A Closer Look at the MSI X99S Gaming 7

Now that seemingly every motherboard manufacturer has adopted the black & red colour scheme for their gaming and/or overclocking series models, it's hard for us to get excited about this motherboard's aesthetics. It is obviously not a bad looking motherboard at all, but it does look like every other one.

Despite being quite packed with features, ports and slots, MSI have managed to keep the X99S Gaming 7 within the standard ATX form factor (30.5 cm x 24.4 cm / 12.0-in x 9.6-in), so there shouldn't be any issues when it comes to installing it into any properly designed cases.

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This motherboard has one of most unobstructed CPU socket areas that we have seen in quite a while, and the MOSFET heatsink and memory slots do not pose any clearance issues, so you should have no problems installing a large heatsink, a waterblock, or even insulating the PCB for sub-zero cooling. Part of this is due to the very low profile Hi-c CAPs ((Highly-Conductive Polymerized Capacitor), which are solid capacitors that are not only tiny but super-efficient as well.

Although the X99S Gaming 7 model features eight physical phases, CPU power regulation is managed by a six-phase Intersil ISL6388 controller, so we can safely assume that this model features a 6-phase CPU VRM design. This is reinforced by the dozen 55-amp Fairchild FDMF5823DC MOSFETs and the dozen 45-amp Super Ferrite Chokes (SFC) chokes. The remaing two phases are likely directed towards some memory-related power tasks.

Behind the MOSFET heatsink, on the edge of the motherboard, you will find the 8-pin CPU power connector, as well as a bank of MSI's often-used Dark CAP capacitors.

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Thanks to the quad-channel memory architecture of this new high-end platform, this motherboard features eight DDR4 memory slots and supports up to 128GB of system memory. MSI lists support for overclocked memory frequencies up to DDR4-3333, but that is obviously heavily dependent on whether your processor can handle it...and the actual capabilities of the BIOS, as you will see later on. Each bank of slots features a 2-phase power design and are managed by brand new Powervation PV3203 controllers. The memory slots are clip-less on one side, which is handy since you don't have to uninstall your graphics card in order to remove the memory sticks.

As you can see, MSI is clearly using custom PCB's for its Gaming Series motherboard, so you're not just getting a standard PCB used in the regular models.

MSI has outfitted this model with two internal front-panel USB 3.0 headers, both of which are supplied directly from the X99 chipset.

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As you might expect, this motherboard features a chipset heatsink that very closely resembles that of MSI's previous Gaming Series models. It doesn't really have much surface area nor does have any fins per se, but the X99 chipset doesn't run hot so cooling is not much of an issue.

In total, the X99S Gaming 7 features ten SATA 6Gb/s ports, all of which are supplied by the X99 PCH and but only six of which support RAID 0/1/5/10 and Intel Rapid Storage Technology. Two of those ports are integral parts of the included 10Gb/s SATA Express connector, so do keep that in mind. MSI have also included a "Turbo M.2" slot, which is a full-speed implementation that utilizes four PCI-E 3.0 lanes from the processor, and thus has a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 32Gbps (4GB/s). This interface shares PCI-E 3.0 lanes with the fourth PCI-E slot, but instead of simply disabling itself when an expansion card is present the interface switches over to two PCI-E 2.0 lanes from the X99 chipset, which bandwidth capabilities of up to 1GB/s.


Read as originally published here:  http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-reviews/67761-msi-x99s-gaming-7-motherboard-review-5.html