We've already brought you the X99 motherboards from the likes of ASRock, Asus and EVGA, and now here's MSI's X99 arsenal. MSI has announced five new motherboards, and naturally, all of them have the LGA2011-3 socket and support for the Haswell-E CPUs. The lineup consists of two overclocking-oriented boards, two gaming-oriented boards, and a single fairly standard-fare X99 board.
The X99S XPower AC and X99S MPower are targeted at slightly different overclockers. The X99S XPower AC brings the complete package, while the X99S MPower makes a handful of sacrifices in order to lower its price.
The X99S XPower AC comes with five PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, a Turbo M.2 slot (PCIe 3.0 x4), ten SATA3 (6 Gb/s) ports -- two of which can be sacrificed to make a SATA-Express interface -- and wireless AC connectivity. There are heatsinks aplenty and a top I/O shield, too. It also comes with dual Gigabit Ethernet.
The X99S MPower sacrifices a PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot, and it has a standard M.2 slot instead of a Turbo slot. It also does not have wireless connectivity or a second Ethernet interface. Despite those shortcomings compared to the X99S XPower, the X99S MPower is cheaper; therefore, destroying it during overclocking won't be as costly. The X99S XPower AC does come with a number of additional overclocking tools though, including a de-lid die guard, voltage check points and a feature that allows you to disable PCI-Express slots. Both motherboards have dedicated audio hardware.
The two gaming boards, the X99S Gaming 9 AC and the X99S Gaming 7, share a similar story as the above two overclocking boards. The Gaming 9 AC board comes with more connectivity options and a larger feature set, while the Gaming 7 board cuts a handful of features to bring a Gaming-series board to a lower price point, including SATA-Express, wireless connectivity and some overclocking support, as well as heatsinks and the top I/O shield.
The Gaming series motherboards come with Killer E2200 networking adapters, and the X99S Gaming 9 AC comes with something very special: the Streaming Engine. This engine is a built-in AverMedia capture card which can be used to stream games without suffering a performance penalty. This is not something we've seen before on any motherboard, and we're very curious to see how many folks will be interested in the X99S Gaming 9 AC because of it.
Lastly, we have the X99S SLI Plus board. Technically, this is the 'entry-level' X99 board, although calling any X99 board "entry-level" seems a misnomer. The X99S SLI Plus has all the storage connectivity you'll need, and it comes with a Turbo M.2 slot. No focus is put into overclocking support or luxuries like dedicated audio hardware, as this board is targeted at budget X99 shoppers; bells and whistles cost extra.
Pricing for the boards is set at $399.99 for the X99S XPower AC, $429.99 for the X99S Gaming 9 AC, $289.99 for the X99S Gaming 7, and $229.99 for the X99S SLI Plus. Pricing for the X99S MPower remains TBA.
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Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.
The Mpower boards look like they got a bit of construction area tape treatment while the SLI plus looks like the best stealth board within MSI's range.Reply
I do agree. MSI's cheapest board is actually the one that has the most "premium" feel. Although MSI has always had a mediocre design team, the SLI looks very good. And me as an MSI hater is giving kudos to MSI - they have earned it.Reply
I'm seeing a lot of garage-coverings over the back-panel IO-Ports.Reply
Has there been a rash of tornadoes that ripped these out? Maybe earthquakes that crushed them so now these protective structures will save the back-panel IOs? ("Whew! Everything else is flattened but at least I can plug and unplug the stereo jack!")
I admit, I don't keep up with these Architectural PC Digest so much, but are these sturdy coverings in response to some new planetary threat? We just saw a Norwegian company certify that their devices wouldn't cause explosions, even dropped into paint-can shakers of nitroglycerin, so I suppose these new bunker-coverings are part and parcel of this thought process.
Or is this going to be the foundation of the new NASCAR advertising scheme, with logos and badges all over these?