Now all the motherboards for the processors Coffee Lake are based on the Intel Z370. When assembling a new PC with 8-generation Core chips, you need to choose one of the models on the top-end chipset. In the five months since the announcement of the new platform, manufacturers have prepared many devices with different functionality, equipment and their unique features. Today in the focus of our attention is a full-format model with a militant, but concise title - MSI Z370 TOMAHAWK.
The box includes a user's manual, a driver and software CD, installation instructions, a rear panel cover, a pair of SATA interface cables, and an extension cable for connecting an external RGB tape.
MSI Z370 TOMAHAWK corresponds to the ATX format and has a size of 304 × 243 mm. On the black printed circuit board there is white decoration. Elements of the cooling system, as well as a plastic protective casing in the interface panel area are made in the color of graphite. In general, the design is not striking - no bright contrast elements are present.
The board is naturally based on the Intel Z370 chipset and supports all Coffee Lake processors. This family includes models Core i7 / i5 / i3. Soon the assortment of chips Core i5 will expand, and also the most affordable CPU with the architecture of Core 8-th generation - Celeron G4xxx and Pentium Gold G5xxx will be added.
The power subsystem uses a 10-phase power stabilization scheme. The PWM controller uP9598Q is used, therefore obviously the developer uses the architecture with a doubling of the power phases. As power packs, the elements QN3107 and QN3103 are used. For additional cooling, medium-sized radiator units are mounted on the MOSFET, which are fixed with screws. For connection of additional power supply there is one 8-pin connector.
The MSI Z370 TOMAHAWK has 4 memory slots, allowing up to 64 GB of RAM. For DIMM connectors, a two-way locking mechanism is provided. Declared support for modes up to DDR4-4000. In the endless list of tested and validated memory kits on the manufacturer's website there are 825 positions. When sorting by operating frequency, the DDR4-4000 sets are in the top.
The model offers six expansion slots - three full-format PCI Express x16 and the same amount of compact PCI Express x1. The board does not allow separating the processor lines of the PCI Express 3.0 bus, which determines the operating modes of the presented slots. The first full-format PCI Express slot always works in x16 mode. The connector has a metal sheath for mechanical amplification, it is recommended to use it to install a video card.
The second full-sized slot is served by the chipset and can work in the mode up to x4 (depends on the configuration of the drives). The lower PCI-E x16 slot has one PCI-E 3.0 line, so despite the size, the connector is designed for expansion cards that have a bandwidth of up to 1 GB / s.
The inability to separate processor lines in the proportions x8 + x8 automatically excludes SLI support. This is not a big loss for a platform of this class, especially if you take into account the cost of current video cards with NVIDIA chips, which in principle can be used in pairs (GeForce GTX 1070 and higher). There are no problems with CrossFireX configurations. The board allows you to install two graphics adapters with AMD chips. The combination of x16 + x4 slots is enough for synchronization of a pair of video cards, the question is only in the overall efficiency of such a bundle.
The board has six 4-pin connectors for connecting fans. For all connectors, independent control channels with pulse modulation (PWM) or by changing the supply voltage (DC) are used. In this case, automatic determination of the adjustment method is not provided. When connecting the fans, it is necessary to select the control mode (PWM / DC) in the BIOS. Initially, the PWM mode is assigned for the CPU cooler and pump connectors, and for the rest - DC is used.
Motherboards of the middle class do not spoil the abundance of additional controls. Often this is a delusion of top models. In this case, the price and overpayment for options that are not likely to be used at all, is simply irrelevant. From the useful ones, we select the additional set of signal LEDs EZ Debug LED, which allow identifying the problematic node at the stage of system boot in a rapid mode.
Now it is impossible to imagine any motherboard without additional illumination. Here it is also in abundance. RGB-LEDs are installed along the perimeter of the PCB with a higher concentration in the area of the audio subsystem. All the LEDs are located on the back of the PCB, so the overall intensity of the glow is relatively small.
Supports garlands of RGB-elements 5050 c supply voltage 12 V. In the bundle with the board an 80-cm extension cable comes, in case the lights are out. It is not necessary to lose the useful length of the LED tape.