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MSI MAG Z590 Tomahawk WIFI Motherboard Review: Well Rounded, Runs Warm

A full-featured, mid-range board for $269.99

MSI MAG Z590 Tomahawk WIFI
(Image: © MSI)

Firmware

To give you a taste of the Firmware, we’ve gathered screenshots showing most BIOS screens. MSI’s BIOS is unique from the other board partners in that the headings aren’t at the top, but split out to the sides. All the most frequently used options in each section are easy to find and tend not to be buried deep within menus. Overall, MSI didn’t change much here, moving from Z490 to Z590, and its BIOS continues to be easy to use.

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Software

For Z590, MSI has changed up its software offerings. We used to have several individual programs to adjust the system. But they moved to an all-in-one application called MSI Center. The new Software is a central repository for many of the utilities MSI offers. These include Mystic Light (RGB control), AI Cooling (adjust fan speeds), LAN Manager (control the NIC), Speed Up (for storage), Gaming Mode (auto-tune games), among several others (see the screenshots below for details). The User Scenario application has a couple of presets for system performance and is where you manually adjust settings, including CPU clock speeds and voltage, RAM timings, and more.

Overall, I like the move to a single application. The user interface is easy to read and get around in. However, sometimes loading these applications takes longer than I would like to see. To that end, MSI Center did an excellent job of pulling everything in.

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Test System

As of March 2021, we’ve updated our test system to Windows 10 64-bit OS (20H2) with all threat mitigations applied. On the hardware front, we’ve switched to all PCIe 4.0 components. We upgraded our video card to an Asus RTX 3070 TUF Gaming and the storage device to a 2TB Phison PS5-18-E18 M.2. We’ve also updated the games to F1 2020 and Far Cry: New Dawn, along with the hardware changes. We use the latest non-beta motherboard BIOS available to the public unless otherwise noted (typically during new platform launches). The hardware used is as follows:

Test System Components

CPUIntel i9-11900K
MemoryGSkill Trident Z Neo 2x8GB DDR4 3600 (F4-3600C16Q-32GTZN)
GSkill Trident Z Royale 2x8GB DDR4 4000 (F4-4000C18Q-32GTRS)
GPUAsus TUF Gaming RTX 3070
CoolingCorsair H150i
PSUCorsair AX1200
SoftwareWindows 10 64-bit 20H2
Graphics DriverNVIDIA Driver 461.40
SoundIntegrated HD audio
NetworkIntegrated Networking (GbE or 2.5 GbE)

Benchmark Settings

Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
PCMark 10Version 2.1.2508 64
Essentials, Productivity, Digital Content Creation, MS Office
3DMarkVersion 2.17.7137 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
F1 2020Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, TAA, 16xAF (Australia, Clear, Dry)
Far Cry: New DawnUltra Preset - 1920 x 1080

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  • Tom Sunday
    With literally weeks away from all new and much more advanced MB tech introductions, who really cares about old or soon expired technology like this? Or making buying decisions on any major or more far reaching system changes at this point in time. Before any upgrading, I would want to see all the MB cards on the table before laying out $230 for a new MSI MAG. Looks like marketing is a little too late and trying to push older or rebranded gear out of the door!
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    Tom Sunday - I agree but I think part of the problem is that the Intel marketing hype that targets investors is out of synch with the actual flow of products and the marketing hype that should accompany available products.

    They are hyping things now that are not available. I notice Apple does this a lot better. The emphasis is on the products you can buy now or very soon.
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    Am I wrong to read this review as a near complete overclocking fail on the i9? Would it do better with the i7 or i5 ?

    I am a fan of the Tomahawk series and built a computer with my son on the Z490 version.
    Reply