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MSI X99S-MPower (Intel X99) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 2011 in Motherboards | Posted: Mar 4, 2015 3:12 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: MSI

Circuit Analysis




This section will start off with a look at power regulation and then shift into general circuit selection and implementation.



CPU Regulator Analysis




The CPU VRM features a total of 12 phases, each phase is made up of an integrated power phase. The whole thing is controlled by a 6 phase digital PWM from Intersil. MSI is utilizing six ISL6617, which are phase doublers, to get 12 phases from the 6 the PWM provides. These phase doublers do a nice job of taking in one PWM signal and providing two. MSI is using 12x 330uF (3960uF total) tantalum capacitors, which have great properties when it comes to varying temperatures (like subzero). The inductors are MSI's SFC and should support up to 60A each. This is no doubt a strong arrangement.




The power stages integrate one high-side and one low-side MOSFET along with a driver. These are from Fairchild Semiconductor. The FDMF5823DC are capable of outputting up to 55A each. They seem to also have an extra pad on the top, perhaps to act like a heat sink. The PWM is from Intersil, the ISL6388, and is Intersil's first digitally programmable PWM.



Memory Regulator Analysis




This is the first time I have seen a Powervation branded PWM used on a motherboard; they seem to be focused only on DC/DC buck controllers. MSI is using two of them here, one for each memory set. The PV3203 is a dual phase digital PWM. Each memory phase is made up of two ONSemi NTMFS4C05N and a single NTMFS4C08N, more than enough for the DRAM's main voltage rail.




On the left, we have two drivers, there are two sets of these on the back of the board for both set of memory VRMs. On the right, we have an unknown chip, but it is most certainly in charge of PCH power.



General Circuit Analysis




On the left, we have the audio codec the Realtek ALC1150 exposed without its cover. An LED illuminates the Audio Boost logo when the system is powered on. One of the Texas Instruments OP1652 is visible as is an LPC812 chip which is a 32-bit microcontroller. On the right, we have an Intel WGI210AT, which is a well-known Intel NIC.




Both USB 3.0 controllers can be found here. Each one gets a single lane from the PCH. The ASMedia ASM1042 provides two USB 3.0 ports, and the VLI VL805 provides four USB 3.0 ports.




MSI is switching PCI-E lanes from the CPU and PCH to the M.2 and SATA Express ports. This has to be implemented with care and MSI seems to have done a sound job with the addition of two ASM1467, which are PCI-E re-drivers for the M.2. Re-drivers help extend signals or reinforce them in crowded circuits. The two Winbond 128Mbit BIOS ROMs can also be found here as well as a nuvoTon NCT5605 which is a GPIO used to expand OC features.




In the two images above, there are four identical ASM1464's, these are USB 3.0 re-drivers to help ensure very fast USB 3.0 speeds. I wanted to make sure to cover these as not many manufacturers put in this much effort into signal quality for USB.




The nuvoTon NCT6792D is a common Super IO, it handles all the temperature, voltage, and fan monitoring and control. It also provides the PS/2 port on the back-panel IO. The second OP1652 audio amplifier can be seen here near the front panel header which it is connected to.




Pericom PCI-E 3.0 quick switches can each move two lanes; they are plentiful on the X99S-MPower because of the unique design of the M.2 and PCI-E slots.

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