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MSI X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC Motherboard Review: MicroATX to the Max

How We Test

Additional cores create additional thermal and power loads that can push other hardware to its limits, yet the parts we’re hoping to push to the limit are all on the motherboards. Intel’s 10-core, 20-thread Core i9-7900X CPU is a great product for stressing the voltage regulators of various X299 motherboards, particularly under our full-AVX-load overclocking stability test.

Test Hardware

SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
Graphics DriverGeForce 382.53

The tremendous heat produced by the Core i9-7900X required us to use nothing less than our award-winning Fractal Design S24 liquid cooler system sample. Getting its fans to blow sufficiently over each motherboard’s voltage regulator required additional design consideration: Of our leftover case review samples, Cooler Master’s HAF-XB had the best layout for this.

Comparison Products

Close price matches to the X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC include ASRock's X299 Taichi, Gigabyte's X299 Aorus Gaming 3, and Asus' Prime X299-A. We've added MSI's own X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC and ASRock's X299E-ITX/ac for a more entertaining ATX-to-MicroATX-to-Mini-ITX comparison.

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 (7.6GB) 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 the SingularityVersion 1.31.21360High Preset - 1920x1080, Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAACrazy Preset - 1920x1080, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA
F1 20152015 Season, Abu Dhabi Track, RainMedium Preset, No AFUltra High Preset, 16x AF
Metro Last Light ReduxVersion 3.00 x64High Quality, 1920x1080, High Tesselation, 16x AFVery High Quality, 1920x1080, Very High Tesselation, 16x AF
The Talos PrincipleVersion 267252Medium Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AFUltra Preset, Very High Quality, Very High Tesselation, 16x AF

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