In this review we looked at the MSI X99A Tomahawk Arsenal Gaming motherboard and after having used the board for several weeks I have come to the conclusion that it really is a good design for gaming on the X99. The board gives you everything you “need” without pushing to many extras that would just get in the way.
The need for something in a gaming system is a rather generic statement considering that we want everything even if we aren’t going to use it. For instance back in the Muscle Car era everyone wanted the four barrel carburetor because it was sold as giving you more power however it was only useful when passing on the freeway or racing at the dragstrip. Can you do all of that with a 2 barrel? Yes.
The same is true of a gaming motherboard. Do you want 4-Way SLI (or Crossfire)? Yes. Do you need it? Probably not and that is what you will find on the X99A Tomahawk. Truth is the board supports 3-Way GPU configurations on both 40 and 28 lane processors with a strong preference for running two.
Next is overall layout and component placement. I counted 5 PWM enabled fan headers on this motherboard with three of them in easy proximity of the CPU which can facilitate an AIO watercooler with two fans perfectly. You also get a realistic set of storage connections from the 10 standard SATA ports to PCI Express based options such as M.2. U.2 and SATA Express. SATA Express was a bit of a failure however I think M.2 has a bright future. Finally, the motherboard decorations and heatsinks look great with their sandblasted details and stealth look that blends in with the motherboard.
Overclocking is a big part of Hardware Asylum and no enthusiast motherboard would be complete without a few overclocking controls. The MSI X99A Tomahawk is no expectation and actually comes with a good mix of performance features for enthusiast gamers and while I’m sure this board will do fine under LN2 that appears to never been an intention of this particular motherboard. Personally I would have liked to see the LGA 2011v3 socket design with a heatsink mounting plate that secures from the backside of the motherboard. Not only does this give the CPU area a cleaner look but adds strength for when you transport your gaming PC or want to use large or heavy CPU coolers.
Overall I really like this motherboard. It comes with everything you need to build a solid gaming computer. For instance there is no wireless networking on this motherboard and I am ok with that considering that you will get two Intel based Ethernet controllers. Onboard audio is really quite good and based on the Nahimic Sound Technology and backed by Audio Boost 3 to give you super clean sound over studio grade headphones. Arguably one of the best additions is how MSI handled RGB LEDs on the X99A Tomahawk. Instead of including a bunch of lights on the motherboard they offered a strip header. Not only does this make more sense but allows the user to decide when and how they will use them.
Black Color Scheme
Oversized VRM Heatsink
Excellent UEFI Menus
Flexible PCI Express Layout
3-Way SLI Support
LED Strip Header
Almost too black
Red sockets on I/O shield seem out of place
No connection between VRM and chipset hetasinks