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MSI X399 GAMING PRO CARBON AC TR4 Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket TR4 Threadripper in Motherboards | Posted: 1 week, 5 days ago
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: MSI

Here are key points about the MSI X399 GAMING PRO CARBON AC.

 

What's Hot

 

VRM Quality and Cooling Design: MSI's power stages are IR's 60A variant, and MSI has used more than other vendors by using 10 instead of 8. To do that, they correctly doubled five phases to ten, and that helps spread the load among two more power stages. The heat sink they implemented it also quite tall, and it is optimized to disperse heat with airflow. The package also comes with a VRM fan stand, so that you can mount a fan directly aimed at the VRM heat sink if you are on a test bench.

 

 

Customizability: One unique feature of the X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC are the panels that go on the chipset heat sink and some of the shields, and they allow you to change out the carbon fiber panels for gold or silver panels. RGB LEDs are also integrated into the motherboard and provide mild accent lighting. RGB headers are also present, as is a digital RGB header with four pins. While most vendors have digital RGB headers with three pins (power, ground, and digital signal), MSI also added a clock signal pin for a different set of digital RGB cables.

 

Intel Networking: Intel's Gbit wired NIC, the i211AT can be found on the motherboard, as can a wireless Intel NIC. The Intel 8265 Wireless AC/Bluetooth card can be found included in the accessory package, and you can also take it and use it on a system in the future if you decide to upgrade years down the line.

 

IC Use: Not all motherboards are created equal, and MSI has done a nice job in the integrated circuit department. They implement two extra clock generators and the proper switch to expand capabilities of the platform. They also implement four USB 3.0 re-drivers to improve USB signaling quality for their "VR-enabled" USB ports. When it comes to USB 3.1, MSI also made sure to add in the latest and greatest ASMedia ASM3142.

 

What's Not

 

Odd Layout for SATA/USB: I am a bit confused as to why MSI put the type-C internal header so far down, as most cases will have cables for the new connector, but they won't be very long. It would have been a better idea to switch the location of the two straight ports with the USB 3.1 header, or turn those two SATA ports into a right-angled connector and put the type-C connector near the 24-pin connector. The PCI-E x1 slot position for the WIFI card would have also been better if they placed it between the 2nd and 3rd slot so that you wouldn't have to sacrifice either of your x16 card slots when using the WIFI card.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

The MSI X399 GAMING PRO CARBON AC is an "affordable" X399 motherboard, but it's not cheap by any means. It uses a solid amount of power stages for the CPU core, and while you don't get the interleaving effect of 8 true phases, you get the load and heat spread among two extra power stages. VRM design is a balance, and I think MSI did a nice job. The VRM heat sink is optimized for a case with airflow, and when that isn't present, MSI included a bracket for a VRM fan.

 

msi-x399-gaming-pro-carbon-ac-tr4-motherboard-review_84

 

MSI has done a nice job with integrating ICs for extra features or better signal quality, and to my surprise, they didn't really advertise it. MSI has done an excellent job with component quality on this motherboard, and their attention to detail is also impressive. I was surprised to find they implemented their digital RGB header with the extra clock pin, and that they used the higher quality USB 3.1 controller for the rear IO.

 

Overall, I am impressed with this more "affordable" X399 motherboard from MSI, and it's definitely worth a look if you want a solid product that will last for years to come.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance90%
Quality95%
Features92%
Value89%
Overall TweakTown Rating92%

The Bottom Line: MSI's attention to detail and component selection on the X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC make it a great choice for a solid AMD Threadripper system.

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