MSI X299 XPOWER Gaming AC Review


MSI X299 XPOWER Gaming AC Review


We said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that the capabilities of the recent MSI motherboards might have rendered the XPOWER somewhat obsolete. After all, when the mid-range motherboards are so great, flagship ones lose a little gloss.

Things certainly started brightly. The X299 XPOWER Gaming AC looks the business with a black PCB accented by silver heatsinks and the steel armour protection on the PCI Express and DIMM slots. There are countless connectivity options too with more USB ports and SATA ports than we can recall on almost any recent motherboard, whilst the inclusion of up to five M.2 ports ensures that the XPOWER will be futureproofed for even the most demanding user of speedy storage. The RGB lighting also looks really good with the circle in particular a highlight. Sure it doesn't match up to the insane light show available on the Gigabyte range or the higher-end ASUS models, it still looks very nice.

We continued blissfully unaware of the experience to come when we started overclocking. Okay the memory was less than happy to run at blazing speeds when we'd overclocked our Core i7-7900X, but the fact we could match the best we've seen on our 10 core CPU with the actual clock speed, 4.5 GHz, meant we went into our lengthy testing procedure full of hope for a good set of results to back up the huge set of features on the XPOWER.

As you can see from the preceding pages this most definitely wasn't the case. In fact by the end we were quite disheartened. We have no dog in the hunt and are entirely neutral when it comes to what does well or doesn't, but as the truth of how poorly the XPOWER was performing became clear we knew that we would soon be swamped by MSI representatives wondering what we did wrong, or people in our forums assuming we were fixing the results because of some perceived bias. We want everything to be good. The better the quality of hardware available on the market, the more choice there is to the end user. The more choice there is the more affordable things have to be to stand out from the crowd. A motherboard which is not only hugely expensive but really disappointingly poor in performance helps nobody. It has to be a BIOS issue, whether or not they bother to try and fix it or not remains to be seen.

What is most perplexing is that the MSI Carbon has been a stunning motherboard in two or three recent iterations, so clearly MSI know how to put together a good PCB. Equally the X299 chipset shows how relentlessly consistent Intel have become in current climes. How did the XPOWER go so badly wrong? Sure it's not so stupidly bad that you'd require therapy if you brought one, but when a flagship product from a major manufacturer has performance closer to a base model from some Chinese company you've never heard of then disappointment is the only emotion you can really feel.

A shame. Buy the Carbon instead.

Discuss the MSI X299 XPOWER Gaming AC in our OC3D Forums.

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