MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon Motherboard Review
With the Intel's upcoming Broadwell-E CPU, all motherboard manufacturers are lining-up their X99 Chipset base motherboards with new design and features. Joining the elite, MSI has also launched their latest X99 motherboard series known as the Gaming Carbon. The whole Gaming Carbon series motherboards are made of PCB in matte black color and with carbon fiber like vinyl on the heatsinks and IO cover, plus a brand new â€œMystic Light" RGB system that embeds LEDs across the motherboard to give whole motherboard a cool lightning effect with over 16.8 million colors and 16 LED effects to choose from.
Now let's see what this MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon board have for us.
Looking at the front of the box, we see MSI logo with motherboard model no. At the rear of the box, we find that MSI goes into great detail on the specifications of the motherboard.
Inside the box
Board is a solid build with full mate black colour theme.
Supports New Intel® Core™ i7 Processor Extreme Edition for LGA 2011-3 socket
DDR4 Steel Armor with Best signal stability , Quad Channel DDR4-3466+(OC)
Mystic Light: Customize and set up your own color scheme with GAMING APP to make your PC look & feel brand new!
Mystic Light Extension: Extend you style to everything
Turbo U.2 & M.2 Steel Armor: Delivering next generation M.2 Gen3 x4 performance with transfer speeds up to 32 Gb/s
USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C & Type-A combo + USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (front) + SATA EXPRESS 10Gb/s + SATA 6Gb/s
Audio Boost 3 : Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality
Nahimic Audio Enhancer: Immersive sound quality that pushes the limits of reality
GAMING LAN with LAN Protect, powered by Intel® : The best online gaming experience with lowest latency
XSplit Gamecaster V2: Show off you skills to the world with a 1 year premium license for this popular streaming software
Military Class 5: The latest evolution in high quality components featuring the brand new Titanium Chokes
Guard-Pro: Improved Protection and Power Efficiency
MULTI-GPU with Steel Armor: Steel Armor PCI-E slots. Supports 3-way NVIDIA SLI & AMD Crossfire™
Game Boost: Generate more FPS in games with 1 push of a button
EZ Debug LED: Easiest way to troubleshoot
Overvoltage Protection:Prevent Unforeseen Damage
GAMING Hotkey: Launch your favorite games with a single button
Click BIOS 5: Award-winning brand new Click BIOS 5 with high resolution scalable font
SteelSeries Certified: Optimized for SteelSeries gaming gear
GAMING CERTIFIED: 24-hour on- and offline game testing by eSports players for the best gaming experience
Detailed layout of board.
1. Supports New IntelÂ® Coreâ„¢ i7 Processor Extreme Edition for LGA2011-3 Socket
2. 8 x DDR4 memory slots with Quad channel memory architecture, support up to 128GB* DDR4 3466(OC)/ 3400(OC)/ 3333(OC)/ 3200(OC)/ 3000(OC)/ 2933(OC)/ 2800(OC)/ 2666(OC)/ 2600(OC)/ 2400/ 2200(OC)/ 2133 MHz
3. ATX Power connector (24-pin EATXPWR)
4. ATX CPU Power Connector (8-pin ATX12V).
5. 1 x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse combo port, 4 x USB 2.0 ports, 1 x Clear CMOS button, 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, 1 x LAN (RJ45) port, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 port. 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, 1 x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector, 5 x OFC audio jacks
6. 7. 11. 13. 1 x 4-pin CPU fan connector, 1 x 4-pin Water Pump connector, 3 x 4-pin system fan connectors
8. 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports), 1 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C port
9.1 x SATA Express connector, 10 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors and 1 x U.2 port
10. System Front panel Connector
12. 2 x USB 2.0 Connectors
14. External LED connector
15. Front panel Audio connector.
16. M.2 PCIe connector
17. Expansion Slots.
4x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots*,(- Support x16/ x0/ x0/ x0, x16/ x16/ x0/ x0, x16/ x16/ x0/ x8, x8/ x16/ x8/ x8 with the CPU that supports 40 PCIe lanes. - Support x16/ x0/ x0/ x0, x16/ x8/ x0/ x0, x8/ x8/ x8/ x0, x8/ x8/ x8/ x4 with the CPU that supports 28 PCIe lanes.), 2 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
18. TPM Connector
19. 1 x Slow mode booting jumper, 1 x GAME BOOST knob, 1 x Power button, 1 x Reset button, 1 x Multi-BIOS switch
MSI used dense aluminum heatsink with RGB LED embedded and a Carbon like vinyl. Heatsinks base is having thermal pad installed.
Let's now see what all components MSI have planned for this board.
1. 2. CPU voltage regulator circuit has 8-phase Power VRM Section with two dual-channel MOSFET-Driver Intersil ISL 6611ACRZ driving Nikos PK632BA and Nikos PK616BA as the high and low side MOSFETs controlled by Intersil ISL6388 Hybrid Digital PWM Controller.
3. 4. 8.2-Phase digital memory power supply section is controlled by Powervation's PV3203 Digital Dual-Phase Synchronous Buck Controller.
5. VIA Lab's VL805-Q6 USB 3.0 Host Controller IC
6. ASMedia ASM1142 is PCIe-to-two-port USB 3.1 controller
7. Intel i219v one Gigabit Ethernet controller chip.
9. Intel x99 Chipset.
10. ASMedia ASM1467 One lane (Dual Channel) High speed interface redriver chip used for PCI Express or SATA mode selection.
11. Texas Instruments DS80PCI402 is a 2.5 Gbps/5.0 Gbps/8.0 Gbps 4 Lane PCI Express Repeater w/ Equalization & De-Emphasis chip.
12. MSI uses two Winbond chip labeled 25Q128FV a capacity of 128 Mb for storing UEFI BIOS.
13. IDT 9DB433 zero-delay buffer supports PCIe Gen3 requirements, while being backwards compatible to PCIe Gen2 and Gen1 used for M.2 Slot .
14. Fintek F7540B is a 4 differential channel, 2-to-1 multiplexer / demultiplexer switch for PCI Express Generation 3.
15. Nuvoton's NCT6792D Super I/O series chip capable of monitoring critical parameters in PC hardware including power supply voltages, fan speeds and temperatures.
16. MSI Audio is powered by Realtek ALC1150 is a high-performance multi-channel High Definition Audio Codec that delivers an exceptional audio listening experience with up to 115dB SNR, ensuring users get the best possible audio quality from their PC.
The ALC1150 provides ten DAC channels that simultaneously support 7.1-channel sound playback, plus 2 channels of independent stereo sound output (multiple streaming) through the front panel stereo outputs. Two stereo ADCs are integrated and can support a microphone array with Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC), Beam Forming (BF), and Noise Suppression (NS) technologies. The ALC1150 incorporates Realtek proprietary converter technology to achieve Front differential output 115dB Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) playback (DAC) quality and 104dB SNR recording (ADC) quality.
A semi-transparent line on motherboard separates the whole audio section from the rest of the board in order to minimize interference. In addition of high end, Japanese branded Nichicon audio capacitors MSI also used one Texas Instruments OPA1652 Dual FET-input, ultralow distortion (0.00005% at 1 kHz) Op-amp for rear audio amplification and two for high impedance headphones along with Nahimin Audio Enhancer. So listening under Stereo mode produces high audio quality with excellent dynamic range.
RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA) suite is used for testing MSI High Definition audio against Asus Xonar DX Sound card. You can see clearly the difference between Noise level, dynamic rang and Total harmonic distortion percentage produced by MSI High Definition audio.
RMAA Asus Xonar DX
RMAA MSI High Definition audio
|CPU||Intel Core i7 5960X |
|Board|| MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon |
|RAM||4 X 4GB Corsair DDR4 |
|SSD||Kingston UV300 240GB SSD |
|Cooler||CM Nepton 240M |
|GFX|| ASUS STRIX GTX 950|
|Display||Acer S220HQL |
|OS|| Windows 10 |
Benchmarks / Overclocking
Wattage reading as per displayed by APC Pro 1000VA (Model no. BR1000G-IN) UPS.
- Full Black theme
- Good Audio
- Super Cool RGB LED and External LED Support
- Steel Armor on memory slots.
- Lot of Software bundled
- Easy Overclocking
- Carbon Skin on heatsink is just a Carbon Vinyl not true Carbon-fiber skin.
MSI with its X99A Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard became the world's first motherboard offering front USB 3.1 Type-C, but the feature we liked the most is the Mystic Light RGB LED lightning effects, looks great and can be easily customized according to the build or user like.
With a simply tweak in MSI Command Center, we were able to OC i7-5960X up to 4.4GHz stable super easy. Now we have great hopes that with this board and the upcoming Broadwell-E chips we may see some great Overclocking results.
With the looks, RGB LED feature and easy Overclocking, we have no doubt the MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon will be the top most choice among gamer and modders and worthy of our PC TeK REVIEWS Choice Award for upcoming Broadwell-E compatible boards .