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MSI B450 Tomahawk Motherboard Review

AMD’s B450 chipset offers motherboard manufacturers an enticing opportunity to deliver overclocking-capable and well-equipped motherboards to a highly affordable price. MSI has seized that opportunity well with its B450 Tomahawk which offers good all round connectivity and performance for around the £/$100 mark.

There’s nothing extraordinary with the B450 Tomahawk – it has decent connectivity in terms of M.2, SATA and USB ports and the VRM implementation, while capable, is still entry-level in the context of the wider AM4 platform, even if MSI does well to offer a good-sized VRM heatsink.

The inclusion of the BIOS flashback port, debug LEDs and full RGB lighting with extra RGB headers is impressive at this price point, as well as the overall tidiness and quality of the build – push pins for the chipset heatsink aside.

There are a few areas where cost-cutting measures are evident. For instance, the audio implementation uses the ageing Realtek ALC892 codec rather than newer ALC1150 or ALC1220 codecs. Likewise the networking uses the Realtek RTL8111H NIC rather than more desirable Intel NICs such as I219-V or I211-AT, though differences between these are not significant aside from some improved driver maturity and reduced CPU cycle usage on the Intel NICs.

 

Consumers looking to build an AMD Ryzen AM4 system on a tight budget are the target audience of the MSI B450 Tomahawk. It offers an attractive step-up over bare-bones entry-level motherboards with a sprinkle of “niceties” usually found in more expensive motherboards.

That said, it’s still very much targeted at the price-conscious buyer and as such MSI cannot escape the fact that previous generation equivalents, while stocks remain available, are more affordable at the current time. For instance in the UK the B350 Tomahawk is between £10 to £20 cheaper, where stock is available.

However, the narrative is more nuanced than that because the B450 Tomahawk does offer more features than the B350 predecessor including USB 3.1 10Gbps, more SATA ports, more LED strip connectors and the built-in LEDs support full RGB rather than just red.

MSI’s B450 Tomahawk has the potential to be an excellent motherboard but is let down by shaky UEFI support for XMP profiles, as experienced during our testing. MSI has yet to fix the issue we raised but we sincerely hope a future BIOS release improves memory support for high-speed XMP-enabled memory kits on this motherboard.

The MSI B450 Tomahawk has a retail price of £99.95 in the UK and is usually sold with a 3 year warranty.

In the USA it can be had for $100 at Amazon and $100 at Newegg and usually has a 3 year warranty.

Pros:

  • Capable VRM and VRM cooling for the price
  • Equipped with USB 3.1, USB Type-C and M.2 32Gbps
  • Affordable price point
  • RGB LED lighting (onboard and expandable headers)
  • Debug LEDs and USB flashback port
  • Neutral aesthetics
  • Much improved Mystic Light software

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than previous-generation (AMD 300-series chipset) motherboards
  • XMP Memory compatibility problems
  • Less desirable audio and network controllers in use
  • RGB headers not independently controllable

KitGuru says: The MSI B450 Tomahawk is very good all-round motherboard from MSI for AMD’s AM4 platform, only let down slightly by fixable BIOS-related memory issues.

Rating: 8.0.

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