June 2020
Release Date
~ $180
Average Score

should i buy the MSI B550 Tomahawk motherboard?

MSI B550 Tomahawk upsides

The MSI TOMAHAWK motherboard family has long been praised for its value-for-money approach to gaming PCs. The MSI B550 TOMAHAWK isn't the cheapest motherboard on the market, but when you consider the components' quality and MSI's reputation, the price is hard to beat. 

To begin with, the board looks fine, and the RGB lighting isn't overdone, with only 3 or 4 RGB LEDs illuminating the bottom of the chipset heatsink. As a result, you get a quite subtle and functional-looking motherboard that's up to the task at hand.

As some reviews witnessed during their testing, the power delivery this board will be sufficient for at least an overclocked Ryzen 9 3900X. The Tomahawk is the only one of these boards having two Ethernet ports (1 and 2.5 GbE), but it, too, lacks Wi-Fi. The main difference between these boards is declared memory capability, however all should easily meet AMD's 3600/3733 MHz'sweet spot,' as previously stated.

The B550 Tomahawk from MSI competes in the congested $150-$200 B550 market. Here you'll discover various boards with little difference between them, making it tough to choose between them because it comes down to budget, aesthetics, and the small features you need and desire on your motherboard.

At stock circumstances, performance was superb. The overclocking results were likewise encouraging, and because to MSI's straightforward UEFI and clear LLC settings, we were able to easily push our 16-core processor to 4.25GHz.

Throughout our tests, MSI's implemented 10-stage CPU power supply system performed flawlessly. While not especially efficient in design, the huge VRM heatsinks performed an excellent job of cooling the high-quality power stages beneath.

It's also worth noting that both M.2 slots received metal heatsinks with thermal pads. Another plus was the inbuilt USB Type-C front panel header. MSI's emphasis on plenty of fan headers and efficient UEFI-based control is also a big plus.

Is it a buy?

The MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk has excellent heatsinks, a stylish design, and is well-suited for the future. We believe it is deserving of attention in the B550 market.



The downsides of the motherboard reviews

However, there are several obvious drawbacks to the B550 Tomahawk. Even at this pricing range, MSI's selected PCIe/M.2 lane distribution is inadequate and plainly inferior to competing options. In reality, you won't be able to use dual M.2 SSDs with a high-bandwidth add-in card, or triple M.2 SSDs. The addition of 'just' five Type-A USB ports on the back is a minor flaw. Instead of the (useless?) PS/2 combo connector, we believe it would have been wiser to have a couple more.

The HDMI connection is also a huge drawback. All of MSI's literature indicates that the HDMI port is version 1.4b, rather as the 2.0 or 2.1 seen on competitor motherboards. This is really upsetting since users of APUs with this motherboard will be unable to output 4K60 to their TV or HDMI monitor. I honestly have no idea why MSI thinks this is a good design decision. It demonstrates a level of carelessness not usually associated with the company's Tomahawk SKUs.

This is a great buy

That said, the MSI B550 Tomahawk is unquestionably powerful in terms of power delivery and VRM cooling. Furthermore, the existence of two NICs, one of which is 2.5Gb, will entice many potential purchasers.



CPU Socket: AM4
Chipset: AMD B550 Chipset
Graphics Interface: 1x PCI-E 4.0 x16 slot, 1x PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot (Supports 2-way AMD CrossFire Technology)
Memory Support: 4 DIMMs, Dual Channel DDR4-4866+(OC) Mhz
Storage: 2x M.2 slots, 6x SATA 6Gb/s
USB Ports: 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps (1 Type-C + 1 Type-A), 5x USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps (1 Type-C + 4 Type-A), 6x USB 2.0,
LAN: Realtek RTL8125B 2.5G LAN, Realtek RTL8111H Gigabit LAN
Audio: 8-Channel (7.1) HD Audio with Audio Boost (ALC1200)

desktopdrop - MSI Mag B550 Tomahawk Gaming Motherboard Review

"A motherboard needs to be as versatile as possible to meet the needs of different computer users and users with different skill levels"


Key takeaways

Reasons To Buy

+ Support 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen processors

+ 2.5G LAN plus Gigabit LAN

+ Lightning Fast Game Experience

Reasons To Avoid

- None

tomshardware - MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk Review: Dual Ethernet, Sub $200

"The B550 Tomahawk includes solid power delivery, plus 2.5 and 1 GbE."


Key takeaways

Reasons To Buy

+ Capable 13-Phase 60A Power Delivery

+ Dual Ethernet (1/2.5 GbE)

+ High-power fan/pump headers

Reasons To Avoid

- Only six USB ports on Rear IO

- Other boards have better audio codec

- No integrated Wi-Fi

blogofdad - MSI B550 TOMAHAWK 2021 Review

"MSI B550 TOMAHAWK Motherboard"


Key takeaways

Reasons To Buy

+ Lightning Gen 4 PCI-e Solution

+ Quality materials and extended heatsink design

+ Blazing fast USB 3.2 Gen 2

+ 2.5 Gigabit LAN

+ Easy BIOS updates

+ Easy to work on

Reasons To Avoid

- No inbuilt Wi-Fi or Bluetooth adaptor

(Image of the MSI B550 TOMAHAWK, the focus of the review)

ausgamers - MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk Review

"In the end, that's sort of the story of the B550 Tomahawk — loads of fantastic options followed by one or two odd ones"


Key takeaways

Reasons To Buy

+ Gorgeous design

+ Great built-in software

+ Love Dragon Center

+ Loads of passive heat dissipation

+ PCIe 4.0 Ready

+ Great value for money

Reasons To Avoid

- Layout options lead to minor inconvenience

- Would personally prefer the lower M2 slot shared lanes with SATA

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KITGURU- MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk Motherboard Review

"MSI’s Tomahawk motherboard SKUs have earned themselves legendary status amongst budget enthusiasts thanks to an ideal blend of features, performance, and pricing."


Key takeaways

Reasons To Buy

+ Strong power delivery solution.

+ Good VRM cooling and MOSFET temperature sensor.

+ 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet plus 1 Gigabit Ethernet.

+ USB Type-C front panel header.

+ Dual cooled M.2 slots.

+ Eight 4-pin fan headers with good speed control.

+ Easy-to-use UEFI with clear overclocking and LLC settings.

Reasons To Avoid

- PCIe and M.2 lane allocation is not as good as competitors.

- HDMI port does not do 4K60.

- Onboard 2-digit debug LED and Clear CMOS button would have been welcomed.

overclock3d - MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk Review

"We've seen motherboards with all sorts of power designs in our B550 reviews and the Tomahawk sits somewhere in the middle with its 60A power stage, but the performance and overclocking abilities go far beyond what you might expect"


Key takeaways

Reasons To Buy

+ Lots of performance

+ Good price

+ plenty of USB 3.2 Gen1

+ Type-A and Type-C front panel connectors

Reasons To Avoid

- Boring design

pcmag - MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk

"Giving Ryzen builders more than they bargained for."


Key takeaways

Reasons To Buy

+ Reasonably priced

+ Two 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports

+ 2.5Gbps LAN

Reasons To Avoid

- No built-in Wi-Fi

- B550 limits support only to Ryzen 3000 and 5000 CPUs

- Failed to operate DDR4 RAM at 4,266MHz


"a very promising mesh treatment upgrade of the original Lancool II"


Key takeaways

Reasons To Buy

+ Understated military-style appearance

+ Performs well

+ USB 3.2 Gen. 2 connectivity

+ 2.5G and 1G LAN connectivity

+ USB 3.2 Gen. 1 front panel connectivity

Reasons To Avoid

- No WiFi connectivity

- No SLI

- Gets awfully close in price to some of the X570 options out there

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