Today we have an interesting review of some MSI Gaming hardware. The X99A Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard and two video cards – the MSI GTX 1070 Gaming Z and the GTX 1070 Gaming X. Whether you are a gamer, enthusiast or an overclocker, this article is for you.
Here we have the MSI X99 Gaming Pro Carbon. It’s an all-around gaming motherboard finished in a sleek, dark carbon look and comes with configurable RGB LEDs. In terms of performance, it is capable to deliver SLI/Crossfire support, lots of SATA 3 connectivity, M.2, U.2 and much more. For now let’s start with the board’s packaging.
This board is categorized under the Gaming Performance Series of MSI. A 5 star indicator label can be seen at the bottom right of the box while the top portion of the box displays the RGB LED feature logo and Intel logos.
Turning the box around you have a summary of the following features and basic specifications of the X99A Gaming Pro Carbon.
- DDR4 & M.2 Steel Armor – provides better signal strength and offers better EMI-shielding
- MSI Steel Armor – more solder points on the PCB for more strength and protects PCI-Express signals against electromagnetic interference and higher GPU Overclocking.
- Mystic Light Extension– dedicated header for 4-pin RGB-strip & lighting control.
- Mystic Light – consists of 17 LED effects and 16.8M colors. All can be configured by using MSI’s Gaming App.
- Gaming LAN – optimized for championship level online and LAN eSports by reducing CPU overhead and offering exceptionally high TCP and UDP throughput. This way, your CPU can be used more effectively.
- LAN Protect – features 15KV anti-surge protection to shield your network from lightning strikes and static electricity. Red LED inside the RJ45 connector to show its functionality.
- Turbo U.2 – delivers performance up to 32 Gb/s and allows support for next gen 2.5-inch SSDs using the U.2 connector.
- Military Class 5– composed of components that ensures your PC runs stable under extreme gaming conditions.
- Audio Boost 3 – powered by Nahimic Sound Technology. Delivering the highest sound quality through the use of premium quality audio components.
- Game Boost – Onboard overclocking dial which increases the CPU and memory performance. It has 11 OC modes and enables the possibility of hitting the 5GHz mark. (Varies according to your platform and model).
- USB 3.1 – 2x faster than USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 GEN1) with speed up to 10Gbps data transfer bandwidth
- CPU Support: Supports New Intel Core i7 Processor Extreme Edition. Supports Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0
- CPU Socket: LGA 2011-3 Socket
- Chipset: Intel X99 Express Chipset
•Graphics Interface: 4x PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots with Steel Armor
- Memory Support: 8 DIMMs DDR4 Steel Armor, Quad Channel (DDR4-3444+OC)
- Expansion Slots: 2x PCI-E x1 slots
- SATA: 10 SATA 6Gb/s (2x ports compatible with 1x SATA Express Port)
- SATA RAID: RAID 0,1,5,10 (Available on SATA1 to SATA6)
- USB Ports: 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C, 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C 1x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C , 8x USB 3.1 Gen1, 8x USB 2.0
- LAN: Intel 1218-V Gigabit LAN
- Audio: 8-channel 7.1 HD Audio with Audio Boost 3
As for the bundle, buyers can expect the following
- 6x SATA 6GB/s Cables
- I/O Black Backplate
- 2x SLI Bridge
- M-Connectors (tool guide for connecting your chassis buttons and LED indicator)
- 2x Mystic Light extension cables
- Door Message Holder
- User Guide
- Quick Installation Guide
- Utility Disc (Software and Driver)
- Registration Guide
- SATA Label Sticker
Awesome looking board right? Matte black PCB with carbon fiber accents across the board and some steel shielding on the slots. Form factor is a standard ATX 12 x 9.6 inches in size. MSI also incorporated five fan connectors around the board and one water pump power connector that has a fixed voltage for better pump operation. Also, the board comes with Diagnostic LEDs for easy troubleshooting of installed components.
As for the CPU Socket area goes, it is powered by an eight pin power connector with 8 power phase design. It is heavily populated with Military Class V components such as improved DrMOS MosFETs, dark capacitors, super-ferrite chokes and Hi-C Caps.
- Hi-C Cap – a small, space saving capacitor that allows 93% energy efficiency. This is why MSI motherboards are the most energy efficient in the market today.
- Dark Capacitors – provides lower Equivalent Series Resistance while promising a lifespan ofover 10 years. This is based on an aluminum core design.
The Debug LED code is now placed on the top most right corner of the motherboard for easy viewing especially once the board is installed inside the case. This feature shows the status/post codes and displays the temperature of your processor package.
The four PCIE 3.0 x16 Steel Armor slots which can be configured with the following graphic cards setup:
- 1-Way Mode – x16 / x0 / x0 / x0
- 2-Way Mode – x16 / x16 / x0 / x0 (CPU 40 PCIE lanes) or x16 / x8 / x0 / x0 (CPU 28 PCIE lanes)
- 3-Way Mode – x16 / x16 / x0 / x8 (CPU 40 PCIE lanes) or x8 / x8 / x8 / x0 (CPU 28 PCIE lanes)
- 4-Way Mode – x8 / x16 / x8 / x8 (CPU 40 PCIE lanes) or x8 / x8 /x8 / x4 (CPU 28 PCIE lanes)
Some other stuff worth mentioning in this area are the shielded M.2 connector which runs at 32Gb/s, the easy power reset buttons, an OC Dial that increases the performance of your processor or memory in steps, a multi-BIOS switch, Express SATA and additional 2x SATA 6GB/s ports.
Here is a clearer view of the connectors on this side. Left to right: U.2 slot that shares the same bus as the M.2 connector, thus giving the similar performance, 6x SATA 6GB/s ports, right-angled USB 3.0 header and 90° type-C USB 3.1 connector.
A look at the I/O back panel shows
- 1x PS/2 combo port. Auto sensing for keyboard or mouse
- 4x USB 2.0 ports
- 1x Clear CMOS button
- 4x USB 3.0 Gen1 (USB 3.0)
- 1x LAN port
- 1x USB 3.1 Gen2
- 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C
- 1x Optical SPDIF
- 5x Audio jacks
Now, let’s put the X99A Gaming Pro Carbon to work-work-work and horde some benchmark scores. I tested the board under multiple test conditions. First, the whole system was ran with a single card configuration, then with SLI, and lastly through the extensive overclocking process that I love so much.
- Processor: Intel i7 6900K (20M Cache, up to 3.70 GHz 8Core)
- Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4 4x4GB 2800MHz CL15
- Graphics Card: MSI GTX 1070 Gaming Z 8GB & MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X 8GB
- HDD: Seagate Momentum XT 2.5” 500GB
- PSU: Antec TruePower Quattro 1200W
- Softwares: Windows 7 64 Bit Ultimate SP1, Nvidia Driver 372.70, latest CPU-Z and GPU-Z, GamingApp
Dissected Gaming App screenshot. For me, I call this the gaming core software control. It’s all here, be it changing the RGB LEDs, increasing the system performance or perhaps programming custom commands into your keyboard or mouse.
To hype you up even more, here is some information about MSI’s GTX 1070 Gaming Z and X graphic cards.
Red matte theme box with all the basic MSI features at the back.
Both SKU’s has the same basic bundle:
- Registration card
- Utility Disc
- Case badge stickers
- User Guide Manual
GTX 1070 Gaming Z and X Specifications
Video Output Function
- 3x Display Port
- 1x HDMI
- 1x Dual-Link DVI-D
Notice the color difference of the Z and X. The first one is bright red while the other one is metallic red
What people really love about MSI Gaming graphic cards is their thermal design – Twin Frozr VI Technology. This cooling solution incorporates the following features.
- Airflow control technology – special deflectors direct air onto the heat sink
- Smooth Heat-pipes – 8mm copper squared heat pipes to maximize heat transfer
- Solid Baseplate – solid nickel-plated copper baseplate for better heat dissipation
- Premium Thermal Compound
- Close quarters cooling – memory and MOSFET cooling below heatsink enables you to push the card to the max.
- Torx Fan 2.0 – mix of dispersion and traditional blades which generates 22% more air fan pressure and uses “Double Ball Bearings” for stronger and lasting core while remaining silent
- Zero Frozr – eliminates fan noise by stopping the fans in low-load situations. Fans turns on above 60° temperature
- Custom PCB – 10 power phase PCB design using Military Class 4 components with an extra 6pin connector for higher overclocking.
Backplate for the Gaming-Z includes RGB LED for premium design while the X version has a more ordinary design.
Heat-pipes on top with MSI RGB label on the side equals SWEET!!!
By the way the dark red lining on the right side of the cooler which MSI calls “dragon claws” (I think), also lights up.
And now, LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!!!!!
Pictures to drool on
Hot oven-baked sandwich anyone?
Here you have the benchmark results that I did with this awesomely outrageous gaming system. All the stock and overclocking speed descriptions are written at the bottom part of the charts.
First results are from the single MSI GTX 1070 Gaming Z 8GB video card. With the use of the MSI Gaming App, I was able to pull out more performance both from the X99A Gaming Pro Carbon and the graphics card. It’s straight forward and easy to use.
The last set of tests was done with an Nvidia SLI setup using both GTX 1070 Gaming graphics card. Doing this test I learned that the default core clock speed of Intel’s i7 6900K would not suffice for the amount of raw horsepower given by the two graphic cards. In short, the high end processor has surprisingly proved to be a bottleneck!!!
The solution to this is to manually overclock the X99A Gaming Pro Carbon and the i7 6900K processor. This made the system more efficient and balanced considering the hardware performance coming from the SLI setup.
That’s it for the review and I can honestly say that this stuff is for users who are really serious with their gaming and other PC needs.
The X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is an all-around motherboard that can keep up with its looks and stand tall with the performance that it can boast of. Price is roughly around USD395. Expensive? Yes, but definitely worth it.
For the GTX 1070 Gaming Z 8GB, price is pegged at USD590. It comes pre-overclocked and it is one of the fastest GTX 1070s that you can find in the local market. Aside from the performance, its inclusion of RGB LED customization and lighting effects gives added value.
Lastly, the GTX 1070 Gaming X 8GB priced at USD565, though still expensive lives up to its Gaming design and lets gamers out there enjoy all the eye-candy in their games at a lower cost. This single card is strong enough for you to play games in 4K resolutions.
Stay tuned for more reviews to come. Ciao!