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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.

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Niels Broekhuijsen

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