MSI X570 Tomahawk Motherboard Assessment

Today we're taking a look at the new X570 Tomahawk motherboard from MSI. We've wanted to test this thing for months now as this is a very important board for MSI. Not only is this the next stop on their X570 "Redemption" tour, it's also a mainstream board at $ 200 that many of you will be interested in.

So far, MSI's offer for $ 200 was the X570 Gaming Edge WiFi, a board that failed our Ryzen 9 3900X VRM stress test. To make matters worse, no other brand has failed this test at any price. Those of you who have followed our X570 VRM thermal tests will know what we think of MSIs A Pro, Gaming Edge, Gaming Plus and Gaming Pro Carbon. They are all pretty poor in terms of VRM performance.

MSI admitted they had to do better and worked to warm up their lineup again. First, they replaced the $ 370 Ace Gaming with the $ 300 Unify and removed the RGB lighting for a no-frills affair. The X570 Unify is a great quality board, but for $ 300 it is out of reach for many.

This is where the MSI X570 Tomahawk comes in and for $ 200 it hits popular X570 mainstream boards like the Asus TUF Gaming Plus, the Gigabyte Aorus Elite and the Asrock Steel Legend. It will also replace the terrible Gaming Edge WiFi, a board that we really hope will no longer be offered by MSI, along with a few others, including the X570 Pro Carbon.

We do not plan to thoroughly review every aspect of the Tomahawk (a full list of specifications can be found here). We have already tested over a dozen AMD X570 motherboards. You can find our recommendations in the relevant purchase instructions.

Our main focus will be on testing the thermal performance of VRM as this is a key differentiator between these motherboards, which will house a new generation high performance Ryzen processor. The VRM cannot be easily updated either. Before we go into that, however, we should note that the Tomahawk offers some new features via the gaming edge, such as: B. 2.5 Gbit networks, an additional USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB port and the Wi-Fi that has been updated to Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 with Bluetooth 5.0. That being said, it's very similar to what we've seen before in terms of design, of course VRM is excluded.

To talk about the VRM configuration, the X570 Tomahawk uses the ISL69247 controller, six of which are picked up for the vcore portion of the VRM and then doubled with ISL6617 phase doublers. These 12 phases then connect with the stars of the show, a dozen ISL99360 60A power levels. In the previous Gaming Edge WiFi, MSI used an Infineon IR35201 controller with four signals for the vcore VRM, each of which was doubled with an IR3598 phase doubler.

By default, MSI uses a 500 kHz CPU switching frequency for both boards and Buildzoid calculates that the Gaming Edge VRM emits 46 watts of heat at 1.2 V and 200 A power. This would explain why these boards run so hot on a 3950X 170-190A with PBO enabled. Buildzoid is now also calculating that the new Tomahawk board will only generate 17 watts of heat under exactly the same conditions. This is a reduction in the heat output by over 60%.

On competing boards like the Asus TUF Gaming X570-Plus and Gigabyte Aorus Elite, both boards use a dozen Vishay SIC639 50A power levels, which are basic DRMOS components that basically have no current or temperature monitoring. The intelligent power levels used by the Tomahawk have a current and temperature monitoring and are of course designed for 60 A, so that higher currents are supported.

The Tomahawk has a heat sink design similar to the gaming edge, but that's fine, as this didn't let the gaming edge down, but the garbage underneath. The X570 Tomahawk looks great on paper and there's no reason why this shouldn't be by far the best $ 200 AM4 motherboard period. First, let's continue testing.

Benchmarks

For load tests, we run the Blender Gooseberry workload on an outdoor test bench for one hour without direct airflow. We usually test in a PC case too, but we skipped this step for the X570 test because we planned to retest more than twenty X570 motherboards after the Ryzen 9 3950X was released. As it turned out, the 3950X was no more power intensive than the 3900X, so re-testing was not warranted.

To record the temperatures, we use a digital thermometer with type K thermocouples and indicate the maximum temperature of the MOSFET surface and the rear circuit board. For the MOSFETS, this means that we measure the temperature directly above the component between it and the thermal pad and not the internal temperature, which is inevitably slightly higher. Nevertheless, all boards are tested under exactly the same conditions, so we get a clear picture of how the VRM temperatures are compared.

Finally, we do not report Delta T via ambient, but maintain a room temperature of ~ 21 degrees. We have a thermocouple next to the test system that monitors the room temperature.

Here are our first results with the Ryzen 9 3900X with activated PBO + Auto OC in the RyzenMaster software. After the one-hour stress test, the X570 Tomahawk reached a maximum of only 58 degrees. This is an incredible result. This is basically the performance you can expect from the best X570 motherboards. In fact, the MOSFET is 3 degrees cooler than the Asus Hero, a board that costs twice as much. It is also able to match MSI's own $ 700 Godlike. Basically, it is 2-3 degrees warmer than the very best X570 motherboards.

Compared to the Gaming Edge, the board that the Tomahawk replaces, the PCB temperature drops by 48 degrees. It is also 15 degrees cooler than the TUF Gaming and 5 degrees cooler than the Aorus Elite, which works very well under this load.

When we moved on to the overclocked results with the 3900X at 4.3 GHz and 1.4 V, we previously found that Gaming Edge, A-Pro and Gaming Pro Carbon failed this test. The same applies to the Gaming Plus. The VRM on these boards just got too hot and as a result the 3900X started to throttle. As you can see, the temperatures at which these boards were throttled were all very different. The highest quality, the Gaming Pro Carbon, did not even reach 100 ° C.

The X570 Tomahawk, on the other hand, reached a maximum of only 62 degrees, an increase of only 4 degrees compared to the PBO test. This meant that the Tomahawk was one degree cooler than the Unify when comparing driver temperatures and 3 degrees cooler when comparing PCB temperature. This also meant that the Tomahawk was only 4 to 5 degrees warmer than the very best X570 boards, which is an amazing improvement for this new $ 200 motherboard.

This is also a significant improvement over the Asus TUF Gaming, which is one of our most popular X570 motherboards at this price. The Tomahawk lowers the PCB temperature by an incredible 16 degrees compared to the TUF, making it 25 degrees cooler than the Gigabyte Aorus Elite. We believe that the Aorus Elite cooler in this test cannot handle the heat output as well as the TUF cooler, which is why it performs much worse than the PBO tests. Direct airflow would likely bring these boards closer together.

Perhaps most important on the Asus and Gigabyte boards is the 63 degree drop in PCB temperature due to the terrible Gaming Edge WiFi.

Here's a look at the Tomahawk compared to its direct competitors at a price of $ 200 as well as the flagship models from Asrock, Asus, Gigabyte and MSI for reference. This shows a clear picture of how good the tomahawk is. We get the flagship VRM thermal output for $ 200.

As good as the Asus TUF Gaming X570-Plus is, it cannot keep up with the newer Tomahawk. It's just a shame that we had to wait almost a year to get a good MSI X570 board that didn't cost more than $ 300.

What to buy, pack up

MSI's new Tomahawk is the most impressive X570 motherboard we've tested at this price. As we just said, it's a shame that we had to wait so long. MSI certainly didn't get it right the first time, but so far the revision has worked excellently at several different prices.

The MSI X570 Unify offers the best VRM performance at $ 300, and yet the cheaper Tomahawk is even better in that regard. If you're not ready to spend $ 700, you can't beat the Tomahawk in terms of VRM thermals. You could even say that the Tomahawk's VRM is an overkill that we certainly have no objection to. However, if you start pushing below 90 degrees in our 4.3 GHz OC test, it doesn't matter to the vast majority of users. All sub 90 degree boards work flawlessly with a overclocked Ryzen 9 3950X even in hot environments, especially if you only play.

Compared to existing MSI models, the Tomahawk wipes out boards like the X570 Gaming Pro Carbon WiFi, it's just better in every way imaginable. We also hope that MSI decides to discontinue the Pro Carbon, which is an embarrassment.

If you choose to buy between the X570 Tomahawk, TUF Gaming, Aorus Elite or even the Steel Legend, it doesn't make a big difference, since everything works perfectly with any high-end AM4 processor. If you're an overclocker, the Tomahawk has an advantage, but otherwise the functionality of these boards is pretty similar.

The Asus TUF Gaming X570-Plus WiFi has been our first choice at this price for almost a year – it is currently available for around $ 190. The Tomahawk has the advantage of being the newer, more sophisticated offering, and it ran 16 degrees cooler in our OC tests, but with a TUF peak of just 78 degrees, you won't encounter any VRM issues on this board .

Conclusion: If you buy an X570 motherboard today and have the Tomahawk available for $ 200, this is the obvious choice, unless the alternatives Asrock, Asus or Gigabyte are offered at lower prices. Now all we have to do is wait for the Tomahawk to go on sale. That should happen early next month.

Purchasing links:
  • Asus TUF Gaming X570-Plus at Amazon
  • Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite on Amazon
  • Asrock X570 Steel Legend on Amazon
  • MSI X570 Tomahawk on Amazon (coming soon)
  • MSI X570 Godlike on Amazon
  • AMD Ryzen 9 3950X at Amazon
  • AMD Ryzen 9 3900X at Amazon
  • AMD Ryzen 9 3700X at Amazon
  • AMD Ryzen 5 3600 on Amazon

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