In our test lab, the motherboard Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 , the first model on Socket AM4, has already visited. It was followed by other models. We are pleased to present an overview of the second Socket AM4 motherboard in our edition, which refers to the high-end platforms for Ryzen processors. The motherboard MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium is interesting with rich equipment and a set of functions that allows you to squeeze out the maximum of Ryzen processors.Let’s see what results the motherboard will show in practice.
We expected that MSI in the line of Gaming Titanium will present at least one motherboard with a white / silver color for Socket AM4, and our expectations were justified. The motherboard manufacturer used the same functions, then for the Z270, so the buyer will receive a full range of proprietary “chips” MSI.
MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium is designed for ATX format. In addition to Socket AM4, there are four DDR4 DIMM memory slots on the motherboard. There are three PCIe x16 slots and three PCIe 2.0 x1 slots that allow the user to install the required expansion cards. The power subsystem is represented by six 6 Gbps SATA ports, two M.2 slots and one U.2.
On the motherboard are available eight USB 3.1 ports of the first generation, seven USB 2.0 and three USB 3.1 second-generation, so the package can be called complete. There is also a modern audio processor, a network controller with a Gigabit LAN port. Of course, not without the additional built-in buttons that increase the comfort of working with the motherboard.
If you do not pay attention to the CPU socket, the appearance is very similar to the competitor Intel. In addition to white textolite, silvery radiators and an I / O panel cover are on the board.
In addition to the motherboard, the package includes:
Together with the motherboard, MSI makes six SATA cables with stickers, mandatory MSI Gaming stickers, I / O panel cover, motherboard manual and DVD with drivers / utilities. Also included are a quick installation guide, a registration card, an RGB LED extension and a 2-way SLI (non-HB) bridge.
The distribution of the I / O interfaces from the AM4 platform is still more complicated than that of Intel Kaby Lake. SATA interfaces on the Intel platform are exclusively provided by the PCH chipset, but they are separated from the AMD AM4 platform. In addition to the 16 Gen3 lines, which are intended primarily for the video card, the Ryzen CPUs have four additional Gen3 lines, they are reserved for drives, but motherboard manufacturers can dispose of the lines at their discretion. The options are “2x SATA + 1x NVMe x2”, “2x SATA + 1x PCIe x2” and “1x NVMe x4”. In addition, Ryzen processors have built-in USB 3.1 Gen1 controller, which provides up to four ports.
The AMD X370 chipset provides four SATA 6 Gbps ports and two SATA Express interfaces that are complemented by two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, six USB 3.1 Gen1 and six USB 2.0 ports. Thus, the set of interfaces can include up to eight SATA ports of 6 Gbps from the chipset and, at best, a M.2 slot with four Gen3 lines from the CPU. In addition, the X370 chipset provides eight Gen2 lines. In total, we get 20 Gen3 lines from the CPU and eight Gen2 lines from the X370 chipset, which can be distributed to devices. Another four Gen3 lines are used by the Ryzen processor to communicate with the chipset.
Of course, the available ten phases of the CPU power system do not resemble the XPower model, but MSI did not save on the number of MOSFETs. The board uses MOSFET Nikos PK616BA and PK632BA. Six phases work with two PK632BA and one PK616BA each. The remaining four phases are with one PK616BA and one PK632BA. As you would expect from an XPower motherboard, additional power is supplied to the CPU via one 8-pin EPS12V connector and an optional 4-pin ATX12V. As a result, the power supplied can theoretically reach 536 watts.
The motherboard is equipped with IR35201 PWM controller from International Rectifier, which can control, at most, eight phases.
On the reverse side of the motherboard are installed five Phase Doubler chips, as a result of which the IR35201 has to manage only five phases.
MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium allows you to install memory capacity up to 64 GB through four memory slots DDR4 DIMM. MSI announced support for memory with a frequency of up to DDR4-3200. To improve comfort, there is a debug display and four LED status indicators.
MSI, it seems to us, well thought out the configuration of expansion slots. Two mechanical PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, equipped with Steel Armor protection, work directly from the AM4 processor. 16 Gen3 lines from the CPU are just distributed on the two indicated slots. If only the upper slot is occupied from the two slots, then the video card in it receives full 16 Gen3 lines. In the case of a multi-GPU configuration on two NVIDIA or AMD graphics cards, both receive eight Gen3 lines.
In addition, three PCIe 2.0 x1 slots and one mechanical PCIe 2.0 x16 slot are available. The latter connects to the X370 chipset and provides up to four Gen2 lines, so the configuration of 3-way CrossFireX is possible. But slot resources are common with the second M.2 interface. That is, if a drive is installed in the second M.2 slot, then the mechanical PCIe 2.0 x16 slot will not be used. Note that when installing one dual-slot video card, no other slots are blocked, which can also be attributed to the advantages.
Above we have already noted the presence of two slots M.2. The upper M.2 (M2_1) slot is connected to the AM4 processor by four Gen3 lines, the lower one (M.2_2) works from four Gen2 lines of the X370 chipset. MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium motherboard offers six SATA 6 Gbps ports and one U.2 port.
Limitations of the new AMD platform are also available. Depending on the PCIe mode or SATA M.2 slots, SATA 6 Gb / s ports and / or U.2 port, as well as the lower PCIe slot, can be blocked.
Let’s move on to the I / O panel:
The choice of interfaces for MSI motherboard can be called thoughtful. The user will have access to four USB 3.1 ports of the first generation, two USB 3.1 ports of the second generation and three USB 2.0 interfaces, as well as to the PS / 2 and Gigabit LAN connector. If the APU AM4 is installed, you can use the outputs DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 2.0. With the CMOS Clear button, the BIOS settings can be reset to the default values. Finally, MSI has installed five 3.5-mm analog audio connectors and an optical Toslink output.
The sound is answered by the MSI Audio Boost 4 function, which is based on the Realtek ALC1220 sound processor, supplemented with 13 Nippon audio capacitors and a headphone amplifier (up to 600 ohms).
With the edge of the PCB, you can see the 6-pin PCIe power socket. It is recommended to connect it to the PSU for more stable operation of multi-GPU configurations.
The Nuvoton NCT6795D-M chip is the Super I / O controller. It monitors fan speeds, voltages and temperatures.
The Gigabit LAN port for the network connection is present on the I / O panel. It works directly from the Intel I211-AT controller and provides a speed of up to 1 Gb / s.
For two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports on the I / O panel, the ASMedia ASM2142 controller is used.
The photo shows a chip SN75DP159 from Texas Instruments. Thanks to it, the motherboard MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium provides video output HDMI 2.0. The SN75DP159 chip provides up to 6 Gb / s bandwidth, which complies with the HDMI 2.0 standard.
In the lower right corner of the PCB there are also interesting components. On the one hand, there is a USB 3.1 Gen2 comb, working directly from the X370 FCH chipset – with its help you can connect the corresponding ports of the case. On the right you can see the power and reset buttons, as well as the Game Boost handle, supplemented with the Instant OC button. All this is familiar to us from the previous motherboards MSI.
The pen and button will be useful to those users who want to overclock the system, but do not want to delve into the jungle of overclocking. Of course, you’ll have to be satisfied with the pre-defined overclock profiles. But each CPU is unique, so not all profiles will work stably with all CPUs.
The column for 8-core processors demonstrates that the clock frequencies are chosen for Ryzen 7 1800X, because the default (level 0) base frequency is 3.6 GHz. Already at level 1, the motherboard sets the frequency to 4.1 GHz. Then we get a gradual increase in clock frequencies in steps of 0.05 GHz to level 11 with a frequency of 4.4 GHz. The values for 6- and 4-core processors are 100 MHz less.
We tested this function with the Ryzen 7 1700X processor.
As you might expect, MSI adapts frequencies to the installed processor. Since the Ryzen 7 1700X base frequency is 200 MHz less, at each step we get a lower frequency at 200 MHz.
We also watched the VCore voltage change. At level 4, the Ryzen 7 1700X was overclocked to 4 GHz with a voltage of 1.550 V. A similar voltage VCore is very significant. For this reason, we recommend reducing the VCore voltage if you intend to operate the system for extended periods of time. This step will reduce the temperature and power consumption, and potentially prolong the life of the CPU.
In the case of the MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium, you can update the BIOS even if the processor and memory are not installed on the motherboard. To do this, there is a corresponding button.
As we used to, XPower models use two BIOS ROMs. Unfortunately, this function is not provided for the MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium. Also, the motherboard XPower for some reason does not have points for direct measurement of voltages. But, at least, there is a mode Slow Mode, which will be useful in case of overclocking with liquid nitrogen.
In the usual places there are six 4-pin fan connection sockets, you can control everything. One of the FAN connectors is for connecting the pump. To control the fans in UEFI, it is enough to activate the “Smart FAN Mode” mode. Then you can adjust the performance curve of each fan with four different levels. However, the settings by default satisfied us.
MSI has also added the Guard Pro feature to the new B350 / X370 motherboards, which is divided into five categories: Circuit Protection, Humidity Protection, High Temperature Protection, ESD Protection (Protection against static), EMI Protection (protection against EMR).
Given the initial problems with the Ryzen platform, it is recommended to always flash the latest BIOS version. At the time of the tests, it was beta 1.31, which we asked with the M-Flash function.
In addition to the usual interface, MSI offers EZ Mode, although in color it does not match Titanium. However, we do not see any special problems in this. On the overview page you will get information about the installed CPU, memory, connected drives and fans. There are also links to the M-Flash utility, the Favorites list and the hardware monitor. Using the buttons, you can activate LAN-ROM, Fast Boot, AHCI, sound processor and enable / disable the CPU Fan warning. You can view the BIOS Log Review log when problems occur. In the strip on top of the EZ-Mode there is a button for switching to the Advanced mode, which we now turn to.
MSI added a Game Boost button in the upper left corner to the date and time, which displays the current level set (green dot). Nearby is the A-XMP activation button. At different models of motherboards we receive distinctions on menu items. For the Gaming line, MSI uses red and black colors, which we get here. On any tab menu on top of the installed model of the processor, the clock frequency and memory capacity, the frequency of memory. Nearby displays the time and date, as well as the BIOS version. Also, by simply dragging and dropping icons, you can change the boot parameters. As we expected from MSI, the results of monitoring the temperature of the CPU and the motherboard are displayed in the upper left corner. The virtual button “Game Boost” is pressed by the mouse, which allows you to switch the button from the hardware to the program mode.
The menu item “Settings” is divided into five tabs. At the first “System Status” you will get information similar to the traditional BIOS versions. The user can again view the current BIOS version, memory capacity, information about connecting drives to SATA ports. The “Advanced” tab provides numerous configuration options that are associated with the built-in components. The last three tabs “Boot”, “Security” and “Save & Exit” are clear by their names. More interesting is the OC overclocking menu. In it you can find an extensive set of overclocking functions – we’ll stop on them a bit later. Utility firmware “M-Flash” from MSI received a separate menu item, the same applies to the overclocking profiles “OC Profile”. They can be exported to USB-keychain and imported from the drive. In total, you can specify up to six OC profiles.
Next comes a very functional hardware monitor (Hardware Monitor), which allows you to view a large number of parameters – temperature, voltage, fan speed. There is a built-in fan controller that allows you to control five fan connectors (along with the CPU FAN). Each fan can be adjusted automatically or manually, in four steps on the graph. Finally, there is a Board Explorer item that allows you to examine the hardware components of the board. You can immediately see in which slot are installed those or other components. So once again you will not have to look into the case. There are five “Favorites” pages where you can add the most frequently used functions. Adding frequently used functions is very easy. It is enough to right-click on the desired function, after which a small window will appear, and the user can specify which of the five selected pages should be added to the function.
To get the Extreme Memory Profile information from the DIMM slats, MSI on the Socket AM4 motherboards implemented the A-XMP function. UEFI from MSI we are quite convinced. All selected settings worked correctly and without problems. You can use the mouse or keyboard to navigate.
In our AMD Ryzen 7 1700 test, we already complained about the overclocking problems of AMD Ryzen processors, although we were able to overclock it to 4 GHz. UEFI supports the Down Core function, which allows you to disable the CPU cores or the CCX (CPU Core Complex) module. In addition to the “Auto” mode (4 + 4) for 8-core CPUs, the following modes are available: 1 + 1, 2 + 0, 3 + 0, 2 + 2, 4 + 0 and 3 + 3.
MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium does not allow changing the base frequency. By the CPU voltage, the user can select only the Override mode. Voltage can be set from 0.9000 V to 1.7000 V in fixed mode. Step 0.0255 V allows you to accurately set the voltage. All other overclocking functions are summarized in the table below.
In the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X review, we were able to overclock our CPU sample to a stable 4 GHz frequency on all eight cores. The same frequency we were able to get on the motherboard MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium with the preservation of stable operation, even the voltage required a little less. In the BIOS, we set the VCore voltage to 1.400 V.
The theme of overclocking the memory is no less interesting, so we continued our overclocking tests. We used two DIMM slots with 4 GB of “G.Skill RipJaws4 DDR4-3000” type.
Memory manufacturers have already announced slats that are specifically designed for Ryzen processors and should demonstrate better performance with an integrated AMD memory controller than the modules we use. Of course, memory slots have support for XMP for Intel processors. XMP profiles on the motherboard MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium were quite predictably detected incorrectly, this concerns not only delays, but also frequencies. The factor DDR4-2933 is followed by DDR4-3200, so the claimed 3000 MHz is not exhibited.
With manual settings, we were able to reach the G.Skill frequency of 2.933 MHz – a good result. The voltage of VDIMM was set at 1.35 V. However, the delays were not set correctly, despite the BIOS CL16-16-16-35, the motherboard exhibited CL16-15-15-35. There are fewer delays, but we have not received any problems. We will wait for further BIOS updates from the motherboard manufacturers, since there is no possibility to change the Command Rate.
MSI offers Command Center, where you can make advanced settings for Windows. For example, you can set multipliers separately for the cores, set voltages and fan speeds. Memory settings are available. You can also control the Game Boost function here. As a bonus, there is also the possibility of reading voltages.
The Command Center utility can warn the user if the parameter values exceed the allowed permissible levels. The system can monitor the most important voltages, fan speeds and temperatures.
Today, the issue of PC power consumption is quite relevant, and the difference in power consumption between motherboards is much more common than the difference in performance. On the one hand, it can be connected to the BIOS, where the power saving functions of Intel can be implemented incompletely or incorrectly. Or simply disabled by default. Or inactive integrated components, when they are replaced by additional chips or simply not used, do not shut down and continue to consume energy. The power plan also contributes to overall energy consumption, because it can give more power than required by the components. And the efficiency (efficiency) of the power system is also very important. If the efficiency is low, the system consumes more power from the power supply unit. The role of program management should not be underestimated, the entire food system should be balanced and coordinated to ensure acceptable efficiency.
On the motherboard MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium there are several additional controllers. Namely the controller LAN, USB 3.1 Gen2 and audio chip, which contribute to the overall power consumption of the system.
We measured the power consumption of the system in idle mode for Windows, and also with the full 2D load of Cinebench 15 and Prime95 (torture test, full load). Below is the power consumption for the entire system.
In the first test run, we left all the default settings when most of the integrated components of the motherboard are active. We used the video card Radeon R9 380. As we already noted above, all power saving functions were enabled, we did not make any manual optimization.
In idle mode, the system with MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium consumed relatively little – 44.3 watts. At Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5, the power consumption was higher by four watts.
Under the load Cinebench, both motherboards showed similar results. In the case of the MSI system, the power consumption was 151.1 W.
Under full load, power consumption has changed slightly. The motherboard MSI X370 together with the system consumed 147.1 W, which is slightly less than the level of Gigabyte.
One of the reasons for the lower power consumption may be a lower voltage VCore. In the CPU-Z utility, we received a CPU voltage of 1.152V (compared to 1.188V).
Since most users do not need all built-in controllers, we ran another test run, during which only the LAN controller and the audio chip were activated from the integrated components. All additional controllers USB 3.0 and SATA we disconnected. The motherboard still set the voltage levels automatically, but we manually set all the energy-saving functions. We still used the video card Radeon R9 380.
Test 2: the integrated components are disabled (1x LAN + sound is active)
Since we could not disable the controllers in the BIOS, we did not receive any energy savings.
As with the previously tested motherboard Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 , the total power consumption is in the “green” zone, despite the eight cores of the processor. This applies to the mode of inactivity, and work under load.
On the MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium motherboard, three USB 3.1 Gen2 interfaces are available. One of them is connected to the X370 chipset in its native mode, the remaining two work through the ASMedia ASM2142 controller. On the motherboard, we get one Type A port and two Type C. Ports provide a theoretical bandwidth of 10 Gb / s, so it’s not easy to find a drive that can load this bandwidth. In theory, there will be a fairly fast solid state drive M.2, but so far we have limited ourselves to two SSD SATA 6 Gb / s in RAID 0, which will load the new interface.
For the test, we took the external Akitio NT2-U3.1 snap-in, inside which we installed two 2.5 “SSD OCZ Vector 150s with a capacity of 480 GB each, SSDs operated at a read speed of up to 550 MB / s and write speeds of up to 530 MB / s. SSDs were combined into a RAID 0 array, which allowed loading the USB 3.1 Gen2 interface.
The controller ASM2142 from ASMedia is known for its excellent performance of USB 3.1 Gen2. In this case, we got 947 MB / s on reading, the write speed was up to 868 MB / s. The results are very good.
On the MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium motherboard, eight USB 3.1 Gen1 ports are available. There are four available on the I / O panel, four more can be output through two internal combs. Four ports of the combs are connected directly to the CPU, four on the I / O panel – to the chipset X370-FCH. For USB 3.1 Gen1 tests, we used the same solution as for USB 3.1 Gen2.
The controller in the AMD processor did not show any new records. The read speed was up to 406 MB / s, the write speed was up to 429 MB / s. The X370 chipset has better results, reading speed is up to 440 MB / s, the write speed is up to 463 MB / s.
The motherboard MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium we get six SATA ports 6 Gb / s – a full set, based on the capabilities of the chipset. All six SATA ports are connected directly to the X370 chipset. For the tests, we took the SanDisk Extreme 120 drive, which was connected directly to the SATA ports.
We got good results with SATA 6 Gbit / s. The chipset AMD X370-FCH showed a read speed of 555 MB / s. By recording speed, we got up to 525 MB / s.
On the Ryzen platform, we continued the M.2 tests. With the Ryzen processors, the slot should demonstrate a high level of performance thanks to four PCIe 3.0 lines with a theoretical throughput of 32 Gb / s. For testing the M.2 slot, we used the Samsung SSD SM961 with a capacity of 256 GB and 8 cm in length. Samsung indicates for its drive a reading speed of 3.100 MB / s and a write speed of 1.400 MB / s. SSD supports NVMe version 1.2, the connection is made to the AM4 processor via four Gen3 lines.
On the MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium, two M.2 M-key interfaces are available. But if at the top slot four Gen3 lines work directly from the CPU (32 Gbps), at the bottom slot we get four Gen2 lines from the chipset (16 Gb / s). Therefore, the performance is different.
In case of connection to the processor, we got up to 3.362 MB / s on reading and up to 1.525 MB / s by recording. Four Gen2 lines give up to 16 Gb / s or 2 GB / s in theory. Therefore, in case of connection to the chipset, the M.2 module showed a speed of up to 1.828 MB / s in reading and up to 1.388 MB / s by recording.
The AMD Ryzen platform still has problems, but they are connected to the platform, not to individual motherboards. MSI managed to quickly get around all the problems, Taiwanese manufacturer publishes new beta versions of the BIOS in a timely manner after the main final versions. The motherboard MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium with white and silver shades will cost about 300 euros, which is quite a lot even for the high-end model for Socket AM4.
The motherboard MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium from MSI is made in the popular ATX format, next to the AM4 socket there are four DDR4 DIMM slots (up to 64 GB) and two mechanical PCIe 3.0 x16 slots with the function Steel Armor. There are also three PCIe 2.0 x1 slots and a mechanical PCIe 2.0 x16 slot. If necessary, you can install a multi-GPU configuration on two NVIDIA or three AMD graphics cards. To improve the stability of the configurations with several video cards, a 6-pin PCIe power connector is added from the end of the motherboard.
The motherboard MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium we get quite a lot of USB interfaces. Four USB 3.1 Gen1, as well as two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.1 Gen2 (ASMedia ASM2142) are available on the I / O panel. In the latter case, we get one Type A and Type C port. Two combs USB 3.1 Gen1 and USB 2.0 are available for connecting internal interfaces. Also inside is a USB 3.1 Gen2 port, designed for enclosures with the appropriate interface. It is connected to the chipset X370. For connecting drives, six SATA 6 Gbps ports and two M.2 M-key interfaces are provided. A more productive M.2 slot is connected through four Gen3 lines to the processor and equipped with MSI M.2 Shield. You can also connect the drive to U2 via U.2.
On the motherboard there are connectors for connecting the five fans (PWM / PWM) and the pump SVO. As in the case of modern MSI motherboards on Intel 200 chipsets, all fans can be controlled. Network support is realized through the Gigabit LAN port (Intel 211-AT). As for audio, the board has an Audio Boost 4 solution. It relies on the Realtek ALC1220 audio codec, numerous Nippon audio capacitors, a headphone amplifier with an impedance of up to 600 ohms. If the buyer decides to install one of the upcoming AMD Raven Ridge APU, its graphics core can be output via HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 ports.
As you would expect from the XPower model, MSI offered a rich assortment of overclocking features for the processor and memory. To power the AM4 processor, ten phases are available, in our overclocking tests they coped with their work. For additional CPU power, there is one 8-pin EPS12V socket and 4-pin ATX12V connector. However, MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium lacked several functions expected from XPower models. Namely, two BIOS ROM chips and points of direct voltage measurement. But otherwise the motherboard is equipped well: power and reset buttons, debug display and Slow Mode are available for extreme overclocking. For “lazy” MSI added a handle to Game Boost.
The latter simplifies CPU overclocking and automatically increases the processor frequency, including above 4 GHz (depending on the CPU model). Very convenient will be the CMOS Clear button on the I / O panel, as well as the BIOS firmware button without the processor and memory installed. The UEFI interface from MSI turned out to be very familiar, there were no complaints. The power consumption of the motherboard was at a pleasantly low level. It took quite a long time to load the system – about 27 seconds. Here MSI does not prevent to improve the situation. Also there are problems of cross-platform memory compatibility, which we noted in the review of Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 .
Price MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium is 300 euros, but we get a premium solution for X370 for AMD Ryzen processors, as well as in the case of ASRock X370 Professional Gaming. Despite the absence of some “chips” XPower, the buyer of the MSI motherboard will receive a high-quality and functional platform that will cope with the overclocking of Ryzen processors.
Of course, the price of the motherboard MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium is quite high, but we get a good model Socket AM4, which is aimed at overclocking the CPU.
Alternatives? A good option is the previously tested Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5, which provides good quality and functionality at a lower price. If you look at alternatives to MSI, then pay attention to the X370 Gaming Pro Carbon.