VRM Analysis: MSI’s X570 Tomahawk May Become Go-To OC Board

by birtanpublished on September 11, 2020

Hey guys build Zoid here from actually hardcore overclocking and today we're gonna be taking a look at the mag x5 70 tomahawk Wi-Fi from MSI now this motherboard has not yet been released when it releases it's supposed to be around the 210 dollar price point so

It's going to be competing with the x5 70 tough gaming Wi-Fi from Asus as well as the x5 70 elite Wi-Fi from gigabyte which so far have been basically my to go to motherboards for this price point both of them offered very strongly RMS

And a choice of feature set because well one of them didn't have debug LEDs and the other one didn't have BIOS flash back this one on the other hand this board right here though has both of those and it also has a stronger VR app

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Open loop systems learn more at the link of the description below there's a very good chance that this might end up being my like new go-to recommendation for a 200-dollar XY 70 motherboard because what I'm seeing is really good like I do

Like a lot of what I'm seeing so we've got the debug LEDs now unfortunately those are still not color coded which I think really sucks because having single carlton color LEDs does mean that you know you have to memorize which order

They go in and that's kind of annoying and then when they for when they first light up and you try to look at them then the LED is blinding you as you're trying to read the labels which yeah that's that's why it's better if they're

Color coded because then you don't have to like read the motherboard you can just check which like the motherboard manual well actually you can do that even if they're not color coded but like you don't have to stare at them so much

If if they're color coded because you can just see like oh that part of the motherboard is glowing green instead of white and it was like well if it's glowing green then it's a GPU problem and not a memory problem or whatever I

Can't remember the specific color codes fresas motherboards right now so I personally really do prefer like coded debug LEDs or even better post codes but post codes don't make their way on $200 motherboards anymore so you

Know that that's a real shame but at least we have some debug LEDs which is better than nothing because nothing is like the especially if you're doing like memory overclocking or something if you have nothing on the

Motherboard you don't know if like the board is like retraining or if it's stuck or if like what's it doing whereas with the LEDs if you see the LEDs flicker back and forth between like memory and CPU is probably having a

Problem with memory training whereas if it gets stuck on something it's like well I probably should restart it so yeah you know debug LEDs are not very nice to have if if you're into overclocking then also we've got a bio

Flashback button hiding behind the USB port stack over here and that allows you to update the BIOS over the motherboard without even having a CPU installed you just have to hook up the 24 pin and I think you need to also plug in an 8 pin

Or a 4 pin as well yeah so you know if you need to update the the bios of like well let's say you corrupt the bio so you can potentially recover from that with the bios flashback funk flashback functionality and also if you buy the

Motherboard and then want to buy a cpu that's not compatible with it yeah and needs a BIOS update well then you have the BIOS flashback BIOS flashback functionality to help you but that's more like a consideration for the

Manufacturer trying to sell the motherboard before the launch of sale look like rising from 4000 moreso than it is a consideration for somebody buying the motherboard right now because all of the available CPUs right now

Already are supported by the motherboard in the retail condition that you're gonna buy it in so you know in this case it's more of just a failsafe for bad miles flashes so anyway as for the extra 4 pin over here so you don't need to

Plug this in I see way too many posts on reddit and forums about people wondering if they need to plug in the extra power connectors on their x5 70 motherboards you don't even if you have a 39 50 X and even if you're overclocking unless

You're going sub-zero there is no way you are getting them with a 39 50 X to pull much more than 300 watts and this connector can do 300 Watts just fine so yeah that is not a concern it's a concern once you start looking at CPUs

That pull in like excess of 350 watts and it also depends on the type of 8 pin power connector that you have and MSI does use the lower current version of the 8 pin power connector whereas like gigabyte and Asus likes to use the high

Current versions that's probably why MSI compensates by having more power connectors on their motherboards most of the time but even then it's like you're there's no CPU you can put into this motherboard that's

Gonna max out even the low current version of the of the 8 pin power connector so that is not a concern you don't need to plug in the extra 4 pin so yeah with that out of the way let's talk about the vrm because the vrm on this

Thing is absolutely ridiculous like this is a vrm that I would expect to see on like a $300 motherboard and yet this thing is supposed to be 210 dollars which admittedly these are new power stages that MSI is using on here so I

Don't know maybe inter-cell managed to figure out some way to make 60 amps more power stages a lot cheaper than they used to be but in terms of the like which is actually like you know that would be considered generally progress

Over time manufacturing more advanced components gets cheaper but uh yeah it's just like still in terms like this is a ridiculous we are I'm so this right here is what I highlighted is the vcore then next to that we have the SOC vrm which

This powers the i/o die or if you have an APU the eye GPU or if you have a first generation gen CPU then it powers the SOC portion of the CPU which the i/o die is basically just the SOC portion of a second gen without the cores in well

Actually yeah it's this SOC portion of a second gen CPU but there's no course and sitting in the middle of it so yeah so that's the SOC vrm up there and the configuration here is a 2 12 + 2 phase the controller is an ISL 69 2 4 7 so you

Know that's a pretty standard inter cell while it's a high-end digital can Toller from from inter-cell but it's pretty standard to see on while upper-end x5 70 motherboards and that is running

In six plus two phase mode and that six right there goes into a bunch of doublers on the back of the board which is all of these chips over here right one and that one and that one so we obviously have six of them because you

Need six doublers to get twelve phases and each of those chips is a is L six six one seven which that is a fully current balanced doubler so basically these get as much efficiency as you can could hope for essentially they do take

Some of the heavy lifting off of the controller now there's different ways of doing this like there are some doublers that don't do any current balancing at all and you're just kind of stuck with not having proper current balance on

Your on your multi like after the doublers or you have the International rectifier approach where your doublers really cheap and dumb but your controller is so ridiculously advanced that it just does the current balancing

Through the doubler because it can actually distinguish between the two phases all after the doubler or you take the Intersil approach where your doubler just has a bunch more function like a bunch of logic built into it and it can

Actually do the current balancing without relying on the controller to do it so yeah you know that's just like and the thing is like you don't actually have other options for doublers from

Inter-cell like if you're doing it in Tercel VR i'm you're buying these or there's nothing else so you're just buying these anyway so that's the control scheme here and of course you know I'm sure you've heard

How heard from from Asus about how if you put doublers in your VR em it makes the transient response worse in my testing on at least z3 90 motherboards the z3 90 dark would like to differ would like to disagree with Asus by

Having better transient response than literally any other z3 90 motherboard I tested so yeah and the dark has a bunch of these exact is L six six one seven dollars so it's not so much about whether or not your VR M has doublers

It's more about what you do with the doublers and the rest of the VR em that really decides you know how your transient response is going to work out that is not to say that I haven't tested motherboards with six six one seven

Doublers on them that have pretty bad transient response I have my tested a bunch of those as well not really bad like the worst motherboard I've tested didn't actually have any doublers at all but uh yeah like definitely some of the

Weaker ones did use is l6 six one seven s but the point here is is like the fact that the board uses doublers does not it's not the end-all be-all of determining if the transient response is going to be good

So that's something where unfortunately the only way to know for sure is you'd have to take an oscilloscope measurement of the motherboard with the CPU doing something my preferred workload for isin CPUs is a

Hundred ninety two K FFT size prime95 because for whatever reason that causes horrible voltage spikes which yeah that's that's a good test of vrm transient response essentially because you want something that very rapidly

Goes from one level of current draw to another level of current draw and that's what causes the voltage spikes and 192k FFT sized prime95 is doing is very good at doing exactly that so that's why I like using it for testing and since MSI

Is going to be sending me an x5 70 tomahawk I'm probably gonna test the transient response of this motherboard because I'm actually interested to see how how this compares to some of the even more expensive motherboards cuz

Again this VR I'm honestly like I'd expect this on a $300 board so I do wonder like hey could this actually maybe keep up with a $300 motherboard even in transient response and not just thermals because if it can that would be

Insane like that would basically mean that you could go for this and it would have the same overclocking for like CPU overclocking capabilities is like an x5 seven to unify or or or a Meg ace I kind of doubt it would be to God like just

Because the god like has an entire extra – PCB layers which should make the power plane a lot better but yeah as far as six layer boards go I'd be very like this could be very very competitive anyway so the control scheme here is you

Know just doublers into into a twelve phase four the actual power stages and this is where the real wind comes for this vrm as far as I'm concerned MSI decided that their $200 motherboard needs is l99 360s these are 60 amp smart

Power stages and what's so ridiculous about this is for comparison both the tough gaming from Asus and the gigabyte elite x5 70 elite use 50 amp dr Maus components so for one thing the dr Maus parts don't really integrate any

Advanced logic so they have basic thermal protection they don't really do current monitoring they don't do temperature monitoring they their there are driver and two MOSFETs like they are the most basic implementation of a power

Stage you could possibly have and they're also 50 amps not 60 so in terms of current handling capability these are stronger and then these are smart power stages and that is where it gets really ridiculous because smart power stages

Integrate very high accuracy current monitoring they also integrate temperature monitoring they integrate various types of protection like over current over temperature a short-circuit protection as well which this controller

Here is actually compatible with those features because not all controllers are necessarily capable of making full use of smart power stages so basically we have a VR M here which is using the most advanced power stages you can get within

A with a 60 or amp current handling capability which you can definitely get higher current capability smaller power stages but the smart power stages like the feature set for them is pretty standardized so it's not gonna really

Vary and yeah it's a 210 dollar motherboard like I'd expect this VRML at a $300 price point like this just I can't believe that this board is using parts this good and the end result is that on paper the efficiency of this vrm

Is absolutely ridiculous so at 1.2 volts output and 500 kilohertz switching frequency with 5 volts drive voltage which is just the voltage that these power stages happen to run on a hundred amps output this vrm is going to

Produce eleven watts of heat which is actually like the efficiency right here is not that great but the reason why it produces 11 watts of heat is because having 12 phases at a hundred amps

Output with 60 amp hour stages is too many phases so assuming the controller is actually configured properly which it does support this it shouldn't actually be running as a 12 phase if you're pushing only a hundred amps so let's say

You were overclocking like a 20 L 2700 X is actually probably more like like CPU that's more worth overclocking than a 3700 X but you know if you have a 3700 X and you max out the pvo limits well this vrm is probably gonna be running in like

Eight phase– mode not twelve because there is no need for it to run in twelve phase mode while pushing only a hundred amps and then going up to 150 amps output which that's like a PB ode 3900 X it'll produce about

12 watts of heat and this is the thing is like this is very much like this is way before the peak of the efficiency curve for these 60 amp hour stages if all twelve phases are running which is why the heat output of the VR I'm going

From a hundred amps to 150 amps barely changes even though the current output is fifty percent higher and that's because the efficiency curve for all VR like all power stages looks like this and that hundred amp part part is like

Some work well it's actually more like it's actually really hard to draw looks something like that that hundred amps is somewhere in this area of the curve I you really would want to disable enough phases to get the get to the peak of

That efficiency curve so anyway going up to 200 amps output which like 3950 X's can kind of do that they're incredibly hard to cool at that point though you're going to be looking at 17 watts of heat for comparison at 200mm

Output the tough gaming and the elite from gigabyte both produce about 24 watts of heat and yeah this is like 60 amp freaking smart power stations that's it's not even a contest against 50 amp dr moss parts and then going up to 300

Amps now we're going into the theoretical territory of like what would happen if you took the motherboard on ln2 so 300 amps the vrm would produce about 28 watts of heat so yeah you could

Totally ln2 overclock on this even though I would have recommended simply because we don't have a postcode or voltage read points are really like this boards not really meant to be like for extreme overclocking that's not to say

You couldn't try it's just probably not going to be as pleasant an experience as if you had a you know like a gigabyte master or the unify would probably be fine but yeah like a master from gigabyte or a hero from from asus or you

Know one of the much higher end boards that are actually sort of designed with extreme overclocking features in mind which the hero definitely leads in that category just because asus cares about extreme overclocking a lot more than

Most of the other vendors at this point but anyway going up to 400 amps output the vrm will only produce about 42 watts of heat like this is a vrm that you know it can power a thread ripper just fine like this would be completely fine for

Powering a thread Ripper it is massively overkill for even a third well okay now for 3950 I like a peat well a stock 39 50 X massive overkill APB ode 39 50 X adequate amounts of overkill like this kind of heat output for the VRM you

Might be even able to get away with no heat sinks with a 39 50 X running in the board cuz yeah like that because that's 17 watts of heat spread across all of this surface area right like that that is a lot of power stages and so you mate

Like this probably doesn't even need a heatsink so I'm a huge huge fan of erm on this and I'm just super surprised that it's on a motherboard this cheap and I know some people might be like ten hundred two hundred and ten dollars is

Not that cheap this is like you have a two hundred dollar board with a vrm that's like wouldn't look out of place on a thread Ripper board or a well first gen throw well the while the current series thread Ripper boards are actually

Kind insane so compared to those this is actually not that that that amazing but like this is a really strongly RM for this price point like actually I dare say at this price point this might be

The strongest we RM I've seen so far at $210 so yeah good job FSI for the SOC vr m we see more of the same just another two more you know 60 amps more power stages which is just ridiculous overkill because the iodine does not pull that

Much power and for the memory of erm we've got a single-phase using the standard two high side MOSFETs and two low side MOSFETs which MSI uses this configuration on every single one of their x5 70 motherboards that isn't the

God like the god-like gets a two-phase with I think still the same MOSFETs though so I know I can't remember what the god-like uses either way the godlike has a two-phase it doesn't really matter cuz ddr4 just doesn't pull that much

Power what's really important with ddr4 is what you do between the DIMM slots and the actual CPU socket not so much how you feed them power and to that extent we're seeing sort of the standard for well we're seeing the usual you know

Daisy chain with full ground shields over it so daisy chain topology which that's the optimal topology for isin you can't actually like as far as there are very few x5 70 motherboards that RT topology and i'm pretty sure the only

One that is is like a very cheap as rock board because as ROC probably couldn't be bothered to fix the topology on it after they already designed it anyway so for Rison generally like daisy chain is optimal even if you're running for dims

Of memory it works just fine so yeah like there's no reason to use any other topology on x5 70 then also we can't actually see any of the memory traces because well there's there's full ground shields over everything and we

Have those even on the back of the board right you can't actually see any of the the data traces for the memory because well there's a ground shield over them which the idea behind that is it basically blocks interference from

Getting to the memory so it should improve memory overclocking capabilities quite a bit and then the board is still us as far as I know is still a six layer PCB which yeah like I'd honestly expect this

To overclock in terms of memory to be very some similar to like the x5 seven to unify though there are some minor differences like the unify would actually use SMD capacitors here which have some advantages for power delivery

But again it's ddr4 it's not that sensitive to power delivery it's mostly about the trace layout so yeah I can't really like you know being a six-layer with the ground shields still a daisy-chain this should be really really

Solid for memory overclocking and then the choreography so like this yeah like mine you go to for $210 because we got the debug LEDs we got the BIOS flash back we've got the best vrm at this price point that I'm aware of in general

Like I'm pretty sure there hasn't been a $210 motherboard with a VR I'm this good and yeah like it's freaking awesome so I'm really excited to actually like get to try this board when when it eventually turns up because yeah MSI is

Going to be sending me one to test so that will be interesting so yeah this is like you know MSI is very late to the party for having an insane insane vrm on a $200 board because when I first saw like the gigabyte and the Asus boards I

Was like wow this is really good and then MSI is here like if you just wait a year you get to use sixty I'm smart power stages from inter-cell because I guess like because these are a new power stage I've not seen these before

So I'm guessing that one of the big improved likely because you could get 60 amp power stages in the past but I wasn't aware of any being this cheap or cheap enough to end up on a motherboard this at this price point so yeah I'm I'm

Very impressed with this and yeah so that's it for the video thanks for watching like share subscribe leave any comments questions suggestions down in the comment section below if you'd like to support gamers Nexus we have a

Patreon there's a link to that down in the description below and there's also store gamers Nexus dotnet where you can pick up various merch if you'd like to support us that way so yeah there's a link to that down in the description

Below as well thanks for watching and good bye

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