MSI X99A Tomahawk Review and testing motherboard

MSI X99A Tomahawk Review and testing motherboard

Not long ago, MSI has announced a new product line MSI Arsenal Gaming. Formally, these devices include a series Gaming and presented models with optimum performance and not the most expensive. The name of the new products often appears the name of weapons: Grenade, Bazooka, Mortar and Tomahawk. This series is presented to increase the functionality and value, respectively.

The most advanced version in the line are the Tomahawk. Tomahawk – a battle ax and a model of the American Indian cruise missile. Most likely, when choosing the name of the manufacturer was guided by the latter, and why – we learn later. We test the model MSI X99A Tomahawk and identify its features.

Video MSI X99A Tomahawk Review

MSI X99A Tomahawk: Packaging equipment

Since the line of MSI Arsenal Gaming is relatively new, the packaging and the mainboard (or rather – its design) is completely different. And it’s a good thing, because curiosity can attract new fans production.

I must say that it looks all harmoniously and naturally, though I am not a fan of the style of “military”. The main color gives camouflage as a background.

Making unusual, because the range of MSI Gaming has long been associated with dragons, red and black colors, and then khaki and camouflage.

Top right in the middle on our racing rocket. Most likely, this is the Tomahawk – American cruise missile. In the center runs a stylized edge that divides the front part of the half. It creates a sense that this is a folder or portfolio. Convincing added facilities- “riveting.”

MSI X99A Tomahawk Review and testing motherboard

Of interesting note the two icons. One reports on the use of the Intel X99 chipset, and the second – on the support of Intel Core processors, which is a bit illogical. Why? Because it supports Core i7 and the Xeon, and not just any Core.

Front side – top of simplicity and brevity, what back?

Here, too, all simply and elegantly. The main part is occupied by the image of the motherboard. From her left and right differ footnote describing the key features of the model.

And then, MSI starts a little wiser. The first thing that hooked my opinion – is the inscription 2X Faster USB 3.1 GEN2.

What is it? The new standard, which is two times faster than that? Military data transmission technology? Not at all. Do not try to understand marketing, just before was USB 3.0, but now it has become USB 3.1 GEN1. Accordingly, what was USB 3.1, it is now referred to as USB 3.1 GEN2. Correctly? Not really.

MSI X99A Tomahawk Review and testing motherboard

Next, we should Twin Gaming Lan. Two network cards for the game? And how to play on the two servers, two monitors and four arms?

Then it turns out one. Do not try to understand what bring us out of the marketing department. Just turn on intuition, and she tells it, why and how it should be.

For example, I can imagine what a server or workstation has two network adapters, but for games one is enough. There is also a special software for optimizing the Internet traffic.

Does it help for the games? Perhaps, especially if you’re shaking and there was a torrent, and then suddenly decided to play online. However, ADSL bad feed from this better not be, tested. We conclude the topic LAN technology Lan Protect.

No, it is not anti-virus, not anti-malware, or firewall. In this case we have hardware that will secure a network port from severe surges.

The following is Optimized for gaming VGA and small explanations about multi-graphics SLI and CrossFire technologies. Nothing unusual, because most of the models on the Intel X99 chipset supports these solutions.

At the bottom of the left column there is a mention about another aspect – Audio Boost 3 (Red Led).

This is another attempt to improve the built-in codec audio quality. For this purpose all components of the strip are separated from metallization layers without the main PCB. On the back of its LEDs emphasize, in this case red. A front fashionable unsoldering musical capacitors. The manufacturer, however, paint all advantages in more detail.

Let me remind you that we are still studying the back of the package and a detailed look at the listed solutions. Now we turn to the right side and the first thing seen mention of DDR4 Boost technology.

MSI X99A Tomahawk Review and testing motherboard

We’ll have to trust the word of the manufacturer, since we can not look through the printed circuit board. However, what I experienced when it comes to overclocking memory on the platform LGA 2011-v3 – banal soldering all four slots. Then really get better insulation. How many of these boards? I know of only one, and it really is constantly chase, but only a memory.

The following information about Steel Armor technology.

The gist of it is framed by metal frame PCI-e x16 slots. Here, the manufacturer went ahead and defended M.2 connector.

Then we are told that there are two modern interfaces for connecting drives.

It plugs and M.2 u.2. Both provide a data transmission rate up to 32 Gbit / s, which is obtained by using the interface PCI-e x4 Gen3 and NVMe technology. In addition, there is a SATA Express support, even though it did not catch on.

The last thing we inform you of the support of LED strips. This is yet another fashion trend that is present on the motherboard connector for RGB Led ribbon. In this case, control is performed through a utility Gaming APP.

At the bottom is a specification and a schematic representation of the back panel connectors. Open the box.

Top in a cardboard tray and anti-static bag packed motherboard. After her withdrawal, we can find at the bottom of another compartment.

MSI X99A Tomahawk Review and testing motherboard

There delivery is located, which is not very rich. Among the information carriers can be detected as follows.

  • User Guide (Manual);
  • Set of stickers for cables;
  • DVD disk with drivers and software for different operating systems;
  • Registration card.

These are the accessories are supplied.

  • Six cable SATA 6 Gb / s;
  • A flexible SLI bridge;
  • Cable to connect LED strip;
  • Set connectors M-Connector;
  • The plug on the rear panel.
  • Now it’s time to move on to the study of MSI X99A Tomahawk.

MSI X99A Tomahawk: Design and features of the board

Before us is a full-sized ATX motherboards. It is difficult to do something different for the platform, because then you have to sacrifice something. Dimensions of the model is 305 x 244 mm.

I expected to see something similar to the packaging design, but in this case the design looks quite different in the military. It uses a neutral style, which is different from the conventional version Gaming Series.

MSI X99A Tomahawk Review and testing motherboard

Here you will not find any dragons or any red elements. It may even seem that the novelty looks dull and rustic. However, it looks like a classic, so universally, and can fit into any interior body as mostly dominated by black.

On the reverse side elements there is little, because most of them are located in the front. What is interesting, we can see here? Just the very LEDs that shine lane delineation audio codec.

PCB 8-layer and practically does not bend. Workmanship is at a high level, all soldered smoothly and cleanly.

Power on the motherboard is supplied through the primary and secondary ATX power connectors on the scheme 24 + 8.

It is safe to say that such a combination – the minimum necessary for the platform.

To set the type of DDR4 memory modules are eight black slots. Closer to the CPU socket there are inscriptions with the installation procedure. Top slots are in the latch, and the bottom tabs to avoid any problems with the replacement of modules with built-in graphics card.

MSI X99A Tomahawk Review and testing motherboard

The manufacturer claimed the following memory modes DDR4: 2133 (2400, 2666, 2800, 2933, 3000, 3200, 3333 (overclocking)) MHz with a standard voltage of 1.2 V. According to the specifications, the maximum amount of RAM can be up to 128 GB, and for Xeon processors it is 256 GB, even with ECC error correction.

CPU Power performed on vosmifaznoy scheme. It should be recognized that they are obtained by doubling.

Chips doublers are located on the front side near the transistors. It Intersil ISL6611A, which include drivers.

As the main PWM controller chip uses Intersil ISL6388, which can provide a maximum of six phases. Accordingly, if the manufacturer is fully implemented the functionality of the controller, the user would receive twelve power phases.

On each of the eight phases accounted for four transistor type Low Rds (on), manufactured by NIKO Semiconductor, part of which is soldered to the back side.

It uses super ferrite inductor with a titanium core.

Solid capacitors are packed in a black body.

To remove heat from the transistors one small radiator is provided.

It is made of aluminum alloy and painted black with gray accents on top. As the thermal interface used termorezinka gray about 1 mm thick. Fixing is carried out from the back side by means of two screws and a special plate that covers part of the transistor soldered on the reverse side.

It is made of aluminum alloy and painted black. In addition, we can see here a similar termorezinku.

Another radiator placed on the chipset. It is also made of aluminum alloy and painted black with gray accents on top. It is noticeable that the radiator is not monolithic and composite. Its body is screwed and glued thin-plate heat sink. Ribs had virtually absent.

Above we see the white logo of the manufacturer. Fixing is effected by means of four spring-loaded screws from the back side. As the thermal applied solid gray matter. Along the perimeter of the contact points provided protective frame made of black soft porous material.

Under this heatsink hides Intel X99 chipset.

MSI X99A Tomahawk Review and testing motherboard

This chipset is studied far and wide, and its characteristics, many already know by heart. It is noted that all lines of PCI-e Gen3 provides processor.

Depending on their modifications can be 28 or 40. The chipset itself has lines only PCI-e Gen2. Therefore, all the new-fangled type interfaces U.2 or M.2, who use the bus PCI-e x4 Gen3, take a line directly from the CPU, instead of the chipset in Intel Z170.

With regard to support SATA drives, there is an integrated controller features are implemented in full, as the ten ports displayed on the board. Six connectors SATA 6Gb / s look sideways.

In the lower right corner are four more, two of which form the interface SATA Express.

chipset itself supports up to six USB 3.0 ports and eight USB 2.0. Four USB 3.0 connector located on the rear panel, but they are represented by a separate controller ASMedia ASM1074.

And there are two pads to connect four devices. One is located near the main connector ATX power supply, and the other between the SATA ports and connectors u.2.

Not without its support for the new USB 3.1 standard. Two different types of ports (Type-A and Type-C) located at the rear. Both are implemented by a separate controller ASMedia ASM1142.

The right side of the bottom edge are two USB 2.0 blocks for connecting four devices. Above housed two BIOS chips, and a switch that lets you choose one of them.

To the left is a connector for buttons and housing indicators. This is followed by the Power button, Reset and dual seven-segment LED load and initialize POST-codes.

Still left are connectors for LED strip, TPM module and a front audio panel.

On the left side is located the audio codec, but in order to get it, you must first remove the decorative plastic panel that covers the left side.

On it there are inscriptions and Tomahawk Audio Boost 3. Mounted on it a few screws on the back side. Of course, some additional rigidity it provides, but basically performs a decorative function.

Under it we can detect audio codec Realtek ALC1150, operational amplifiers, and special audio capacitors.

This sound system is called the Audio Boost 3. In the same area is the I / O controller and system monitoring Nuvoton NCT6792D.

Above on the left side of the wired two Gigabit LAN controllers companies Intel – Intel I218LM and Intel I210-AT.

On this motherboard provides all five expansion slots.

It may seem that a little, but, in my opinion, it is enough to install two graphics cards and digital audio adapter.

Slots PCI-e x16 framed by a special metal frame. The manufacturer believes that the mass of cards is growing, and the slot can not withstand the load. In practice, I do not faced with, even when using the GTX 580 graphics card the ASUS DirectCU II cooling system with trehslotovoy.

MSI X99A Tomahawk Review and testing motherboard

Now pay attention to the rear panel connectors.

  • One PS / 2 connector for keyboard or mouse;
  • Four USB 2.0 connector;
  • Four USB 3.0 connector;
  • One connector USB 3.1 Type-C;
  • One connector USB 3.1 Type-A;
  • Two Gigabit Ethernet RJ-45 connector;
  • Reset button ClrCMOS;
  • Five audio connectors of type minijack;
  • One optical connector S / PDIF Out.

Something is missing. No Wi-Fi. A trifle, but it was possible to provide for at least the connector under the card without installing it.

Specifications MSI X99A Tomahawk

Supported processorsIntel Core i7, Intel Xeon performance Socket 2011-v3
System bus frequencyDMI 2.0 x 4 (20 x 4 Gbit / s)
system logicIntel X99
RAM8 x 288-pin DDR4 DIMM, four-channel mode,
up to 128 GB at a frequency of 2133 / (2400/2666/2800/2933/3000/3200/3333 (overclocking)) MHz
expansion Slots3 – PCI-e x16 Gen3 (x16 + x16 or x16 + x8 + x8);
2 – PCI-e x1 Gen2
Multi-GPU SupportSLI, 3-Way SLI, CrossFireX
SATA / RAID Support10 x SATA 6.0 Gb / s ports – Intel X99; RAID 0, 1, 5, 0 + 1, JBOD;
1 x SATA Express (combined with 2 x SATA 6 Gbit / s (4.5));
2 x Ultra M.2 port – 2 x PCI-e x4 Gen3
Support M.2 / NVMeYes Yes
Net1 x Intel I218LM;
1 x Intel I210-AT
AudioRealtek ALC1150 – 8-channel HD audio codec
USB 2.04 + 4x USB 2.0 (Intel X99)
USB 3.04 x USB 3.0 (Intel X99);
4 x USB 3.0 (ASMedia ASM1074)
USB 3.11 x USB 3.1 Type-C (ASMedia ASM1142);
1 x USB 3.1 Type-A (ASMedia ASM1142)
System monitoringNuvoton NCT6792D
Motherboard PowerATX 24-pin, 8-pin ATX 12V
Connectors and rear buttons1 x PS / 2;
4 x USB 2.0 / 1.1;
4 x USB 3.0;
1 x USB 3.1 Type-C;
1 x USB 3.1 Type-A;
2 x RJ45;
5 x 3.5 mm Jack;
1 x Optical S / PDIF Out;
1 x ClrCMOS
Proprietary technologiesDDR4 Boost;

Audio Boost 3;

MSI Gaming LAN;

LAN Protect;

Game Boost;

Gaming HotKey;

Super Charger;

Military Class V;

Easy Button 3;

Guard PRO;

MSI Steel Armor;

Click BIOS 5;

MSI Gaming Device Port; MSI Gaming APP;


Dimensions in mm305 x 244
Form FactorATX.

MSI X99A Tomahawk: BIOS Features

The new generation MSI graphical shell motherboard BIOS has undergone minor changes. With regard to functionality, they have remained the same. As before, comfortable and easy to work. All menus are intuitive and acceleration is easy.

If on the board style “military” does not manifest, the BIOS menu is decorated according to the ordinance.

With regard to plants, they are all applied correctly. The same applies to the behavior of the board at overclocking. On the subsequent reboot just loaded nominal values.

MSI X99A Tomahawk: Testbed

Testing the motherboard MSI X99A Tomahawk was conducted as part of the following configuration:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-6900K (3200 MHz);
  • Cooler: Noctua NH-D15;
  • Thermal interface: Gelid GC-Extreme;
  • Motherboard: MSI X99A Tomahawk, version BIOS 2.10;
  • RAM: G.Skill, DDR4 3200 MHz, 4 x 8 GB;
  • Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming 8 GB (1784/1936/10 010 MHz (core / boost / memory));
  • Drive SSD: Samsung 850 Pro 256GB;
  • Drive SSD: Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB;
  • Dashboard: Zalman ZM-MFC3;
  • Power supply: Seasonic SS-1000XP, 1000 W;
  • Housing: Corsair Graphite 600T.

MSI X99A Tomahawk: Test boards and dispersal

First, consider the normal mode of operation MSI X99A Tomahawk with default settings. Operate all power-saving features and therefore idle CPU frequency and voltage drop. Naturally, the frequency raised to the rated load at the event.

In my opinion, this motherboard is poorly prepared for overclocking. Do not contribute to it, and four phase power, which simply doubled. It is not enough, especially for the top-end acceleration desyatiyadernogo Intel Core i7-6950X.

However, I do not have, but i7-6900K is also very greedy and hot overclocking. And if the manufacturer does not position the decision for this purpose, it is better not to risk too much. We will try.

The net result amounted to 4.2 GHz, which is already the standard for bench processor. Well clearly that all depends on the cooling system and to improve the results you need to pass water.

MSI X99A Tomahawk: Performance and thermal conditions

Testing of MSI X99A Tomahawk conducted in Corsair Graphite 600T housing with an open side wall, at room temperature of 25 ° C in the following modes:

  • MSI X99A Tomahawk, Intel Core i7-6900K (3200 MHz), Memory 2133 MHz timings 15-15-15-36-2T, MSI GeForce GTX Gaming in 1080;
  • MSI X99A Tomahawk, Intel Core i7-6900K @ 4200 MHz (42 x 100), the memory of 3200 MHz timings 14-14-14-34-2T, MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming.

The tests were conducted under the operating system Windows 10 x64, were run five times, then the selected average values.

MSI X99A Tomahawk: Integrated audio

Audio codec presented chip Realtek ALC1150. Listening was carried out using the headphone Sennheiser HD201, Zalman ZM-RS6F and acoustics Microlab Pro 1.

Review Hero can not boast of sound quality, the same occurs in the lower class motherboards. The sound is clean, smooth and without distortion.

Let’s look at the results obtained with the help of RMAA program.

MSI X99A Tomahawk: Conclusion

MSI X99A Tomahawk came hard middling in all respects. High functionality, average overclocking capabilities, the average supplied and average cost. In fact it is just a good motherboard is suitable in the case on this basis is not planned for a no-compromise solution.

The advantages of the model we put the correct behavior when overclocking, BIOS simple and intuitive interface and good software. Package does not abound excesses, but it’s for the best, because all have to pay for (and therefore for the fact that it is not necessary – pay). Supports all current hardware interfaces and multi-graphics technology (SLI and CrossFire). As for overclocking, then, in my opinion, out of all tested by me MSI mainboards on Intel X99 chipset is the best MSI X99A SLI Plus, as strange as it may sound.

Design board considered not allocated bias militaristic themes, it looks neutral, so the design can be called universal. Is it possible on the basis of such a model to build a workstation? Of course, because it has everything you need for this. Including support for Xeon processors, memory DDR4 ECC and just two standard gigabit network adapter. And for gamers there are pluses, which are mainly represented by software.

MSI X99A Tomahawk average cost is now at a level of $295. Of course, this is not a budget solution, but the platform itself rather expensive. The most affordable processor Intel Core i7-5820K is about $450, while the cheapest motherboard on Intel X99 chipset – $230 (by the way, this MSI X99A Raider). MSI model is not very expensive, but looks more optimal in terms of price / performance.

Source: msi

MSI X99A Tomahawk Review and testing motherboard was last modified: December 27th, 2016 by Tomas Shellby