Computex 2017: Say Hello to MSI's X299 Motherboards

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     May 30, 2017

Thereís a ton of cool stuff at Computex 2017 but it seems like everyone is talking about the many X299 motherboards on display at the show. Some of the first we saw were from MSI and theyíll have a full lineup when Intelís upcoming high end refresh dubbed Kaby Lake-X and Skylake-X launches very soon.

At the top of MSIís X299 motherboard lineup is the GAMING M7 ACK which is meant for people who want extreme performance and all of the best features the X299 platform can offer. That means native support for dual and triple graphics cards, each with access to 16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes but unfortunately with both AMD and NVIDIA moving away from support for more than two GPUs in Crossfire and SLI, the benefits of this feature are minimal for gamers. However, all of those extra lanes leads to some really awesome storage potential with dual M.2 slots that support NVMe SSDs, a U.2 connector and more than enough leftover lanes to add even more high bandwidth devices.

Other than the potential for the GAMING M7 ACK to become your one stop shop for high end storage and graphics needs, MSI has built in a few more features for enthusiasts. Thereís a brand new 10+1+1 phase power layout and MSIís Turbo Socket, both of which should help upcoming Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors meet their highest overclocking potential. Thereís also a brand new thermal solution placed directly over each M.2 slot. We actually saw this first at CES from ASUS. The latest generation high speed M.2 drives have pretty hot-running controller chips so these motherboard-mounted heatsinks insure thermal throttling is eliminated while also avoiding height conflicts with add-in cards.

Of course this board also comes with plenty of LED illumination zones and all the cool kids on the block now have some form of illumination. Thereís also Double Shot PRO technology from Killer Networks which allows the dual Killer E2500 Ethernet connectors and the Killer 1535 Wi-Fi adapter to work together for optimal online gameplay. Weíve already seen this on some previous MSI motherboards and even notebooks.

Unfortunately, the actual price of MSIís M7 ACK will stay under NDA until Intel decides to launch their new processors but donít expect it to be inexpensive.

Next up is an option that will surely cost less than the M7 ACK but thereís still plenty of things to like. THIS is the X299 GAMING PRO CARBON AC and as a matter of fact it keeps many of the ACKís best features and adds in a few of its own! As its name suggest it comes with an integrated Wireless AC module for ultra quick wireless experience.

As with many X299 motherboards weíve seen at this yearís Computex, thereís four reinforced PCI-E slots that can be used for double or triple graphics cards and two banks of four memory slots since Intelís upcoming processors will continue to support quad channel layouts. Thereís even a pair of PCI-E M.2 slots with their own cool-looking heatsink modules and the usual U.2 interconnect.

Where things really get interesting is with the heatsink covers and some other accessories which can be 3D printed. MSI will have templates available on community exchange boards for all of these items so all you need is a 3D printer and compatible software and youíll be on you want to modding this board in no time!

I really think the last board we were shown will be the one many people will actually end up buying. Even though we donít have a price yet, this X299 Tomahawk will be one of the least expensive motherboards in MSIís X299 lineup. Of course you give up on some of the extra connectivity we talked about when looking at the last two boards but most of the cutting comes from reducing the number of connectors rather than eliminating them altogether.

For example, the Tomahawk one has a pair of reinforced PCI-E x16 slots whereas the other slots donít have any extra steel shielding. I donít think thatís a big deal since most people will end up installing one or two heavy cards rather than three or more. Also, only one of the two M.2 slots has a heatsink cover. Once again this isnít a big deal since Iím sure a single M.2 or U.2 drive paired up with a high capacity hard drive will be all people will need. Another nice addition is a USB 3.1 Gen2 header for front panel USB-C connections. Hopefully most cases will begin adding high speed Gen 2 Type-C headers soon.

Our full video can be found below as well.


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