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Built-up PC with the MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500

I am trying to build a MSI concept PC that can be used widely from gaming to video distribution and video conferencing for around USD 1300 cost!

Story Highlights
  • With more cores’ processors, thermal and power design is more important to make sure the temperature keeps lower.
  • MSI extended PWM heatsink and enhanced circuit design ensures even high-end Intel CPU to run in full speed with MSI motherboards.
  • Supports DDR4 Memory, up to 5000(OC) MHz
  • Ready 4 the Future: Support Lightning Gen 4 Solution for the future

The MSI motherboard that will be introduced for the first time of this new year is the “MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK”. This is a motherboard that supports the LGA1200 socket and supports 10th generation Intel Core. Apart from the demands for gaming performance, desktop PCs, such as video conferencing for remote work, have recently become increasingly in demand for “performance” and “stability.” Is it possible to achieve both? The optimal solution is a mainstream-class motherboard, namely the MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK. The actual selling price is around USD 215

MSI gaming motherboards have three English letters such as “MEG”, “MAG”, and “MPG” at the beginning of the product name. MEG is for high-end gamers. MPG is for beginner gamers. And the MAG from MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK means for mainstream gamers.

The mainstream model has an excellent price/performance ratio. High-end models use highly durable parts with “super” to provide a high sense of security and abundant functionality, so they are expensive because they are very satisfying. For entry, it is possible to achieve a low price just keeping it to a minimum without adding too much to the reference design, but there is a smaller margin when gamers tend to “continue to apply high loads for quite a long time”. So a simple way to enjoy it is all about balance.

For the mainstream, it is balanced, durable enough even for old games, and in terms of functionality, is expected to be of use for a long time, as it covers current and next-generation interfaces. Let’s take a look at the reviews along with the products.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500:

The power supply circuit is an index of the stability and service life of the product. The ambient temperature is the most important factor in semiconductor life. Therefore, if the entry model falls within specification limits, the high-end model will be designed with a large margin. The mainstream model is balanced for a while, but what’s interesting is the circuit (number of phases), spare parts (tilt), and cooling (heat sink).

The power connector has 8 + 4 pins. The power supply circuit has a 12 + 1 + 1 phase configuration. It can be said that the number of phases is sufficient. Specifically, 12 phases are assigned to CPUs that require high output. With this generous design, the conversion efficiency is good, and excessive heat generation is suppressed.

The component configuration is made by ON Semiconductor for the PWM and MOSFET controllers. It could be argued that it is slightly higher in the mainstream in terms of value. The PWM controller is digitally controlled, and the MOSFET is a very efficient DrMOS containing the IC driver, etc. In a package. The company calls the power supply circuit designed based on digital PWM as the “Core Boost”.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: Power circuit part
msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: EPS12V
msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: Semiconductor ACTIVE PWM Controller “NCP81229”
msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: ON Semiconductor の MOSFET Driver [NCP302155]

On the other hand, the components are important, but it is more important to operate them within the right temperature range. Large heat sinks are used for VRM which generates a large amount of heat, but MSI’s MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK is huge. The structure is made entirely of aluminum to cover the shield which is generally made of plastic resin.

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msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: Large aluminum cooling unit attached to the cover. Large heat dissipation area and high cooling effect

The chipset heat sink is simpler than the AMD X570 chipset due to the amount of heat it generates. Not as big as the top model. However, the design lays out the PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots in straight lines, making good use of the space between the slots to ensure adequate surface area. In addition, the LEDs are mounted on the PCB from the part that matches the underside of this chipset cooler.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: The largest possible chipset heatsink in a limited space

The M.2 heat sink is a separate type and not the integrated type of chipset heat sink that is commonly used on higher models. It’s impossible to dissipate heat into the adjacent heatsink, but it’s big enough to cover an M.2 SSD.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: M.2 single plate solid type heat sink. High-speed M.2 SSD controllers like PCI Express support and NVMe support can generate a lot of heat, so it’s safe to have them.

The M.2 slot near the CPU is compatible with M.2 22110 and has a large heat sink, and the M.2 slot under the PCI Express x16 # 2 is compatible with the M.2 2280, so a heat sink of the same size is combined.

Both LAN and USB are equipped with the next-generation 20 Gbps class standard

Next comes the functional aspect. Let’s take a look at the next-generation interface support.

PeripheralsThe main specification of “MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK”
Compatibility socketLGA1200
ChipsetIntel Z490
Form factorATX
Memory slotDDR4 × 4 (maximum 128GB)
Memory clockDDR4-4800 (OC) ~ 3000 (OC), DDR4-2933 ~ 2133
Expansion slotsPCI Express 3.0 x16 * 2 (x16 / x4), PCI Express 3.0 x1 * 2
Storage interfaceSATA3 (6Gbps) * 6, M.2 (PCIe3.0 x4 / SATA) * 2
Networking2.5Gb LAN (Realtek RTL8125B-CG), 1Gb LAN (Intel I219V)
Sound7.1ch HD Audio (Realtek ALC1220-VD1)
Rear interfaceUSB3.2 Gen2 * 2, Type-C * 1, USB3.2 Gen2 Type-A * 1, USB3.2 Gen1 Type-A * 4, USB 2.0 * 2, PS / 2 * 1, HDMI * 1, DisplayPort * 1, S / PDIF * 1, audio terminal * 5
Interface on MotherboardRGB LED header * 2, RAINBOW LED header * 2, USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C header * 1, USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A header * 1, USB 2.0 * 2 header, Thunderbolt header * 1, etc.
Table 1 – MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK Specs

I’ve listed the specs table, but as you can see here, there are three main interfaces. One of them is 2.5GbE. Currently, the number of internet channels with speeds exceeding 1GbE is increasing. Building a LAN with 10GbE is still expensive and difficult, but 2.5GbE is cheaper and is considered the best option for upgrading it. It would be very encouraging for gamers to support this. Plus, if you’re going to be operating on 1GbE for now, it also has the standard Intel I219V chip, so you can feel safe using it.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: This product is equipped with 2.5GbE and can speed up the network.
msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: Realtek chip

The second is USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C. This product is not equipped with USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C (Type-A pre-installed) but instead comes with USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C. Transfer rates are twice as different between Gen2 and Gen2x2. Gen2x2 is 20Gbps. Among external USB SSDs, products that support this next-generation standard are already emerging. Of course, the smartest and fastest storage is probably the M.2 SSD.

However, there are times when it is inconvenient to build one, such as sharing among multiple PCs or migrating PCs. High-speed external interfaces and related products must be installed if you want to use the PC more comfortably and longer. Also, since the Gen2x2 is not yet supported at the CPU or chipset level, a chip was added to this product. It is difficult to install such a function to enter, and it can be said that this product, which is relatively high in the mainstream class, is quite an interesting thing.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: USB 3.2 Gen2x2
msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: USB is a relatively fast-growing interface. The era of USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20Gbps) will come after the current mainstream USB 3.2 Gen1 (5Gbps) and Gen2 (10Gbps).

The third is the Thunderbolt header (TBT connector in MSI notation). This is the header pin for attaching additional Thunderbolts. Recently, Thunderbolt 3/4 has become commonplace in mobile notebook PCs equipped with Intel CPUs. It’s a very high-speed interface with a transfer rate of 40 Gbps and is said to be included in the USB4 standard. Apart from LCD pen tablets, Type-C compatible displays have recently appeared and are also used to connect such devices.

Since this product is equipped with a pin header that supports this, Thunderbolt can be used by installing a separate add-in card. It’s up to the user not to use it as it requires an add-in card, but if you plan to continue using it in the USB4 era, it’s gratifying to have this in preparation for the future.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: 40Gbps Thunderbolt is used primarily for creative work. This product is ready to be equipped with this interface (JTBT1 header in the photo).

In addition, due to the gameplay of this product, the PCI Express x16 slot for installing a video card is reinforced with a metal “PCIe Steel Armor” cover. Nowadays, not only games but also businesses use GPUs on video cards. Many of the GPU features used in such businesses are upscale than the usual ones, so the weight of the cooler also weighs on the slots, so gain like that is key to choosing a motherboard.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: PCIe Steel Armor

I am trying to build an MSI concept PC that can be used widely from gaming to meetings

MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK is a product with excellent cost performance. Therefore, at the end of the review, let’s propose a mainstream gaming PC in early 2021 centered on this product. Since this is mainstream, the budget is around USD 1300, and the target is a full HD environment.

Part ListSpecPrice range
CPUIntel Core i7-10700 (8C / 16T, TDP 65W)around USD 356
MotherboardMSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK (Intel Z490) around USD 219
StorageKingston HyperX HX432C16FB3K2 / 16 (DDR4-3200, 8GB × 2) around USD 110
Video CardMSI GeForce RTX 3060 Ti GAMING X TRIO around USD 603
SSDKingston A2000 (NVMe, 500GB) around USD 73
PC CaseMSI MAG FORGE 100M (ATX) around USD 64
Table 2 – List Parts of MSI PC concept

I prepared the spec above. In addition, it requires a power supply and an OS. This time, we weren’t able to get the power supply and use ours, but when assembling with reference to the above configuration, consider the power supply class 650W as the lowest line.

In recent years, there has been a trend towards extended warranties, such as 5 years – 10 years for power supplies, and there has been a trend towards higher output on the system side, so there are options for the future such as 750W and 850W class. Also, in this case, consider that the CPU power connector on the MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK is 8 + 4 pins. This is because many 600W class power supplies with relatively small outputs only have one EPS12V (8-pin).

Let’s introduce each part. The Core i7-10700 is an 8-core 16-threaded CPU. The bottom line is TDP. Due to the 65W, this is easier to handle than the top CPUs with the “K” or “F” series on the end even with the same Core i7. Of course, it’s a trade-off between performance, but for mainstream gaming, the Core i7-10700 is a good choice.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: With 8 cores and 16 threads, there is no problem with the latest games. The goal is stability with a TDP of 65W with a margin for heat generation and cooling

16GB DDR4-3200 is selected as memory. CPU support up to DDR4-2933, but in reality, there are only a few products in this speed class. On today’s motherboards, the OC which is also known as XMP has a mechanism for moving memory with a simple arrangement, so it would be best to choose a lot of DDR4-3200 memory for cost performance.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: The memory is not DDR4-2933 but OC DDR4-3200 bold memory

The video card is the same MSI GeForce RTX 3060 Ti GAMING X TRIO. This is a large model that uses three large-diameter fans. Reference RTX 3060 Ti was upgraded to 1665MHz, but this product has been boosted to 1830MHz by installing a powerful and silent cooler, which is high performance. Video cards have been used in a variety of applications beyond the boundaries of gaming and 3D. With the RTX 30 series, you can use the “RTX Voice” noise cancellation function and the “RTX Broadcast Engine” background composition function, which are convenient for video conferencing and distribution.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: At the time of writing, the RTX 30 series is an entry class. Despite being an entry, it is designated as a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti GAMING X TRIO which aims to get extra margins with the OC model

The SSD is a 500GB M.2 NVMe compatible model. Here, each user needs a different capacity. Since this is an example, I would like to propose a product with good cost performance.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: For best performance, it is best to have an NVMe SSD in the M.2 slot.

And the casing that defines the PC’s appearance. Motherboards and video cards are typical MSI PC components, but we also handle a variety of other components. It’s not uncommon for a home PC to worry about design. Then there is the option of uniting manufacturers. It looks like a complete PC made by MSI, so this is recommended. The MAG FORGE 100M is the same “MAG” class product as the TOMAHAWK MAG Z490, and although it is cheap, it has three fans and is a good product with an LED hub function.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: Breathable front mesh housing shows high-performance class of CPU and video card performance. Characterized by an LED fan and a diagonal design in the center

Let’s introduce the performance of an example built here by simple benchmarks. 3DMark’s Fire Attack score is 23371. The Time Spy is 11378. Especially the heavier DirectX 12-based Time Spy is over 10,000 points, and in full HD most games can get adequate frame rates even with the high image quality setting, WQHD ( 2560) with the next higher resolution. It appears that 60fps can be satisfied depending on the image quality setting (×1440 dots).

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: 3DMark, Fire Strike
msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: 3DMark, Time Spy

There are two benchmarks of real play. One of them is Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. With full HD and the highest quality presets, the internal benchmarks average 89fps and a low of 1% 59fps. Enjoy the game world with beautiful graphics. The other is Watch Dogs Legion. It is available for real-time ray tracking of the GeForce RTX 30 and DLSS series. Real-time ray tracing based on full HD and highest image quality preset Medium, DLSS: Average high performance reaches 83fps and low 1% 66fps. While there are higher quality settings for real-time ray tracing and DLSS, you can enjoy a new era of graphics called ray tracing at adequate frame rates.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Full HD, Best Quality
msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: Watch Dogs Legion, highest quality, real-time ray tracing: medium, DLSS: high performance

Even with high-speed I/F installed, I am very satisfied with my hobby and working with TOMAHAWK

This project is based on the MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK. Despite having the main configuration, it is a full-scale PC that can be used for full HD gaming and video-centric business. In addition, the next-generation interface of the MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK will dramatically increase transfer rates compared to the previous standard in combination with networking and suitable storage. The latest PC which also has one plus function has a fast “response time”, so you can be relieved of stress. If you want to make remote work that tends to be difficult, it will be more convenient if you want to choose a motherboard with a plus function like the MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK.

msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: The completed case form. LEDs create a PC gaming feel.
msi mag z490 tomahawk best pre-built gaming pc under $1500
MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500: If you don’t need an LED light for video conferencing, you can turn it off with the LED switch on the motherboard.

Do you think you have other ideas about How to Built-up a PC with the MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500? you can comment below or discuss more Tips related to “Built-up a PC with the MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK, The BEST Pre-Built Gaming PC under $1500?” in the CnwinTech Forum. Also, read more articles about overclocking or other interesting tech tips and tricks articles only at CnwinTech.

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Score Assessment

Performance - 9.5
Facilities & Features - 9
Design - 9
Price - 7.8

8.8

Overall

the next-generation interface of the MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK will dramatically increase transfer rates compared to the previous standard in combination with networking and suitable storage. The latest PC which also has one plus function has a fast "response time", so you can be relieved of stress.

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User Rating: 4.83 ( 3 votes)

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