MSI’s MAG X570S Tomahawk MAX WIFI is, as you might guess, an update to the X570 Tomahawk WIFI. At $289.99, the X570S model iteratively improves on the previous board, while ditching the chipset fan, and is a compelling option to build your budget/mid-range AMD Ryzen-based system around. It provides users with the latest audio and Wi-Fi capabilities, along with a capable (but not updated) power supply.
For just under $300 you get a 14-phase VRM with 60A MOSFETs that can push even our flagship class AMD Ryzen 9 5950X to its ambient-cooled limits. In addition, the board has a premium Realtek 4000 series audio codec and enough USB ports for most users. It lacks a 3.2 Gen2x2 (20 Gbps) port, but that’s not a deal breaker for most users. The X570S Tomahawk MAX also includes the latest Wi-Fi, with a Wi-Fi 6E card and the fast 2.5GbE of the X570 model. There are also plenty of storage options, including two PCIe 4.0 M.2 sockets and six SATA ports. All in all, the board is a well-rounded option in the budget/mid-range X570(S) space and stands out well from its peers.
In terms of performance, the Tomahawk hacked reliably in most tests, making it easy to pair with the other boards we tested. It led no benchmarks and stayed close to the average during all tests. The best result was in the PCMark 10 suite, which was above average almost across the board. The worst result was AIDA memory latency, where it was the slowest we’ve seen in a while. However, our other tests did not show this difference. Other than that, it performed well in the 3DMark tests and Far Cry: New Dawn† Overall, the X570S Tomahawk MAX worked well with our power-hungry 5950X.
We were also able to overclock the processor to 4.4GHz at about 1.25V without worry. While the VRMs aren’t the most robust we’ve seen, they handled the overclocked CPU without major complaints. Overclocking the memory was easy too: we tucked in the other 2x8GB DDR4 3600 sticks, turned on XMP and off we went. Read on to learn more about the included features and see if the MSI X570S Tomahawk MAX WIFI lands a spot on our list of the best AMD motherboards.
Specifications – MSI MAG X570S Tomahawk MAX WIFI
|Voltage regulator||14 Phase (12+2, 60A MOSFETs for Vcore)|
|Video ports||(1) HDMI (v2.1)|
|USB ports||(1) USB 3.2 Gen 2, Type-C (10 Gbps)|
|(3) USB 3.2 Gen 2, Type-A (10 Gbps)|
|(2) USB 3.2 Gen 1, Typ-A (5Gbps)|
|(2) USB 2.0 (480Mbps)|
|Network connections||(1) 2.5 GbE|
|Audio connections||(5) Analog + SPDIF|
|PCIe x16||(2) v4.0 (x16, x8/x8)|
|PCIe x1||(2) v3.0 (x1)|
|CrossFire/SLIE||AMD 2-Way Crossfire X|
|DIMM slots||(4) DDR4 5100(OC), 128GB capacity|
|M.2 slots||(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps) / PCIe + SATA (up to 110mm)|
|(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps) / PCIe + SATA (up to 80mm)|
|SATA ports||(6) SATA3 6Gbps (RAID 0, 1, and 10)|
|USB headers||(1) USB v3.2 Gen 2, Type-C (10 Gbps)|
|(1) USB v3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps)|
|(2) USB v2.0 (480Mbps)|
|Fan/Pump Heads||(6) 4-pin|
|RGB headers||(2) aRGB (3-pin)|
|(2) RGB (4 pin)|
|Diagnostic panel||Post Status Checker (4 LEDs)|
|Ethernet controller(s)||Realtek 8125B (2.5Gbps)|
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E (MU-MIMO/6GHz 160MHz/FISMA/FIPS/BT 5.2)|
|HD audio codec||Realtek ALC4080|
When we open the box, along with the motherboard, we find a basic accessory stack designed to get your PC up and running without visiting the store. It’s not extensive, but about what we’d expect from a board in this price range. Below is a list of all included accessories.
- Quick Installation Guide
- (2) SATA cables
- (3) M.2 screw/spacers
- Installation media (USB)
- MAG sticker/trunk badge
- Wi-Fi antenna
- Support/Driver CD
When we first look at the X570S Tomahawk MAX WIFI after unpacking, we see that the military theme is continued on a 6-layer matte black PCB and some light gray stenciling in the exposed PCIe area. All heatsinks are gray with the area above the IO with the MSI name in black and the chipset heatsink, with the Tomahawk branding. In terms of RGB lighting, the Tomahawk won’t quite turn your PC into a disco. The only integrated RGB lighting is under the chipset heatsink. This location gives the board a nice glow with the bright and saturated RGBs. If this isn’t enough, there are headers on board to add your own.
Overall, the board looks like a budget/mid-range offering, but every M.2 socket has a heatsink, and the VRM heatsinks look like they can do the job (and as we’ll see in testing, can them too). While this board probably won’t be the showpiece of your build, it fits most themes.
Focusing on the top half of the board, starting on the left, we see the gray metal IO cover that doubles as an additional heat sink. At the top is the MSI branding, along with white tick marks that run up and down the length of the cover. The VRM heatsinks aren’t plugged in, but they both have enough mass and surface area to do the job. Between the VRM heatsinks are the EPS power connections for the CPU. The 8 pin is required and the 4 pin is optional.
Looking beyond the clean socket area, we come across four unboosted DRAM slots that support up to 128GB of RAM and speeds up to DDR4 5100 with 1DPC 1R (DIMM Per Channel, one Rank). As always, your mileage may vary as speed compatibility is dependent on the processor and memory kit used.
Just above the DRAM slots is the first (of six) 4-pin fan headers. The CPU_FAN1 header here automatically detects PWM/DC fans and outputs up to 2A/24W. The PUMP_FAN1 defaults to PWM mode and delivers up to 2A/24W, which is more than adequate for most pumps. Finally, SYS_FAN1-4 defaults to DC mode and supports up to 1A/12W. All headers support both modes, with adjustments in the BIOS. There are enough headers and enough output to keep your cooling system running.
To the right of that top fan header are 3-pin ARGB and 4-pin RGB headers. There are a total of two of each, the others are on the underside of the motherboard. If the RGBs hiding under the chipset heatsink aren’t enough, you can use these headers to add more. RGB control is through the Dragon Center software suite and the Mystic Light application.
Along the right edge of the board are three more System Fan headers, the 24-pin ATX power connector for the board, and a USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C header on the front panel. Nestled between the ATX connector and the fan header is the EZ Debug section. These four LEDs light up during the POST process and indicate where the boot process is, and indicate where a problem is if there are problems. The four LEDs cover the CPU, DRAM, VGA and BOOT. Since the board doesn’t have the more informative 2-character debug display, it’s the only no-boot/POST troubleshooting tool.
MSI examines the VRM layout and uses a 14 phase configuration, with 12 phases for Vcore (two for SOC). Power comes from the EPS connectors and feeds the Intersil ISL69247 8-channel controller. Power then goes to the 12 60A Intersil ISL99360 SPS MOSFETs in a mirrored configuration (no phase doublers, but two MOSFETs get one signal from the controller). There is a total of 720A available for the CPU, which is enough to support even our Ryzen 9 5950X during overclocking.
Shifting the focus to the bottom half of the board, we find M.2 storage, PCIe slots, and the audio bits. From the left, we spy on the naked Realtek ALC40480 codec and a pair of yellow Nichicon audio caps. Also visible is the audio divider designed to minimize EMI to the other parts of the board. I’m glad to see that MSI has gone with a newer audio codec instead of saving a few cents over the last generation codec. Most users will be very happy with the audio on the X570S Tomahawk.
In the middle of the board we see two M.2 slots (below the heatsinks) and four PCIe slots. For starters, there are two full-sized slots, with the primary (top) slot being reinforced to prevent damage to heavy graphics cards. These two slots both support PCIe 4.0 speeds, with the top a full x16 speed and the bottom a x4 speed. This configuration supports AMD 2-Way CrossfireX. The two x1 slots get their bandwidth from the chipset and go up to PCIe 3.0 x1.
Looking at the M.2 storage, the X570S Tomahawk MAX WIFI has two sockets above the primary PCIe slot and one below the secondary full-length slot. Both M.2 sockets use simple heatsinks and support SATA and PCIe-based modules. The top socket is connected to the CPU and supports up to PCIe 4.0 x4 (64 Gbps) speeds, the same as the bottom socket (although it is connected through the chipset).
On the other side of the chipset heatsink are six SATA ports. All ports are chipset powered and support RAID0, 1, and 10. With all available processor and chipset lanes, there is no lane sharing with M.2, PCIe, or SATA ports. In other words, you can use both M.2 sockets with SATA or PCIe drives and use all six SATA ports as well. Just below the SATA ports is a USB 3.2 Gen1 port for additional USB on the front panel.
On the bottom are several headers, including RGB, USB, and more. This area also contains a handy switch to turn off the integrated RGB LEDs. Here’s the full list, from left to right:
- Front panel audio
- 4-pin RGB header
- TPM header
- (2) Sys Fan Heads
- COM header
- (2) USB 2.0 headers
- USB 3.2 Gen1 header
- 4-pin RGB header
- Front Panel Header
- LED power head
Shifting focus to the rear IO, we see a black pre-installed IO board that matches the board’s theme and features the MAG branding on it, along with other labels. From left to right, we spy a legacy PS/2 port, and below that two USB 2.0 ports. On the right are the Wi-Fi 6E antenna connectors. Video output runs through the HDMI port and just above that are two USB 3.2 Gen1 ports. There are four more USB ports on the right side: three USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A and one 3.2 Gen2 Type-C. In total, the eight ports with different speeds should be enough for most users. However, I’d like to see a 3.2 Gen 2×2 port. Just above the red USB ports is the Realtek 2.5 GbE connector. Finally, on the far right is the 5-plug plus SPDIF audio stack.
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