Can a MSI B450 Tomahawk MAX handle an AMD Ryzen 9 3950X?

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is a 16-core flagship CPU, available to buy for PLN 3800. For this test,  I decided to set it up on a PLN 460 motherboard, which was the above mentioned MSI B450 Tomahawk MAX. I am aware that it is a highly extravagant combination, which will probably not be built in real life by anyone, but I was curious about the consequences of trying. 

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X and MSI B450 Tomahawk – test platform 

To fully mirror the user profile of someone theoretically interested in this kind of treat, I used SilentiumPC SG1 TG as my case, with a set of Corona HP 120 RGB fans at front and Fortis 3 RGB. The mesh at the front of this rig is doing its job, so my expectations were quite high. 

I started testing this cute setup to discover something I wasn’t planning for. But let’s take it from the top. When I set up the motherboard, I installed the latest non-beta BIOS updates available. It was the 3.5 as at the date of this publication. 

I picked A-XMP RAM profile (3600 MHz CL18) and increased the voltage to 1.425 v. I removed power throttling from the CPU and launched the Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO) function for automatic overclocking depending on the actual settings. 

All the fans in the PC but the one on the graphics card were enabled at 100% rpm fixed, just in case. I moved the front fan to the top for air extraction, and replaced it with the three SPC Corona HP 120 RGB at the front. 

Because I was aiming at minimum effort, while trying to follow the line of thinking of my fictional consumer, I picked the reference RX 5700 XT from MSI as my graphics card. After all, the guy wants to buy a chip cheap, and does not care much about the more expensive OC version with RGB and two fans.  

In this particular case, it might be a lousy blessing, because the reference unit discharges hot air outside the compartment, and it can make a difference in such a small box. 

SPC Fortis 3 RGB was also set at 1400 RPM fixed. Here I had a small surprise, too, because the whole PC was not actually very noisy. When playing a game, the video card was the one I was hearing the most anyway. A reference component is a thing. 

Testing the power management section on MSI B450 TOMAHAWK 

In my testing procedure, I was focusing mainly on the power management section temperature on the motherboard. It is the foundation of the MSI B450 TOMAHAWK popularity, because many reviewers see it as a role model in the mid-priced segment. 

I started the process with 45-minute CPU load in AIDA64 Engineering. I was surprised to see that the power management section temperature did not exceed 77°C, , which would be an extraordinary result. 

It would be, if not for AIDA64 feeding only 150W to the 16-core Ryzen. With all this, the CPU occasionally jumped to 92°C, but kept around 87°C most of the time. 

On launching Blender 2.81 render loop  classroom, my power consumption surged to 170W, transiently jumping to 186W. The maximum registered single core frequency was at  4.75 GHz, which is an impossible level for most Ryzens I have known.

With all this, my MSI B450 TOMAHAWK MAX based power supply started to work harder, to stabilize around 90°C. Even more curiously, Fortis 3 RGB kept the 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X at 81 degrees, with frequency fixed at 4.0 GHz in all the CPU cores. 

So if your imaginary consumer was aiming at building a cost efficient renderbox with minimum effort, it all looks quite impressive if you only consider the CPU. What’s worse, if you’re not aware of the need to monitor the power management section as well, this kind of setup could survive for a long time. 

Unfortunately, my guess is that it will not take long, because the electric components may deteriorate after a few months of hard work. After all, 90°C applied for 8-10 hours a day just for the power section does not come from nowhere. 

Nevertheless, power to CPU is doing much better at 150W, which opens the path to a setup with AMD Ryzen 9 3900X. 12 cores are less than 16, yet the power input reduction is noticeable for MOSFETs, too. 

In video games, MSI B450 Tomahawk MAX works smoothly. Most CPU cores are relatively idle then, so the power consumption is not high.  

A-XMP profile at 3600 MHz frequency and CL18 worked smoothly. FCLK ran automatically on 1800 MHz and the single core performance result in Cinebench R20 was at 520, which is within the normal range. 

MSI B450 Tomahawk MAX and AMD Ryzen 9 3950X – what have we learned? 

You can get some reasonable conclusions from this benchmark: 

  1. AIDA64 heats up the power section in a different way than Blender 2.81 in Classroom does 
  2. With 150W power input, the power section temperature is at 77°C 
  3. MSI B450 Tomahawk MAX can handle AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 
  4. SPC Fortis 3 in a well ventilated case registered 81°C in Blender with a 16-core CPU 
  5. You may be completely unaware that you are torturing your motherboard power section. 

This is intended as a warning. You should always verify this performance aspect of your PC, and take a look at VRM temperature from time to time, particularly after a CPU upgrade.