MSI X299 Gam­ing Pro Car­bon AC W

THE X299 SPEED DE­MON

PC & Tech Authority - - REVIEWS -

hen we put the call out for X299 motherboards, we ini­tially asked for en­try-level boards for the PC & Tech Au­thor­ity roundup, with a price point of no more than $400. Un­for­tu­nately it ap­pears that no such X299 boards yet ex­ist; this $469 prod­uct was the most a…ord­able we could find. It seems that once again In­tel is charg­ing a very high pre­mium for prod­ucts based on its HEDT (High End Desk­top plat­form) seg­ment. This is in stark con­trast to the $300 and even cheaper boards that are Ryzen 7 com­pat­i­ble, mak­ing the cost of own­er­ship of the new Core-X se­ries even higher. As you’ll see, the costs rise dra­mat­i­cally, so we’ve or­dered the boards in this ar­ti­cle based on price – just what does a $469 X299 board get you?

This is a stan­dard ATX sized board, and Asus has gone for a black PCB with white and alu­minium heatsinks and I/O shields. Three full length PCIe x16 slots are all steel-re­in­forced, while an­other twin PCIe x4 and sin­gle PCIe x1 slot are in­cluded. Asus has stuck with the stan­dard eight SATA 3 6Gbit/sec ports that are the de­fault for the X299 chipset.

There are also an­other twin M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 slots, and these are cov­ered by the large cool­ing heatsink at the bot­tom of the board. Asus claims that the me­mory slots can be run at speeds up to and ex­ceed­ing DDR4-4133MHz, but we only tested at the de­fault speed of our CPU, the i9-7900X, which is 2666MHz. It’s ob­vi­ously Op­tane ready, like all X299 boards, and also sup­ports Turbo Boost Max 3.0, but we had ma­jor is­sues get­ting this to work, and not just on this board.

Asus prom­ises one click over­clock­ing, and we tested the in­cluded 5-Way op­ti­mi­sa­tion soft­ware. Un­for­tu­nately, the board maxed out at 4.3GHz, which is even slower than the promised 4.5GHz promised by In­tel Turbo Boost Max 3.0. This was a com­mon prob­lem on most boards though, so it’s ob­vi­ous there are some kinks to be worked out re­gard­ing the new Turbo Boost method.

At the I/O port there are six USB ports, three of which are USB 3.1 Type A, along with an­other four USB 2.0. There’s also a sin­gle USB 3.1 Gen Type-C port, but there’s also a header to al­low an­other on the front of your case, if it so sup­ports it. There is a Thun­der­bolt header, but no port it­self.

Tweak­ers will ap­pre­ci­ate the on­board power but­tons and USB Bios flash­back but­ton. There’s also a de­cent range of fan head­ers, with six on­board. How­ever, it ap­pears only one is suit­able for a high­Amp wa­ter pump.

As for power sup­plies, like most X299 boards, this comes with ex­tra in­puts. There’s the usual 24-pin and 8-pin con­nec­tions, but there’s also an­other 4-pin power con­nec­tor. Ob­vi­ously this board also sup­ports Asus’ Aura Sync light­ing tech­nol­ogy, and there’s an RGB LED strip header to at­tach one if so de­sired. When it comes to au­dio, Asus has once again re­lied upon its cus­tomised ver­sion of the ALC1220 codec, which it calls S1220A. It’s got all the usual fea­tures claimed by other mak­ers – pre­mium ca­pac­i­tors, ded­i­cated PCB au­dio lay­ers and the like, but in re­al­ity sounds much like other ALC1220 boards with en­hanced com­po­nents.

When it came to per­for­mance, the Prime-X sat around the mid­dle of the pack. Con­sid­er­ing it’s only $100 cheaper than the MSI board though, which showed some rather im­pres­sive per­for­mance gains, we’d have to ques­tion whether sav­ing the $100 is worth it. It’s ob­vi­ous that In­tel has rushed the X299 launch given our is­sues get­ting Turbo Boost Max 3.0 to work, but given its his­tory we have no doubt they’ll re­solve these in short or­der. When they do, the Asus Prime X299-A will likely be one of the most a…ord­able op­tions to en­ter the Core-X arena, but we’d sug­gest giv­ing it a lit­tle time for the plat­form to ma­ture.

As one of the most a…ord­able boards on the mar­ket, this will be a temp­ing X299 propo­si­tion for those look­ing for a cheap X299 board. Just be aware it’s still a lit­tle rough around the edges, a prob­lem shared by all X299 prod­ucts.

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