MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon Edition Review
Published: 18th May 2016 | Source: MSI | Price: |
Whenever we're in the no-mans-land of a new chipset variant but without the CPU to fully unleash it, it's difficult to make comparisons. As anyone who saw what Intel managed to squeeze from the move between P67 to Z77 will understand that even with the same hardware they can still find performance from the most unlikely places.
The MSI X99A Pro Gaming Carbon Edition is even more surprising given that it's officially still the X99 chipset we've had for over a year now. It's been decorated with the latest hardware evolutions such as U.2 storage, USB 3.1 and even faster DDR4 support, but the majority of the 'nuts and bolts' are very familiar. Somehow thought the MSI finds itself sitting pretty much at the top of all of our graphs, with even the stock setup ahead of many of our overclocked offerings. Some of that might be down to our move from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Some of it might be the evolution of drivers. But a fair bit of it, particularly in the CPU intensive benchmarks such as SiSoft Sandra, has to be down to the latest X99A motherboard itself. Certainly if you're the type of person who doesn't want to overclock their system and would prefer the longevity and reliability that comes from a stock system then you'd be mad not to consider the MSI X99A Pro Gaming Carbon.
The updated overclocking dial means that even the most cautious user can get the most from their system. Available in steps from 1 to a Nigel Tufnel approved 11, it can make the most out of whichever CPU you currently have installed. It's not just the performance that impresses us though, although it certainly does, but it's the looks of the Pro Gaming Carbon that float our boat.
MSI have had varied success with their motherboards. Some, like the Z87 Gaming, blew us away with the Dragon shaped power phase heatsink. Others have been less enjoyable to look at. With the X99A Pro Gaming Carbon Edition MSI have cleared the decks and started again. The PCB is black, the heatsinks are black, everything is very monochrome which makes for a perfect backdrop to the searing hues available from the four LED sections of the X99A Pro Gaming Carbon which use the "Mystic Lighting" - MSIs take on the RGB lighting that's sweeping the market - to allow you full choice over which colour you wish to use. You can change it every hour if you like. There is an app that controls it too so you can sit away from your tower and change it, or go round your mates and turn theirs to bright pink. This level of visual wonderment is only enhanced by the carbon flashes on every flat surface. The carbon look might have been cheapened in recent years with everything from coasters to keyrings available with the distinctive pattern, but we think that it looks glorious here.
The MSI X99A Pro Gaming Carbon Edition has bags of connectivity, excellent performance whether stock or overclocked, great user-friendliness, all the latest technologies and looks glorious when fully illuminated, hence it winning our OC3D Aesthetics Award.