Packaging and Overview
It's really quite amazing how vendors are sticking to their traditional box and motherboard design styles. On the shelf, you might not notice the difference between the Z270 and X299 Gaming M7 ACK. Packaging is high quality, and what you would expect from a motherboard that costs almost $400.
The accessory package includes four SATA6Gb/s cables, two WIFI Antenna, RGB LED extension cable, IO shield, 3D Mounting screws, SLI HB bridge, base badge, manuals, cable sticker, and driver DVD.
The motherboard features a total of six hybrid PWM/DC mode fan headers. The ones circled in red provide up to 1A of output while the one circled in blue offers 2A for water pumps and high-powered fans. Overall, the placement of the fan headers is optimized for top and bottom fan placement, although I find it odd that MSI didn't locate any headers to the far right of the board. Fan control is provided through the UEFI and Windows, and MSI has improved it over their Z270 fan control. The back of the motherboard is bare of most components, which is a good thing. The motherboard's aesthetics are quite well done, with the integrated RGB LEDs diffusing and glowing beneath many of the heat sinks.
The IO panel offers a Clear CMOS button, BIOS flash recovery button, PS/2, three USB 2.0 ports (vertical doubles for flash recovery), WIFI antenna, four USB 3.0, USB 3.1 type-A, USB 3.1 type-C, 1Gbit LAN, and 7.1 audio outputs with S/PDIF out.
The PCI-E layout isn't simple, so I will explain it now, and you should look at the manual for more specifics. All x16 slots are routed to the CPU while the two x1 are routed to the PCH. With a 44-lane CPU, the second x16 slot operates at x4 all the time, while at maximum you get x16/x4/x16/x8. With a 28-lane CPU the second x16 slot also operates at x4 always, and at a maximum you get x8/x4/x8/x8. With a 16-lane CPU, you lose the bottom most slot and can operate at x8/x4/x4 or x8/x0/x8 at a maximum. The motherboard offers 8+4 pin power headers, you don't need to use the extra 4, but it's recommended.
MSI got a lot of grief for their original M.2 shield, as people said it was way too skinny. MSI went back to the drawing board and has brought out one of my favorite M.2 shields. It actually uses a hinge and connects to the PCH heat sink, it's also quite dense and does seem to offer decent cooling. The motherboard offers two 32Gb/s M.2 slots, and they do share some bandwidth with the SATA ports.
The motherboard has eight SATA6Gb/s ports; six are right angled. The motherboard also offers a U.2 port, and a right angled USB 3.0 internal header. You also get one straight USB 3.0 internal header as well as the new USB 3.1 internal header.
A POST Code display changes into a temperature display after POST has finished. The motherboard also offers boot LEDs and voltage read points in the top right corner of the motherboard. The other two SATA6Gb/s ports are angled straight up near the OC Knob. Power and reset buttons can be found below a BIOS selection switch. The VROC header is located to the left of the power button.
The motherboard offers two USB 2.0 headers as well as a bunch of other headers to do things like engage slow-mode on the CPU. An RGB LED header is located to the left of three system fan headers at the bottom of the motherboard.
The PCH heat sink's dragon lights up beautifully and is one of my favorite parts of the motherboard. All heat sinks use thermal pads and make great contact with the different components they cool.
PRICING: You can find the product discussed for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:
United States: The MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK Motherboard retails for $XXX at Amazon.
United Kingdom: The MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK Motherboard retails for £XXX at Amazon UK.
- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and X299 Gaming M7 ACK Overview]
- Page 3 [MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK Circuit Analysis Continued]
- Page 5 [BIOS and Software]
- Page 6 [Test System Setup]
- Page 7 [Overclocking]
- Page 8 [CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks]
- Page 9 [System IO Benchmarks]
- Page 10 [VRM and System Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption]
- Page 11 [What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts]
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