Motherboards

REVIEW | MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk: Essential Durability

“MSI Tomahawk” has got to be one of the pieces of literature every pc builder has come across sometime in their life and this is not without any reason. The Tomahawk falls between the boundary of cheap and and well suited for a build in the mid-end spectrum.

MSI has done a great move in the Intel 10th gen series release by actually “spearheading” the board line-up with the MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk. This was not the case with the X570 as they appear to have released this a little bit too late in the minds of many analysts alike.

Specifications

What’s in the Box?

The Tomahawk is what I call the “essential” board which packs only the essentials in the motherboard battle. The inclusions are about essential as it can get with the usual SATA cables, M2 screws, Manuals, and even a 2020 catalog that explains the different product lines of MSI!

The Staple of Warfare

The Tomahawk sells because it works – it isn’t the absolute “bestest” but it does a great job tanking most of the workload and holds many features for price it holds.

The MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk look and hold its place firmly to get as much features inside its bearing. As a staple of warfare, the Tomahawk like the real one can engage problems from any angle.

The support of the board for a broad range of USB ports is nice as it’s good to still have a port or 2 of previous generation ports incase you need to run some legacy hardware.

The “armor” that the Tomahawk has isn’t just for looks, Decent thermal pads are included within the M2 ports and the huge surface area of the plating dissipates heat efficiently.

Performance and Benchmarking

The MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk on top of the remarkable and respectable I/O offerings they included is extremely friendly with casuals and entry enthusiasts alike. I’ll give it to them for having a first version BIOS that did what it supposed to – to have the auto OC features up and working!

Well on top of having the board working without any issues in its basic features. The Tomahawk just works and it does this with style and ingenuity with the heatsinks and plating that acts as a dissipation tool across the board – something we see pop out on many brands from the X570.

Testing Rigs:

Motherboard: MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk
Processor: Intel I9 10900K
GPU: MSI RTX 2060 Gaming Z
RAM: Trident Z Royale 3000mhz 16gb dual kit DDR4 (clocked down to 2933)
Cooler: Noctua D15

Motherboard: ASUS Crosshair X370
Processor: Ryzen 9 3900X
GPU: MSI RTX 2060 Gaming Z
RAM: Trident Z Royale 3000mhz 16gb dual kit DDR4 (clocked down to 2933)
Cooler: Noctua D15

As much as we want to test some games with the processor and motherboard we won’t be maximizing the load on these hardware. With that in mind we have prepared the following for gauging the default and OC profile with the board.

– Cinebench (Single and Multicore)
– 3DMark
– Blender BMW Render Time Test
– Blender Temp Test

Cinebench R20 Single and Multicore Tests

During OC, the Intel I9 10900K in it’s default profile did a little better in the than the OC profile in the multicore test – This isn’t the motherboard’s fault as this was also the trend for the other boards we had for testing. Of course we had another rig on standby to have a comparison with the Ryzen 9 3900x.

Single core looks more feasible with the I9 10900K having a slight boost in the score on the extreme OC profile. The 3900X falls a bit short for the single core test.

3DMark (CPU score)

The following trend follows with the 3DMark test where the default profile gets higher scores. The Ryzen 9 3900X falls short for the CPU score.

Blender BMW Render Time

The Ryzen 9 3900x will take a rest for this test as we see the pure rendering time of the Intel I9 10900K with the MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk.

The Extreme OC profile of the board seems to yield a slightly shorter render time in this test with the Intel I9 10900K.

Blender Temperature Test

In this test we’ll put the VRMs and the ability of the board to keep the cool under load as this often is the huge debate that makes or breaks the recommendability of the motherboard.

In line with the MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk – We also used the MSI Dragon Center for monitoring in this test.

During the first test, We’re reaching around 72c around the VRMs and the CPU at a toasty 98c. We’re looking for irregular dips during the load and the temperature of the CPU and VRMs – Currently, it looks mediocre at the very least for now.

At the 5th benchmark, We’re seeing a rise in both the VRM and CPU temp at 99c for our 10900K and and 77c for the VRMs of the MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk. This is good as we’ll see how far the board can keep the temperatures down.

During the last benchmark, we see the temps go down a bit – meaning that the temperature have reached its maximum temperature and the board has set into stone the temperature it can keep the mighty 10900K down to.

We give the MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk props for keeping the VRM temps below 80c with the flagship 10th gen Intel processor. We have another benchmark with the I5 and I7 but this will be more centralized on gaming use.

Final Verdict and Recommendations

The MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk is the essential – the board that everyone wished MSI released earlier during the X570 days and fulfilling that wish with the Z490. MSI did cut corners without spending too much on performance – I really wish they added more inclusions in the package but I can where MSI is coming from.

The MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk is a reliable board that can take the expectations of casuals and entry enthusiasts to the moon. You can bring your 10th gen Intel processors to places but be careful not to “burn” up. Light OC is manageable but higher and more risky OCs will raise temperatures well above our listed max and minimums.

Pros:

The balance of functionality and affordability – The Tomahawk true to its roots will keep its position as an affordable board but still delivering the reliability featured in our tests.

Reliable Power – Good temps and a smooth test run on all benchmarks show the reliability of the motherboard in the most taxing of loads. You’re keeping the reliability in a sweet price point.

Cons:

Limited Inclusions – An understandable cut at MSI’s side are the inclusions of the final package.

Mediocre VRM temps – from all the boards we have tested with the I9, The Tomahawk had the highest average VRM temp on load. While the feat of having the temperatures not go above 80c is good doesn’t make it the best but rather mediocre at this point.

We’re giving the MSI MAG Z490 Tomahawk the Gold Award – It has everything you need and more for an affordable price. Where MSI took cuts off is highly understandable. Although I’d still prefer more inclusions for motherboards that are made to tank high clock rates.

Seth Francisco Capili
Seth is a marketing and business professional by choice - a tech enthusiast and writer by birth. Back from the brink of almost disconnecting with his technological side; Seth reunites with his technological persona through writing and managing a business around computers. With a knack for interacting with people and machine - Seth spearheads the social media management and content writing efforts of GGWPTECH. "In search of darkness, Never bring light - In search of Sethan, Google @ItzYaBoiSethan"

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