MSI B550-A Pro - Worthy B450 Tomahawk Alternative? - PC SEEKERS

MSI B550-A Pro - Worthy B450 Tomahawk Alternative?

B450 Tomahawk (Max) has been the go to choice for mid range Ryzen builds since the launch of 2nd Gen Ryzen CPUs in April of 2018. The B450 Tomahawk was launched as a successor to the B350 Tomahawk with decent amount of improvements in VRM Cooling and Memory support with the Max version supporting memory speeds up to 4133MHz with up to 128GB RAM divided between 4 RAM slots. Tomahawk was priced at around INR 11K at the time of release and now due to the pandemic and shortage of supplies the motherboard is selling for as high as INR 13.7K.
In the recent B550 release there have been a significant price hike compared to the same tiers / model names of their B450 counterparts. There are B550 boards selling for as high as INR 26K in the market.

Today we are going to compare the B450 Tomahawk against the MSI B550-A Pro considering the B550-A pro costs around INR 15,000/-. Yes I agree the price is a bit high compared to the B450 Tomahawk but the same tier MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk costs even more at around INR 18.5K.

Lets compare what you gain by choosing the MSI B550-A Pro over the B450 Tomahawk Max:

Compatibility:

B450 Motherboards support all Ryzen CPUs ranging from 1st Gen Ryzen to 3rd Gen Ryzen and AMD has promised support for 4th Gen Ryzen via beta bios. AMD has also announced later generations of Ryzen won't be supported by B450 Motherboards.

Whereas B550 Motherboards only support 3rd Gen Ryzen CPUs and not the 3200G or 3400G which are 2nd Gen Ryzen APUs. Support for 4th Gen Ryzen will be provided by AMD on B550 Motherboards via bios update.

VRM:

The Tomahawk Max comes with a 6 Phase VRM which splits into a 4+2 phase setup where as the B550-A Pro comes with a 10+2+1 phase setup which is as good as it can get for a mid range Motherboard. This VRM should easily handle a 3950X and with good air-flow in the case you can even overclock your 3950X though I would not recommend pairing a 40K CPU with a 15K board. But in future if you get hands on a second hand 16 core CPU then this VRM should be capable enough to handle the CPU considering it has good air flow. You can also pair a 3900X with the B450 Tomahawk but it definitely needs a fan over the VRM to cool it.

PCIe Gen 4:

With all the B550 motherboards you get PCIe Gen 4 compatibility if you ever choose to use a Gen 4 NVMe SSD in your setup. B450 Motherboards don't offer that, though you can always argue people who are looking for mid-range motherboards are not buying Gen 4 SSDs and I would totally agree with you. But its good to have that future proofing assuming SSD prices are going to come down in the near future and you are not thinking of upgrading your motherboard for at least another 5 years.

Note that the B550 chipset itself does not support / provide PCIe Gen 4, all the PCIe Gen 4 lanes are the CPU lanes and are connected to the CPU itself.

M.2 Slots:

B450 Tomahawk Max has only one Gen 3 M.2 Slot where as the B550-A Pro has 2 M.2 slots of which 1 slot supports Gen 4 SSDs and the other one is a PCIe 3.0 slot.

PCIe Slots:

The B450 Tomahawk comes 2 PCIe x16 slots of which 1 supports PCIe Gen 3 x16 speeds and the other supports PCIe Gen 2 x8 speeds. It also has 3 PCIe Gen 2 x1 slots.

The B550-A Pro comes with 2 PCIe x16 slots of which 1 supports PCIe Gen 4 x16 speeds and the other supports PCIe Gen 3 x4 speeds. It also has 2 PCIe Gen 3 X1 slots.

Notes the PCIe slots will loose lanes when NVMe SSDs are installed into the M.2 slots. Refer MSI specifications page for respective motherboards for more details.

Dual GPU support:

Its nothing to talk about these days considering SLI / CrossFire is pretty much dead in the gaming / consumer market, but for whatever its worth (has close to zero worth in my opinion) both B550-A Pro and B450 Tomahawk support CrossFire.

 

Memory Support:

There is not a lot of difference between the 2 boards when it comes to memory support, B450 Tomahawk Max supporting speeds up to 4133MHz and B550-A Pro supporting up to 4400MHz (O.C.).

Rear IO:

Both the motherboards come with Realtek Gigabit Ethernet, both have a PS/2 combo port and both of them support bios flashback functionality.
The B450 Tomahawk Max comes with 5 USB Type-A ports, of which 1 is USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, 2 are USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and 2 are USB 2.0 ports,  and 1 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port on the back panel.
The B550-A Pro comes with 7 USB Type-A ports, of which 4 are USB 2.0 ports, 2 are USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports and 1 is USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, and 1 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C connector.

Internal Connectors:

The B450 Tomahawk Max has 1x 24-pin ATX main power connector, 1x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector, 6x SATA 6Gb/s connectors, 2x USB 2.0 connectors (support additional 4 USB 2.0 ports), 1x USB 3.2 Gen1 connectors (support additional 2 USB 3.2 Gen1 ports), 1x 4-pin CPU fan connector, 1x 4-pin water-pump-fan connector, 4 x 4-pin system fan connectors, 1 x TPM module connector, 1x Front panel audio connector, 2x System panel connectors, 1x Chassis Intrusion connector, 1x Serial Port connector, 1x Clear CMOS jumper, 2x RGB 12V connectors.

The B550-A Pro has 1x 24-pin ATX main power connector, 1x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector, 6x SATA 6Gb/s connectors, 2x M.2 slots (M-Key), 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps Type-C connector, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps connector (supports additional 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps ports), 2x USB 2.0 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 2.0 ports), 1x 4-pin CPU fan connector, 1x 4-pin water-pump fan connector, 6x 4-pin system fan connectors, 1x Front panel audio connector, 2x System panel connectors, 1x Chassis Intrusion connector, 1x 4-pin RGB LED connector, 2x 3-pin RGB connectors, 1xTPM module connector, 1x Clear CMOS jumper.


I hope these detailed differences between the 2 boards can now help you decide which motherboard suits your budget and your use case.

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