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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

Packaging and Overview

 

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The motherboard's box is simple, sleek, and reflects the motherboard's general presence within the market. Packaging is taken seriously; the motherboard is encased in foam.

 

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The accessory package includes six SATA 6Gb/s cables, an IO shield, thermistor cable, SLI HB bridge, M.2 Xpander-Z, RGB Y-cable extension, two WIFI antenna, 3D X-mounting screws, case badge, SATA cable labels, quick guide, user guide, and driver disk and utilizes.

 

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The motherboard features ten fan connectors, all of them are PWM/DC mode hybrid connectors, and all of them auto-sense if they have a PWM or voltage (DC) mode fan installed. The one header circled in red is a pump fan header, meaning it should run full speed at default. MSI also has taken steps to compete against some of their competitors and has added a header for an external temperature sensor cable (included), it's circled in orange. Ten headers is a ton of headers, and MSI said they added so many headers because of the cooling requirements of the X299 platform (water cooling radiators).

 

The motherboard aesthetics are designed to make it look like it has brushed aluminum surfaces, and it's quite a nice look, but unlike brushed aluminum, the plastic used to mimic the look won't easily scratch. The back of the motherboard features a large metal shield that helps stabilize and reinforce the motherboard. There are some components on the back of the motherboard, so be careful when installing it.

 

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On the rear IO panel, you get a clear CMOS button, BIOS recovery button, PS/2 port, two USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, a USB 3.1 type-A ports, USB 3.1 type-C port, dual Gbit LAN, WIFI/BT antenna, gold plated audio outputs with S/PDIF out.

 

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The motherboard is one of the only that offers the ability to run 4-way SLI/CrossFireX on the X299 platform, actually, only recently did we start to see any X299 motherboard with 4-way capabilities. With a 44-lane CPU the first and second x16 slots share x16 (can do x8/x8 or x16/x0), the third is hard wired x16, the fourth x8, and the bottommost M.2 slot will run x4 off the CPU. With a 28-lane CPU, the first and second slots get x16 which they can share as (x16/x0 or x8/x8), the third slot is always x8, and the last slot and the bottommost M.2 slot will trade x4, but they are mutually exclusive (you can't use both at the same time). With a 16-lane CPU, the first slot is always x8, the second is disabled, the third will always run at x4, and the fourth slot and bottommost M.2 slot will be mutually exclusive with x4 PCI-E 3.0. The topmost and middle M.2 x4 PCI-E 3.0 slots are connected to the PCH and share bandwidth with some of the SATA ports.

 

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All three M.2 slots get heat shields, but the topmost slot gets a much thicker heat sink that doesn't require tools to install. The motherboard also comes with an M.2 expansion card that supports two x4 PCI-E 3.0 M.2 slots, this is for Intel's VROC capability, meaning you can RAID up to five M.2 drives on this board.

 

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The motherboard features ten SATA6Gb/s ports, eight that come from the PCH and two more from an ASMedia controller. A U.2 port is also present on the motherboard; it's directly wired to the PCH. The motherboard has two USB 3.0 internal headers, one of them is right-angled. A USB 3.1 type-C header is located between the right-angled USB 3.0 header and the 24-pin power connector.

 

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You get two power connectors for the CPU, an 8-pin and a 4-pin. The motherboard also offers a MOLEX power input for extra power to the PCI-E slots. An RGB LED header is located near the MOLEX connector, as is a thermistor input header.

 

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At the top right-hand corner of the motherboard is a POST code display, OC Knob (auto OC modes), power button, reset button, multiplier +/- buttons, voltage read points, EZ debug LEDs, and a VROC header. The second USB 3.0 internal header is located below the U.2 connector.

 

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The motherboard also offers many other jumper headers which do things such as clear the CMOS, enable OC retry, enable straight to BIOS booting, or liquid nitrogen modes. You also get two USB 2.0 internal headers on the motherboard along with a dual BIOS switch to switch between the two BIOS ROMs.

 

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The heat sinks all make great contact with the components on the motherboard.

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