently. The same applies to the SATA3 ports so that you always have at least seven connection options for data carriers.

With eight fan headers, the Tomahawk is actually equipped for every housing situation, especially since they are arranged sensibly. It is positive in and of itself that there is also a Type-C header, but it is a shame that the latest standard is not offered. USB 2.0 headers are available in duplicate so that internally controlled USB components can also be used. The (A) RGB headers are also arranged sensibly.

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 with 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 installed 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 MAG B550 Tomahawk
Cooling: NZXT Kraken X62
RAM : Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 2x 8GB
Storage : Patriot Viper VP100 1TB (PCIe 3.0 x4)
Corsair MP600 1TB (PCIe 4.0 x4)
Power supply : NZXT E850 (850W)
Graphics card : MSI GTX 970 Gaming OC
Operating system: Windows 10 x64 (1903)

Software

There is nothing new with the software – at least in comparison with the current sibling boards. The B450 Tomahawk Max still relied on the older Command Center, whereas the B550 Tomahawk now uses the Dragon Center. This, in turn, is not structured differently from the other current MSI boards. You now have complete control over the board, including fan control, OC functions, network monitoring, and lighting. Overall, it’s a good solution, although points such as the fan control should also be incorporated a little more obviously.

Even when it comes to bios, nothing new can be said – which is also a good thing. Yes, a few functions are arranged a little differently on this board than on a much older mainboard with Click Bios 5, but overall it has stayed the same. What can be considered relatively new is that Game Boost only activates the PBO on the CPU. With the introduction of Ryzen 3000, Ryzen overclocking also came into the bios, which is still a component and can be found in two different places. Not entirely understandable, as the memory of the BIOS ROM is said to be so limited. But one can already say that the Click Bios 5 in its present form can also be viewed as simply structured here.

Benchmarks

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 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

    Power consumption

    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. Besides, 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 in the Cinebench R15 multi-core benchmark.

    Overclocking

    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

    As already mentioned, the PBO can simply be activated by activating the Game Boost or the functions are initially to be regarded as equivalent. If you dive a little deeper into the BIOS, you also get other options with the PBO with several levels of manual adjustments. However, only the automatic or factory setting, the activated PBO, and the eco mode were tested here. It can be said that eco-mode had little effect. The power consumption remained almost identical, but the performance is apparently throttled, which was confirmed in fewer points in Cinebench R15. But the activated PBO did not have any great effect either. Slightly more points were achieved through higher power consumption – but neither of which is in a reasonable proportion. The result also depends on the quality of the CPU. Since the Ryzen 7 3700X used comes from the first production batch, the binning is worse than with the newer batches, which the XT models clearly show.

     

    PBO mode CB R15 Multi
    Score
    CB R15 multi
    power consumption CPU
    automobile 2105 points 87 W
    Enable 2128 points 101 W
    Eco 45W 2057 points 86 W

    The conservative effect of the PBO is also evident in comparison with the other mainboards tested. The performance is low, but not as much energy is consumed as with some other boards.

    Manual overclocking

    Manual adjustments resulted in a stable 4.3 GHz at a voltage of 1.325V. The power consumption (= 102 W) was identical to the Game Boost or activated PBO. With this setting, 2180 points were achieved in Cinebench R15, a little more, which means higher efficiency. The memory could be saved using Memory Try It! overclocked to 4400 MHz. The settings above were no longer stable or require fine-tuning – or better RAM.

    Temperatures

    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 allowed to run for 30 minutes and the individual sensors were examined via HWinfo64. The ambient temperature was 21 ° C during the run. The fans of the NZXT Kraken X62, the E850, and the Aer RGB 2 120mm were operated constantly at ~ 800 rpm. At a room temperature of ~ 19 ° C, the idle temperature of the MOSFETs was 30 ° C. After 30 minutes, a temperature of 44 ° C could be read, which is again a very good value.

    Conclusion

    The MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk can be seen as a real recommendation among the motherboards tested so far. It offers good equipment at a fair price. Good means here that the manufacturer relies on high-quality components for the power supply, which is evident from the low power consumption and the associated low heating. The AMD Ryzen 5000 processors should also work very well here. It is also great that there are many options for data carriers. Up to two M.2s and six SATA3s should be more than sufficient for a gaming system.The same applies to the number of fan headers (eight) and (A) RGB headers (four). There is nothing wrong with the layout of the board. It is a shame, however, that the USB-C header-only uses the 3.2 Gen1 standards. There is nothing else to complain about when it comes to the total number of USB ports.

    At 160 euros, the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk can also be classified as good from a financial point of view. Yes, the predecessor was or is significantly cheaper, but the range of functions is also lower there.

    MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

    Recommended motherboard with good equipment at a fair price, 01/05/2021

    Per

    • coherent layout
    • economical / high-quality power supply
    • twice M.2
    • 2.5Gb + 1Gb LAN
    • USB-C header

    Contra

    • USB-C 3.2 Gen1 header only

    MSI MAG General Summary

    MSI MAG To summarize, we see that it has very good features in terms of design, price and performance. MSI MAG, 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 MAG 2-year warranty, it continues to support any problem after the sale and does not suffer the user.

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FAQ

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.

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