Nice board for getting on the DDR5 bandwagon
The most recent addition to MSI’s famed TOMAHAWK collection is the MSI MAG Z690 TOMAHAWK WIFI. The tomahawk line of boards has traditionally offered an incredible stability between options and worth sitting proper between MSI’s premium and funds lineup of motherboards. With the Intel twelfth Gen Alder Lake processors, the boards have gotten much more costly due to the addition of PCIe Gen 5.0 and the inclusion of DDR5 reminiscence assist. Tomahawk boards have been noticed for as little as 9K and the very best we’ve seen until now was 22-24K however with the twelfth Gen boards, we’ve got the MSI MAG Z690 TOMAHAWK WIFI retailing for practically 30K. You’ll be able to nonetheless get the DDR4 variant for 25K however these boards are far more costly than they was once. Nevertheless, given the options that they pack, is it actually an excessive amount of?
Construct High quality
The MSI MAG Z690 TOMAHAWK WIFI comes with a reasonably commonplace structure. We’ll begin from the highest with the VRM heatsinks that are enormous chunks of aluminium and are cut up into two halves.
There isn’t a warmth pipe operating by way of the heatsinks. For the VRM circuitry, the board makes use of an MP2960 by Monolithic Energy Methods. Not a lot is understood about this PWM controller for the reason that official datasheet is just not accessible.
From the ability levels across the processor socket, it appears to be in a 16+1+1 configuration with 16 phases going into the CPU, 1 part for the iGPU and 1 part for AUX. So far, MSI has been utilizing a Duet Rail configuration with their Z690 boards and this one is not any totally different. Every of the ability levels occurs to be Monolithic Energy Methods MP87992 which helps as much as 70 A of present.
Then there’s the CPU socket space which has expanded with the Intel twelfth Gen processors. It’s now 78×78 mm in space relatively than the 75×75 mm configuration that we’d seen with the earlier era. Which means the CPU cooler mount holes have unfold out additional outwards from the CPU socket. This isn’t an issue however we see the holes are just a little too near the heatsinks.
Talking of heatsinks, the board is plagued by them for the reason that extra PCIe lanes permit for lots extra NVMe SSDs to be accommodated on twelfth Gen Intel motherboards.
MSI has additionally added a brand new snap-lock mechanism for mounting NVMe SSDs. You merely must insert the SSD after which twist the lock to carry the outer fringe of the SSD relatively than screwing it in. It’s much more handy now.
Beside the NVMe SSDs lies the PCH heatsink which is sort of huge and is product of aluminium however the fitting fringe of the board has been minimize away across the PCH heatsink by rather less than a centimetre. Additionally, a number of the SATA HDD knowledge connectors have been pushed underneath the PCH heatsink. Connected and detaching SATA cables to those connectors isn’t a difficulty so we’ll look previous this one.
Lastly, the board makes use of the Realtek ALC4080 audio CODEC, has loads of USB 3.2 ports and options 2.5G Ethernet together with Wi-Fi 6E.
The MSI BIOS hasn’t modified with the brand new twelfth Gen platform except for together with entries for the brand new DDR5 reminiscence configuration and the added NVMe SSDs. You could have all of the choices wanted to mess around with the reminiscence configuration together with switching Gears, altering the person timings or simply letting the BIOS work out the nitty-gritty of configuring your reminiscence. Evaluating the reminiscence bandwidth with a DDR5 package set to 4800 MT/s and 5200 MT/s, we discovered little distinction in efficiency from a number of the different flagship boards we’ve examined. So general, the board has carried out at par with different twelfth Gen platforms we’ve examined.
The MSI MAG Z690 TOMAHAWK WIFI is actually the costliest TOMAHAWK board we’ve examined from MSI however contemplating the sheer quantity of connectivity choices accessible due to the brand new Intel twelfth Gen platform, it’s actually definitely worth the cash. Contemplating that almost all Z690 DDR5 boards begin across the similar worth level, the MSI MAG Z690 TOMAHAWK WIFI is a good board to construct your twelfth gen system on. If the worth appears a tad excessive, you’ll be able to all the time take a look at the B660 boards which have practically the identical set of options because the Z690 ones.