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MSI Z690 Tomahawk DDR4 Review

MSI Z690 Tomahawk DDR4

MSI Z690 Tomahawk DDR4 Review
- I'm  going to be reviewing the msi z690 tomahawk wi-fi. This board is in the mid-range of the z690 offerings, costing around 300 we're going to be looking through its features, its performance and the testing we've done on it to see whether it's worth your money.

The msi tomahawk, gained a huge reputation with its b450 amd, offering At the time, a good value board that supported high-end ryzen cpus at a lower cost. Each iteration of chipset since then has seen its cost increase along with its features. So we wanted to see whether it still sits in that sweet spot of boards.

You should be considering. I want to add as well that this is a board we've purchased ourselves. It hasn't been provided for us. However, intel did provide the i72700k that we've used for testing on this board. The msi z690 tomahawk sits right in the middle of z690.

Chipsets in terms of the features it offers. Overall, it is a high-end chipset with pcie 5.0 on that main gpu slot pcie 4.0 on the m.2 drives. Another feature of z690 motherboards as a rule is that they have very strong voltage delivery, they're, all capable of running the i7 and i9 cpus to their full potential and have great voltage delivery and won't overheat doing that or throttle a cpu. 

The msi tom hawk is unremarkable in this regard. It covers all the same features as you'll find on most other z690 boards. So then, if we just take a quick look around this motherboard and take you through the key features of it, we can see that it's got a 16 phase vrm. 

It'S a great deal of power, supply and power delivery to get clean power to the cpu and assist in system stability and overclocking, and that's overkill for any cpu. You can fit on this board and that's similar for any z690 motherboard across the range there's. Two eight pin cpu power sockets, although you do only need one cpu power plug to fully power. 

This board you've got four ram slots just here: 128 gigabytes maximum ram capacity up to 5 200 megahertz ddr4 compatibility as claimed. There is also a ddr5 variant of this board, so be sure, you're buying the correct one connectivity, wise, there's pcie slots you've got three full-length slots.

Importantly, the second x4 slot is a full three slots below the main gpu slot, meaning you can fit a very large gpu and still be able to fit a card in beneath it at x4, pcie 3.speeds and another full length slot at the bottom here, which Is useful for ethernet card or perhaps an audio card, or something of that nature? 

There are four m2 slots one primary on for the cpu and then three from the chipset behind these heatsinks and the input and output connectivity is very good on the rear panel. Here you can see there's adequate usb ports. 

We'Ve got seven total usb, a of which three of these fastest 10 gigabit per second specification, there's one usbc port at 20. Gigabits per second you've got some basic video out to get video out off of the cpu for networking.

There'S a two and a half gigabit per second intel: i225v lan controller. That'S now been fixed if you've been hearing about any bugs with it. There were some problems a couple of years ago, but that chip's been revised and they're now eliminated wi-fi 6 via an intel. 

Wi-Fi chip and the audio outputs here, including optical audio out the audio itself, is handled by the alc 4080 audio chip and it has the standard separated audio section and some claims some high quality capacitors for audio quality there as well. 

Here you can see there's a usb 3.gen 2 header, which is important if you want those usbc connectors. On your case and looking around the edges of the board, you can see. There'S four fan headers across the bottom edge here and a further two up at the top here and as long as one on the edge there. 

So there's plenty of fan headers for a complex array of cooling setups, whatever you want to do, you'll be able to with this board. My one misgiving about the layout is just that it has two sata ports on the side as we'd expect, but then four at right angles to the board down in this bottom corner.

It's not a major issue, but it just means that the build will be slightly less tidy and it's slightly more difficult to connect. Sata cables and tuck them nicely out of the way it's a minor point. But it's the one layout issue of this board and the one thing i'd like to see improved the msi gaming edge has these connectors on the side of the board. 

Which makes things a little bit tidier looking at the layout and configuration of this board, there's a Pleasing lack of conflicts, putting cards in any of the pcie slots doesn't disable m.2 slots and you don't share m.2 bandwidth with satellites either.

So you can choose whatever configuration you want with the available slots and everything will work so for a common usage, including productivity, gaming and general use. This board is well laid out well appointed and it will fit everything you need with ease and allow for future upgrades. As well, turning to the bios msi used click bios 5

This is a relatively intuitive and well laid out bios, with both an easy mode and an advanced mode where, if you want to dig into deeper settings, there's not much to say here, apart from the bios, is functional practical and depending on your affinity and familiarity. 

You'Ll be able to do what needs to be done here without too much searching around. That said, the older lake cpu is complex and there's lots of options listed out. Not all of them are intuitively. Titled msi claim a useful legacy. Gaming mode, which allows disabling of e-cores by using scroll, lock in windows. However, we've been unable to get this feature working in windows, 10.

We also noted that, after setting xmp, the board occasionally likes to boot cycle once before, coming up for a second boot with the settings and presumably some memory training applied. This could be disconcerting for new builders, but it didn't interfere with applying an xmp profile or ram overclocking fan control is well laid out and easy to tweak and memory. 

Overclocking is straightforward and assisted by a number of savable presets. These presets can be backed up to usb. Sadly, they get wiped in a cmos reset, which is a common occurrence during memory overclocking at least once you've settled on a setup, it can be saved and applied as you please. 

Overall, amongst biases msi is the one we find the most intuitive and best laid out, But i acknowledge that's probably down to some familiarity on my part having more experience with it. Nevertheless, everything there is laid out, you can find it and you can dig in and tweak.

Another point of note is that we didn't need to do any setup in terms of tpm setting boot modes group priorities, uefi compatibility or anything of that nature to build this pc and get it up and running with windows with windows, 10 or windows. 11.

It booted first time booted cleaning straight into windows and was functioning perfectly straight after that with minimal setup and the only real setting changes you need to make to optimize. Your system are just those xmp settings. Moving on to the performance of this board, we tested it as stock with default settings applied and just applied xmp.

It performed exactly as you would expect. It adhered to intel standards for power limits, allowing the i7 12700k to run 190 watts. It performed perfectly consistently with other boards running the same cpu returning a cinebench r23 score of around 23 000 points. 

We dabbled briefly with some overclocking and the cpu was able to achieve five gigahertz or core overclock, which is not particularly pushing the limits for an i7 12700k. Nevertheless, it did so whilst pulling 240 watts with a minor undervolt around 50 millivolts and uh.

It certainly didn't overwhelm the motherboard, and we found the motherboard very stable, easy to tweak and didn't give us any problems at all in those exploratory overclocking sessions. We have no doubt that if you do want to overclock on it, the board supports certainly the i7 12700k without any issues at all. 

I spent considerably more time over clocking memory on this motherboard and found it incredibly flexible. In that regard, it was happy running ddr4. 4000 megahertz ram at cl-15 and cl 16 on our samsung b die kit without an issue.

It applied the 4400 megahertz cl19 xmp without a problem, although that did move the memory controller to gear 2. That'S a cpu issue, not nothing to do with the motherboard, and we found that it applied all other xmp settings. 

Absolutely fine across a range of ram specifications and generally found it very, very flexible and easy to get on with with no instability at all encountered. So that was nice to see, and that was on the original bios and both on the updated bios as well. It appears to be very flexible in the ddr4 memory it will run.

Happily, let's talk a little bit about the value of this board. Then it's retailing at the moment, around 300 300 euros in europe and a much more reasonable sounding 250 pounds in the uk there's also a ddr5 version available at the same prices, but that ruins any semblance of value due to the fact that it requires ram that Costs the same or as much again just to get her system up and running since ddr5 confers no real performance advantage over ddr4 at the moment. 

It'S pretty obvious that the ddr4 is the correct choice for this board and this cpu for the 12th generation. I feel that this board and its pricing marks kind of a watershed point for z690 motherboards, given the feature set and performance from this motherboard i feel like 300 is the absolute threshold price for this motherboard and i'd want to ideally pay a little bit less than That to feel like, i was getting really great value. 

Looking at the competition for this board in terms of msi's own products, there's the msi a pro which is again available in ddr4 with wi-fi it sacrifices some looks. It'S got the cheaper alc897 audio codec on it, and it's just got a 14 phase vrm, which is still absolutely ample for any older lake cpu you're going to run on it. It'S also got a few less high speed, usb ports, but otherwise it offers the same functionality and performance as this board at an eighty dollar. 

Saving the msi gaming edge is about twenty dollars more and that just feels like it offers a little bit extra for that money. It'S got a couple of faster usb ports on the rear, slightly better looks and some inbuilt rgb a slightly more gamery, aesthetic and we'd say that, given the pricing, it's probably worth just grabbing the gaming edge over this motherboard. 

Unless you particularly like the looks of the msi tomahawk, the azure's tough gaming z690 offers a similar specification to the msi, a pro there's, a 14 phase, vrm four m.slots, just four sata slots and an array of pcie slots consisting of two full length. Two single length and one x4 length slot: it's got just six rear, usba ports and one usbc and decently specified real tech audio. 

It'S a little light on fan, headers for a board in this price range with just three chassis fans. In addition to the cpu and pump fan headers, it's a decent board and offers everything you need, but we feel its price point is more 250 than 300 dollars that it's currently asking for the gigabyte. Auras elite is better specified and priced and the tomahawk is better specified at the same money.

The gigabyte, aurus z690 elite ax ddr4, is currently priced at 269 dollars and offers a good all-round specification. The vrm is on a par with the msi tomahawk and it boasts two more usb ports at the rear. It has the alc 1220 codec, which is mid-range audio chip and a cut down 3 port rear audio output, configuration there's some subtle rgb, while some early boards have had issues created by the pre-release bios. 

These have now been rectified with the f6 bios and there's a bios q flash function to allow easy updates at a 30 saving over the tomahawk. It'S a compelling motherboard for a pc built around the i7 12700 cpu stepping down in price from 200 and up you've got the msi a pro the gigabyte gaming x and ud motherboards, and they all offer virtually the full feature set of the z690 board.

Just with some slightly cheaper components on there slightly lower end looks but they're perfectly functional, very good motherboards. And if you're looking for a great value option, then i'd certainly consider those in the place of the msi tomahawk and going over and above this motherboard. 

Looking up towards 400, we start to approach from other boards that are basically ddr5. Only it's a shame on this chipset that all the manufacturers have opted to make their high-end boards ddr5 and, of course, that ram is incredibly expensive, 300 and up and very hard to find in good specification at the moment, and it just means those high-end motherboards. 

The value case is not made out for them at the moment. They don't offer significantly more functionality than the tomahawk or a similar board, but they do nearly double your platform costs just to get a pc up and running. In conclusion, then, there's a lot to like about the msi z690 tomahawk. 

It'S well featured well specified and we found it very easy to get on with set up and make a working pc with absolutely minimal, thus and minimal configuration. The question really comes down then, to one of value: is it a price that you're willing to pay for this motherboard and we'd, say it's priced absolutely at the limit of what it's worth paying in the light of the competition.

We've mentioned and the performance and the Feature set: we've found that said, if you do get it for a price you're happy to pay it'll make a fantastic basis for an older lake system, particularly well suited to the i5 and i7 k series cpus, and we know you'll get a lot of enjoyment out Of using it and setting it up, we've got no hesitation in recommending this board to you. 

Just do cross shop amongst those competitors we've mentioned and seeing if there's a board, that's perhaps just a little bit better value for your needs. We'Ve got plenty of other content on older late coming up and you can look at our z690 motherboard roundup as well. For some other suggestions, please do also check out We'Ve got loads of information on there to help.