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MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC Motherboard Review

How We Test

Our CPU reviewer initially experienced some performance issues with the Core i9-7900X on MSI firmware that weren’t present in the Core i7-7800X. MSI sent a new firmware on Friday, so I included both of these processors on both motherboards. Since I’m testing in a different hardware configuration than our CPU reviewer, the Core i7-6950X sets the baseline.

Test Hardware

SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
Software
OSWindows 10 64-bit
GraphicsGeForce Game Ready 382.53

Due to the tremendous heat of modern six and ten core processors, I was forced to upgrade from my previous Big Air cooler to our award-winning Fractal Design S24 liquid system. We could call that “putting our money where our words went.”

I needed something to hold that cooler; something that would point air towards the hot voltage regulators of each motherboard, yet I wasn’t prepared to cut open the restrictive fan grills of our previous Lian-Li platform. I found what I needed in an old review sample of Cooler Master’s HAF-XB.

Comparison Products

Benchmark Suite

Benchmark Settings
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
PCMark 8Version 2.7.613Home, Creative, Work, Storage, Applications (Adobe & Microsoft)
3DMark 13Version 4.47.597.0Skydiver, Firestrike, Firestrike Extreme Default Presets
SiSoftware SandraVersion 2016.03.22.21CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth
DiskSPD4k Random Read, 4k Random Write128k Sequential Read, 128k Sequential Write
Cinebench R15Build RC83328DEMOOpenGL Benchmark
CompuBenchVersion 1.5.8Face Detection, Optical Flow, Ocean Surface, Ray Tracing
Application Tests and Settings
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.9.9Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19 GB 4k mkv to x265 mp4
BlenderVersion 2.68aBMW 27 CPU Render Benchmark, BMW 27 GPU Render Benchmark
7-ZipVersion 16.02THG-Workload (7.6 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=9"
Adobe After Effects CCRelease 2015.3.0, Version 13.8.0.144PCMark driven routine
Adobe Photoshop CCRelease 2015.5.0. 20160603.r.88 x64PCMark driven routine (light and heavy)
Adobe InDesign CCRelease 2015.4, Build 11.4.0.90 x64PCMark driven routine
Adobe IllustratorRelease 2015.3.0, Version 20.0.0 (64-bit)PCMark driven routine
Game Tests and Settings
Ashes of SingularityVersion 1.31.21360, DirectX 12, GPU-FocusedHigh PresetCrazy Preset
F1 20152015 Season, Abu Dhabi Track, RainMedium PresetUltra High Preset
Metro Last Light ReduxVersion 3.00 64-bitHigh QualityVery High Quality
The Talos PrincipleVersion 267252, 64-Bit, DirectX11High Preset, Max Render 1920x1080Ultra Preset, Max Render 1920x1080


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  • JamesSneed
    Damn this board is pulling 77 more watts than the ASUS board in the Prime95 small FTT test. Things are certainly not sorted out yet on the x299 platform.
    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    Why are none of the games the same games "you" tested with the 7900x review yesterday? I get not including Ryzen here but gosh could "you" at least make things standard so comparisons can be made to the 7900x review yesterday which had lots of data points for Ryzen with the latest fixes. Thomas, Paul and you should talk every now and then.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    19841125 said:
    Damn this board is pulling 77 more watts than the ASUS board in the Prime95 small FTT test. Things are certainly not sorted out yet on the x299 platform.
    I believe we'll find that the problem is with the firmware we were using.
    19841143 said:
    Why are none of the games the same games "you" tested with the 7900x review yesterday? I get not including Ryzen here but gosh could "you" at least make things standard so comparisons can be made to the 7900x review yesterday which had lots of data points for Ryzen with the latest fixes. Thomas, Paul and you should talk every now and then.
    The CPU editor is a little fussier about showing certain performance details of the CPU. We picked the motherboard test suite during last fall's software update while leaning a little more heavily towards production volume (more reviews).
    Reply
  • neumarcunha
    Only $ 2.000 for a new machine (i7-7800X)! For games!
    Reply
  • mojolou
    I guess the power consumption difference between these 2 boards is because of different package TDP. If you check the package TDP with Intel XTU, I guess the Asus' package TDP is something like 17x W, while MSI 23x W. When running Prime95 Small FFTs, something limits 7900X from drawing expected power on Asus board.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    19843656 said:
    I guess the power consumption difference between these 2 boards is because of different package TDP. If you check the package TDP with Intel XTU, I guess the Asus' package TDP is something like 17x W, while MSI 23x W. When running Prime95 Small FFTs, something limits 7900X from drawing expected power on Asus board.
    You mean, working correctly stops it from drawing the expected power? I mean, Intel says 140W, the board, memory, and idle components draw around 60W in this test.

    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    19842954 said:
    Only $ 2.000 for a new machine (i7-7800X)! For games!

    I realize you were being sarcastic but If you have been around PC's 20+ years this is nothing. I recall paying over 2K for a PC that was pretty middle of the road non-gaming machine back around 1993-94. A high end PC back then would easily top 3K and that is not adjusting for inflation. Oh and memory was about $400 for 4MB(Not GB) sticks back around 1995.

    The pricing now a days is pretty nice you can go really high end and stay under 3K.

    Found this from 1993 add:
    Dell was selling a top-of-the-line 486 with a 66MHz processor, eight megabytes of RAM and a 320-megabyte hard drive for $4,400.
    Reply
  • FrozenGerbil
    I placed an order for the MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon and the i9-7900X at Newegg, which also offered $50 off for the combo deal, along with a free Corsair AIO cooler included with the motherboard. After thoroughly researching all the available X299 motherboards currently available, MSI's X299 Pro Carbon hits the "sweet spot" for me and my intended use - 3D modeling and rendering, 4K video editing, and processing thousands of digital photos, including Adobe and HDR photo processing. I will be using this setup with a GTX 1050 Ti that I already have. My gaming rig stays the same - an MSI Z270 XPower Gaming Titanium, i7-7700K, and two MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X GPUs. Yes, the Pro Carbon draws more power and runs warmer, but beats the more expensive Asus and Gigabyte X299 motherboards in numerous reviews that I have read.

    For anyone who thinks that $1000 is expensive for a 10-core 20-thread CPU, I grew up writing some BASIC programs on a Commodore 64. I worked part-time at IBM-Austin, helping IBM to build the IBM PC/XT and PC/AT while attending college at UT-Austin at the same time that Michael Dell was building and selling his PC clones from his UT-Austin dorm room. I used my very generous 50%-off IBM employee discount to buy a fully-loaded IBM PC/AT in 1985, which was the most powerful PC when it was initially released with its Intel 80286 processor and 640-KB of memory. The IBM prices for my fully-loaded PC/AT? $6400, including an enhanced graphics monitor and two dot matrix printers. I paid $3200 after IBM discount. The average smartphone now has more computing power than that $6400 PC that I bought in 1985.

    For the AMD zealots who say that Threadripper will rip the threads off the i9-7900X, you need to know about the history of Intel vs. AMD since the 1980s. Intel is purposely not releasing the rest of their i9 CPUs sooner because they will wait to see what Threadripper has to offer and then adjust their own i9 CPUs to outflank and leap past Threadripper. Both Intel and Nvidia have been outflanking AMD, both on technical merits and marketing leverage, for decades now. When I was working at IBM during the mid-1980s, IBM hired some of the former AMD engineers and technicians when AMD broke their no-layoffs policy in 1984. And ever since then, AMD has had mass-layoffs every 3 to 5 years because they cannot sustain competition with either Intel or Nvidia.
    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    We shall see FrozenGerbil, Intel has some serious heat issues to overcome with the 12-18 core parts unless they pull the frequencies back a lot. Do I think Intel will hit back, sure and hard, what I'm not sure about if it will be Skylake-x like you suggested or a generation after. Speaking of IBM, Global Foundries bought out IBM's microprocessor division 2 years ago so AMD will be getting 7nm process node in 18 months to 2 years using IBM engineers and patents. That should be a game changer since AMD up until just now has always had a big process disadvantage versus Intel.
    Reply