In this article we will look at one of these cards on the second generation Intel X99 chipset – MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon, which belongs to the gaming series MSI Performance Gaming.
Fee MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon comes in a compact box, which caused the name of the board, and lists all its features.
In addition to the board comes bundled with user guide, DVD-RW with software and drivers, six SATA-cable (all connectors with latches, three cables have angled connector on one side), two SLI bridge on two cards, the back board panel plug and two cables RGB LED (40 cm and 60 cm) to connect LED strip. There is a sticker set and c MSI logo game series products, as well as a set of stickers for the SATA-cable.
MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon summary table below shows the characteristics of the board, and hereafter we will look at all of its features and functionality.
Fee MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is made in the ATX form factor (305 × 244 mm). nine standard mounting holes are provided for the board.
Fee MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is based on the Intel H99 chipset and supports c processors codenamed Haswell-E and Broadwell-E connector with LGA 2011-v3.
To install the memory modules on the motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon provides eight-the DIMM slots, that allows you to install two-DDR4 module for each of the four memory channels with a maximum capacity up to 128 GB (when using a 16-GB memory modules).
To install the graphics cards or expansion cards on MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard has four slots form factor PCI Express 3.0 x16 and two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot.
But slots PCI Express 3.0 x16 implemented by PCIe 3.0 based processing lines, and operation of these slots is dependent on whether the processor is installed on the board. Recall that the processors Haswell-E and Broadwell-E exists in versions with 40 and 28 lines lines PCIe 3.0.
So, first let us consider the situation when the processor is set to 40 lines PCIe 3.0. In this case, slots operation is as follows: the first (from the socket) slot switching and can run in x16 and x8 modes. The second slot operates in x16 mode. The third and fourth slots are only in x8 mode. And all modes following slots: x16 / – / – / -, x16 / x16 / – / -, x16 / x16 / – / x8, x8 / x16 / x8 / x8.
If you are installing a processor with 28 lines PCIe 3.0, in this case, the following modes of operation slots: x16 / – / – / -, x16 / x8 / – / -, x8 / x8 / x8 / -, x8 / x8 / x8 / x4 .
Note that despite the presence of four slots c form factor PCI Express 3.0 x16, motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon supports Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX technology only for two or three graphics cards (not four).
On the base processor lines PCIe 3.0 slots are implemented not only PCI Express 3.0 x16, but also connectors and M.2 u.2.
M.2 connector rather “tricky” on the board. First of all, we note that the connectors and M.2 U.2 are shared along the lines PCIe 3.0, And these connectors support PCIe 3.0 x4 device.
In addition, the lines PCIe 3.0 slots M.2 / U.2 are shared with the fourth slot c form factor PCI Express 3.0 x16 (recall that the slot runs in x8 mode when the CPU 40 lines PCIe 3.0 x4 mode and in event processor 28 lines PCIe 3.0). That is, you can use either one of M.2 / U.2 connectors in PCIe 3.0×4 mode or fourth slot c form factor PCI Express 3.0 x16.
Connector M.2, in addition, supports disk drives with SATA interface 6 Gb / s, and most importantly, it can be switched to two PCIe 2.0 chipset line. That is, although the connectors and M.2 U.2 and are shared along the lines PCIe 3.0, they can work simultaneously. If U.2 connector used in PCIe 3.0 x4 mode, the M.2 socket can operate in PCIe 2.0 x2 or SATA mode. Also, if the fourth slot activated form factor c PCI Express 3.0 x16, M.2 the connector can operate in PCIe 2.0 x2 or SATA.
For connecting hard drives or optical drives on board provides a total of ten SATA ports 6 Gb / s. This eight separate ports SATA 6Gb / s and two SATA 6 Gb / s SATA connectors as part of Express.
All ports SATA 6Gb / s implemented on the basis of integrated into the Intel X99 chipset controller. Six out of ten ports SATA 6Gb / s support the ability to create for RAID-arrays levels 0, 1, 5, 10 (limitation of the chipset). Note that the SATA Express connector and two individual SATA ports are made vertically.
To connect all kinds of peripheral devices on board provides nine USB 3.0 ports, eight USB 2.0 ports and two ports USB 3.1. Recall that the Intel X99 chipset itself only supports up to 14 USB ports of which up to 6 ports can be ports USB 3.0.
All eight USB 2.0 ports are made on the basis of an integrated controller in the chipset. And four USB 2.0 ports on the rear panel of the board, and to connect the other four ports on the motherboard has two connectors.
Of the nine USB 3.0 ports Five ports implemented on the basis of an integrated controller in the chipset. One of these ports has a connector Type-C is located between the power connector and a SATA-block ports. For the connection of four USB 3.0 ports on the motherboard has two connectors.
Another four-port USB 3.0, derived on the rear panel are realized on the basis of VIA VL805, which connects to the chipset on a single PCIe 2.0 quad-line controller.
To implement two USB 3.1 ports used dual controller ASMedia ASM1142. How exactly ASMedia ASM1142 controller connects to the chipset Intel X99 (on one or two lines PCIe 2.0) is not mentioned in the documentation. The two USB 3.1 ports on the rear panel of the board. One port has a connector Type-A, and the other – Type-C.
To connect to a LAN segment the board MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon implemented Gigabit Ethernet based interface PHY-controller (controller PHY) Intel I218-V (used MAC-level controller, which is integrated in the chipset).
If you count the number of controllers, connectors and slots using the line (ports) PCIe 2.0 Intel X99 chipset, we get the following picture.
On two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot requires two port PCIe 2.0. Another port PCIe 2.0 is required for Intel I218-V network controller. Furthermore, SATA Express connector – it has two ports PCIe 2.0. There are USB 3.0 controller VIA VL805, which is connected to the same line PCIe 2.0 controller, and USB 3.1 ASMedia ASM1142 (USB 3.1), which can be connected by one or two lines PCIe 2.0. It is also necessary to consider the presence M.2 connector, which can be switched to two PCIe 2.0 line. The result is that only require 9 or 10 (depending on how you connected the controller ASMedia ASM1142) PCIe 2.0 chipset ports.
Recall that in the Intel X99 chipset, the total number of ports of PCIe 2.0 may not exceed eight, and may be no more than a total of 22 high-speed I / O ports (PCIe 2.0, SATA 6 Gb / s, USB 3.0). Of the 22 high-speed I / O port 18 is strictly fixed: this is a four-port USB 3.0, six ports PCIe 2.0 ports and eight SATA 6 Gb / s. But the four ports can be reconfigured: the two of them can work as either a USB 3.0, either as PCIe 2.0, and two others – both PCIe 2.0 and SATA 6Gb / s.
Now, with that said, let’s try to understand how it is implemented on the board MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon.
In principle, everything is very simple. Two high-speed chipset ports that are configured as ports or SATA PCIe 2.0, divided between connectors M.2, SATA Express and two SATA ports. If, for example, are two SATA ports that are part of SATA Express connector, then M.2 connector will not be available in SATA mode and PCIe 2.0 x2 mode (it can be available in PCIe 3.0 x4 mode c using PCIe processor line 3.0) .
In view of all of said separation require exactly 8 PCIe 2.0 chipset ports (assuming that the controller ASMedia ASM1142 connected via two lines PCIe 2.0) and 21 of the high-speed I / O port.
Driving MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon board is shown in Fig.
Now let’s talk about the additional features of the motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon. Let’s start with the title. C Gaming Pro, everything is easy. This indicates that the board is aimed at gamers and console Pro hints at the fact that we are talking about the hardcore gamers. But with Carbon harder. The Russian company’s website states that the board has a coating of carbon. Question: Why? As it turns out, the MSI marketers see this as an analogy with the race cars, some parts of which are made of resin reinforced with carbon fiber. Well, the race car is quite possible to associate with computer games. The only trick is that Carbon there in name only. Of course, no coating of carbon fiber is not here (not yet reached such an absurdity). In general, a word beautiful.
There on the board MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon and POST-code indicator, and separate power-on and reset buttons. There is also a button ClearCMOS deduced on the rear panel. You can also note the presence of a toggle switch, which allows to choose the BIOS chip at boot time (on board has two BIOS chips).
There are on-board and a special rotating eight-button Game Boost Knob, designed to break up the Broadwell-E processors by changing the multiplier. Positions are numbered buttons as 0, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11. Of course, the question arises: where the 3, 5, 7 and 9? But here everything is almost easy. Each number indicates an increase in the hundreds of MHz relative to the nominal frequency of the processor. For example, 6 indicates that the frequency is increased to 600 MHz. Why do we say that almost simple? The fact that the rule does not correspond to said figure 11 and according to the logic, should not be 11 and 12.
The next feature of the motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is that all the slots form factor PCI Express x16, 2 M. connector and all slots have a metal casing for installing memory modules. And this is called MSI Steel Armor. The statement that «Steel Armor Armor provides maximum signal quality”, we leave without comment and note only that it looks beautiful.
One of the main features of the additional board MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is to implement LED lighting, which has a marketing name MSI Mystic Light.
First, the board has a special four-pin connector for connecting a standard (12) RGB-tapes. Tape itself is not included (you can buy at any construction market), but there are two different lengths of cable to connect the RGB-tape to the board. It must be said that the presence of such a connector on the motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is not something unique. These connectors can now be found on many motherboards models.
Secondly, the board has a number of built-in the RGB-LEDs, which are intended to illuminate the board. They are embedded in the heat sink and the radiator MOSFET-transistors, and even in the rear I / O panel cover. And all the lights on the board customizable. You can set different types of lighting changes, use of color music mode in a variety of genres, and it is possible to make the lights correspond to the current CPU temperature. In short, the options are many, and there is something to play with.
In general, the implementation of the LED backlight on the motherboard – this newfangled trend. Maybe tomorrow it already and no one remembers, but today the implementation of such a backlight in essence allows of the old to make new decisions. Motherboard manufacturers can understand. Intel, as they say, hit the brakes, and motherboard manufacturers somehow need to move forward (to update the assortment). And there could be any innovation approach and it does not matter, it is claimed by the market or not.
Like most motherboards, the model MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon has a 24-pin and 8-pin connectors for the power supply.
CPU voltage regulator on the motherboard is a 8-channel and controlled by the PWM controller, Intersil ISL6388. The controller itself Intersil ISL6388 is a 6-phase, and 8 power channels are obtained through the use of two doublers ISL6611A phases with integrated drivers.
Each supply channel is based on the throttle «Titanium Choke» and four MOSFET-transistors NikoS production. Thus, the only regulator of the processor supply voltage used 32 MOSFET-transistor. 16 of which are located on the reverse side of the board.
To remove heat from the half of the MOSFET-transistors (which are located on the front side of the card) CPU voltage regulator on the motherboard has a separate radiator, located next to the CPU socket. MOSFET-transistors disposed on the back side of the board, have the radiator, but they are closed with a metal plate which performs the function of the radiator.
There are on-board and a separate heatsink that covers the chipset.
In addition, for an effective heat dissipation system of four four-prong is provided on the board to connect the CPU fan and other case fans. In addition, there is a four-pin connector to connect the water cooling pump.
Audio Subsystem board MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is called the Audio Boost 3.
Audio section based on the HDA-codec Realtek ALC1150, a headphone has two separate Texas Instruments OPA1652 amplifier that allows you to connect headphones with an impedance of 600 ohms.
On the rear panel, there are five types of audio connectors mini-jack (3.5 mm) connector and one optical S / PDIF (output). All elements of the sound section isolated on the PCB level of the other elements of the board.
To test the sound output path, designed for headphones or external speakers, we use an external sound card Creative E-MU 0204 USB in conjunction with the utility Right Mark Audio Analyzer 6.3.0. Testing was conducted to stereo mode, 24-bit / 44.1 kHz. According to the results of testing the audio section on the motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon was rated “very good.” Full report with the test results in RMAA 6.3.0 software on a separate page, the following is a brief report.
The motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon uses UEFI BIOS with exactly the same interface as other new MSI motherboards (especially on motherboards with Intel Z170 chipset).
UEFI BIOS has two display modes: EZ Mode and Advanced. The EZ Mode mode displays basic information about the board.
Advanced Mode allows you to fine-tune the system. On the main screen displays basic information about the motherboard, CPU and RAM, as well as temperature data. There is a boot device selection menu button and Game Boost for fast and XMP overclocking.
From the main screen, you can get there in six standard for MSI motherboards subsections: Settings, OC, M-Flash, OC-Profile, Hardware Monitor and the Board Explorer.
Subsection M-Flash is used to store and update the UEFI BIOS from a USB flash drive.
OC Profile allows you to save and load overclocking profiles to six in the flash memory, as well as to work with files on an external drive profiles.
Settings subsection includes five separate groups of settings:
Subsection Hardware Monitor is designed to monitor CPU CPU and system temperatures, fan rotation speed and voltage connected. In addition, the same section can adjust the fan speed mode at four points on the graph of the rotational speed of the processor or system temperature. And made the changes immediately take effect.
Well, the most interesting sub – OC, which contains all the settings for overclocking.
Maximum memory frequency, which can be selected is 4000 MHz.
Naturally, it is possible to configure memory timings.
Overclocking the processor can be carried out by setting the CPU multiplier. Moreover, it is possible to set the ratio for each core individually, or for all cores simultaneously.
You can change the clock frequency and BCLK (CPU Base Clock) in the range of 90.9 to 300 MHz with a step in … But the step is quite strange and not fixed. That is, if you enter a frequency that is not supported, the system will round up to the nearest supported value addition. For example, you can specify the frequency of 100.05 MHz, and the attempt to set the frequency 100.06 MHz will result in rounding up to 100.11 MHz. Trying to set the frequency 100.15 MHz will result in rounding up to 100.17 MHz.
Multiplication factor (CPU Ratio) can be set for all cores at the same time, and for each core separately.
The reference frequency for the processor cores in this case is called a CPU Base Clock, and frequency for Uncore Logic elements (PEG controllers, the DMI and so forth.) Obtained by dividing the CPU Base Clock frequency to the frequency multiplier (1.00, 1.25, 1.66, and 2.50). But ask yourself the frequency factor in this case can not be – he is set automatically, depending on the frequency of CPU Base Clock.
In addition to these capabilities in overclocking, subsection OC can be configured to work memory, configure the operating mode of the integrated into the processor voltage regulator (IVR) and set the mode of the external voltage regulator.
As an example, we note that the Intel Core i7-6950X processor on the card we managed to overclock to 4.2 GHz frequency at a frequency of 100 MHz BCLK Frequency. For overclocking we changed only the multiplication factor, and all other parameters are not changed (auto value). At the same time establish a payment processor voltage was 1.299 V.
So, let’s summarize. If we talk about a set of connectors, ports and slots, the motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is somewhere in the middle between the top-end and budget decisions based on the Intel X99 chipset. In principle, the board has everything you need to create a high-performance (not necessarily the game) computer. And imagine a situation where a MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon something might not be enough, it is difficult.
Implementation is quite interesting M.2 connector device that supports PCIe 3.0 x4 (with line processor are utilized PCIe 3.0), but in the case where four lines available PCIe 3.0 M.2 connector, it can be switched to two PCIe 2.0 chipset line. That is, a drive PCIe 3.0 x4 interface can be connected to or set U.2 connector, for example, in the fourth slot form factor PCI Express 3.0 x16, and M.2 connector in this case will be available as modes or SATA PCIe 2.0 x2. Although the presence of 10 SATA ports is unlikely such a feature M.2 connector will be relevant.
The only thing that we felt a little strange – is the use of VIA VL805 controller (USB 3.0), to say the least not very successful. It would be logical to withdraw to the rear panel USB 3.0 ports are implemented via the chipset.
The implementation of on-board gadgets such as light – well, this is what is called an amateur. Fortunately, it is turned off, so that its presence can be just do not remember.
In general, the board MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is not satisfactory, it is a very good option for the Broadwell-E processors. The only question is, how adequate its cost. At the time of publication of the survey, retail prices motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon starts from 21 thousand rubles. For motherboards based on Intel X99 chipset is a little above average, although, as we have noted, the functionality of the card is just average (no frills, but not the minimum).