GIVEAWAY: Gaming peripherals upgrade thanks to Corsair worth $280

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review

Another day, another Intel X99 Express-based motherboard is up for review. Today we check out the MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC. If you're a gamer, take a look.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Thu, Sep 11 2014 4:12 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:33 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package

Introduction of the MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC

We've been really impressed with the new X99 platform from the second we looked at it. Performance shows us it's got some serious power, and it truly stands out in a league of its own. While that is great and everything, all this power comes at a cost, and it's not a low one. Everything that revolves around the new platform carries a hefty price tag with the cheapest processor - the i7 5820K carries a price tag of $389.

It doesn't stop there! X99 motherboards also start at quite a high price point, and go upwards of $500. Another thing to consider is you're not able to bring over the DDR3 from your previous build. Instead, you're on the hook for a new set of DDR4 modules that also carry quite the price tag. Still, once everything is up and running, you will realize that it's all money well spent, as you will have a truly beautiful system that is capable of handling so much.

When it comes to building a new X99 system, one of the toughest decision is going to be which motherboard you buy. We've already looked at some fantastic options from both ASUS and ASRock, and we've got more in the pipeline to look at, including an offering from EVGA, and multiple offerings from GIGABYTE.

However, today is all about our first X99 motherboard from MSI. As the name suggests, the MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC is part of the popular GAMING Series from MSI. We've loved the GAMING Series since it was first introduced, and truly enjoy how MSI has given a common name between their video cards and motherboards. There's really not much else we need to say; instead, we should get right into the swing of things to see if MSI can keep up with the other X99 boards we've looked at.

So far, the GAMING Series motherboards from MSI have impressed us thanks to a good list of features, and an aggressive price point. Let's see if Intel's new high-end X99 chipset can help MSI follow the trend that has been set.

Package - What comes inside the box

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 03 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 43 IMAGES
MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 04 | TweakTown.com

Looking at the front of the box, we don't see a whole lot going on. We've got the MSI logo across the top, along with a few of the main features, including Streaming Engine, Audio Boost 2, and Killer E2200 networking.

Upon opening the box, we can see some of those main featured explained a bit more, with a big mention of the Streaming Engine across the top. The Streaming Engine brings hardware encoding when streaming. Combined with a two-year premium license of XSplit Premium, you've got a motherboard designed for gamers who want to show off.

Moving downward, you can see we've got a push in Speed, which brings M.2 Gen3 x4, and the Gaming APP to make overclocking easy. Sound brings Audio Boost 2, and Sound Blaster Cinema 2. Finally, we finish up with Stability, which brings Military Class 4 components, and board protection.

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 05 | TweakTown.com
MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 06 | TweakTown.com

Moving to the other side of the box, we get a good look at the motherboard. Of course, we'll dive into that much deeper on the next page. As for the back, you can see MSI highlights some of the main features again, which include the Streaming Engine Audio Boost 2.0 and M.2 Gen3 x4 connector, along with 4-Way Multi GPU, and DDR4 support. Finally, we finish off with a mention of Intel Wi-Fi AC support, Killer LAN, and the main specifications of the board across the bottom, including an I/O overview.

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 07 | TweakTown.com
MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 08 | TweakTown.com

Moving into the bundle, we've actually got a fair bit included. You can see we've got a ton of paperwork, with some covering the board, and some covering the software and other GAMING Series products. We've also got a door hook, two Driver CDs, and some SATA cable labels. Moving past those, you can see six SATA III cables are included along with our rear I/O backplate, two SLI connectors, V-Check cables, and a pair of EZ connectors to round things off.

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 09 | TweakTown.com
MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 10 | TweakTown.com

Moving through the rest of the bundle, we've got a back plate for an eSATA drive, along with the appropriate cables, and two wireless antennas to complete our bundle. All in all, you can see MSI has got quite a decent bundle going for the X99S GAMING 9 AC.

PRICING: You can find the MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC retails for $428.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC retails for CDN$591.31 at Amazon Canada.

Motherboard Details

Close up with the MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 11 | TweakTown.com

With our first real look at the motherboard, you can see the overall design isn't really anything we haven't seen before. We have the same black and red design that is linked with the GAMING Series of products from MSI. Let's move in a little closer, and see exactly what we have going on.

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 12 | TweakTown.com

Apart from the five PCIe x16 slots, we've got a few things that stand out here, including the Streaming Engine up the top, which offers hardware decoding, and the M.2 Gen3 x4 connector between the bottom two slots. You can also see our Audio Boost towards the bottom, along with the shielding around it.

Going back to the PCIe x16 slots, you can see, as we just mentioned, MSI is offering us five here. Because of the fact the PCIe lanes are handled on the CPU, and different CPUs offer a different amount of lanes, it can get a little confusing here. If you're using a 40 lane CPU, you will have the option of (one video card) x16, or (two video cards) x16 / x16, or (three video cards) x16 / x16 / x8, or (four video cards) x8 / x8 / x16 /x8 setups, depending on how many video cards you want to use.

If you're on a CPU that carries only 28 PCIe lanes, the setup will look a little different. You'll have a (one video card) x16, or (two video cards) x16 / x8, or (three video cards) x8 / x8 / x8, or (four video cards) x8 / x8 / x8 /x4 setup, depending on how many video cards you want to use.

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 13 | TweakTown.com

Moving across to the bottom of the board, you can see we've got a fairly standard here, with a number of USB 2.0 and fan headers across the bottom. The other major stand outs include a USB 3.0 header towards the right, and a LED Debug readout in the far right corner.

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 14 | TweakTown.com

Turning the corner, you can see we've got a bunch of SATA ports offered here. Sitting alongside a single SATA Express Port, we have ten SATA III ports that all run off the Intel X99 controller. We also get another look at the LED Debug readout in the bottom corner.

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 15 | TweakTown.com
MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 16 | TweakTown.com

Heading to the north end of the board, you can see our main 24-Pin ATX power connector, with a USB 3.0 header to the left, and our V-Check points to the right hand side. These are used in conjunction with our V-Check cables, which are provided in the bundle to measure the voltage accurately in a number of different areas.

Above these, you can see we've also got a power and reset button along, with our OC Genie button. Just around the corner, you can see we've also got our main 8-Pin CPU power connector, along with a 4-Pin connector if you wanted to do some serious overclocking.

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 17 | TweakTown.com

Moving backward, you can see our CPU socket, which is pretty clean. We've got quite a nice looking heat sink setup that has a copper heat pipe running between them. We also have eight DDR4 DIMM slots that support up to 128GB of DDR4, with speeds ranging from 2133MHz DDR, all the way up to 3333MHz DDR via overclocking.

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 18 | TweakTown.com

Starting from the left side of the I/O, we see a PS/2 port, and two USB 2.0 ports below that. Continuing to the right we have a Clear SMOS button, followed by eight USB 3.0 ports, which run off three different controllers, including the Intel X99 chip, ASMedia ASM1042AE chip, and the VIA VL805 chip. The furthest USB 3.0 ports have a single gigabit networking port above them, which runs off the Killer E2205 controller.

Along with that, we've also got 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac, and Bluetooth 4.0 via the Intel AC 7260 chip. Finally, we finish off our look at the I/O with the five auxiliary ports and a single optical out, all of which run off the Realtek ALC1150 HD Audio Codec.

BIOS Images and Information

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 19 | TweakTown.com
MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 20 | TweakTown.com
MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 21 | TweakTown.com
MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 22 | TweakTown.com

Heading into the BIOS, you will immediately notice the same black and red theme that is on the board. If you've used the recent version of Click BIOS 4, then you'll have a fairly good idea of what's going on here. As we always say, if you're going into the BIOS, you'll probably want to do some overclocking, which means you're going to want to head straight to the OC section of the BIOS.

Looking above, you can see all of the standard options you'd expect to see, including memory profiles, voltages, BCLK, and CPU Multiplier options. Click BIOS 4 is a breeze to use these days, and we had some great luck with it, which you'll see on the next page.

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 23 | TweakTown.com
MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 24 | TweakTown.com
MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 25 | TweakTown.com
MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 26 | TweakTown.com

Heading through the rest of the BIOS, you can see all of the standard options, including the ability to flash the BIOS, save overclocking profiles, monitor temperatures, control fans, and take a closer look at what's going on with your motherboard via the new Explorer option that was recently added.

Test System Setup and Overclocking

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 99 | TweakTown.com

We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital, MemoRight, and Corsair.

We're quickly growing the amount of X99 boards that are included in our graphs as we test more and more boards. Sitting alongside the MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC, which will be running at both stock and overclocked, we've got the ASRock X99X Killer, and ASUS X99 Deluxe.

Outside of these new high-end X99 boards, we've also got the Z97 based ASUS ROG MAXIMUS VII FORMULA, and ASRock Z97X Killer, which both use the i7 4790K. Finally, we finish off with the ASRock Z87 Killer, which is using the older i7 4770K CPU. As always, before we get into the performance side of things, we need to see what's going on with overclocking.

It's worth noting that today we're using a different i7 5960X EE than we have been using. This is important today, as we managed to achieve our strongest overclock to date. Heading into Click BIOS 4, we did all the usual things, which includes adjusting the multiplier, increasing the voltages, and trying to increase the BCLK.

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

After all of this messing around, we end up with our i7 5960X EE running at 4598MHz, or 4.59GHz as shown in our graphs today. This is 900MHz higher than we saw previously. We would attribute this to the new CPU, which is capable of overclocking so much more. Still, this is a great overclock, and we're looking forward to seeing the performance increase it brings to the table.

CPU & System Benchmarks

CPU Test - HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 30 | TweakTown.com

CPU Test - AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 31 | TweakTown.com
MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 32 | TweakTown.com

Looking at Hyper Pi performance, you can see we're running a little slower out of the box when compared to our other X99 boards. When it comes to AIDA64, though, you can see the performances between the MSI and ASRock boards are very similar.

Overclocking under both benchmarks offers a really nice boost in performance. We actually manage to come a nice little chunk under the higher clocked i7 4790K setups as well.

System Test - PCMark 8

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 33 | TweakTown.com

System Test - MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 34 | TweakTown.com

Out of the box, you can see under both PCMark 8 and MediaEspresso the MSI board lags ever so slightly. It's not by much, but in all four tests, you can see it trails slightly behind. Overclocking, on the other hand, brings an awesome boost in performance under all our benchmarks.

The PCMark 8 boost is impressive, as it was something not really seen on the ASUS X99 Deluxe. The ASRock X99X Killer did manage to get a nice boost when overclocking was thrown into the mix.

USB 2.0, USB 3.0, & SSD Benchmarks

USB Test - AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 35 | TweakTown.com
MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 36 | TweakTown.com

USB 2.0 performance is pretty standard, but you can see USB 3.0 performance manages to sneak out ahead of the other X99 setups when it comes to both the End and Random read results.

SSD Test - AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: v4.30.2900

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 37 | TweakTown.com

SSD Test - PCMark 8

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.0.191

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 38 | TweakTown.com

SSD Test - HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 5.50

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 39 | TweakTown.com

SSD performance on the MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC is very strong. While PCMark 8 shows performance between all setups is pretty close, we can see under HD Tune Pro and AIDA64 the numbers are extremely solid, coming out ahead when compared to our other X99 setups.

Memory & Gaming Benchmarks

Memory Test - AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 40 | TweakTown.com

DDR4 memory performance between our X99 motherboards is pretty standard, with little changes being seen between all the setups. As for overclocking, you can see in typical fashion there's really no extra performance being seen when just the processor speed has been increased.

Gaming Test - 3DMark FireStrike

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 41 | TweakTown.com

Gaming Test - Sleeping Dogs

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 42 | TweakTown.com

Gaming performances between our out of the box X99 setups are pretty similar, with not much change being seen. However, when it comes to overclocking, you can see a slight boost under 3DMark FireStrike, but a more serious boost is seen under Sleeping Dogs at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050.

Temperature & Power Testing

Power Consumption Test

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 43 | TweakTown.com

Power draw on the MSI offering is solid out of the box, with it being the lowest out of our three X99 boards here. When we throw overclocking into the mix, we can see the idle jumps up slightly, while the load jumps over the 400 watt mark. For a setup like this, we'd recommend a solid 650 watt power supply.

Core Temperature Test

MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC (Intel X99) Motherboard Review 44 | TweakTown.com

Temperature numbers on the MSI board are really good, but again, it's worth noting that we're using another i7 5960X EE this time around.

Overclocking doesn't affect the idle temperature too much, but you do see the load number jump to 61C. Overall, the temperature numbers on the new i7 5960X EE are extremely impressive when overclocking is thrown into the mix.

Pricing, Availability, and Final Thoughts

At over $400, the MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC is the most expensive X99 motherboard we've looked at so far. Can the price point be justified? Looking at everything that is on offer today, we'd say: absolutely. MSI has really packed a ton into this motherboard. The first thing that is worth talking about is the out of the box performance. In some areas, we see it lag slightly behind the ASUS and ASRock offerings we've looked at. That difference isn't major; nonetheless, it's something that needs to be mentioned.

Outside of this slight difference in performance, the board performs flawlessly everywhere else. Features wise, the X99S GAMING 9 AC clearly offers a focus toward gamers. The ability to hardware decode for your streaming, combined with the two-year premium account at XSplit, you have a board that is clearly designed to show off what you have got going on.

We also have gigabit networking provided by the Killer E2200 controller, and the MSI Gaming App, which is designed to make overclocking in Windows an absolute breeze. Again, this is something that is great for gamers; you can simply get everything setup, fire up the Gaming App, and get some added performance with ease with a few simple mouse clicks.

Moving into the bundle, you can see MSI also continues to offer a lot here, and it just fits with the trend of more, more, more! Combine this all with a great look via the black and red theme, and you've just got a solid X99 motherboard on your hands. Yes it's expensive, but you're really getting a lot of board here for your money.

This is a board that's clearly designed with gamers in mind. Everything from its focus on XSplit to the fact it supports a four video card setup means that it's designed to be paired with some serious hardware. If you're after a solid gaming motherboard, the MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC should be something that you're looking into - assuming you can accept spending over $400 on a motherboard.

PRICING: You can find the MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC retails for $428.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC retails for CDN$591.31 at Amazon Canada.

What do TweakTown.com awards mean? Click for details!

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

Related Tags

Newsletter Subscription

Latest News

View More News

Latest Reviews

View More Reviews

Latest Articles

View More Articles