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MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 2011 in Motherboards | Posted: Sep 13, 2016 4:15 pm
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: MSI

Here are key points about the MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon.

 

What's Hot

 

Color: The X99A Gaming Pro Carbon's RGB LEDs are situated all around the motherboard, but what makes them a positive is that much of their light is diffused. The diffusion of LED light looks much better than the light from individual LEDs, and this diffusion allows you to change the color of the motherboard's heat sinks. The dragon logo on the PCH heat sink is especially nice.

 

 

3-Way SLI/CrossFireX: 3-Way SLI and CrossFireX has been optimized on this motherboard, allowing full spacing between all three cards without blocking the bottom row of headers. The great thing is that the U.2 or M.2 can also get PCI-E 3.0 bandwidth when running 3-way graphics because the last slot is the one they share bandwidth with.

 

Re-Drivers and Repeaters: Since the CPU's PCI-E 3.0 controller is very far away from the U.2 slot, you need a proper repeater to ensure that signal integrity is maintained. MSI uses a proper repeater. For some of the SATA/PCI-E/USB signals, MSI is using multiple re-drivers to ensure solid performance, something I didn't expect.

 

Light Load Efficiency: The VRM's PWM controller chip comes from a manufacturer that is known for great light-load performance. Phase shedding on the MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is excellent, and the VRM also performs great when the CPU is overclocked.

 

OC Features: The motherboard not only has power, reset, clear CMOS, and BIOS selection buttons but also an auto overclocking button with many different levels of overclocking. If you want to auto-overclock your CPU without entering the BIOS or using a Windows application, the selector knob will be your best friend.

 

What's Not

 

4-Way Probably Not: While you could get by with a card in the last PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, you probably don't have a single slotted GPU to put in the PCI-E x16 slot located right above it for 4-way SLI/CrossFireX.

 

Using U.2 and M.2: If the U.2 port is being used, the M.2 port will automatically switch its x4 PCI-E 3.0 connection from the CPU to a x2 PCI-E 2.0 connection from the PCH.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

The X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is a very well rounded X99 motherboard. It has many of the latest features that other X99-refresh motherboards in the same price bracket have, but with a lot of dazzle and flavor. I know that RGB LEDs are everywhere, but if implemented tastefully like on the X99A Gaming Pro Carbon, they can add a lot of aesthetic appeal. The motherboard lights up brilliantly; the only caveat is that you will need to install MSI's LED application to control them. The motherboard also has a ton of connectivity, with many different connection options except for built in WIFI/BT.

 

msi-x99a-gaming-pro-carbon-motherboard-review_101

 

A lot of other products in this price bracket come with WIFI/BT adapters, but for many of us who have the ability to use a wired connection, the extra cost associated with the extra wireless adapter isn't worth it. MSI has taken the cost savings associated with the WIFI/BT and used them to spruce up connectivity, by adding extra USB 3.0 and hardware to ensure signal integrity across the motherboard.

 

Overall, the X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is a great motherboard, and if you want the latest in connectivity on an X99 motherboard that looks great, you should give the X99A Gaming Pro Carbon a look.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance (including Overclocking)89%
Quality including Design and Build90%
General Features94%
Bundle and Packaging89%
Value for Money91%
Overall TweakTown Rating91%

The Bottom Line: MSI's X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is loaded to the brim with the latest features and the proper hardware implementation to ensure solid performance all around.

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