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MSI X99A GODLIKE GAMING (Intel X99) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 2011 in Motherboards | Posted: Aug 3, 2015 9:08 pm
TweakTown Rating: 96%Manufacturer: MSI

Packaging and the Board

 

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The box and packaging are really quite nice. MSI went through a lot of trouble and spent a lot of resources to make the box and packaging feel top notch and of high quality. This is perhaps the best delivery of a motherboard I have seen throughout all the X99 motherboards I have reviewed.

 

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Accessories are plenty; 10x SATA6G cables, 2x short 2-Way SLI bridges, 2x long 2-Way SLI bridges, USB 3.1 OTG USB Flash Drive, IO Shield, 6x V-Check cables, screw for M.2, 6.3mm-3.5mm headphone jack, Turbo U.2 host card, 2x antennas, M-connectors, manuals, case badge, door hanger, and driver DVD.

 

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I have circled the fan headers on the board, there are a total of five headers, two circled in green are 4-pin PWM headers, and three circled in blue are 3-pin voltage mode headers. Almost all of the PCB is covered by MSI's shield, which isn't plastic but rather aluminum. The shield's function is more aesthetics, and the entire purpose of this board is to be a show motherboard providing the best performance with the best aesthetics. The shield houses multiple LEDs and controllers, and helps reflect the light back on to the PCB. The back of the PCB isn't bare; in fact it has a lot of components such as both memory PWMs, multiplexers, re-drivers, PWM doublers, and LEDs from the audio trace path which isolates the audio. It is an 8-layer PCB.

 

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The back panel IO features a 2x1GBit NIC which have built in red LEDs so that the ports glow from the inside out, 4x USB 3.0 ports, 1x C-Type USB 3.1 port, 1x A-Type USB 3.1 port, 2x USB 2.0 ports, PS/2 keyboard/ mouse, two antenna ports, a 7.1 TOSLINK for audio with S/PDIF out, 6.3mm audio jack, and a ClearCMOS button. MSI calls their USB 3.0 (5Gb/s) ports USB 3.1 gen 1 (which is technically 5Gb/s), and USB 3.1 gen 2 (10Gb/s) is USB 3.1 (10Gb/s).

 

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The PCI-E layout on this motherboard is optimized for 4-Way SLI/CrossFireX. Eight PCI-E 3.0 lanes from the CPU are routed to the middle PCI-E slot which is linked to the Turbo M.2 slot. If you install an M.2 drive into the Turbo M.2 slot, it will disable this slot. The first and fourth (out of five) 16x slots operate at 16x/16x when two cards are installed, and when 4 cards are installed, these each go down to 8x while they each give 8x to the red 16x slots below them. Since 8x of PCI-E is routed to the middle slot, you cannot use all 40x of the CPU's PCI-E lanes, but you can still run 4-way SLI at 8x per slot. This configuration shouldn't hurt 4-way performance much.

 

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There are 10 SATA6G ports from the PCH. SATA ports 5 and 6 share their bandwidth with the M.2 slot for SATA mode, but in PCI-E mode, they don't share their bandwidth with the M.2 slot. SATA Express is also present, and those two SATA ports near the connector can be used for SATA or SATA Express. A USB 3.0 front panel header is located north of the PCH which is great for cable management.

 

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A BIOS sector switch is located in the lower right-hand corner of the board as well as the POST code display and another USB 3.0 header.

 

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A slow-mode switch is provided at the bottom of the board, and other OC features are located at the top right of the motherboard. Power and reset buttons as well as voltage read points are located at the top right-hand corner of the motherboard. MSI's OC Genie button is also located at the top of the board and a switch is located right near it and it controls how high OC Genie overclocks your system.

 

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The front audio output and the back-panel 6.3mm jack share their output, so an audio section switch is provided so that you can choose which output to use for your headphones. The shield over the audio also acts like an EMI shield.

 

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The X99 GODLIKE GAMING carries the LGA2011-V3 socket with extra pins for better cache and memory overclocking.

 

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MSI has added PCI-E slot supports. These supports consist of two pieces of aluminum which help further secure the slots to the board. Upon closer examination, I found that they are soldered to the board and seem to be grounded.

 

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MSI provides a 12 phase VRM on the X99 GODLIKE GAMING. There is also an extra power connector socket for more power during extreme overclocking.

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