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MSI X299 XPOWER GAMING AC Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 2066 in Motherboards | Posted: Sep 27, 2017 2:50 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: MSI

Here are key points about the MSI X299 XPOWER GAMING AC

 

What's Hot

 

Revamped CPU VRM: MSI's introductory X299 motherboards, the X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC and the X299 Gaming M7 ACK both had 10 phase VRMs (5 doubled) and a VRM heat sink without a heat pipe or fins. MSI tackled that issue on two fronts. First of all, the VRM gets two extra phases, so it is now a 12 phase (6 doubled) VRM that uses the same 60A power stages. MSI then went and added in a better heat sink with a heat pipe to an auxiliary heat sink, and together they have helped improve upon MSI's earlier boards and made the motherboard capable of serious overclocking.

 

 

Capable of Handling Intel's 18 Core Processor: While I did this review with the 7900X, I used the XPOWER for my review of the 7980XE. The motherboard was able to overclock the 7980XE to 4.4GHz, and I was able to get more than 400W package power out of the VRM (with active cooling directed at it of course). While one might think all X299 motherboards will easily support the new HCC (high core count, >12) CPUs, the truth is not all of them will. The X299 XPOWER GAMING AC is one of the X299 motherboards that will be able to handle the newly launched CPUs.

 

Great Cooling Support : I already mentioned the heat sink improvement on the VRM, but now it's time to mention the fact that MSI has put ten fan headers on the motherboard. Yes, ten hybrid PWM/DC fan headers, all of them with auto-sensing, and all of them have an indicator LED to tell you what type of fan is installed. MSI also went and added an external temperature sensor input (sensor included), and went and revamped UEFI fan control to allow you to reference one of many temperature sensors built into the motherboard to control the fan curves.

 

Support for five M.2 drives: The motherboard has three built-in M.2 slots, one is connected to the CPU and two to the PCH. However, MSI also includes an M.2 Xpander-Z card that will facilitate two more M.2 cards in an x8 PCI-E 3.0 connection. The benefit here is that the platform supports VROC, which is virtual RAID on CPU, and while it might cost some money and CPU lanes, you can RAID five M.2 cards on this motherboard.

 

What's Not

 

RGB LED: I am not talking about how the motherboard has RGB LEDs, that is not a negative in my opinion, and I like how MSI has covertly implemented a few digital RGB LEDs. I want to see MSI improve their Mystic software to become more intuitive, as I couldn't even find out how to access the digital features of the integrated RGBs until I went into a second deeper menu, where you create a "party." Also, there is no digital/addressable RGB LED header on the motherboard, but there is on the Gaming M7... The RGB LED software works, but it could be improved, and I am surprised there is no "Rainbow" RGB header.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

The MSI X299 XPOWER GAMING AC is the result of MSI going back to the drawing board and producing an improved product. They realized that the X299 platform is one that needs to be cooled internally and externally. Most consumers can't easily control internal cooling, which consists of mainly VRM and M.2 drive cooling, so MSI improved on both of those through both electrical and mechanical measures.

 

MSI also realized that users want better outside cooling, which means better fan control and support, as users will want to have many more radiator fans and case fans, and I think ten is a generous number of hybrid headers. The motherboard's aesthetics are also unique, and the motherboard doesn't light up in RGBs like many others, but rather offers a little bit of light to spice up your build.

 

msi-x299-xpower-gaming-ac-motherboard-review_93

 

The X299 XPOWER GAMING AC is also built for more professional use cases; it has rear and internal USB 3.1, re-drivers for USB 3.0, two Intel wired NICs, and Intel Wireless AC. The motherboard is also equipped for overclocking, as every XPOWER motherboard, with voltage read points, ratio buttons, and diagnostic tools, and even specialty function jumpers.

 

The X299 XPOWER GAMING AC from MSI might be one of the more expensive X299 motherboards, but it's a solid one. If you are in the market for a fully loaded, well-rounded motherboard to support any Intel Skylake-X CPU, the X299 XPOWER GAMING AC is definitely worth a look.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance92%
Quality93%
Features95%
Value89%
Overall TweakTown Rating92%

The Bottom Line: MSI's X299 XPOWER GAMING AC is not only one of the most feature-packed X299 motherboards on the market, but it can also support and overclock the beastly 7980XE with ease.

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