MSI X299 Pushes Intel Cascade Lake-X to the Shores Of Triple EPS12V

(Image credit: MSI)

MSI today announced two new X299 motherboards, the Creator X299 and X299 Pro10G, for Intel’s upcoming 18-core LGA 2066 CPUs. As the names imply, Creator X299 focuses on creative types with Thunderbolt 3, while the X299 Pro10G focuses on its 10GbE interface. 


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MSI Creator X299MSI X299 Pro10G
Supports Intel Core X-series processors 10000/9000/78xx (above) series for LGA2066 socketSupports Intel Core X-series processors 10000/9000/78xx (above) series for LGA2066 socket
Supports DDR4 memory, 8 DIMMs, quad-channel max frequency DDR4-4266+(OC)Supports DDR4 memory, up to 4,200+ MHz (OC)
Dedicated 12 phases 90A digital power to CPU, with all aluminum designLightning USB 20G: Powered by ASMedia ASM3242 USB 3.2 Gen2x2 controller
10G LAN + Intel Gigabit LAN with Intel WIFI 6 and bandwidth managementTwin Turbo M.2
7x Turbo M.2 with M.2 XPANDER-AERO, 1x Turbo U.2M.2 XPANDER-Z: Offers two extra M.2 slots to increase storage capacity at max speed
Full fan control with 8 PWM fan headers and 1 dedicated thermal sensorSet Core Power Free: Core Boost, 2x 8-pin CPU power connector, Core Boost, DDR4 Boos
Lightning USB 20G: Powered by ASMedia ASM3242 USB 3.2 Gen2x2 controllerExtended Heatsink design: MSI extended PWM and enhanced circuit design
M.2 Shield Frozr: Strengthened built-in M.2 thermal solutionDual LAN onboard: Premium network solution included 1x 2.5G LAN for professional and multimedia use
Core Boost: With premium layout and full digital power design10G Super LAN card
Triple 8-pin power supplyAudio Boost 4: Studio-grade sound quality.
Mystic Light: 16.8 million colors / 29 effects controlled in one click. Mystic Light Extension supports RGB, Rainbow and Corsair LED stripMulti-GPU: With Steel armor PCIe slots. Supports 3-Way SLI / Crossfire
Audio Boost 4 with Nahimic
DDR4 Boost with Steel Armor
Steel Armor PCIe slots. Supports up to 4-Way Nvidia SLI & 4-way AMD Crossfire
Thunderbolt 3: Exclusive expansion card offering dual DisplayPort and dual Thunderbolt 3 4K video

The Creator X299 gets the longer list, and perhaps the most interesting of these features is its triple EPS12V (8-pin CPU 12V power) connectors that are tied to a 90A voltage regulator. Notice that the Creator gets onboard 10GbE in addition to its four x16-length PCIe slots and Thunderbolt 3 expansion card. Space for this integration comes via an expansion from the standard ATX depth. MSI calls this EATX, but there are a bunch of ATX PC cases with an extra 1.1 inch of clearance at the motherboard’s front edge.

The X299 Pro10G gets its namesake feature via a PCIe x4 expansion card while retaining the classic ATX dimensions. Unfortunately, installing that card could dictate the number of graphics cards that a PC builder can install and/or their placement.

Both boards also feature a PCIe x8 to dual M.2 expansion card, the use of which places further restrictions on the number of graphics cards installed and their placement.

Here’s how MSI addresses the extra four lanes available from the new 18-core processors:

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MSI Creator X299MSI X299 Pro10G
4 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots4x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
Support x8/ x8/ x16/ x8 and x16/ x0/ x16/ x8 modes with the 48-lane CPU.Support x16/x8/x16/x8 mode with the 48-lane CPU*
Support x8/ x8/ x16/ x8 and x16/ x0/ x16/ x8 modes with the 44-lane CPU.*Support x16/x4/x16/x8 mode with the 44-lane CPU*
Support x8/ x8/ x8/ x0 and x16/ x0/ x8/ x0 modes with the 28-lane CPU.**Support x16/x4/x8/x0 mode with the 28-lane CPU*
*The PCI_E4 slot will run 3.0 x4 speed with 44-lane CPU when installing M.2 PCIe device into M2_3 slot.*Please refer to user manual for PCIe 3.0 bandwidth table
**The PCIe 4 slot is unavailable with 28-lane CPU.

The Creator X299 sacrifices four lanes for an installed M.2 device when using a 44-lane (rather than the new 48-lane) CPU, but users of the X299 Pro10G are told to look up a table for presumably more complicated sharing schemes under similar circumstances. 

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.