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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  • FoRealz - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    I have two questions:

    1. Why are b/x/h 400 boards performing worse than their predecessors?
    2. Why are ps/2 ports making a comeback?

    I'm currently on an Asus z270 tuf mark 1 and my board has so much more than the newer tuf boards. (2 lans, etc) I'm really confused as to why boards have been going downhill nomatter Intel or AMD.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    I don't understand PS/2 ports on new motherboards at this point. There aren't a lot of interface devices out there that have survived and I don't see indications that production of PS/2 keyboards and mice are still going. Legacy-free and/or using that IO cluster space for something else might be useful. Reply
  • The_Assimilator - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    It's because of the eSports idiots who still believe that USB is inferior because it polls. Reply
  • gavbon - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    That makes more sense - eSports, euuurgh! Reply
  • bananaforscale - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    Well, it *is*, but you're not going to notice the difference. :P And if there's something at a higher priority than the USB driver, well... Reply
  • kn00tcn - Sunday, December 16, 2018 - link

    that's just false, you just want an excuse to to act elitist

    there is another anand article that explains why, figure it out if you're not an idiot
    Reply
  • plonk420 - Friday, December 14, 2018 - link

    it's OCing and gaming... USB sometimes has fits with certain types of OCing (BCLK, i think? i don't OC almost ever). also IIRC from a recent Carmack talk, PS/2 interrupts the OS to give its input, whereas USB input enters queues and buffers before being processed Reply
  • gavbon - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    1. It could be driver/chipset driver related; we have also just had a change in our test suite/driver going forward for 2019.
    2. That's a hard one to answer. Budget boards tend to have them as well as overclocking focused motherboards more than premium models. It could be that they don't expect all budget users to have adopted USB yet? It's an interesting question though...
    Reply
  • kn00tcn - Sunday, December 16, 2018 - link

    if you're gavin, how did you forget ian's article for win7? https://www.anandtech.com/show/11182/how-to-get-ry...

    ps/2 is for win7, not budget
    Reply
  • kn00tcn - Sunday, December 16, 2018 - link

    'every' [citation needed] am4 mobo has ps/2, did you forget it supports win7? you cant even run the installation without usb drivers or ps/2 input

    intel doesnt even provide win7 drivers, so nobody needs ps/2
    Reply

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