Based on the modern realities of motherboard pricing, the new MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk on the AMD B550 system logic set can be called a relatively affordable model, since its cost in Russian stores is at around 15 thousand rubles. Interestingly, for this money the company offers an exhaustive set of up-to-date interfaces, including support for PCI-Express 4.0, and a decent CPU power supply system. The hardware component, coupled with the long-honed on other MSI motherboards and the functional BIOS, makes the Tomahawk a truly interesting solution for the third generation AMD Ryzen, including overclocking.
⇡ #Specifications and cost
|Supported processors||Socket AM4 AMD Ryzen 3rd Generation Processors|
|Memory subsystem||4 × DIMM DDR4 up to 128 GB; |
two-channel memory mode;
support for modules with frequencies from 1866 to 3200 MHz and from 2667 (O.C.) to 4866+ (O.C.) MHz;
support for non-ECC UDIMMs;
support for ECC UDIMMs (in non-ECC mode);
XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) support
|Graphical interface||HDMI 2.1 video output with support for resolutions up to 4096 × 2160 pixels at 60 Hz; |
DisplayPort 1.4 video output with support for resolutions up to 4096 × 2304 pixels @ 60 Hz;
maximum allocated memory 2 GB
|Expansion card slots||1 PCI Express 4.0 / 3.0 x16 slot; |
1 PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, x4 mode;
2 PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots
|Video scalability||AMD 2-way CrossFireX Technology|
|Storage interfaces||AMD B550 Chipset: |
– 6 × SATA III, throughput up to 6 Gb / s (supports RAID 0, 1 and 10);
– 1 × M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 (supports PCI Express drives from 42mm to 80mm in length).
AMD Ryzen processor:
– 1 × M.2 PCIe 4.0 / 3.0 x4 (supports SATA and PCI Express drives from 42mm to 110mm in length).
M.2 ports support RAID 0 and 1
|2.5-gigabit network controller Realtek RTL8125B; |
gigabit network controller Realtek RTL8111H;
MSI Gaming Lan Manager utility
|Audio subsystem||7.1 CH HD Audio Codec Realtek ALC1200: |
– Chemicon audio capacitors;
– protection against clicks;
– separation of the left and right channels in different layers of the textolite;
– PCB insulation
|USB interface||Total number of USB ports – 13, including: |
1) AMD B550 chipset:
– 6 USB 2.0 ports (2 on the back panel, 4 connected to internal connectors);
– 3 USB 3.2 Gen1 5 Gb / s ports (1 Type-C on the rear panel, 2 connected to the connector on the board);
2) AMD Ryzen processor:
– 2 USB 3.2 Gen2 10 Gb / s ports (Type-C and Type-A on the back);
– 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 5Gbps ports (both Type-A on the back)
|Rear panel connectors and buttons||Flash BIOS button; |
two USB 2.0 ports and a combo PS / 2 port;
HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs;
two USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports and a 2.5G network port with indicators;
two USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A / C ports and a 1G network port with indicators;
optical output of S / PDIF interface;
five 3.5mm audio jacks
|Internal connectors on the PCB||24-pin ATX power connector; |
8-pin ATX 12V power connector;
6 SATA 3;
2 M.2 Socket 3;
USB Type-C connector for connecting a USB 3.2 Gen1 5 Gb / s port;
USB connector for connecting two USB 3.2 Gen1 5 Gb / s ports;
2 USB connectors for connecting four USB 2.0 ports;
4-pin connector for the CPU cooling fan;
4-pin connector for the pump LSS CPU;
6 4-pin headers for case fans with PWM support;
group of connectors for the front panel of the case;
audio connector for the front panel of the case;
connector Chassis Intrusion;
TPM module connector;
2 4-pin RGB LED connectors;
2 3-pin Rainbow LED connectors;
jumper Clear CMOS;
EZ LED switch;
CPU / DRAM / VGA / BOOT LEDs
|BIOS||256 Mbit AMI UEFI BIOS with multilingual interface and graphical shell; |
support SM BIOS 2.8, ACPI 6.0
|I / O controller||Nuvoton NCT6687D-M|
|Form factor, dimensions (mm)||ATX, 305 × 244|
|Operating system support||Windows 10 x64|
|Guarantee manufacturer, years old||3|
|Retail value, ₽||15,500|
⇡ # Packing and packaging
The box, in which the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk is supplied, differs from other products of the company in stylized “military”: the front side is decorated with a profiled sheet of metal, and in its center there is a famous cruise missile.
The reverse side is as informative as possible. It highlights the key features of the board, lists its technical characteristics and interface panel ports. A short list of interfaces can also be found on the sticker on the side of the board, which also contains the serial number.
The package is spartan: instructions, memos, a couple of SATA cables, a DVD with drivers (does anyone remember where to insert it?), And a couple of screws for securing drives in the M.2 ports.
If I may say so, the board is also “equipped” with a three-year warranty, although, as we have already mentioned, it costs hardly more than 15 thousand rubles. Country of origin – China.
⇡ # Design and features
MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk is released in the ATX form factor and is designed in a strict color scheme. Almost black textolite is cut diagonally by white-gray stripes, no bright or prominent details, but the board looks stylish and modern.
On the casing of the interface panel, the VRM heatsink and the chipset heatsink are indicated, respectively, the name of the manufacturer, the series of the board and its model.
The interface panel with a preinstalled plate contains a Flash BIOS button, six USB ports of different types, a PS / 2 combo port, HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs, two power outlets and audio jacks.
The board is based on a six-layer textolite with twice the thickness of copper layers. All hinged elements are fixed on the PCB with screws, so there were no inconveniences with their dismantling.
Before proceeding to a detailed analysis of all components of the board, we will give their schematic arrangement from the instruction manual.
The Soсket AM4 processor socket is manufactured by Foxconn and does not (and cannot) have any special features on this model.
The MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk currently supports all 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen processors. A complete list can be found on the board’s support page.
The processor power system is implemented according to the “10 + 2 + 1” Duet Rail scheme.
Ten phases are allocated directly to power the CPU cores, two phases to the SoC and one to power the APU.
The phases are composed of a DrMOS ISL99360 (60A) from Renesas Electronics.
The processor is powered by an eight-phase RAA229004 controller also manufactured by Renesas.
The board is powered by two connectors: 24-pin and 8-pin.
The anchor component of the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk is the AMD B550 system logic set, which was released on our test sample in Taiwan in the seventh week of this year.
The distribution of the chipset and CPU resources on the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk is shown in the following diagram. We can say that AMD B550 and AMD Ryzen have allocated resources almost equally.
For DDR4 RAM with a total volume of 128 GB, the board provides four slots. No branded metallized shells and latches on one side only. The pair of slots priority for installation is marked right on the PCB.
A single channel memory power supply system must cope with any load.
At the same time, support for modules with a frequency of 4866 MHz and even higher is declared. All that remains is to find such modules and choose the right processor for them.
In terms of equipping with PCI-Express slots, the new MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk looks more than modest. Only the first slot, clad in the aluminum shell of Steel Armor and connected to the processor, belongs to the 4.0 standard and can work with video cards in x16 mode.
The second full-size PCI-Express slot is capable of operating in x2 or x4 modes (even AMD CrossFireX x16 / x4 is supported). The latter option is possible only if nothing is installed above it in the PCIe x1 shorty. The bottom PCI-Express always operates independently in x1 mode. Note that all three black slots are powered by the chipset. There is a pair of ASM1480 multiplexers manufactured by ASMedia for switching slots on the PCB.
We can say that MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk has a standard set of drive ports for budget motherboards. In the horizontal orientation, six SATA IIIs with a bandwidth of up to 6 Gb / s are soldered, implemented by the capabilities of the AMD B550 chipset.
For high-speed SSDs, the Tomahawk has two M.2 ports. The top is CPU powered and supports PCIe 4.0 devices. By the way, recently the number of such devices was replenished by the furious Samsung 980 Pro, judging by the characteristics of which the Korean company could not do without Tony Stark this time.
This port accommodates drives from 42mm to 110mm in length. The second M.2 SATA and PCIe 3.0 drives can be up to 80mm long and is powered by the AMD B550 chipset.
The distribution of chipset and processor resources for M.2 and SATA drives is shown in the table.
The MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk does not have a wireless network interface, but there are two wired ones (although it would be more correct to say cable), implemented by the Realtek RTL8111H gigabit network controller and the Realtek RTL8125B 2.5 Gigabit network controller.
The proprietary MSI LAN Manager utility will help distribute network traffic. Not onlyautomatically detect the type of applications currently in use by the network connection, but also give the highest priority to the most important ones.
In total, we counted 13 USB ports on the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk. Six of them, including high-speed USB 3.2 Gen2 10 Gb / s (Type-C and Type-A), are brought to the interface panel of the board, and seven more can be connected on the printed circuit board.
The audio system of the board can be called basic. It is based on the Realtek ALC1200 audio processor, next to which there are five Japanese-made Chemicon capacitors.
In addition, hardware protection against clicks when connecting the cable, isolation of audio components on the PCB from the rest of the PCB with a non-conductive strip, as well as the separation of the left and right channels in different layers of the PCB are declared.
Like most other MSI motherboards, the Tomahawk’s Multi I / O and monitoring functions are handled by the Nuvoton NCT6687D controller.
The board is capable of simultaneously controlling the speed of eight fans using a PWM signal or voltage change. The fan of the processor cooler can be up to 24 W (2 A), the dedicated connector for the liquid cooling pumps can withstand loads up to 36 W (3 A), and the remaining six connectors are rated for 12 W (1 A). The BIOS has a very convenient utility for configuring them. There are no connectors for connecting external temperature sensors on the board.
Of course, the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk did not do without backlighting, which is controlled by the Nuvoton NUC126NE4AE controller.
On the board itself, the backlight is placed only under the chipset heatsink, and for external LED strips there are two connectors with addressing and two without it. Customizable lighting modes are available through the MSI Mystic Light app, where you can choose from 29 lighting effects.
On the bottom edge of the PCB, there is a very familiar set of connectors.
As for the BIOS of MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk, there is only one chip, 256-bit.
There is a Flash BIOS button on the I / O panel, with which you can update the firmware even without installing a processor and RAM in the board.
Despite the seeming simplicity (there is not a single heat pipe), the board’s cooling system does not raise doubts about its efficiency. The main heat load is taken over by a massive radiator connected to the interface panel, as well as a small additional radiator for four separate power phases. Both of them have high-performance thermal pads with a declared thermal conductivity like a good thermal paste: 7 W / (m · K). And all this works very confidently, as we will see during testing.
The chipset heatsink contacts his charges through thermal grease (although the factor of the previous tester is possible here), and for drives in the M.2 ports, independent Shield Frozr heatsinks with thermal pads are provided.
⇡ # UEFI BIOS features
The last BIOS version available at the time of the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk tests was 7C91vA2 dated August 7, 2020, which we flashed before running the tests. As you probably remember from previous reviews of MSI motherboards, the proprietary shell is called Click BIOS 5 and has a basic EZ Mode, as well as an extended Advanced.
You can switch from one to another by pressing the F7 key, in addition, in the menu you can select and save in which mode the shell will always be loaded.
The main Settings section contains general settings for the board, its controllers, loading, security functions and options for saving parameters.
The AMD Overclocking nested subsection, which contains fine-tuning of the processor overclocking, stands apart here.
The main section with overclocking the system itself includes adjusting the parameters of the processor and RAM, including adjusting their voltages.
Separately, we can note the tremendous amount of RAM timings available for changing.
To stabilize the voltage on the processor core, a choice of eight LLC modes is available, just like on the flagship MSI boards.
You can get comprehensive information about the processor and RAM chips in separate sub-tabs of the overclocking section.
You can save BIOS settings in six slots, but the practice shows that we would like to see at least eight.
The built-in utility for monitoring the board contains settings for the rotation speed of the fans connected to it with reference to one of six thermal sensors.
Finally, the built-in browser will help you to understand the components installed in the board without opening the case and loading the operating system.
We did not find any shortcomings in the MSI Click BIOS 5 shell during testing the Tomahawk. The boot procedure is relatively quick, and after changing the BIOS settings, they can be checked again before exiting.
⇡ # Overclocking and stability
The stability, overclocking potential and performance of the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk motherboard were tested in a closed system case at an indoor temperature of 24.5 to 25 degrees Celsius. The test bench configuration consisted of the following components:
- motherboard: MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk (AMD B550, Socket AM4, BIOS 7C91vA2 from 08/07/2020);
- processor: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 3.8-4.6 GHz (Matisse, 7 nm, B0, 12 × 512 KB L2, 4 × 16 MB L3, TDP 105 W);
- CPU cooling system: Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black (two 140 mm Noctua NF-A15 fans at 830-1450 rpm);
- thermal interface: ARCTIC MX-4;
- video card: MSI GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER Ventus XS OC GDDR6 6 GB / 192 bit 1530-1815 / 14000 MHz;
- RAM: DDR4 2 × 8 GB G.Skill TridentZ Neo (F4-3600C18Q-32GTZN), XMP 3600 MHz 18-22-22-42 CR2 @ 1.35 V;
- system disk: Intel SSD 730 480 GB (SATA III, BIOS vL2010400);
- disk for programs and games: Western Digital VelociRaptor 300 GB (SATA II, 10,000 rpm, 16 MB, NCQ);
- archive disk: Samsung Ecogreen F4 HD204UI 2 TB (SATA II, 5400 rpm, 32 MB, NCQ);
- sound card: Auzen X-Fi HomeTheater HD;
- case: Thermaltake Core X71 (six 140mm be quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWM [BL067], 990 rpm, three – for blowing, three – for blowing);
- control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC3;
- PSU: Corsair AX1500i Digital ATX (1.5 kW, 80 Plus Titanium), 140mm fan.
Testing was conducted under Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (2004 19041.450) operating system with the following drivers installed:
- motherboard chipset AMD Chipset Drivers – 2.07.14.327 from 07/23/2020;
- NVIDIA GeForce video card drivers – 452.06 WHQL from 03/26/2020.
We checked the stability of the system during overclocking with the stress utility Prime95 29.4 build 8 and other benchmarks, and monitoring was carried out using HWiNFO64 version 6.29-4235.
Before testing, we present the key characteristics of the board from the AIDA64 Extreme utility.
We traditionally carry out the first test of the motherboard and processor with automatic BIOS settings, that is, in those conditions in which the system will be used by most ordinary users. The only exception is the activation of XMP RAM, which is possible with one click from BIOS EZ Mode.
The result of the first Prime95 stress test is shown in the following screenshot.
We can say that almost everything went on as usual. In the load, the processor ran at 4 GHz across all cores at a voltage of 1.206 V (peak – 1.469 V) and heated up to 75.4 degrees Celsius. There is practically no overestimation of the SoC voltage (1.080-1.100 V), and the temperature of the VRM elements did not exceed 43 degrees Celsius at all, which is an excellent indicator of the efficiency of the standard board cooling system. However, it should be noted that the VRM heatsinks were very well blown by the air flow from the large Noctua fans, and this is not possible on every CPU cooler. Nevertheless, the result of the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk’s work with automatic BIOS settings satisfied us in full, so we immediately switched to overclocking attempts.
And they, I must say, were a success, especially considering the weak overclocking potential of the twelve-core AMD Ryzen 9 3900X. Already in the first pass, we managed to achieve stability without reducing performance at a processor frequency of 4.2 GHz at a voltage of 1.210 V and the fourth LLC level. Then we gradually reduced the voltage on the processor to 1.165 V, monitoring not only its stability, but also the performance.
This result can be considered final for 4.2 GHz simultaneously across all cores.
Moreover, the peak CPU temperature turned out to be even lower than with automatic BIOS settings, limited to a modest value of 71 degrees Celsius.
Следующим вполне закономерным шагом стали 4,3 ГГц при стартовом напряжении 1,325 В, которое в процессе тестирования также удалось снизить до 1,295 В.
Температуры процессора существенно выросли, как и уровень его энергопотребления, но всё же два последовательных цикла теста удалось успешно пройти на стабильной частоте 4,3 ГГц по всем ядрам.
Поскольку дальнейший разгон AMD Ryzen 9 3900X оказался невозможен, далее мы попытались разогнать на MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk оперативную память. И вот тут нас ждало определённое разочарование, поскольку частоту пары восьмигигабайтных модулей G.Skill TridentZ Neo не удалось поднять даже до 3,8 ГГц, в том числе и с помощью Ryzen DRAM Calculator. Плата попросту отказывалась стартовать, приходилось сбрасывать её настройки и повторять всё заново. По снижению таймингов особо продвинуться также не удалось, причём последующие тесты ещё одной платы на чипсете AMD B550, о которой мы вам также расскажем в скором времени, позволили сделать вывод, что проблема именно в плате MSI, а не в самих модулях оперативной памяти.
На этом тесты стабильности можно было завершить и перейти к тестированию производительности «Томагавка».
Производительность MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk с разогнанным до 4,3 ГГц 12-ядерным процессором AMD Ryzen 9 3900X мы предлагаем сравнить с производительностью платы MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi с процессором Intel Core i9-10900K, разогнанным по всем десяти ядрам до 5,0 ГГц. По стоимости вторая связка получается дороже на 15-17 тысяч рублей, а по производительности…
Итак, в разгоне связка из MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk и AMD Ryzen 9 3900X уступила связке из MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Carbon Wi-Fi и Intel Core i9-10900K в тестах WinRAR, EZ CD Audio Converter и 3DMark, но выиграла в 7-Zip, HandBrake, Blender и CINEBENCH. В операциях с памятью и в Corona результаты примерно одинаковые. Как обстоят дела в играх, мы с вами давно знаем.
Материнская плата MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk из так называемого бюджетного сектора на поверку оказалась весьма серьёзным продуктом с мощной системой питания процессора, которая, что очень важно, отменно охлаждается при использовании на процессоре воздушного суперкулера. Фактически инженеры MSI продемонстрировали, что даже для одних из самых производительных процессоров под Soсket AM4 не требуется приобретать флагманские платы на горячем AMD X570, а вполне можно обойтись MAG B550 Tomahawk. Причём использование слова «обойтись» здесь вряд ли вообще уместно, поскольку плата не требует идти на компромиссы, не считая практически канувших в Лету связок из двух видеокарт. Поддержка всего остального у неё есть.
Мы имеем в виду реализацию высокоскоростной шины PCI Express 4.0, которая с момента своего анонса и так будоражит начинающих энтузиастов, а со дня на день вкупе с NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090/3080 и Samsung 980 Pro и вовсе может лишить их сна. Кроме этого, платой заявлена поддержка оперативной памяти с частотой без малого пять гигагерц (проверять данный факт мы не станем), есть все необходимые функции разгона, шесть SATA и два M.2, два сетевых контроллера, звуковой кодек, достаточное количество портов USB, возможность подключения восьми вентиляторов с независимым управлением, а также подсветка.
Посетовать можно разве что на отсутствие беспроводного сетевого контроллера и сложности с разгоном оперативной памяти. Правда, вряд ли MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk может принять эти недостатки на свой счёт, поскольку по стоимости и вышеперечисленным достоинствам является одним из наиболее интересных предложений на наборе системной логики AMD B550.
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