The MSI B350 Tomahawk Motherboard Review: Gaming On a Budgetby Gavin Bonshor on March 12, 2018 10:45 AM EST
- Posted in
- Raven Ridge
The B350 Tomahawk is a solid option given the component choice and offers virtually everything you would expect from a $100 offering. One of the defining features of this particular B350 model is that it does technically support two-way CrossFireX multi graphics cards configurations. The top PCIe 3.0 slot, which has been reinforced with MSI’s Steel Armor, operates at x16 with a single GPU, whereas the second slot operates at x4, but is only PCIe 2.0.
|MSI B350 Tomahawk ATX Motherboard|
|Warranty Period||3 Years|
|Memory Slots (DDR4)||Four DDR4
Up to 3200 MHz
|Video Outputs||HDMI 1.4, DVI-D, VGA|
|Network Connectivity||Realtek 8111H Gigabit|
|Onboard Audio||Realtek ALC892|
|PCIe Slots for Graphics (from CPU)||1 x PCIe 3.0 x16|
|PCIe Slots for Other (from PCH)||1 x PCIe 2.0 x4
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1
2 x PCI x1
|Onboard SATA||Four, RAID 0/1/10|
|Onboard M.2||1 x PCIe 3.0 x4, on Front|
|USB 3.1 (10 Gbps)||N/A|
|USB 3.0 (5 Gbps)||1 x Type-C Rear Panel
3 x Type-A Rear Panel
2 x Header
|USB 2.0||2 × Header
2 x Rear Panel
|Power Connectors||1 x 24-pin ATX
1 x 8-pin CPU
|Fan Headers||1 x CPU (4-pin)
4 x System (4-pin)
1 x System/Pump (4-pin)
|IO Panel||3 x USB 3.0 Type-A
1 x USB 3.0 Type-C
2 x USB 2.0 Type-A
1 x Network RJ-45 (Realtek)
1 x HDMI 1.4
1 x VGA
1 x DVI-D
1 x Combo PS/2
6 x 3.5 mm Audio Jacks
Even though the B350 Tomahawk doesn’t have support for NVIDIA SLI, users looking to utilize more than one graphics card should look towards the X370 chipset as this has far better options, and X370 supports SLI too. An interesting element is that this board does not have any USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) ports, despite the chipset supporting them.
The MSI B350 Tomahawk conforms to the usual ATX sizing (305 x 244mm) and features a shiny grey PCB with red accents on the power delivery heat sinks. This is a budget focused board, so the PCB is scarce beyond the aesthetics, but this is normal for a board of its price range.
On networking, the Realtek 8111H controller is located on the rear panel, and for audio is the Realtek ALC892 codec. Based on our performance numbers, the ALC892 as the low-end 7.1 option does perform a little bit worse than the slightly more expensive ALC1150 and ALC1220 codecs. The B350 Tomahawk does not feature a S/PDIF output, but rather it makes use of an additional 3.5mm audio jack which puts the total up to six on this particular model. The audio component section features an isolation line from the rest of the PCB to reduce inductance between the digital and audio traces, but there is no EMI shield on the codec. There are a set of Nippon Chemi-con gold audio capacitors to support the on-board audio.
There is a full compliment of DRAM slots on the MSI B350 Tomahawk, with support for up to a maximum of 64GB of DDR4, and the motherboard is listed up to DDR4-3200 for Ryzen CPUs/APUs or DDR4-2400 for Bristol Ridge APUs.
Underneath the darker grey heatsinks is a formidable (for the price range) set of midrange NIKOS MOSFETs, supplemented and controlled by a single AMD SVI2 compliant Richtek RT8894A PWM phase controller. The phases run in 4+2 configuration with the two being designed for the APU and SoC segments of the chip. With a lot of heat (pun intended) on motherboard manufacturers to improve the power delivery cooling, MSI has gone with a very reasonable offering of a metal bulk for better heat dissipation. It is nice to see a lower end board feature more function than flash, and a better design than some RGB enabled plastic.
Some users may care that the heat sinks do not feature RGB LED lighting, or any lighting for that fact, but MSI has implemented red LEDs on the rear to provide an ambient red glow (of sorts) when installed into a “closed” chassis. There is an additional 4-pin RGB header towards the bottom of the board.
One of the biggest differences between the B350 and X370 chipsets is storage support: the B350 chipset has native support for four SATA 6Gb/s ports, while the X370 chipset supports six. On the MSI B350 Tomahawk, two of the SATA ports are angled while the other two are vertical with the board. Typically this vertical arrangement is seen on cheaper motherboards. Along with the SATA ports is a single PCIe 3.0 x4 slot, suitable for NVMe drives up to 110mm.
On the rear panel, from left to right, there is a combination PS/2 connector, two USB 2.0 ports, a VGA video output, a DVI-D video output, a HDMI port, a USB 3.0 Type-C port, three USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a network port, and the audio jacks.
In the Box
The MSI B350 Tomahawk has a fairly limited set of accessories, but with that said, more than enough is included for an initial setup. We get the following:
- Driver Disk
- User & Quick Start guide
- AMD Screw CPU Cooler guide
- Rear I/O Plate
- Two SATA Cables (One right angled and one straight)
- Thank you card
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drexnx - Monday, March 12, 2018 - linkthe RGB-LED header on the regular tomahawk is a reduced functionality version that only gives you those 7 color choices - not 16.7 million like it should
Saabensippen - Monday, March 12, 2018 - linkIn the "board explorer" in the BIOS on my tomahawk it clearly identifies two of the rear usb ports as USB 3.1 Gen2. I have never tested the speeds so I do not know if they actually run at that. Also, I have read TERRIBLE things about the latest BIOS such as RAM refusing to run below 1.5v, vcore not going below 1.3, and fan curves not being adjustable anymore. I have not updated, still on 1.9 or whatever the one from a few months ago was.
Geranium - Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - linkThe board explorer showing wrong information. Couldn't find mention of USB 3.1 AKA USB 3.1 G2 on specification page.
Saabensippen - Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - linkYeah, I don't really know. The tomahawk arctic which is the same but white says that it has g2 so who knows. My BIOS says it's g2... It wouldn't be the first time that something reports that it's something other than what it is.
vkristof - Friday, March 16, 2018 - linkThis could be a function of the B350 FCH supporting USB 3.1 Gen2 per AMD's claims, but the higher speed not actually working reliably in the real world. That might be the reason that MB manufacturers have to add the Asmedia USB 3.1 Gen2 chip for their motherboards that actually claim Gen 2 ports.
I'm somewhat surprised that I haven't seen any articles that detail this AMD Gen 2 wrinkle. Maybe that AMD reddit guy might respond...
Saabensippen - Thursday, March 22, 2018 - linkI would be interested to find out. I don't run external hard drives or anything that would benefit from it though.
Saabensippen - Thursday, March 22, 2018 - linkUpdate: The latest BIOS 7A34v1F does not have any of these problems, although I had never personally experienced them with the earlier BIOS, only read about them. For me this board has lasted a year without any issues, running a 1700 at 3.75 at 1.264v. I have read about issues with it on forums and newegg (A lot of DOAs it seems) but never experienced any. I must be lucky. Also, the board explorer still says there are two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports on the back. At least one USB port from the header IDs as USB 3.1 Gen2 as well.
barleyguy - Monday, March 12, 2018 - linkI bought a B350 Tomahawk at launch and mine was terrible. I had two problems. The first was corruption on an m2 ssd. The second was that it wouldn't work properly with any sound card other than the the onboard. I tried usb and pcie sound cards, all very high end, and they had glitches. Tjis was true under both Windows 10 and Windows 7.
In summary, might be an ok board, but the one I owned wasn't. I replaced mine with an Asus B350 Prime Plus, which resolved all issues.
Myrandex - Monday, March 12, 2018 - linkFYI I bought mine at launch and have enjoyed it, but things did get better with bios updates too, especially with memory speed capabilities.
Honed1967 - Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - linkAll the way you right