Board Features

The MSI B450 Tomahawk is a gaming-themed ATX motherboard and offers a good feature set for a model costing $100. The Tomahawk hails from the Arsenal series which are primarily targeted towards gamers on a budget. Not only budget-gamers, but the B450 Tomahawk also offers users 2-way AMD CrossFire support albeit running at x16/x4. MSI has also included a value pairing of Realtek controllers to handle the audio and networking capabilities. A few notable improvements over the first generation B350 Tomahawk model include better power delivery heatsinks, better memory compatibility, and official support for up to DDR4-3466 RAM.

MSI B450 Tomahawk ATX Motherboard
Warranty Period 3 Years
Product Page Link
Price $100
Size ATX
CPU Interface AM4
Chipset AMD B450
Memory Slots (DDR4) Four DDR4
Supporting 64 GB
Dual Channel
Up to DDR4-3466+
Video Outputs 1 x HDMI 1.4
1 x DVI-D
Network Connectivity Realtek RTL8118H Gigabit
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC892
PCIe Slots for Graphics (from CPU) 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16
PCIe Slots for Other (from PCH) 1 x PCIe 2.0 x4
3 x PCIe 2.0 x1
Onboard SATA Six, RAID 0/1/10
Onboard M.2 1 x PCIe 3.0 x4/SATA
USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) 1 x Type-A Rear Panel
1 x Type-C Rear Panel
USB 3.0 (5 Gbps) 2 x Type-A Rear Panel
1 x Header (two ports)
USB 2.0 2 x Type-A Rear Panel
2 x Header (four ports)
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX
1 x 8pin CPU
Fan Headers 1 x CPU (4-pin)
1 x Pump/AIO (4-pin)
4 x System (4-pin)
IO Panel 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A
1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C
2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A
2 x USB 2.0 Type-A
1 x Network RJ45 (Realtek)
1 x HDMI 1.4
1 x DVI-D
1 x Combo PS/2
6 x 3.5mm Audio Jacks (Realtek)
1 x BIOS Flashback + Button

The major benefits of opting for a more expensive ATX sized X470 motherboard over one like this includes more native USB 3.1 Gen1 connectivity and a second full size PCIe 3.0 slot, which may support NVIDIA SLI  (depending on the licensing from the vendor). Outside of this the B450 Tomahawk ticks a considerable amount of boxes and for users looking to utilize a single graphics card in their system (or need more USB 3.1 Gen1 connectivity), then the price difference in comparison to an X470 board allows budget to be spent in other areas such as graphics, storage capacity, or memory.

Test Bed

As per our testing policy, we take a high-end CPU suitable for the motherboard that was released during the socket’s initial launch, and equip the system with a suitable amount of memory running at the processor maximum supported frequency. This is also typically run at JEDEC subtimings where possible. It is noted that some users are not keen on this policy, stating that sometimes the maximum supported frequency is quite low, or faster memory is available at a similar price, or that the JEDEC speeds can be prohibitive for performance. While these comments make sense, ultimately very few users apply memory profiles (either XMP or other) as they require interaction with the BIOS, and most users will fall back on JEDEC supported speeds - this includes home users as well as industry who might want to shave off a cent or two from the cost or stay within the margins set by the manufacturer. Where possible, we will extend out testing to include faster memory modules either at the same time as the review or a later date.

Test Setup
Processor AMD Ryzen 7 1700, 65W, $300,
8 Cores, 16 Threads, 3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo)
Motherboard MSI B450 Tomahawk (Bios v11)
Cooling Thermaltake Floe Riing RGB 360
Power Supply Thermaltake Toughpower Grand 1200W Gold PSU
Memory 2x16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2400
Video Card ASUS GTX 980 STRIX (1178/1279 Boost)
Hard Drive Crucial MX300 1TB
Case Open Test Bed
Operating System Windows 10 Pro

Readers of our motherboard review section will have noted the trend in modern motherboards to implement a form of MultiCore Enhancement / Acceleration / Turbo (read our report here) on their motherboards. This does several things, including better benchmark results at stock settings (not entirely needed if overclocking is an end-user goal) at the expense of heat and temperature. It also gives, in essence, an automatic overclock which may be against what the user wants. Our testing methodology is ‘out-of-the-box’, with the latest public BIOS installed and XMP enabled, and thus subject to the whims of this feature. It is ultimately up to the motherboard manufacturer to take this risk – and manufacturers taking risks in the setup is something they do on every product (think C-state settings, USB priority, DPC Latency / monitoring priority, overriding memory sub-timings at JEDEC). Processor speed change is part of that risk, and ultimately if no overclocking is planned, some motherboards will affect how fast that shiny new processor goes and can be an important factor in the system build.

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36 Comments

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  • kn00tcn - Sunday, December 16, 2018 - link

    buildzoid has said gigabyte went backwards in memory support for their second gen mobos

    16gb sticks are more demanding, 32gb total is more demanding

    you dont 'need' to buy bdie, but you should be aware of various aspects that can hurt stability

    XMP doesnt mean much, the secondary timings are not in the profile, the mobo has to make them up, the mobo may not even be sending clean or high enough voltage, the mobo can cause multiple problems already & that's before the cpu's memory controller variance is even looked at
    Reply
  • plonk420 - Friday, December 14, 2018 - link

    yeah, i got the B450M Mortar on the suggestion of Buildzoid and am loving it! took my VRM temps at 1700X stock speeds from 87C on the AB350M-DS3H with its wickle cooler to 65C on the Mortar Reply
  • kn00tcn - Sunday, December 16, 2018 - link

    if you're still around to read this, i have booted a mortar to 3466 on hynix m-die (gskill trident z 2x8gb) with mostly auto settings, but it was unstable of course (not like i expect hynix to run at this speed at c16)

    how can you refuse to believe something you have no statistics on? what cpu was it? 32gb is more demanding than 16gb, dual rank is more demanding than single rank (rank not channel, 16gb sticks are likely dual rank)

    try 2T CR, try geardown & bankgroup enabled, try 1.36 or 1.37v, try 1.1v soc
    Reply
  • kn00tcn - Sunday, December 16, 2018 - link

    *using 2600x cpu, stock cooler Reply
  • rocky12345 - Monday, December 17, 2018 - link

    I'm not sure it is the retailers fault that the board is not working for you now. They did not do a bios flash and render the board dead now did they. When you installed the board yes it had problems seeing both of your memory sticks and that was because of it having a older bios firmware installed.

    The fault is that of MSI them selves for having a newer bios that does not seem to be working properly on this model of board. With all of that said the most the retailer can do is offer to take the board in and try to get it working for you and if they are nice won't charge you anything or if they do want to charge maybe a really small fee (since it was them that flashed the board making it useless now.)

    As a retailer myself I would offer to take the board in and get it working for free. My own thoughts are because of the board first having issues with your memory sticks on the older bios that is where the problem is. If they took the board in and tried to fix it any good tech with that information in hand would very quickly pull your memory out and use actual memory that is known to work with these boards without problems and then do the flashback again. Chances are that is when the problem will be corrected and you would have a fully functioning board again.

    I do think it is good of you not to mention names at this point. I do think that if they have a decent tech on staff this should be a easy fix for them and get you running again. Now if you just want to return the board for the sake of returning it then that is up to them if they want to do that or not. The board is either going to end up fixed or sent back to MSI for replacement. Now if it does end up going back to MSI who pays for the shipping MSI,the retailer or you that is the question.
    Reply
  • 0ldman79 - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    Can you overclock using p-states with this board?

    I still use all of the various power saving features on all of my systems, my FX, my Core i5, i7 and Xeon and all but the laptops are overclocked.

    I guess I got spoiled with my FX, I could alter base, turbo 1 and turbo 2 settings individually and keep Cool-n-quiet enabled. I'm looking for that capability on my eventual Ryzen build as well.
    Reply
  • kn00tcn - Sunday, December 16, 2018 - link

    should be some sort of PBO settings Reply
  • Cellar Door - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    The audio on this board is absolute trash. Not even bad, terrible. It is muddy and with such poor amplification that if you have even an entry pair of headphones such as Audio Technica ATH-M50, you will be barely able hear stuff, and outright forget any soundstage or bass definition.

    I had no choice but to exchange it for a Asus B450-F - well worth the extra $25. In my 20 years in IT - I've seen better audio on 10 year old prebuilt Dell and no name PCs. MSI should be ashamed they are putting a 'gaming' sticker on this.
    Reply
  • gavbon - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    I had no issues with my Beyerdynamic DT770's 80ohm pair of cans. Reply
  • Cellar Door - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    From this review - "our testing shows that the B450 Tomahawk performs the worst out of all the Realtek ALC892 equipped boards thus far."

    83.5db in the dynamic range - no offense but either those DT770 are being wasted on you or you never actually hear what they are capable of when properly amplified.
    Reply

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