Building an MSI B450 Tomahawk System


I happened to have an unused MSI B450 Tomahawk motherboard sitting in the basement that I decided to use for a system build. In addition, I had enough other decent used components available that I could assemble a complete system. This post will talk about the process of building an MSI B450 Tomahawk system on a test bench.

I assembled and tested this system on an Open BenchTable test bench. I also have a YouTube video of this process. Please watch that if you want even more information.

Building an MSI B450 Tomahawk System

MSI B450 Tomahawk

The MSI B450 Tomahawk is a good quality, affordable B450 motherboard that was introduced in December of 2018. Before the human-malware induced supply chain issues, it was widely available for about $115.00. Now, they are harder to find and often have higher prices.

This motherboard supports 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation AMD Ryzen processors. It may even support 4th generation Ryzen processors with a beta BIOS update. Depending on how long it was in a warehouse or store, you might have to update the BIOS to get 3rd generation Ryzen support. Fortunately, this motherboard will let you flash the BIOS from a USB drive with no CPU, memory or GPU installed.

The B450 Tomahawk has decent 4+2 VRMs (for the price) and has many favorable reviews and recommendations. I have bought two of them, and four of the slightly newer MSI B450 Tomahawk MAX models. The only difference between the two models is that the MAX has a larger ROM BIOS with a nicer UI and better potential support for newer processors.

Building an MSI B450 Tomahawk System

For this system, I decided to use an AMD Ryzen 5 2600 CPU. I also used various other used components that I had on hand. All of these components work, and they are pretty good matches for the motherboard and CPU.

The 6C/12T Ryzen 5 2600 comes with an included Wraith Stealth CPU cooler that is adequate for normal usage at stock clock speeds. If you decide to get an aftermarket CPU cooler, you can get lower CPU temperatures that will let the CPU run more cores at a higher speed more often.

An aftermarket CPU cooler may also be quieter than the stock cooler. For this build, I had a spare AMD Wraith Spire CPU cooler that has a larger heatsink than the Wraith Stealth. The Wraith Spire is sold with AMD Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 5 3600X processors.

Once everything is connected, you can use a small screwdriver to briefly bridge the two small front panel power connectors on the motherboard. If you have done everything correctly the system should start, and then go through the POST sequence.

Building an MSI B450 Tomahawk System
Completed System on Test Bench

Your First Boot

On the first boot, it will probably complain about the CPU or memory being changed, and prompt you to go to the BIOS setup screen. This is where you want to go anyway, since the BIOS probably needs to be updated. Using another machine, you should go to the motherboard vendor’s website and download the latest BIOS version. After that, unzip it and copy it to a USB drive.

All modern motherboards have some sort of BIOS flashing utility built into the BIOS. MSI’s utility is called M-Flash. This motherboard will even let you flash the BIOS with no CPU, memory or GPU installed. You would need that functionality if you tried to use a 3rd Generation Ryzen processor in a motherboard with a very old BIOS version.

Once you have the BIOS sorted out, you can install the operating system while the motherboard is still on the test bench.

Build List

Here are the parts that I used for this build. In some cases they are roughly equivalent new components.

Note: Links to Amazon and Newegg are typically monetized on my blog (affiliate links) and may return a commission of sales to me from the retailer. This is unrelated to the product manufacturer and does not increase the price you pay.

Final Words

I have written a number of other posts related to this subject that you might find interesting:

If you have any questions about this post, please ask me here in the comments or on Twitter. I am pretty active on Twitter as GlennAlanBerry. Thanks for reading!

Categories Build Lists, PC HardwareTags , ,

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