MSI’s Tomahawk motherboards often fee extremely. They have an inclination to deal with a core characteristic set quite than the premium tier options frequent to rather more costly boards. If the bells and whistles don’t matter to you, however you continue to need one thing able to driving a demanding Core i9 13900K (opens in new tab) CPU, then Tomahawk fashions will most likely be in your radar.
The MSI MAG Z790 Tomahawk WiFi (opens in new tab)—because the title suggests—is part of MSI’s MAG vary, its second tier sub model. It sits above the Professional vary and under the MPG and high-end MEG vary. At $319 / £337 / AU$569 it is not low cost, although in comparison with what some premium tier boards are promoting for, it is not badly priced in any respect. There’s robust competitors from the opposite distributors in its worth vary although.
Right here for evaluate I’ve the DDR5 model. There’s additionally a DDR4 model ought to you may have a very good set of DDR4 reminiscence readily available, although if you might want to purchase reminiscence too, the DDR5 model is unquestionably the best way to go. DDR4 could be very a lot on the finish of its life and the thirteenth Gen platform is nearly actually its final hurrah.
The Tomahawk adopts a tried and true all black theme, with loads of brushed steel heatsinks. It lacks onboard RGB, although you get 4 headers, three of that are addressable. Personally, I favor this sort of subtler design to ones that current you with overt RGB commercials each time you peer into your case.
MSI Z790 Tomahawk specs
Socket: Intel LGA1700
CPU compatibility: Intel twelfth & thirteenth Gen desktop processors
Kind issue: ATX
Reminiscence assist: DDR5-7200+(OC), As much as 128GB
Storage: 4x M.2, 7x SATA
USB: As much as 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2, 6x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 6x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 6x USB 2.0
Show: 1x DP 1.4. 1x HDMI 2.1
Networking: Intel 2.5G LAN, Intel Wi-Fi 6E
Audio: Realtek ALC4080
Value: $319 (opens in new tab)/ £337 (opens in new tab) / AU$569 (opens in new tab)
The Tomahawk consists of assist for 4 M.2 drives, although PCIe 5.0 SSD assist is lacking. Wouldn’t it be good to have? Sure, however together with a complete lack of PCIe 5.0 drives, the Z790 platform requires an 8x/8x break up between the 16x main slot and the M.2 slot, which means it is not one thing that is very important to have at this time limit. A very good high quality PCIe 4.0 drive will likely be greater than ample for years to come back, very similar to a very good PCIe 3.0 drive nonetheless stays related in the present day.
Not like some PCIe 5.0 SSD supporting boards, such because the costlier Gigabyte Aorus Z790 Grasp (opens in new tab) with its huge M.2 heatsink, the Tomahawk doesn’t want one, sticking with a low profile design that doesn’t require a lot of floor space.
The Z790 Tomahawk comes with seven SATA ports. For bulk storage, SATA nonetheless has a spot and people seven ports alone could also be a deal maker for some customers. Some boards costing much more include solely 4 SATA.
The VRM is an actual spotlight in comparison with competing choices in its worth vary. A 16+1+1 part answer with 90A levels is well able to pushing an overclocked Core i9 13900K. Nevertheless, you’ll have to ensure you have energetic airflow over the heatsink space as they don’t have an entire lot of floor space. Whereas looping Cinebench R23 on a Core i9 13900K with out energy limits, I noticed a peak VRM temperature of 69°C. That is okay however in a closed case with poor airflow, temperatures will rise much more than that. Much less demanding i5 and i7 CPUs will fare so much higher in fact.
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The rear I/O is especially spectacular, with a complete of ten USB ports, topped by USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 and Gen 2 Sort-C ports. Add to that one other 4 USB Gen 2 ports and 4 Gen 1 ports. There’s 2.5G LAN and Wi-Fi 6E, a full set of audio ports powered by a Realtek ALC4080 codec, CMOS and BIOS flash buttons, and eventually HDMI 2.1 and DP 1.4 ports.
That’s a really well-rounded set of choices, particularly at this worth the place USB4 or Thunderbolt 4 just isn’t anticipated. They’re the sorts of options that makers use to justify boards costing twice as a lot.
MSI’s BIOS has modified little through the years, and truthfully, it does not have to. Should you’re conversant in MSI boards since their first UEFI iterations, you may be proper at dwelling. Although everybody may have their very own opinions on which structure they like, MSI’s interface will get my decide. I significantly like MSI’s fan management system. I hate to depart my system’s followers at auto.
You can say I am a fan… I’ll present myself out.
The MSI BIOS presents you with a simplistic CPU TDP choice upon first boot. There is a default ‘Boxed Cooler’ setting which enforces Intel’s energy limits, a ‘Tower Cooler’ possibility which raises TDP to 288W, and eventually a ‘Water Cooling’ possibility which removes all limits. Not that you will ever want it, however this permits a hypothetical 4096W!
Take a look at rig
CPU: Intel Core i9 13900K
Graphics: Zotac GeForce RTX 3080 Ti AMP Holo
RAM: 2x 16GB G.Talent Trident Z5 DDR5-6000 C36
Storage: 2TB Seagate FireCuda 530
Cooling: Cooler Grasp PL360 Flux 360mm AIO
PSU: Corsair AX1000
I used to be lucky to get my fingers on each the DDR4 and DDR5 variations of the Z790 Tomahawk. That offers us an incredible alternative to take a look at like-for-like techniques with each kinds of reminiscence. The takeaway—and it is a constant takeaway when speaking about reminiscence—is that quick reminiscence solely helps in very particular conditions. On this case I used to be utilizing a very good set of DDR4-3600 C14 reminiscence, which means the DDR4 outcomes are close to sufficient to nearly as good because it will get until you have acquired some actually prime shelf B-Die reminiscence at 4000MHz+.
The Handbrake video encoding check advantages vastly, the file compression check much more so, whereas in different circumstances the variations are inside a margin of error.
In the case of gaming, the variations apply to particular video games. Now that DDR5 costs have fallen, it is sensible to go for the DDR5 Tomahawk over the DDR4 one. After all, a greater graphics card or CPU will ship extra tangible efficiency advantages.
When evaluating the DDR5 Tomahawk to another Z790 DDR5 boards, the outcomes are typically inside a margin of error. You may get quicker multithreading outcomes in the event you go away your CPU’s energy limits unlocked, although energy consumption will enhance and you will want superb cooling.
Today, with per core CPU turbo designs, utilizing overclocking to guage a CPU is all however ineffective. Any mid-range board will deal with a Core i9 13900K and in the event you overclock, you’ll hit cooling limitations earlier than VRMs are overly confused. Remember to maintain the VRM cool although, as talked about, the Z790 Tomahawk wants airflow to maintain it from getting too sizzling. The Tomahawk wants a bit little bit of BIOS optimization to assist quick reminiscence. It is a small factor although, not many individuals will run 7600MHz+ on mid-range boards. Additionally, the Tomahawk does not formally assist speeds past DDR5-7200, so it may’t be faulted for not working ‘bonus’ speeds.
Due to inflation, provide chain points and a bit (or so much) of greed, the pricing of motherboards and graphics playing cards is thru the roof. Which means discovering a very good worth for cash motherboard is significant, permitting you to divert cash in direction of a quicker GPU or CPU. Should you make up a guidelines of what you need from a motherboard, the MSI Z790 Tomahawk ought to have most of what you want. Issues like USB4 or 10G LAN are what board makers use to justify the value of motherboards costing double the cash of the Z790 Tomahawk.
The guidelines is full for many customers. Wi-Fi 6E, 2.5G LAN, a robust VRM able to dealing with 13900K, a lot of USB ports together with 3.2 Gen 2×2, a stable BIOS, and a discrete design able to mix in with nearly any construct theme. Ask your self in the event you want extra? Should you do, be ready to take a step up in worth.
Maybe its lack of PCIe 5.0 M.2 assist counts towards and it requires good airflow in the event you topic it to heavy masses, however the MSI MAG Z790 Tomahawk remains to be a stable, feature-rich board that delivers a core characteristic set that may swimsuit 95% or extra of customers. Do you might want to spend extra? I might say you most likely do not.