The MSI B450 Tomahawk Motherboard Review: More Missile Than Axeby Gavin Bonshor on December 11, 2018 8:00 AM EST
Experience With the MSI B450 Tomahawk
Aside from the very basic and barebones A320 chipset, all of AMD's other AM4 chipsets which includes B350, X370, B450 and X470 all allow for overclocking. This is great for users with the right components to push their processors and memory above and beyond the default settings. From glancing over a lot of different boards specifications from the main vendors, a lot of focus has been on power deliveries and packing them full of unnessesary doubled inductors without a true increase in quality. MSI has been one manufacturer to bolster and upgrade their power deliveries and the differences between the B350 Tomahawk and this newer B450 Tomahawk are more than enough to paint a picture from MSI that overclocking and stability is a key area they've improved upon.
When it came to overclocking our Ryzen 7 1700 processor within the MSI Click BIOS 5 firmware, all of the key options required to overclock the processor was found within the OC section. Users looking to apply the Game Boost pre-defined overclocking profile can do so from the initial EZ mode splash screen by clicking the button to the ON position. This will apply different settings depending on which model of processor you have installed, but for our Ryzen 7 1700 this meant it would overclock our chip to 3.2 GHz with a CPU core voltage of 1.2 V. Manually overclocking was painless as pushing our chip to its maximum stable core frequency of 4.0 GHz required two settings to be altered; the CPU ratio to x40 and the CPU Core Voltage to 1.375 V. One thing to note was when the CPU Core Voltage setting was altered from auto, it would disable AMD's Cool'n'Quiet power saving feature. The maximum CPU core voltage the B450 Tomahawk supports is 1.55 V which is considered overkill and could dramatically reduce the lifespan of the processor when left under 24/7 conditions and a maximum recommended CPU VCore of 1.45 V with adequate CPU cooling; I would recommend staying below 1.4 V for a good balance of core frequency, power draw and core temperature when using a decent CPU cooler.
Our Ryzen 7 1700 CPU has a limit of around 4.0 GHz with a voltage range of 1.36-1.40 volts which is ultimately down to the quality of the silicon within.
Our standard overclocking methodology is as follows. We select the automatic overclock options and test for stability with POV-Ray and OCCT to simulate high-end workloads. These stability tests aim to catch any immediate causes for memory or CPU errors.
For manual overclocks, based on the information gathered from previous testing, starts off at a nominal voltage and CPU multiplier, and the multiplier is increased until the stability tests are failed. The CPU voltage is increased gradually until the stability tests are passed, and the process repeated until the motherboard reduces the multiplier automatically (due to safety protocol) or the CPU temperature reaches a stupidly high level (100ºC+). Our test bed is not in a case, which should push overclocks higher with fresher (cooler) air.
Enabling MSI's Game Boost on our Ryzen 7 1700 didn't really improve performance within POV-Ray when compared to default settings, with the only variables different came through a 1.2 V CPU VCore at maximum load and an 8 W higher power draw. Manually overclocking in 100 MHz increments gave POV-Ray performance a steady increase throughout the different straps and as expected, maximum power draw and temperatures at full load did so as well. Up until settings of 4.0 GHz and a CPU core voltage of 1.375 V was applied, VDroop control was exceptionally well and above 3.8 GHz seemed to make the B450's discipline of voltage look a little lax. Overall this board formidable option for good overclocks and with better power delivery heatsinks than previous first generation AM4 motherboards, the B450 Tomahawk is well equipped.