MSI X299 Gam­ing Pro Car­bon AC


PC & Tech Authority - - REVIEWS - Bennett Ring

T his is the moth­er­board that we re­ceived with our Ryzen sam­ples, and was used across all of our CPU bench­marks. In hind­sight we can see why AMD sent this board – when it comes to per­for­mance, this board is a rip­per.

One of the main rea­sons is that it ap­pears to be one of the few boards that works prop­erly with In­tel’s Turbo Boost Max 3. It ran at 4.3GHz dur­ing most tests whereas the other boards would of­ten top out at 4GHz. The au­to­matic over­clock­ing was even more im­pres­sive. To do so is sim­ple – there’s a small ro­tat­ing knob on the bottom left of the board that sets the speed be­tween 4GHz and 5GHz in 100MHz in­cre­ments. We ini­tially got it to boot at 4.9GHz us­ing this, but the stress test crashed just a few min­utes in. Drop­ping the speed to 4.8GHz gave us 100% sta­bil­ity while run­ning our CPU stress test for sev­eral hours, far out­strip­ping the au­to­matic over­clock­ing of the other boards. We’re sure the other boards would prob­a­bly hit this speed, but the user will have to do it man­u­ally rather than rely upon soft­ware.

As an ATX board, the Car­bon comes with a rel­a­tively sim­i­lar fea­ture set to the other boards. There are four steel­re­in­forced PCIe x16 lanes, along with twin PCIe x2 lanes. It’s not quite up to the stan­dards of the ASRock board when it comes to con­nec­tiv­ity though. The de­fault eight SATA 3 6Gbit/sec ports are in­cluded, along with two M.2 slots. How­ever, MSI has also in­cluded a U.2 con­nec­tor for a third high speed SSD – it’s one of the few com­pa­nies to reg­u­larly include this port on its boards. Both M.2 slots come with heat spread­ers, and they seem a lit­tle thicker than the ear­lier it­er­a­tion we saw on pre­vi­ous MSI boards.

A sin­gle Gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net con­nec­tor is in­cluded, yet there’s no in­te­grated Wi-Fi at all, a sur­pris­ing omis­sion con­sid­er­ing how com­mon­place this is on the other boards. On the rear I/O panel are six USB 3.1 ports, one of which is Gen 2 Type C, an­other Gen 2 Type A, while the re­main­der are Gen 1 Type A. The nam­ing of th­ese ports has be­come rather con­fus­ing as not all man­u­fac­tur­ers use the Gen des­ig­na­tion; Gen 1 is 5Gbit/sec, while Gen 2 is 10Gbit/sec. There’s also a con­nec­tion for a five USB 3.1 port header on the front of your case, one be­ing a Gen 2 Type C, the other four be­ing Gen 1, Type A. How­ever, you’ll need to sup­ply your own header, or the case must come with th­ese. There’s also a handy clear CMOS and CMOS backup but­ton on the I/O panel in case you push your set­tings too high.

MSI loves its RGB, and the board is equipped with its ‘Mys­tic Light’ sys­tem, which ap­pears to be bro­ken into three di¡er­ence zones, each of which can han­dle the full 16.8 mil­lion colours, with 17 di¡er­ent e¡ects such as breath­ing, flash­ing, solid on and more. There’s also an RGB strip header. Au­dio is han­dled by MSI’s ‘Au­dio Boost 4’, which ap­pears to be based on the Real­tek ALC1220 codec along with the usual up­grades.

When it came time to test the board, we were most im­pressed, as it topped most of the re­sults. Its most im­pres­sive lead came in the Tomb Raider test, where it was a huge 30% faster than the other boards. We retested this sev­eral times to val­i­date it, and the re­sult was the same each and ev­ery time. It also had a healthy lead in our Cloud Mark test (we run this rather than the high res­o­lu­tion 3DMark tests to limit GPU bot­tle­neck­ing).

It may not have the ex­tra fea­tures of the ASRock board, but when it came time to over­clock and real-game per­for­mance, the MSI X299 Gam­ing Pro Car­bon AC blew the com­pe­ti­tion away. The fact that it did so within a sim­i­lar price range means it’s the board we’d go to for the ul­ti­mate in per­for­mance at this price point.

In the Tomb Raider test it was a huge 30% faster than the other boards.”

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