All of the focus with reviews of late has been on AMD’s X570 chipset, but today we have a solid board in from MSI which caters towards the lower end of the Z390 portfolio. The MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk has plenty of features including all that RGB goodness gamers need to create the perfect design in their systems, not to mention the two M.2 slots, three full-length PCIe 3.0 slots and dual LAN on the rear panel. Let’s take a look at the specifications and see what the MAG Z390 Tomahawk has to offer…
MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk Specifications & Features
|CPU (MAX SUPPORT)||i9|
|CHIPSET||Intel® Z390 Chipset|
|DDR4 MEMORY||4400(OC)/ 4300(OC)/ 4266(OC)/ 4200(OC)/ 4133(OC)/ 4000(OC)/ 3866(OC)/ 3733(OC)/ 3600(OC)/ 3466(OC)/ 3400(OC)/ 3333(OC)/ 3300(OC)/ 3200(OC)/ 3000(OC) / 2800(OC)/ 2666/ 2400/ 2133 MHz|
|MAX MEMORY (GB)||128|
|LAN||1x Intel® I219-V Gigabit LAN controller|
|1x Intel® I211-AT Gigabit LAN controller|
|USB 3.1 PORTS (FRONT)||4(Gen1, Type A)|
|USB 3.1 PORTS (REAR)||4(Gen2, Type 3A+1C)|
|USB 2.0 PORTS (FRONT)||4|
|USB 2.0 PORTS (REAR)||2|
|AUDIO PORTS (REAR)||Realtek® ALC892 Codec|
MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk Closer Look
The MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk has a black and grey theme with two zones of RGB LEDs which include the top right-hand side underneath the PCB, with the other RGB zone within the Z390 chipset heatsink. Each of the power delivery zones has its own large aluminium heatsink, with the rear panel cover fitting in nicely with the overall theme. To deliver power to the processor is an 8-pin and 4-pin 12V ATX CPU power input.
In terms of memory support, the MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk has four RAM slots which support up to 4400MHz DDR4 memory. This board also supports up to 128GB which means that the 32GB UDIMMs can be installed. The Z390 Tomahawk does not support ECC memory. To the right of the RAM slots is a 24-pin 12V ATX motherboard power input.
On the lower portion of the MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk is 3 x full-length PCIe 3.0 slots which run at x16, x16/x4, and x16/x4/x1. There are also 2 x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots if you’re looking to use additional devices such as sound cards. Above the top and bottom slots are M.2 slots with the bottom slot including a heatsink, while the top slot doesn’t. Sandwiched in between is a Key-E M.2 slot for people wishing to add a wireless adapter as one doesn’t come with this model as standard. Also included are six SATA ports which have support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays.
This board does feature RGB LEDs for those looking to add some flair to the look of their system, with a strip located underneath the PCB by the RAM slots, and underneath the Z390 chipset heatsink. Dotted around the edge of the board are a single CPU 4-pin fan header, a 4-pin water-pump header, and 5 x 4-pin headers designed for case fans. Other connectors include 2 x 4-pin RGB LED connectors, a single 3-pin RAINBOW LED connector, 2 x USB 3.1 front panel headers, and 2 x USB 2.0 front panel headers.
On the rear panel, the MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk offers an impressive amount of connections, inputs, and outputs. Included is two Intel controlled Gigabit LAN ports, 3 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A ports, one USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, and 2 x USB 2.0 ports. For people looking to use onboard graphics with supported Intel processors, the Z390 Tomahawk has a DisplayPort and HDMI video output. A Realtek ALC892 HD audio codec powers the onboard audio which includes an S/PDIF optical output. Also present is a PS/2 combo keyboard and mouse port.
MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk Performance: Test Setup and Results
Test Bench and Setup
In the interest of fairness and to show real-world performance, the processor was left at stock. All of the motherboards and processors seen in the graphs below are set with multi-core enhancement enabled (on supported models) and are at the mercy of the motherboard itself. To keep things on an even playing field along with previously tested processors, we have used the same DDR4 memory running at 3000MHz with the same graphics card and the same testing methodology.
Motherboard: MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk
CPU: Intel Core i9-9900K (Stock settings)
CPU Cooling: be quiet! Silent Loop 240mm
GPU: ZOTAC GTX 1060 6GB
RAM: Ballistix Elite 3000MHz 16GB (2x8GB)
PSU: be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 1000w
OS: Windows 10 Professional x64
3DMark Fire Strike
3DMark Time Spy
Ashes of the Singularity
Total War: WARHAMMER
The MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk Review: The Verdict
While the Z390 Tomahawk is from the more military-themed series of MAG models, it does include a surprising number of good features. First of all, there are two Gigabit LAN ports on the rear panel with a more budget-friendly Realtek ALC892 HD audio codec powers the onboard audio. Its design focuses around some RGB, with plenty of scope to add on RGB LED strips with three RGB headers in total (2 x 4-pin and 1 x 3-pin). With a neutral grey and black theme, this kind of design will fit in well with the majority of cases on the market.
On the performance front, there are four RAM slots that support up to 128GB of 4400MHz memory which is quite impressive; the IMC on the Intel processors gets better and better with every generation. In our testing, the MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk performed exceptionally well and when compared with the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac which is a top contender, its consistency is one of its main strengths.
- The neutral design should fit in with most builds
- Performs well against other models on test
- 4000MHz DDR4 memory support
- Dual Intel Gigabit LAN on the rear panel
- Reasonable price of £150 is good all things considered
- Realtek ALC892 audio codec is ageing a little
If you’re looking for a wallet-friendly Z390 motherboard and you’re not planning on using NVIDIA SLI, then the MSI MAG Z390 Tomahawk is a good option for just £150. There’s plenty of features on offer with dual M.2 slots, 6 x SATA ports and four super-fast USB 3.1 Gen2 ports on the rear panel (3 x Type-A, 1 x Type-C). For the money, you will be hard-pressed to find a better value Z390 motherboard at present.
Thanks to MSI for sending a sample of the MAG Z390 Tomahawk in for review.