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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

Packaging and Overview




The X99A Gaming Pro Carbon's box shows an image of a supercar - the same image is used for the BIOS splash screen. Packaging is decent; the motherboard is protected in an anti-static bag in a little box.





Accessories include two 2-way SLI bridges, MSI gaming case badge, two RGB extension cables, IO shield, eight SATA6Gb/s cables, some quick connectors, cable stickers, door hanger, manual, and driver DVD.




The MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon, like many other motherboards, has five 4-pin fan headers. The CPU fan header is circled in red and is a PWM mode header. There are four system fan headers circled in blue, and they are voltage mode 4-pin headers, the fourth pin is not connected to anything. I like how MSI has used a neutral color theme along with carbon fiber accents. With the RGB LEDs located onboard, users can pick whatever color theme their heart desires.


The memory DIMMs, PCI-E slots, and even M.2 connector have metal shields. The CPU socket has extra pins for better overclocking but also allows through-hole mounting of CPU pots for extreme overclocking. The back of the motherboard features the rear of the CPU socket hold down mechanism, a heat sink for the backside MOSFETs, and the PCB division line for the audio section of the motherboard.




The IO panel on the X99A Gaming Pro Carbon features four USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 gen 1) ports, a USB 3.1 (USB 3.1 gen 2) type-A port, a USB 3.1 type-C port, a PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, 1Gbit NIC jack, clear CMOS button, and gold plated audio outputs with S/PDIF.




The X99A Gaming Pro Carbon has a straightforward PCI-E layout. I have also included a table from the manual, which shows how the PCI-E lanes are allotted to the U.2, M.2, and last PCI-E slot in conjunction with 40 and 28 lane CPUs. U.2 only works if the last PCI-E x16 slot isn't occupied, and the M.2 port will only work at PCI-E 3.0 x4 if the U.2 and last PCI-E slots aren't occupied. You can use the U.2 and M.2 ports at the same time, but the M.2 will work at PCI-E 2.0 x2 (from the PCH instead of the CPU).




The M.2 slot is protected by a metal shield. I am unsure of exactly what the metal on the M.2 slot does other than make the slot look sturdier. There are two USB 3.0 internal headers located below the 24-pin power connector; one is right angled. There is also a USB 3.0 type-C port located in the same area, and it can be used to connect to a case's USB type-C port with an extension cable (if your case supports it).




Six of the SATA6Gb/s ports are right-angled as is the U.2 port. The remaining four SATA6Gb/s ports are straight, and one can also be used as an SATA Express connector. Power, reset, and OC buttons are located in the lower right corner of the motherboard. A BIOS selection switch is located in this region as well. The auto overclocking button is also a knob that can be turned to select the speed of the overclock.




The POST code LED readout is located in the upper right corner of the motherboard. Two USB headers, an RGB LED header, and miscellaneous headers are located at the lower left corner of the motherboard.




The heat sinks of the motherboard hide RGB LEDs positioned at different angles to produce different effects. The RGB LEDs can be controlled in smaller clusters, so you could make the VRM heat sink light up green while the PCH could be red. Heatsinks make great contact with the components they cool down.

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