In this review we looked at the MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard and after having used the board for several weeks I have come to the conclusion that it is really good. The board gives you everything you “need” without pushing to many extras that would just get in the way. Saying you need something in a gaming system is a little generic since we all want more in our builds and the X299 Gaming Pro Carbon gives us that.
Let’s start with the overall construction. This motherboard features an oversized VRM at 12 phases and is something you would normally see on a high-end overclocking motherboard. I find it to be a welcome addition as the larger VRMs tend to provide cleaner power while lowering overall heat output. Of course under overclocked conditions where you need more power the larger VRMs tend to work better to help you reach the magical 5Ghz, likely with special cooling.
In terms of onboard features, The X299 Gaming Pro Carbon features a single Intel Ethernet port and provisions for onboard WiFi. Our review sample was sans the Wireless AC module however, the port was there making it an easy upgrade down the road. Onboard Audio is built on the Realtek ALC1220 Codec and backed by high quality audio capacitors, Audio Boost 4 and Nahimic 2+ sound processing. All of these features are disabled during our Rightmark tests and it was still one of the few motherboards to test Excellent in that benchmark. That is simply unheard of even with dedicated sound cards.
As with most modern motherboards the MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon features Mystic Light RGB LED support which was first made famous by the X99 Godlike and has steamrolled into the enthusiast hardware world. To help with overclocking and general system performance the board comes with a variety of overclocking features in the MSI UEFI and a handy Game Boost dial that actually works quite well. Simply dial in your performance, give it a few tests and enjoy free performance. Of course your performance is determined by overall system configurations, processor selection and what kind of memory you are using.
The last item I wanted to mention was SLI and Crossfire support. Typically with X-Series based motherboards I have seen a disconnect between supported processors and multi GPU configurations and with the X299 Pro Carbon we have a solid 3-way GPU support that actually scores extremely high in the Hardware Asylum Multi GPU Index thanks in part to creative placement of PCI Express slots and frugal usage of PCI Express lanes that allow even 28-Lane CPUs to run 3-way SLI and 2-way with 16-Lane CPUs.
Overall I really like this motherboard. It comes with everything you need to build a solid gaming computer on a processor platform which isn’t designed for gaming. For instance there is no wireless networking on this motherboard but you get provisions for it. Onboard audio is really really good and based on the Nahimic Sound Technology and backed by Audio Boost 4 to give you super clean sound over studio grade headphones. Arguably one of the best additions is how MSI handled RGB LEDs on the X299 Gaming Pro Carbon allowing you to control the onboard LEDs and pass that control off to external LED strips is key in creating the perfect lighting combination.
Black Color Scheme
Oversized VRM Heatsink
Excellent UEFI Menus
Flexible PCI Express Layout
3-Way SLI Support
Dual Onboard M.2 Shield(s)
LED Strip Header
3D Printing Support
Carbon Fiber Everywhere
Almost too black
Red sockets on I/O shield seem out of place
No thermal connection between VRM and chipset heatsinks