Neither pandemics, economic crises, nor wafer shortages disrupt Intel’s plans to release new processors. Well, the glove box that is happening in the world still has some influence. The terms of the announcement are moving. Something is being cut, something is being added, but I don’t remember any global cancellations in recent years. A new set of system logic relies on new processors. And if there is a fresh chipset, then the updated line of motherboards from the leading three brands will definitely not keep you waiting. This time we received a motherboard from MSI, MAG B560 TOMAHAWK WIFI. Let’s get to know her better.
- Form Factor: ATX (305x244mm)
- Processor socket: LGA1200.
- System logic: Intel B560.
- RAM: 4 × DIMM, DDR4-2133… 3200 up to 128 GB.
- Sound: 7.1 HD Audio (Realtek ALC897).
- Wired network: 2.5 Gbps Ethernet (Realtek RTL8125B).
- Wireless network: Wi-Fi 802.11ax (Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210NGW), Bluetooth 5.2.
- Expansion slots: 2 × PCI-E x16, 1 × PCI-E x1;
- Drives: 6 × SATA III 7 Gb / s, 2 × M.2 NVMe (2242/2260/2280/22110), 1 × M.2 NVMe / SATA III 6 Gb / s (2242/2260/2280).
- Rear panel: HDMI 2.0b, 2 × SMA (Wi-Fi / Bluetooth), RJ45 (2.5 Gb LAN), 5 × 3.5 mm jack (HD Audio), 4 × USB 2.0, DisplayPort, 4 × USB 3.2 Gen 1 5 Gb / s Type-A, 1 × USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20 Gb / s Type-C, 1 × S / PDIF optical output.
The price at the time of publication of the review is $249.
A box of standard sizes (as for all full-format ATX-boards), thick cardboard with a bright print.
There are not many additional accessories, just a couple of SATA cables, antennas for the built-in Wi-Fi adapter, and screws for fastening M.2 drives. There is a whole heap of instructions and other printed material.
The most common form factor of the motherboard is ATX (305×244 mm), the B560 chipset without overclocking “buns.” The appearance is appropriate: no monstrous structures and steel substrates. But you can’t name a budget board either: a full set of connectors, heatsinks, a 2.5 Gigabit wired network, ax Wi-Fi. But first things first.
First, look at the most basic thing – the processor socket. It is an LGA 1200 capable of working with 10th and 11th generation Intel processors. As you can clearly see from the number of elements of the power supply system, there is no limit on the power of the “stones.” You can work without fear on top models of the lines that consume 150+ watts under load.
Four DIMM slots were crucified for RAM. Supported by DDR4 memory with a modest (by the standards of enthusiasts) set of frequencies – from 2133 to 3200 MHz. However, this is more than enough for ordinary work, and overclocking is blocked in this set of system logic. There are three PCI Express slots: two x16, one x1. If we consider the number of lines, we get “x16, x4, x1”. A modest but sufficient configuration to build even a powerful workstation with a single graphics card.
But there are plenty of M.2 slots for drives: three. In general, this is the norm for motherboards based on the five hundredth series of chipsets since the number of PCI Express lines in processors of the eleventh series has increased, and many manufacturers are in a hurry to “hang” one more drive on them for the fastest data exchange. Same here: M2_1 slot works only if there is a processor on the Rocket Lake core (11xxx) in the socket, and M2_2 and M2_3 “hang” on the south bridge of system logic (aka PCH in modern terminology). NVMe drives can be installed in each of the three, and SATA M.2 SSD only supports M2_2.
A couple of them are equipped with complete heatsinks with a thermal interface for cooling drives. The decision is absolutely correct since the vast majority of NVMe SSDs get very hot under load without a heat sink, which reduces the service life of these.
Under the rapidly aging SATA drives, there are six corresponding ports of the third version, four of which are located on the L-shaped block on edge, and two more “straight” ones, next to the front panel block. Many collectors will say “thank you” for such a combo.
A chipset with a small but massive aluminum heatsink was placed between all the drives.
The back panel on the MAG B560 TOMAHAWK WIFI is impressive: nine USB, two video outputs, wired and wireless networks, five minijacks, and an optical output. And it’s okay that four USB 2.0 versions are quite suitable for various keyboards and mice. If necessary, you can use two pads at the ATX24 power connector.
By the way, about nutrition. The processor has two connectors (for 8 and 4 pins), plus one additional six-pin connector for powering devices in PCIE slots. The solution, on the whole, is correct (there is never a lot of power supply), but why is it when there is only one slot with 16 lines? Is it problematic to “reach” from processor sockets, or do every ten watts count?
The processor power subsystem is solid: 15 phases controlled by the Renesas RAA229001 controller. In 12 phases (per processor core), pairs of power MOSFETs SM4503 and SM4337 operate, capable of withstanding currents up to 60 A in continuous operation.
Two massive aluminum radiators dissipate heat from the power switches and chokes.
They are designed oversized, installed close to the socket, with some extra-dimensional cooling systems. They work efficiently, under full load on the i5-11600K processor (TDP of 190 W), the radiators are slightly warm (without forced airflow).
Two network controllers on the board: Realtek RTL8125B, providing 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, and Intel AX210NGW, providing WI-Fi 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.2. The Realtek ALC897 codec is responsible for the sound.
UEFI shell BIOS
MSI has its own proprietary BIOS Setup UEFI interface. It meets the so-called EZ mode at the first start, where all the basic information about the system is displayed.
By searching, you can see everything that does not fit on one screen: drives, fan speed, installed RAM, and processor.
You are immediately prompted to select the type of installed cooling system. An important and sensible move: by answering one simple question, get an understanding of how much you can “fire up” the processor and adjust the fan control.
By pressing F7, we get into Advanced Mode, where there are many more settings, and they are scattered across sections and submenus.
The Settings section contains all the basic system settings. This is not only time-date and boot devices but also the configuration of all built-in controllers and ports.
The Overclocking settings section is about overclocking. True, you won’t be able to overclock too much here, but fine-tuning the frequencies, timings, and choosing the optimal voltage – no problem.
All changes, of course, can be saved in profiles, loading one or the other in a couple of clicks, if necessary.
There is also a useful section with useful add-ons and proprietary technologies. True, very small. It would look much better as the sixth subsection in Settings.
The Hardware Monitor name speaks for itself: voltages, temperatures, fan speed. Convenient graphical interface, the curves of the dependence of the speed on the temperature can be changed to your liking.
The MSI MAG B560 TOMAHAWK WIFI motherboard is practical and easy to use. When creating it, they were clearly guided by the principle of reasonable sufficiency while not cutting down on the user’s opportunities to pursue lower prices. There are no moments where the B560 TOMAHAWK “grabs the stars from the sky,” but the care for the user is visible everywhere. Not the kind of concern that is for status, but one that is to eliminate problems in operation: a powerful power subsystem, heatsinks for M.2 drives, convenient wiring, an abundance of USB on the rear panel. A good choice for assembling a config of medium and high power on the principle of “compose, debug and forget.” The price in Moscow stores at the time of preparation of the material was about $249. This is a lot for a mid-range motherboard, but considering the novelty of the five hundredth series of chipsets and the exchange rate, it is quite adequate.
- Powerful power subsystem.
- The ability to install three M.2 drives.
- Sophisticated layout of elements on the board.
- 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet.
- Wi-Fi 802.11ax.