MSI X99A TOMAHAWK Motherboard Review
Today we are reviewing the newest member of the MSI Arsenal GAMING series of motherboard featuring the latest Intel X99 Express chipset, the MSI X99A TOMAHAWK motherboard. Adopting the MSI Arsenal Gaming design this motherboard also features a fully armored IO and audio cover, harnessing optimized gaming audio with highest quality components, providing gamers with best-in-class features and protection.
Now let's see what this MSI 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 processors Extreme Edition in LGA 2011-3 socket
Supports Quad Channel DDR4-3333+(OC) Memory
DDR4 Boost: Give your DDR4 memory a performance boost
Support lntel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0.
USB 3.1 Gen2 2X FASTER: USB 3.1 Gen2 offers performance twice as fast as a regular USB 3.0 connection
Turbo M.2 32Gb/s + Turbo U.2 32Gb/s + USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A+C + SATA 6Gb/s
TWIN GAMING LAN with LAN Protect, powered by Intel®: The best online gaming experience with lowest latency
Audio Boost 3: Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality
GAMING Hotkey: Assign macros, launch your favorite games or do real-time overclocking using a single button
XSplit Gamecaster v2.5: 1 year free premium license to show off your skills and achievements to the world
SteelSeries Certified: Optimized for SteelSeries gaming gear
Military Class 5: The latest evolution in high quality components featuring the brand new Titanium Chokes
MULTI-GPU with Steel Armor: Steel Armor PCI-E slots. Supports 3-Way NVIDIA SLI™ & AMD Crossfire™
Click BIOS 5: Award-winning brand new Click BIOS 5 with high resolution scalable font
GAMING CERTIFIED: 24-hour on- and offline game testing by eSports players for the best gaming experience
USB Speed Up: for up to 30% performance improvement on USB devices
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 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. Back Panel I/O Ports : 1 x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse combo port, 4 x USB 2.0 ports, 1 x Clear CMOS button, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 port, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, 2 x LAN (RJ45) ports, 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 3.0 connectors
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: 3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots Âƒ- Support x16, x16/x16, x8/x16/x8 with the CPU that supports 40 PCIe lanes - Support x16, x16/x8, x8/x8/x8 with the CPU that supports 28 PCIe lanes, 2 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
18. TPM Connector
19. Post Code display, 1 x Power button, 1 x Reset button
MSI used dense aluminum heatsink and Plastic I/O Cover. 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. 2-Phase digital memory power supply section is controlled by Powervation's PV3203 Digital Dual-Phase Synchronous Buck Controller.
5. ASMedia ASM1142 is PCIe-to-two-port USB 3.1 controller
6. ASMedia ASM1074 USB3.0 HUB Controller
7. Intel i210A Gigabit Ethernet controller chip.
8. Intel i219v Gigabit Ethernet controller chip.
9. Intel x99 Chipset.
10. 11.ASMedia ASM1467 One lane (Dual Channel) High speed interface redriver chip used for PCI Express or SATA mode selection.
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. 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 6950X |
|Board|| MSI X99A TOMAHAWK |
|RAM||4 X 4GB Corsair DDR4 |
|SSD||Kingston UV300 240GB SSD |
|Cooler||CM Nepton 240M |
|GFX||MSI GTX 1080 |
|Display||Acer S220HQL |
|OS|| Windows 10 |
Benchmarks / Overclocking
Wattage reading as per displayed by APC Pro 1000VA (Model no. BR1000G-IN) UPS.
- Nice Design with Full Black theme
- Good Audio with quality components
- Lot of Software bundled
- Easy Overclocking
- Stable BIOS
MSI with its X99A TOMAHAWK motherboard has done a great job in offering Gamers and Enthusiast with a solid build gaming motherboard using quality components. Everything you need to build a solid gaming computer with features like two Intel GLAN and super clean audio with Audio Boost 3.
Being a modder, I don't liked why MSI not included onboard RGB LEDs, it's nice to have a RGB LED header, but still board would have been more attractive with onboard lighting .
With the looks, feature and easy Overclocking, the MSI X99A TOMAHAWK is a nice option to be considered if you are going for a X99 gaming machine build .