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MSI X99A TOMAHAWK Motherboard Review (Page 11)

Steven Bassiri | Nov 11, 2016 at 11:48 am CST - 3 mins, 16 secs time to read this page
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: MSI

Here are key points about the MSI X99A TOMAHAWK.

What's Hot

The Latest In Storage Technologies: The X99A TOMAHAWK features U.2, M.2, and SATA Express, but the fun doesn't end there. On many X99 motherboards, the U.2 and M.2 slots cannot be used at the same time because they use CPU bandwidth, that isn't true of the X99A TOMAHAWK.

Lots of USB: Four rear USB 3.0 ports, USB 3.1 type-A, USB 3.1 type-C, two USB 3.0 internal headers, and two USB 2.0 internal headers provide expansive USB connectivity. The X99 chipset doesn't have as much built-in connectivity as Z170, but MSI has done a decent job of expanding what is there to provide a solid amount of USB support.

Re-Drivers and Repeaters: The PCI-E controller that provides bandwidth for the M.2 and U.2 ports is all the way in the CPU, so MSI uses re-drivers to improve connectivity. The USB ports also get their own repeaters to improve signal strength for the front panel USB 3.0 internal headers, so that longer cables don't degrade performance too much.

Big VRM: The VRM might only be eight phases, but the number of MOSFETs is double that of normal eight phase VRMs, technically enough to power a 16-phase VRM. The VRM can handle anything thrown its way, but you have to make sure to direct some airflow in the direction of the VRM.

Color Neutral with RGB Header: The black on black color theme is one many enthusiasts covet, and MSI has done a nice job of providing what people want. The RGB LED strip header is a nice addition, so you don't need a separate RGB LED controller to power and change the color of the strip.

Dual Intel NICs: At this price point, you don't expect to find two Intel NICs, but the X99A TOMAHAWK has you covered.

OC Features: Many X99 motherboards in this price range don't have basic OC features such as dual BIOS ROMs or POST code displays, but the X99A TOMAHAWK has these features and an easy to access clear CMOS button on the rear IO panel.

What's Not

No 4-Way SLI or CrossFireX: One of the main selling points of the X99 chipset over the Z170 chipset is the ability to support four GPUs, but the X99A TOMAHAWK doesn't have this capability since it only has three x16 slots.

Limited M.2 with 28-lane CPUs: While both 40 and 28-lane CPUs offer the same U.2 capabilities, they aren't equal when it comes to M.2. With a 40-lane CPU, you will be able to use the M.2 slot in SATA mode or x4 PCI-E 3.0, however, with a 28-lane CPU, things are different. With a 28-lane CPU, the motherboard switches the bandwidth source from the CPU to the PCH, limiting you to x2 PCI-E 2.0 for the M.2 slot.

Final Thoughts

MSI's X99A TOMAHAWK is equipped very well for a sub-$250 motherboard. Offering up the latest in storage technologies that only refreshed X99 motherboards have along with USB 3.1 and solid aesthetics, the X99A TOMAHAWK is an excellent value at its price.

Overall performance is solid in CPU, memory, system, gaming, storage, and thermal testing. The beefy VRM offers decent light-load performance and will be able to tackle pretty much any overclock, just make sure to give it some airflow if you are doing any heavy overclocking.


There is not too much to dislike about the X99A TOMAHAWK other than the obvious lack of 4-way multi-GPU capabilities and onboard RGB LEDs. The dual Intel NICs, USB 3.1, U.2, and M.2 are what really matter, and the X99A TOMAHAWK delivers them in a product designed to match any color themed build.

If you are in the market for a very capable motherboard that won't break the bank and offers more features than you would expect, the MSI X99A TOMAHAWK is definitely worth a look.

Last updated: Nov 15, 2019 at 01:16 pm CST

TweakTown award
Performance (including Overclocking)88%
Quality including Design and Build90%
General Features90%
Bundle and Packaging88%
Value for Money93%
Overall Rating90%

The Bottom Line: Offering up the latest storage and IO technologies in a very appealing package, MSI's X99A TOMAHAWK will provide all you need in a motherboard, without breaking the bank.

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Steven Bassiri

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Steven Bassiri

Steven went from a fledgling forum reader in 2003 to one of the internet's brightest tech stars by 2010. Armed with an information systems degree, a deep understanding of circuitry, and a passion for tech, Steven (handle Sin0822) enjoys sharing his deep knowledge with others. Steven details products down to the component level to highlight seldom explained, and often misunderstood architectures. Steven is also a highly decorated overclocker with several world records.

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