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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk Review: Dual Ethernet, Sub $200

The B550 Tomahawk includes solid power delivery, plus 2.5 and 1 GbE.

MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk
(Image: © MSI)

Software

MSI doesn’t offer an excessive amount of software, but it covers all the bases. In the utility section of MSI’s support section for this board is an MSI-skinned version of CPUz, Realtek Audio control and Dragon Center. Dragon Center (DC) is a one-stop-shop to monitor the system, control RGB lighting (Mystic Light), LAN, and gaming highlights. DC is relatively comprehensive, though it is missing software-based overclocking and fan control. 

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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Firmware

To give you a taste of the Firmware, we’ve gathered screenshots showing a majority of the BIOS screens. MSI’s layout is informative and simple to use in EZ Mode or Advanced, with the latter separated into the more familiar sections on the main page. When overclocking, the most frequently used options are located on the opening BIOS screen in the OC section, so you don’t have to dig down for most common functions. Overall, the MSI BIOS is easy to navigate and read with plenty of options to tweak your system. 

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

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 Test System and Comparison Products

Our test system uses Windows 10 64-bit OS (1909) with all threat mitigations applied. The motherboard BIOS used is the latest non-beta available to the public, unless otherwise noted. The hardware used is as follows: 

CPUAMD Ryzen R9 3900X
MemoryG.Skill Trident Z Neo 2x8GB DDR4 3600 (F4-3600C16Q-32GTZN)
GPUAsus ROG Strix RTX 2070
CPU CoolerCorsair H150i
PSUCorsair AX1200i
SoftwareWindows 10 64-bit 1909
Graphics DriverNvidia Driver 445.75
SoundIntegrated HD audio
NetworkIntegrated Networking (GbE or 2.5 GbE)
Graphics DriverGeForce 445.74

For this review, we’ll be comparing the MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk ($179.99) with the Gigabyte B550 Aorus Master ($279.99) and the Asus ROG Strix B550-F Gaming Wi-Fi ($209.99).  

Benchmark Settings 

Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
PCMark 10Version 2.1.2177 64
Essentials, Productivity, Digital Content Creation, MS Office
3DMarkVersion 2.11.6866 64
Firestrike Extreme and Time Spy Default Presets
Cinebench R20Version RBBENCHMARK271150
Open GL Benchmark - Single and Multi-threaded
Application Tests and Settings
LAME MP3Version SSE2_2019
Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 1.2.2
Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4K mkv to x264 (light AVX) and x265 (heavy AVX) 
Corona 1.4Version 1.4
Custom benchmark
7-ZipVersion 19.00
Integrated benchmark
Game Tests and Settings
The Division 2Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080
Forza Horizon 4Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080

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  • Phaaze88
    That's a big jump in price from what used to be reasonably priced on the older B series...
    Overclocking is garbage on Ryzen 3000 too; there's a better performance tweak than that.

    Ehh, might as well get an Asus TUF Gaming X570 Plus for around the same price... ¯\(ツ)
    Reply
  • King_V
    Yeah, I'm not quite sure where $180 became a reasonable price for what was supposed to be a budget chipset, relative to the X570.
    Reply
  • CBOT
    The more expensive boards use the latest Realtek ALC1220 codec (or some variation of) while the Tomahawk uses a Realtek ALC1200, a slightly cut down version of the ALC1220.

    I think thats wrong, have the Board running and it says Realtek ALC S1220A.
    Reply
  • Nestea_Zen
    no fan control? wtf is this the 90s?
    but hey, disk cleanup:

    c4OpCCPU-D0:165View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4OpCCPU-D0&t=2m45s
    nxKivQwQSew:0View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxKivQwQSew&t=1m


    according to http://download.msi.com/manual/mb/DRAGONCENTER2.pdfthere should be fan control
    Reply
  • jrhansen
    Many of the B550 boards have considerably more features than the older B450. It is more expensive than what people is used to, but the MSI Tomahawk is a great board with almost the same features as many X570 boards, and more than half of the available X570 boards is actually crappy designed. It seems most board makers have produced some nice B550 boards that is miles better than the X570 counterparts and many of the X570 is just too steep for what they delivers. If AMD had put a PCIe 4.0 uplink to the CPU in the B550 chip it would render 80% of the X570 boards pointless, overpriced and also bad designed for really many off'em. And there is some cheap B550 on the horizon for supposedly under 100 $ so there will be MB for those on a tight budget. But if you are on the really low budget, you could go with a B450 as they won't disapear right away, and those should be sufficient if it is for an ultra budget build anyway.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    A PS2 port on a $200 motherboard? Do PS2 mice even still exist?
    Reply
  • SDSI
    I'm a little perplexed with the 3.5 star rating and this response isn't necessarily criticism of the author's review, but looking at the board of what really matters to the mainstream, which in my opinion doesn't yield a 3.5 star rating.

    The only cons were an Audio Realtek codec at 1200, however unless you have very specific needs (most of us don't) there is very little difference in the chips other than 10db increase on the already incredibly efficient 110 db with the ALC1200. By the way, the ALC1200 is a new chip manufactured in 2018 vs. the older 1220. (I hardly this this worth dinging the board for even a half star). If you would like to see the difference please check out this article: ALC1200 vs 1220
    Secondly - "lack of Wifi", really? If you are using this board and overclocking for gaming (most would), one wouldn't game using a Wifi connection, but rather use the only board in the round that has 2 ethernet ports sporting 2.5G bandwidth. Further, if it became necessary because of some odd situation where you couldn't be wired one could buy an external usb wifi adapter for: TP-Link USB WiFi Adapter for PC(TL-WN725N), N150 Wireless Network Adapter for Desktop - Nano Size WiFi Dongle Compatible with Windows 10/7/8/8.1/XP/ Mac OS 10.9-10.15 Linux Kernel 2.6.18-4.4.3 at Amazon for $7.99US dollars. Again, hardly worth a half a star ding.

    Further, only 6 rear usb ports - I don't see the issue here as most enthusiasts utilize ports rear and in front which by the way has 7 ports for a total of 13. I suspect that number on the rear is due to the very useful dual ethernet ports supporting 2.5Gbs of bandwidth which the other motherboards as comparison don't offer. And with the above statement being repeated, this hardly qualifies for even a half star ding.

    Lastly, the benchmarks were spot-on noting in several cases this board outperforming the other boards in the round up. The author spends very little time in this area. I giving the overall performance/price to, you guessed it, the MSI board. Most notably this board has almost all the" big boy" features the other two in the review have as well as features those boards don't sport at a current price of $179.00 US dollars vs. the Gigabyte B550 Aorus Master +35% more @ ($279.99) and the Asus ROG Strix B550-F Gaming Wifi +14% more @ ($209.99).

    In conclusion - what is not to like about the board? Not much if anything. Frankly if you must ding the board from a 5 star rating for boring looks - I guess that is ok.

    My conclusion:

    Value: 5 Stars (I'm really stretching (Really could be a 4.5), however it is a better value than the competition in the review so it receives a 5 star rating.
    Performance: 4.5 Stars (maybe a couple of features hard core overclockers don't have at their disposal - can you say $179.99?
    Features: 5 Stars (built in wireless and a newer more efficient AC1200 (2018)that suffers -10 decibal difference from its older big brother at 1220 (2017) hardly fall into mainstream features that really matter to the masses.)

    Verdict 4.8 stars.

    Ryan
    Reply