MSI Explains Its Three X99 Motherboard Mysteries

Unlike competing vendors, MSI is a little sneakier with its motherboard reveals. The images that MSI has been posting were mostly obstructed by 3D effects, which makes it difficult for us to see some of the details we really wanted to know about. Now, after having a look at new images that MSI has posted on social media, we've uncovered three of the things we were wondering about.

The first and foremost concers the M.2 slots. MSI posted the image above along with the information that all of its X99 motherboards will come with a "Turbo M.2 Gen3 x4" slot. We would like to see this, as it will deliver up to 32 Gb/s of bandwidth as opposed to most M.2 implementations, which limits the transfer speeds to 10 Gb/s. At this time, the only other vendor that has a similar implementation is ASRock.

Secondly, we have the so-called Streaming Engine. We saw this on the X99S Gaming 9 AC motherboard, but aside from guessing based on the wording, we had no idea what this device was. MSI was also very secretive about its purposes. As it turns out, the Streaming Engine is an Avermedia capture card which is capable of capturing and processing 1080p video at 60 Mbps. Based on this information, we are going to guess that MSI uses this solution in order to reduce CPU and GPU overhead from software capture, which can reduce frame rates in games and overall system performance.

Lastly, and probably least noteworthy, is the Direct USB feature. This is simply a USB 2.0 port on the X99S XPower AC motherboard itself, simply there for accessibility. The idea is that it can be used by overclockers, so they won't have to look for a port on the rear I/O when the motherboard is mounted on a test bench.

We expect the X99 motherboards, along with the Haswell-E processors and DDR4 memory, to arrive on or around August 29, so stay tuned for more.

Follow Niels Broekhuijsen @NBroekhuijsen. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.

  • Treynolds416
    Interesting features, although they may have somewhat limited usage. Still pretty cool that they're trying to differentiate themselves from the all the other "exciting" X99 motherboard reveals
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    Very interesting, I like that usb 2.0 also even if you have a computer case you can hid a usb stick in there lol.

    I like that 32GB of bandwith for the M.2, but my question is will m.2 SSDs use more than 10GB/s?
    Reply
  • epobirs
    I rather doubt that MSI would bother if M.2 devices that took advantage of the greater bandwidth weren't in the pipeline. It is part of the spec after all.
    Reply
  • epobirs
    There are some shipping products that use M.2 with with PCI-e x4 but they live on their own PCI-e cards since there were no shipping motherboards with an x4 M.2 slot at the time. They also tend to be sold to OEMs only for the moment. But once the newer chipsets are well established that should change.
    Reply
  • sea monkey
    I like that 32GB of bandwith for the M.2

    32Gb/s

    my question is will m.2 SSDs use more than 10GB/s?

    No, because they are limited to 4GB/s.
    Reply
  • sea monkey
    I like that 32GB of bandwith for the M.2

    32Gb/s

    my question is will m.2 SSDs use more than 10GB/s?

    No, because the interface is limited to 4GB/s.
    Reply
  • MarcusHtin
    ASUS ROG Maximus VII Impact also has x4 M.2.
    Reply
  • kunthakenthe
    when is m.2 sata coming out all this big hype yet i never see any of them on any websites.
    Reply
  • rishiswaz
    The streaming engine really peaks my curiosity. I personally don't stream or capture gameplay (I am not that good), but with the rise of twitch this might be a great investment for those guys. Don't have to bother with the capture card anymore, there is one right on the motherboard.
    Reply
  • rishiswaz
    when is m.2 sata coming out all this big hype yet i never see any of them on any websites.

    I don't know what websites you are looking at but they are available
    Reply