MSI X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC Motherboard Review

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How We Test

Because this is our first X399 motherboard review, we'll detail our prosumer rig component choices. First, we're rocking a Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, with its 16 cores and 32 threads; because it tops out at a TDP of 180W, we'll need proper cooling to reach maximum Turbo Core speed.

The Hardware

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Test System Configuration
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
ChipsetAMD X370

Fractal Design provided its Celsius S36 360mm all-in-one cooler, which has the standard round-style baseplate attached to the pump head. AMD did a good thing by providing the TR4 socket adapter with the Threadripper processor so that no custom adapters are required.

We purchased a spanking new Gigabyte GTX 1080 G1 Gaming card to properly test this system.

To pump out enough power and wire up enough ports on our test boards, we have migrated an Antec High Current Pro 1200W power supply from other projects. Given the number of available PCIe slots and power connectors on the board, having the PSU's extra dedicated 12V connectors is a necessity, and we hope to one day draw every available watt from this 80 Plus Gold product.

We’ve had great success with G.Skill’s memory on our AM4 test bench, and the company provided two sets of Flare-X 2x8GB DDR4-3200 DIMMs for this testing. As much as we want to populate all of the DRAM slots, with X399 we'd be looking at close to $900 in RAM at today’s prices.

Toshiba continues to provide our M.2 NVMe drive of choice, the RD400 256GB SSD. We'd love three of them, but Thomas believes that would be too greedy.

Unfortunately, our X399 chassis hasn't arrived yet, so we're borrowing the Thermaltake F51 Suppressor from our AM4 rig and will be installing the radiator at the top to exhaust air out of the case. We will reintroduce the Corsair 570X in our next review, placing the radiator in the front of the system in order to utilize all three of its gorgeous 120mm RGB fans as intakes across the radiator and into the system.

We're sticking with our LG 4K display. 1080p data is useful for some instances, but it'd be wasteful paired with all of this sweet hardware. We will provide 1080p and 4K data for gaming benchmarks, and we are using 4K as our standard desktop resolution unless otherwise noted. If requested, we can provide 1440p as well in future articles.

Benchmark Settings

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Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
PCMark 8Version 2.7.613 Home, Creative, Work, Storage, Applications (Adobe & Microsoft)
SiSoftware SandraVersion 2016.03.22.21 CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography Memory Bandwidth
IometerVersion 1.1.0 4k Random Read, 4k Random Write 128k Sequential Read, 128k Sequential Write
Cinebench R15Build RC83328DEMO OpenGL Benchmark
CompuBenchVersion 1.5.8 Face Detection, Optical Flow, Ocean Surface, Ray Tracing
3D Tests and Settings
3DMark 13Version 4.47.597.0 Test Set 1: Skydiver, 1920x1080, Default Preset Test Set 2: Firestrike, 1920x1080, Default Preset Test Set 3: Firestrike Extreme, 2560x1440 Default Preset
Application Tests and Settings
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.9.9 Sintel Open Movie Project 4.19 GB 4k mkv to x265 mp4
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3 Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3 Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
Adobe After Effects CCRelease 2015.3.0 Version PCMark driven routine
Adobe Photoshop CCRelease 2015.5.0 20160603.r.88 x64 PCMark driven routine (light and heavy)
Adobe InDesign CCRelease 2015.4 Build x64 PCMark driven routine
Adobe IllustratorRelease 2015.3.0 Version 20.0.0 (64-bit) PCMark driven routine
BlenderVersion 2.68a BMW 27 CPU Render Benchmark BMW 27 GPU Render Benchmark
7-ZipVersion 16.02 THG-Workload (7.6 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=9"
Game Tests and Settings
Ashes of Singularity: EscalationVersion 2.50.28527 High Preset - 1920x1080, Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAA Crazy Preset - 1920x1090, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA High Preset - 3840x2160, Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAA Crazy Preset - 3840x2160, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA
F1 20152015 Season, Abu Dhabi Track, Rain 1920x1080 - UltraHigh Preset, 16x AF 3840x2160 - UltraHigh Preset, 16x AF
Metro Last Light ReduxVersion 3.00 x64 High Quality, 1920x1080, High Tesselation Very High Quality, 1920x1080, Very High Tesselation High Quality, 3840x2160, High Tesselation Very High Quality, 3840x2160, Very High Tesselation
The Talos PrincipleVersion 301136 1920x1080 - High Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AF 1920x1080 - Ultra Preset, VeryHigh Quality, VeryHigh Tesselation, 16x AF 3840x2160 - High Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AF 3840x2160 - Ultra Preset, VeryHigh Quality, VeryHigh Tesselation, 16x AF

We do have to make some changes and tweaks to our normal motherboard testing methodology for the X399 platform. For starters, some of the software in our suite does not support the plethora of cores available. As such, we have to deactivate resources in some instances and bypass certain features in others. These changes will be listed in the benchmarking results section, but we will be consistent from a test methodology perspective.

One Threadripper specific feature that we covered in Paul Alcorn's CPU reviews is the use of Game Mode versus Creator mode. If I’m buying X399, I want all of my resources, regardless of the gaming penalties. Both modes will be tested in the benchmarks for the sake of this comparison, but moving forward we will only test with Creator Mode enabled.

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  • Kepalajamuran
    What movie?
  • Jean-Yves
    At some point we are no longer in the 'gaming' game. And while the AMD Threadripper is advertised as a SUV of a chip, it is in fact a real truck. Real benchmark for real user are needed for these chips. Most of which will be used for video and CAD.
  • Lasselundberg
    where is the comparison against other x399 boards ?
  • TheTerk
    20408537 said:
    At some point we are no longer in the 'gaming' game. And while the AMD Threadripper is advertised as a SUV of a chip, it is in fact a real truck. Real benchmark for real user are needed for these chips. Most of which will be used for video and CAD.
    I couldn't agree more. We reference Paul's articles throughout the review as he does a thorough analysis of this processor in its native habitat.
    Unfortunately for me, I review motherboards and its difficult to compare chipset A against chipset B if B doesn't run some of the same applications well. Kind of like me running an APU against Threadripper's applications. As we continue to test more TR4 boards (and yes, they are coming) this baseline of data will prove useful as the test suite has a good compromise of technical requirements and runs fairly consistently across all review samples. If there's a specific workload you want to see, feel free to let me know!