Test and review: MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon – well-equipped motherboard from the RGB-backlit

Test and review: MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon - well-equipped motherboard from the RGB-backlit

Intel recently introduced new processors for Broadwell-E Socket LGA2011-3, motherboard manufacturers have used this opportunity to renew its model range. We have already tested the updated motherboard ASUS Strix X99 Gaming. Now it was all MSI, which also released several X99 models. Also X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon Taiwanese company introduced the X99A Gaming Pro Carbon, also deserves attention. We tested the motherboard Intel X99 motherboard on our test system updated.

We have already tested the motherboard X99A Godlike Gaming. Carbon model is similar from a technical point of view, except that it adds a “native” support for new processors Broadwell-E, like Core i7-6950X. Also, high-end motherboard has a new finish “under carbon”, which is now dominated by dark shades. But MSI has decided to launch a Carbon another model with a lower price, which refers to the range Performance Gaming. And so it turned out X99A Gaming Pro Carbon.

For the price of just below EUR 300 motherboard can offer a lot. MSI has decided to limit ourselves to a standard ATX format. The user will receive four mechanical PCIe 3.0 x16 slot and two PCIe 2.0 x1, next to a large CPU socket has eight DDR4 DIMM memory banks. As for storage, accessible eight ports SATA 6 Gb / s interface and one SATAE one M.2 and u.2. The USB ports are represented by nine USB 3.1 Gen1, Gen2 two USB 3.1 and eight USB 2.0.

Of course, not without its port Gigabit LAN and audio subsystem. The motherboard is equipped with a large number of RGB LED, which fits into the modern fashion: at this Computex in Taipei was presented with a large number of multi-color backlight products.

Motherboard rid of bright colors, dominated by blacks. Of course, this painting will not please everyone, but most users probably will consider it stylish and attractive. Note the silvery metal inserts have slots PCIe 3.0 x16 slots and eight DDR4 DIMM. For MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon has decided not to give up the cover I / O panel, which descends down to the audio subsystem. Cover I / O panel and two passive radiators are finished by carbon fiber to justify the name of Carbon. Benefits include standard ATX size, so the motherboard will fit in most cases.

MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon: Specification

Motherboard box is also made in dark colors. In the center you can see a black sports car with MSI Gaming logo. In the lower left corner of the model name is printed in the lower right – logo Performance Gaming, the top you can see the MSI logo and Intel are two icons. Of course, not without the additive RGB LED.

Test and review: MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon - well-equipped motherboard from the RGB-backlit

MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon: Contents of delivery

In addition to the motherboard in the box, you will get:

  • The plug I / O
  • motherboard manual, DVD with drivers and utilities
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Software Guide
  • A sign on the door MSI “I’m not here”
  • Two bridge 2-Way SLI
  • Six SATA cables
  • M-Connectors
  • The sticker on the case MSI Gaming
  • Labels for cables
  • Two RGB extension length 40 and 80 cm
  • registration card

Apart from the standard accessories, the Taiwanese manufacturer has added six SATA cables, Quick Start Guide, a sign on the door and the two bridges 2-way SLI. Complement supplied registration card, MSI Gaming sticker on the case, M-Connectors and two RGB cable. There are stickers for labeling cables.

MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon: The functions and layout

X99 chipset has been finalized on the technical condition to the level Z97 PCH, which Intel is offering for Socket LGA1150. X99 chipset provides four “native” SATA 6G ports more – up to ten. The number of ports USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen1) former – six pieces. South Bridge provides up to eight lines of PCIe 2.0, a similar amount is not really a luxury, especially for high-end motherboards. DMI (Direct Media Interface) protocol is still based on the old version 2.0.

Old X99 PCH chipset on the number of PCI Express lanes can not compete with the new Z170, which offers 20 Gen3 lines. But do not forget that the processors Haswell-E (P) and Broadwell-E (P) supports up to 40 PCIe 3.0 lines of what could be called a sort of compensation, depending on the CPU model. For example, M.2 slot allocated four lines PCIe 3.0 with a theoretical bandwidth up to 32 Gbit / s, so that the CPU itself has sufficient resources not to depend on powerful chipset PCH Z170.

Cover panel I / O cable is connected to the VRM cooler

When removing components X99A Gaming Pro Carbon we were somewhat surprised that cover I / O panel can only be removed with the VRM heatsink. On the cover I / O panel is removable cable to the cooler VRM, providing RGB LED powered. As can be seen, in the VRM heatsink laid another cable upstairs to where the LED.

The cover panel I / O X99A Gaming Pro Carbon will remove completely, except that if the cable is cut.

At the bottom of the cap is seen another power cable – MSI used two connectors. Right is responsible for the power LED on the cover of the I / O and cooler VRM. Left feeds the LED, illuminating logo Audio Boost 3.

As you can see on the picture on the right and left of the CPU socket are four DDR4 DIMM slots with Steel Armor function. Each module allows you to install up to 16 GB, that is, the maximum memory capacity of 128 GB. Power processor provides eight throttles “Titanium Chokes”. To each of the four MOSFETs connected chokes type “PK616BA” and “PK632BA” NIKOS production. Extra power is supplied to the VRM in 8-pin EPS12V, power up to 336 watts.

If you look closely, the front side of the board to each throttle announced only two MOSFET. But we were not mistaken as another 16 MOSFET soldered to the back side of the board. Additional cooling is provided by the rear plate.

PWM-Controller Intersil ISL6388 allows you to control six phases. Therefore, without chips Phase Doubler not do. MSI uses I6611A chips from Intersil, each of which controls two phases. Thus, ISL6388 directly manages only four phases, and even four – through I6611A.

Let us turn to another PWM-controllers.

To power the eight DDR4 slots provided four phases. They control two PWM-controller PV3203 Powervation production.

Besides the two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots, the motherboard offers four mechanical PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. They are equipped with metal inserts Steel Armor, improving strength when installing the heavy graphics cards. Four slots are electrically connected x16 / x16 / x8 / x8, allowing you to set configuration theoretically 4-way multi-GPU, but the MSI says only support 3-way multi-GPU. Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that the fourth slot is immediately below a third, so the dual-slot graphics card is no longer fit.

However, with the Pascal architecture, the GeForce GTX 1080 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 introduced other restrictions for games in the future will be developed only profiles of 2-way. For this reason, and presents new SLI bridges with increased bandwidth.

Test and review: MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon - well-equipped motherboard from the RGB-backlit

Intel unveiled the processors Broadwell-E – three models Core i7-6850K, Core i7-6900K and Core i7-6950X with 40 lines PCIe 3.0 and a Core i7-6800K with 28 lines Gen3. Therefore, when using more than one graphics card with different processors line layout will be different. The configuration of the slots, and the lines presented in the following table.

By connecting drives X99A Gaming Pro, MSI offers a lot. The motherboard is equipped with six corners and two vertical SATA 6 Gb / s SATA interface and Express. Interestingly, the motherboard is available not only M.2 interface, but U.2 port. The latter uses shared resources with the lower slot PCIe 3.0 x16. So if you plan to connect the drives to U.2 port, the bottom slot PCIe 3.0 x16 must remain free. Also, resources are shared interfaces M.2 and u.2. If U.2 port served four lines PCIe 3.0, something on M.2 there are only two lines PCIe 3.0, although the bandwidth is still ample – almost 2 GB / s. You can install the SSD module length 4,2, 6 and 8 cm.

Right from the port drives can see two combs USB 3.1 Gen1 (4x port USB 3.1 Gen1), also has a port and Type C. His MSI added for future buildings to the front ports Type C, supports USB 3.1 Gen1 specification.

However, there are some limitations. In the following table we have them just indicated.

All SATA ports can be used if six PCIe slot and port U.2 remain unoccupied. Everything else depends on the configuration. If you use the lower slot PCIe, then U.2 port becomes virtually useless. If M.2 slot installed SSD drive, you can use the SATA ports 1 to 4 and from 7 to 10 SATA ports 5 and 6 relate to the SATA Express interface, which in this case to use will not work – at least, SATA ports interface. In the end, it all depends on the active mode, SATA or PCIe.

Five analog audio jacks and optical digital output (Toslink)

If you like a motherboard with plenty of USB ports on the I / O panel, and X99A Gaming Pro Carbon will like. Behind the user will receive a four-port USB 3.1 Gen1 and four USB 2.0, one USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A and Type C. In addition, there is a PS / 2 port, Gigabit LAN port, five 3.5-mm audio connector and one digital output Toslink . The BIOS settings can be reset using the Clear CMOS button.

Of course, not without the chip Super I / O. In the motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is used by Nuvoton NCT6792D +, which tracks the voltage, temperature and fan speed. In addition, he manages the connected fans.

Let us turn to the audio subsystem.

Test and review: MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon - well-equipped motherboard from the RGB-backlit

Note the presence of the sound processor Realtek ALC1150, on the basis of which is provided by the spectrum Audio Boost 3. Note features 13 audio capacitors and Chemi-Con, supplemented by two headphone amplifiers OPA1652 from Texas Instruments. The latter allows you to connect headphones with high impedance to 600 ohms.

For the X99 platform is quite expect Intel I218-T PHY chip, it provides data transfer rates up to 1 Gbit / s (128 MB / s) on the MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard. It supports such features as Wake-on-LAN and VLAN.

ASMedia ASM1142 controller provides two ports USB 3.1 Gen2. Host-Controller supports two ports with a bandwidth of up to 10 Gbit / s (in theory).

In the motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon, a total of nine available USB 3.1 Gen1 ports. Chipset X99 PCH provides a maximum of six ports. Therefore, the Taiwanese manufacturer has provided an additional hub USB 3.1 Gen. It supports four ports USB 3.1 Gen1 are just located on the I / O panel.

On the lower end can be seen SATA connector Express, but not only. There are power and reset buttons, and the BIOS toggle switch to select between two BIOS ROM. There is a handle MSI Game Boost, familiar to us by MSI Z170A Gaming M7 motherboard. With it you can select several modes of dispersal.

Namely levels Level 0, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 11. Level 0 corresponds to the default. At the level of Level 11, we get the maximum CPU overclocking. Selecting level is carried off the PC by using a pen or in working condition in UEFI. But it is important that acceleration hardware or software has been activated via the BIOS. In addition there is a handle acceleration indicator: hardware (red) or the program (green).

Level Level 8 with a clock speed of 4.3 GHz and voltage VCore 1,328 in seems still acceptable. But regimes Level 10 and 11 is still not as well suited for continuous operation. This is especially true of the last level of high voltage VCore 1,576 V. The rest of the frequency modes of Level 10 and 11 are identical, the only difference is observed voltage.

MSI good use of the available space X99A Gaming Pro Carbon. We did not find any flaws in the basic layout. The usual places attended by five 4-pin fan header, including a new connector for the pump CBO. For the remaining four slots, you can specify a curve with four stages. But even on default settings fans work fairly quietly. If the CPU temperature is 40 degrees below the bar, the speed of the fan is only 12.5 percent of the maximum. The next two strips speed achieved with increasing temperature up to 55 degrees Celsius and 70, the rate increases to 37.5% and 62.5%. If the processor reaches 85 degrees Celsius, the fans run at full speed. In general, the fan control system has left a positive impression.

MSI has added a new motherboard X99 function “Guard Pro”, which is divided into five categories: Circuit Protection (short circuit protection), Humidity Protection (protection against moisture), High Temperature Protection (protection against overheating), ESD Protection (protection static), EMI protection (EMI protection).

integrated RGB LED. I do not stay aside and MSI motherboard with a motherboard X99A Gaming Pro Carbon. The Taiwanese company has installed LEDs not only in the PCH heatsink, but also in the VRM heatsink and distribute them on the cover of the I / O panel. In addition, RGB LED can support up to 17 different effects. Among them, Breathing, Wave, Flashing, Double Flashing, Meteor, Lightning, Rainbow, Random, and Stack. You can also use LED for color music in the genre Pop, Rap, Jazz, or the game or movie modes. In addition, LED can signal the current CPU temperature.

If this is not enough, you can connect the LED strip 5050 RGB LED with a special connector.


We turn to the UEFI motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon. We got a motherboard with the latest BIOS 1.13. She worked steadily, any anomalies we found.

MSI uses the previous interface and the new X99 motherboards, familiar to us from Z170 models. Users met EZ Mode. On the overview page you will get information about the installed the CPU, memory, storage and connected fans. It also has links to the M-Flash utility, the list of Favorites and hardware monitor. With LAN-ROM can be activated by buttons, Fast Boot, AHCI, sound processor, and enable / disable CPU Fan warning. You can see the magazine “BIOS Log Review” when problems arise. Striped top EZ-Mode has a button to switch to Advanced mode, to which we now turn.

Test and review: MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon - well-equipped motherboard from the RGB-backlit

MSI has added to the top left corner of the date and time of the activation button XMP, allows you to activate the corresponding profile of the DIMM. The colors correspond to colors UEFI family Gaming – used red and black colors. On any tab menu is displayed on top of the installed CPU model, clock speed and memory capacity, memory frequency. Close displays the time and date, and the BIOS version. Also, using a simple drag and drop icons, you can change the boot options. As we expected from MSI, in the upper left corner displays the CPU temperature monitoring results and the motherboard.

The menu item “Settings” is divided into six tabs. At the first “System Status” you will receive information similar to the traditional versions of BIOS. The user can re-view the current BIOS version, memory capacity, information on how to connect drives to the SATA ports. “Advanced” tab provides multiple configuration options that are related to integrated components. The last three tab “Boot”, “Security” and “Save & Exit” clear title.

Next comes highly 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 manage five connectors for fans (with CPU FAN). Each fan may be controlled manually or automatically, in four steps in the graph. Finally, there is a paragraph Board Explorer, allows you to explore the hardware components of the board. You can immediately see set certain components in any slot. So once again look into the case will not have to.

There are five pages of “Favorites”, which you can add the most frequently used functions. Add frequently used functions very easily. Just press the right mouse button on the desired function, then a small window will appear and the user can specify which of the five selected pages to add a function. If you want to take a screenshot, it is sufficient to press the “F12” and select the destination drive. Screenshots recorded in BMP format in the resolution of 1.024 x 768 pixels.

MSI’s UEFI we are quite convinced. All your settings worked well and correctly without any problems. You can use the mouse or keyboard navigation. Any stability problems we found.


With the MSI Gaming line acceleration is also supported, although the manufacturer offers specialized motherboard for overclockers. The UEFI contains all the necessary settings for the acceleration components. LGA2011-3 processors get quite powerful power subsystem with eight phases.

The frequency of BCLK X99A Gaming Pro can be changed from 90.90 MHz to 300 MHz in steps of 0.06 MHz. Although, of course, in steps of 0.01 MHz would be more convenient. According to CPU voltage Taiwanese manufacturer offers standard mode “Override Mode”, “Adaptive Mode” and “Offset Mode”. If Override mode and Adaptive vCore voltage can be set from 0.800 V to 2.100 V. In Offset mode, you can specify the voltage from 0.001 V to 0.990 in both directions. In all three cases, the pitch is 0.001 V.

With the motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon we tested the overclocking potential of the new processor Core i7-6950X. 10-core processor easily earned at a clock frequency of 4 GHz, ATEM we increased it to 4.2 GHz. We were able to load at a frequency of 4.3 GHz, but stable work on it and have not received. voltage rise has not led to better results.

We were able to run the Core i7-6950X at 4.2 GHz with a voltage of only 1,210 C – while maintaining stable operation. Ten kernels at this frequency provides impressive performance.

On Broadwell-E platform, we will continue to memory overclocking. We used four DIMM module capacity of 4GB – “G.Skill RipJaws4 DDR4-3000”. In the first test we will check the XMP functionality, and memory overclocking second hand, without using XMP.

Extreme Memory Profile Profiles are correctly applied to the memory strips, Pro Carbon was stable system X99A Gaming. With manual settings we were able to get a more stringent delay. Voltage VDIMM been exposed to 1.35 V.

MSI / Intel Extreme Tuning Utility

The DVD with drivers and software supplied MSI / Intel utility Extreme Tuning Utility, well familiar to us:

XTU allows you to overclock the CPU and memory are directly under Windows. Thanks to built-in hardware monitor, you can monitor CPU temperature, the actual clock speed and other parameters. In addition to CPU and memory frequencies, you can change the voltage. But not trigger settings in real time, they are cached. And the operation is performed when the system is rebooted. You can also test configuration with the stress test to check the stability of work. If the settings are found stable, they can be conveniently stored in the profile.

MSI Command Center

MSI also offers Command Center, where you can make advanced settings for Windows. For example, you can set separate multipliers on kernels, set the voltage and fan speed. Available memory settings and integrated graphics core. Here you can also control the function Game Boost. As a bonus, you can read the current voltage levels.

Command Center can be prevented if certain values are exceeded levels. You can record the values of the voltages, fan speeds and temperatures in the magazine.

MSI Gaming App

Also included with the card MSI Gaming application. Here you can select between OC Mode, Gaming Mode and Quiet Mode. But the utility is capable of more. With Eye-Rest function display can be adapted to different scenarios. MSI has added items “Eye Protection”, “Games” and “Movies.” But via the menu item “Customize” and possible manual adjustment. Application displays a small window on the monitor is constant (OSD), in which useful information can be displayed – for example, in the games.

Not all of the keyboard on the market have a macro key. In this case, the function can help Gaming Hotkey, which enables you to assign different keys in the usual macros. Supports and configure the mouse using “Mouse Master”. Gaming Utility is also suitable for the control LED on the motherboard. You can select multiple lighting effects, including pulsing, blinking, double blinking, breathing and random effect. Perhaps the use of LED as a color music. Since the RGB-LEDs installed, users can choose different colors, not only for the classic red line Gaming. After clicking the “Apply” the changes immediately take effect.

MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon: Energy consumption

Today, the question is quite relevant PC power consumption, energy consumption and the difference between motherboards is far more common than the difference in performance. On the one hand, it can be associated with BIOS, Intel wherein power saving functions may be implemented or not completely correct. Or simply disabled by default. Or inactive integrated components when they are replaced by additional chips, or simply not used, is not turned on and continue to consume energy. The power supply circuit also contributes to the overall power consumption, since it can provide more energy than is required components. Yes, and efficiency (efficiency) power supply system is also very important. If the efficiency is low, the system consumes more energy from the power supply. We should not underestimate the role of management software, the entire power supply system must be balanced and coordinated in order to ensure an acceptable efficiency.

Test and review: MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon - well-equipped motherboard from the RGB-backlit

On the MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard use additional controllers. Namely LAN-controller, USB 3.1 Gen2 chip Hub USB 3.1 Gen1 and audio codec, which contribute to the overall power consumption.

We measured the power consumption of the system in idle mode under Windows, as well as a full 2D-load Cinebench 11.5 and Prime95 (torture test, full load). The following is the power consumption for the entire system.

MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon: Conclusion

At the last exhibition in Taipei Computex Intel announced new processors Broadwell-E, and many motherboard manufacturers have taken the opportunity to update their line. MSI has introduced a new motherboard X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon and X99A Gaming Pro Carbon, and the price is far below last Godlike Gaming. Although equipment is also curtailed. In any case, motherboard ATX format motherboard offers many, customers will receive all the latest technologies and interfaces.

Updated parent Gaming Board on the Intel X99 chipset is ready for new processors Broadwell-E, such as Core i7-6950X, offering eight powerful power phases. MSI also stood out whole 32 MOSFET. Each of the eight four throttles supplemented MOSFET. From built-in features include the debug screen, buttons power and reset, as well as turning MSI Game Boost knob to facilitate overclocking. With BIOS toggle switch you can choose between two BIOS ROM.

The eight DDR4 DIMM memory slots allow you to set up to 128 GB of RAM, and supports memory overclocking, if necessary. For expansion card provides two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots and four mechanical PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, allowing up to three graphics cards from NVIDIA or AMD. Depending on the CPU (with 28 or 40 lines PCIe 3.0) distribution lines different slots. For extra strength MSI added feature Steel Armor, which enhances all eight DDR4 DIMM slots and four PCIe mechanical slots that are connected directly to the CPU.

Quite seriously at the X99A Gaming Pro Carbon worked storage interfaces. MSI has established eight SATA 6 Gb / s interface and SATA Express, complete with M.2 slot and U.2 port. Two recent works with a theoretical capacity of up to 32 Gbit / s or 4 Gb / s. However, not all interfaces can be used simultaneously, the details we have given on the third page of the survey.

According to the USB interface of the motherboard MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is also well equipped. On the I / O panel, the buyer will receive a four-port USB 3.1 Gen1 and four USB 2.0. There is also a high-speed interface and USB 3.1 Gen2 as two ports Type A and Type C. and inland ports available through two combs USB 3.1 Gen1 and USB 2.0, that is, four ports each standard. MSI also added an internal port Type C, expanded at an angle. It complies USB 3.1 Gen1 specification and allows you to connect the front port Type C respective housings.

audio subsystem is also not satisfactory. MSI Audio Boost brand has established 3, which will be enough for most users. You can even connect headphones with high impedance to 600 ohms. Network connections on the MSI motherboard presents a LAN port at speeds up to 1 Gbit / s – through Intel I218-V controller. MSI has not remained aloof from the modern fashion for RGB LED. Motherboard X99A Gaming Pro Carbon is equipped with RGB-backlit Mystic Light, LEDs spread across the motherboard supports 17 effects. Also directly to the board can be connected LED-strip LED 5050 RGB. Of course, if you get tired of lighting, it can be turned off.

UEFI interface airberlin. The installed version of UEFI worked well, worked out all the settings correctly. For platform-oriented enthusiasts, MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon consumed not so much energy. Compared with other X99 motherboards power consumption can be called average. We are accustomed to the motherboard with the covers I / O panel, they can be removed if necessary, but MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon do not get to do. Under the hood is laid the power cable to RGB LED VRM heatsink, which is soldered.

In Russia, the motherboard has not yet appeared (see price), in Europe MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon can be purchased from 292 euros. It seems to us, for the enthusiast level product price is quite reasonable. The difference with the “oldest” MSI X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon is an impressive 243 euros. If you’re willing to do without the module WLAN AC / Bluetooth 4.0, 6,35-mm audio jack, four additional CPU phases, two Gigabit LAN controllers (Killer E2400) and support for 4-way multi-GPU, with the X99A Gaming Pro Carbon you get well equipped LGA2011-3 motherboard at an attractive price.

Advantages of MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon:

  • Powerful CPU power subsystem, advanced overclocking features
  • Very good equipment, eight-port SATA 6Gb / s, nine ports USB 3.1 Gen1 and SATA Express interface
  • PCI Express 3.0 Support on four PEG slots
  • Very good overall performance, excellent stability
  • 2 slot and U.2 port at a speed of 32 Gbit / s
  • Good Audio Subsystem Audio Boost 3
  • Two ports USB 3.1 Gen2, 1x Type A and 1x Type C

Disadvantages of MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon:

  • The cover of the I / O panel can not be removed without breaking the cable
  • 2 U.2 interfaces and can not be used simultaneously

MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon – modern motherboard for Broadwell-E processors, which can be recommended to enthusiasts. Of course, the cover of the I / O panel without cutting the cable lift does not work, but the motherboard ATX board offers a large number of interfaces. Performance and stability are at a good level, and the price is quite fair.

Source: hardwarecanucks

Test and review: MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon – well-equipped motherboard from the RGB-backlit was last modified: August 4th, 2016 by Tomas Shellby