MSI X99S Gaming 7 Review
Published: 15th September 2014 | Source: MSI | Price: |
Our X99 sample set is still small, so it's always difficult to make an exact judgement about something when there is only a limited number of things to compare it to.
However, it's clear from our initial testing that the two top-end ASUS motherboards, the X99 Deluxe and Rampage V Extreme, had enormous overclocking potential and swathes of features coupled to their good looks. The MSI X99S Gaming 7 is less about eye-popping amazement and more aimed at the type of user who wants good value and perhaps even stock performance. As a site called Overclock3D it's no surprise that we enjoy overclocking. There is something exhilarating about getting free performance. Except it's not really free because you usually have to spend more to obtain an overclocking benefit. And that's assuming you want to overclock at all. We know the majority of people just want something which is fast out of the box with the least amount of effort
The MSI X99S Gaming 7 exemplifies this ethos beautifully. Yes it doesn't look as great as the two ASUS boards, and yes there is relatively less overclocking performance available, but it's also a lot cheaper. The X99 Deluxe is around £300 and the Rampage V Extreme a monstrous £360, but the Gaming 7 is a mere £200. What do you lose for that money? Just a couple of hundred megahertz at the top end from both the CPU and Memory. Looking through our results there is obviously some drop off at the top of the graphs, but the MSI is not disgraced in any fashion. In fact the stock CPU/fast Memory benchmarks show the MSI to be ahead of the ASUS, which is great if you're the type of user who just wants to put in a CPU and some RAM, set the XMP and get on with your life.
If you only plan on utilising the Gaming 7 as the basis of a gaming rig, then there definitely is no reason to go for the more expensive options. Our gaming, 3D Mark and Unigine Valley results all show almost identical performance whether you've got a Rampage V Extreme heavily overclocked or a Gaming 7 at stock. The GPU is what really matters there.
There are a few niggles. We liked the heavy use in the design of MSI's Dragon in the early Gaming series motherboards, but as time has passed these have been reduced more and more until we end up here with a motherboard which only has the dragon as a case sticker type thing on the heatsink. Vertical SATA ports are generally frowned upon, even if they are SATA Express, and although we like having four PCI Express full size slots, the bottom one is obviously unusable for a graphics card.
All in all the MSI X99S Gaming 7 might not be as immediately lust-worthy as some other X99 motherboards, but it's a very solid performer with all the features you're likely to want and some very good stock performance. If the improvements we've seen in the BIOS updates so far continue it will quickly have overclocking performance to match the stock results. For such great value it wins our OC3D Gold Award.