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MSI B350 Tomahawk (AM4) Motherboard Review

The MSI B350 Tomahawk is a well-optimised AM4 motherboard that takes advantage of AMD’s B350 chipset and smart cost-cutting decisions to offer a superb balance of features and performance.

Performance from the motherboard was good and we had no problems overclocking a power-hungry Ryzen 7 1800X to past 4GHz. The four power delivery phases for the CPU were stressed heavily with such a task which resulted in significant heat being dispersed by the VRM heatsink. However, this represents a solid stress test for the B350 Tomahawk that proves its ability to work with the most powerful Ryzen processor available.

MSI’s UEFI is easy to navigate and features a superb EZ Mode for novice users. The simple layout made overclocking a straightforward process, with the exception of unclear loadline calibration options. MSI’s Game Boost one-button overclocking preset uses a 400MHz bump in clock speed which took our Ryzen 7 1800X to 4GHz. This was a good result but the applied voltage of 1.45V was higher than we are comfortable to use on a motherboard with this calibre of power delivery solution.

The balance of features is where MSI does well. Ample 5Gbps USB 3.0 ports, including one in Type-C form, and audio jacks allowing for surround sound speaker configurations are positive points. The M.2 slot supports full-speed PCIe NVMe SSDs without hassle. Only four SATA 6Gbps ports is disappointing when competitors offer six. The lack of 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 is another disappointment, despite its rarity on motherboards at this price point.

MSI’s overall fan system is excellent. Deploying six 4-pin PWM/DC headers on a budget motherboard is a bold move that MSI deserves credit for. The UEFI- and software-based control of those fan headers is good, with each connection supporting 0% fan speed modes in both the DC and PWM control configurations.

Unfortunately, the same praise cannot be given to MSI’s RGB LED system which is terrible and is slightly misleading to be marketed as ‘RGB’ when it only actually allows for seven colour options. That is not what the market has come to expect or associate with something that provides RGB capability. At least the number of supported modes is solid and the onboard red LEDs function well.

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The MSI B350 Tomahawk is available at Overclockers UK for just under £100. A three-year manufacturer warranty is provided.

With a good balance of features, despite some annoying omissions, we think that the overall performance, excellent fan configuration, and general stability throughout our testing make the MSI B350 Tomahawk a superb AM4 option at around £100. Competing solutions offer more SATA, USB 3.1 Gen 2, or M.2 ports but those are usually equipped alongside compromises on BIOS stability, overclocking performance, and fan configuration. A strong balance is what makes MSI’s B350 Tomahawk such a smart option.

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Pros:

  • Good overclocking performance with respectable voltage accuracy.
  • 3200MHz G.SKILL Flare X DDR4 worked correctly using A-XMP.
  • Six onboard fan headers with a proficient level of UEFI- and OS-based DC/PWM control.
  • USB Type-C is good for this market section, even if it is limited to 3.0 5Gbps speed.
  • Well-equipped UEFI that retains key features from higher-end models (except the convenient LLC graph).
  • Large area illuminated by onboard LED lighting, albeit only in red.
  • Good rear IO audio ports compared to similarly-priced competitors.

Cons:

  • Poor RGB LED control that is not really RGB but instead offers seven pre-determined colour options.
  • Only 4 SATA ports and no 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 connectivity.

KitGuru says: An excellent value option that is well worth its £100 asking price. MSI’s B350 Tomahawk looks to offer the fewest compromises of the £100 B350 motherboard options, and that’s a positive.

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Rating: 9.0.

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