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MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC Motherboard Review

Software & Firmware

MSI App Manager provides an inconvenient launching point for several software suites that don’t create their own desktop icon, along with a few that do. Command Center is still MSI’s tuning and monitoring suite, DPC Latency Tuner also allows overclocking, Fast Boot enables shorter boot times by skipping certain BIOS checks, GamingApp controls a few predefined overclocks, Gaming LAN Manager is a customized interface for a cFos packet prioritization suite, Live Update 6 polls MSI servers for updates of included software and firmware,  Mystic Light provides RGB control, RAMDisk is a functional virtual drive utility, Smart Tool copies storage drivers into Windows installation media (USB or ISO), XBoost is designed to maintain the CPU active state, and Super Charger controls charging modes for high-current devices.

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While MSI Command Center usually provides full overclocking control of integrated CPU functions, multiplier control didn’t work with this version of the software suite and a last-minute firmware update. Base clock, voltage, and fan controls still worked, as did the monitoring applets. A “Shrink” key drops the application into a configurable monitoring menu that’s particularly handy for monitoring voltage during an overclocking session.

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DPC Latency Tuner worked better for CPU multiplier control, though it couldn’t retain a switch from Dynamic to Static CPU multiplier.

MSI Gaming App isn’t only an overclocking control, and that’s a good thing because O/C mode dropped our CPU from 4.0 to 3.5 GHz. It also adds system status monitoring overlay to 3D applications, provides color profiles for display output, and includes macro and mouse controls.

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Not found under App Manager, MSI Dragon Eye adds streaming video overlay to 3D applications, which could make it easier for someone to follow a YouTube tutorial through a game.

Firmware

MSI Click BIOS 5 opens to “EZ Mode” the first time, but any changes to the Advanced menu causes it to select Advanced mode at the next UEFI access. Mode selection is made using the keyboard’s F7 key.

We initially received Intel’s Core i7-7800X, and the X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC pushed it to 4.6 GHz at 1.25V. You’ll notice that the screen says 1.208V, which was somewhat accurate at or near idle, but the voltage climbed when loaded under Prime95.

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The memory overclocked nicely to DDR4-4000, and the main reason that’s nice is because it’s only DDR4-3866 RAM. The firmware’s 1.330V setting produced a 1.35V measurement at the DIMM slot.

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DRAM timings are completely adjustable, though this wasn’t required to test overclocking when using the test RAM’s modest 18-19-19-39 timings.

Mention of climbing voltage levels under load would cause most overclockers to double-check the motherboard’s CPU Loadline Calibration setting. Unfortunately, the noted climb from 1.208 to 1.250V when using Prime95 occurred at the board’s the lowest setting, and the feature couldn’t be disabled.

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Various additional menus allow tuners to view the stock configuration profiles for their memory and CPU, and configure CPU power savings and current limits.

The X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC has enough space to store up to six firmware configurations as user profiles. The OC Profile application also allows these profiles to be exported to or imported from a USB flash drive.

All of the fan headers can be switched between PWM and voltage fan speed control, using default or customized slopes.

If you can’t figure out why a part isn’t working, Board Explorer will show you whether it’s been detected. Unfortunately, it can’t detect SATA or USB configuration, though other firmware menus can.


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