We have been testing AMD's Threadripper and Socket TR4 for the past few months among our X370 and B350 motherboard reviews featuring Ryzen processors. We recognize the potential of high-end desktop platforms and warnings, and it's time to reveal what we've found in the next X399 motherboard series. So we start.
PCIe, cores, and memory capacity are great Threadripper selling points. AMD embraces this platform as ideal for ribbons, content creators, and professionals who want to accelerate and increase the multitask workload on high-end desktop PCs. To get there, AMD pieces along with two Ryzen die to one chip to form a dual-chip module (DCM). This DCM allows multiple CCX (CPU Complex) bricks, Infinity Fabric, and of course a set of PCIe and direct quad-channel memory. The X399 chipset takes care of the remaining I / O, storage, and system requirements.
Because Threadripper is a large chip with an abundance of built-in I / O, X399 has a direct goal to fill platform loopholes. USB 2.0, genuine USB 3.1 Gen1, genuine USB 3.1 Gen2, SATA3, and PCIe Gen2 in bulk can all be utilized by motherboard manufacturers to provide additional device connections. It will be very interesting to see how different vendors choose and choose this option.
Specifications MSI X399 Gaming Pro Carbon/AC
- Socket TR4
- Chipset AMD X399
- Form Factor ATX
- Voltage Regulator 10+3 Phases
- Video Ports ✗
- USB Ports 10Gbps:(1) Type A, (1) Type C, 5Gb/s: (8) Type A, (2) USB 2.0/1.1
- Network Jacks (1) Gigabit Ethernet
- Audio Jacks (5) Analog, (1) Digital Out
- Legacy Ports/Jacks (1) PS/2
- Other Ports/Jacks (1) Clear CMOS, (1) BIOS Flashback
- PCIe x16 (4) v3.0 (x16/x8/x16/x8)
- PCIe x8 ✗
- PCIe x4 ✗
- PCIe x1 (2) v2.0
- CrossFire/SLI 4x / 4x
- DIMM Slots (8) DDR4
- M.2 Slots (2) PCIe v3 x4 / SATA3 2242/2260/2280, (1) PCIe v3 x4 / SATA3 2242/2260/2280/22110
- U.2 Ports ✗
- SATA Ports (8) 6Gb/s
- USB Headers (1) 10 Gbps, (2) 5 Gbps, (2) USB2.0
- Fan Headers (6) 4-Pin
- Legacy Interfaces ✗
- Other Interfaces (2) RGB-LED, (1) LED Demo, CMOS
- Diagnostics Panel (1) Numeric
- Internal Button/Switch Game Boost Knob, Power, Reset
- SATA/RAID Controllers Integrated (0/1/10)
- Ethernet Controllers Intel® I211AT
- Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Controllers Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 card
- USB Controllers ASMedia® ASM3142
- HD Audio Codec ALC1220
- DDL/DTS Connect ✗ / ✗
- Warranty 3 Years
MSI X399: First Foray into the Core Counts
On paper, X399 and Threadripper are powerful combos. Cut from the same fabric as other MSI Performance Gaming boards, the X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC carries all the bells and whistles we expect from the top board.
The contents of the box are abundant, and most of the cables are shipped in handbags and not plastic. Typical box contents include driver CD, motherboard documentation, quick install guide, and SATA sticker. Uniquely for this MS3 X399: dual-card, high-bandwidth SLI bridge; extension cable RGB splitter; mounting screws; USB extension; badge case; OC fan mounting hardware; and several sets of exchange covers for various name plates around the board.
One item deserves five minutes of fame: a break-out PCIe card that houses the Dual-Wireless GSM 8265 WiFi module and antenna header. This solution occupies a single PCIe x1 slot and USB 2.0 header on the board. We suggest to populate it in the bottom x1 slot. If you are using an SLI card or three dual-slot PCIe cards, you are forced to insert the card into the lower x16 slot, which is less than ideal. However, you also do not have to use it. And it can be used on any other PC you have.
Do not be fooled by silver-plated PCIe slots, which are not all Gen3 x16. The first and third slots are connected to the actual x16 connection, while the second and fourth slots are connected to x8. Thus, you must install SLI or Crossfire to PCI_E1 and PCI_E4. In addition, you get two PCIe x1 slots. Through some placement of smart slots, creative builders can consider the potential for card capture and additional network performance or high storage controllers.
Another feather in the cap for X399 is its ability to expose the PCIe line up to three genuine solid state drives NVMe Gen3 x4. These cards are placed under each of the top three x16 slots, and as an added bonus you get a hot M.2 protective plate. We use the Toshiba RD400 in all our test beds, so we can not undertake vendor cooling solutions to verify the effectiveness of the shield, but can be removed using an attractive hinge mechanism.
After getting more prominent features, let's get around. Staring at the top of the backplate, flashbacks of the BIOS and clear CMOS buttons are already available along with two legacy USB 2.0 and solitary PS / 2 ports. Underneath there are clusters of eight USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, followed by gigabit Ethernet ports and two USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C and Type-A ports. MSI beat it with 5 analog audio ports and one SPDIF digital audio. The Audio Boost solution on Gaming Pro uses Nahimic 2+ technology, which claims the company improves audio customization and provides enhanced SNR and amplification.
It is difficult to dress the header of a fan, but having a neat distance and label at the bottom of the board is a clear benefit. Front panel audio, RGB and Rainbow, three 4-pin fans, TPM, and USB 2.0 fill the left half of the bottom edge of the board. The right half has a USB 3.1 Gen2 header for sophisticated front panel chassis connections, integrated power and reset buttons, LED debug, and Game Boost buttons. The button is not very important to us because we use a closed chassis, but fortunately it can be accessed through UEFI and can be involved in seven different OC circumstances, which we will discuss later.
We love the two angled USB 3.1 Gen1 headers on the board. The case uses a very rigid USB 3.1 cable, so reducing the flex on the header makes us feel better. SATA connections are available through six elbows and two straight connectors supporting Ryzen 10/1/10 standard Ryzen mode. The top right corner is very tight but gives us access to the 4-pin fan pin and CPU fan. Do not forget the 4-pin fan header located to the left of the DIMM slot.
With enough board size, it's amazing how narrow the top of the MSI X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC can feel with the eight DDR4 DDR4 slots, a 24-pin ATX connection, two 8-pin CPU power connections, and a PCIe 6-pin power header Hal -that is so narrow that MSI chooses to use a more vertical solution to cool the Vregs board rather than the typical setting beside the rear panel section. As strange as it looks on the product image, this solution is much better than the intricate designs we've seen in the past. After adding the cooling solution and filling the DIMM slot, the strange heatsink looks right at home. If additional cooling for Vreg is required, simply use OC fan mounting hardware to direct the fan directly to the heatsink. Using the top exhaust fan works equally well for our overclocking test.
Finally, we want to discuss the sockets for TR4. We always feel comfortable with the AM4 solution, where you put the CPU into the socket and activate the retention arm. AMD has been using it for decades. The introduction of the TR4 retention system is clearly a deviation from the norm, but its size should not intimidate anyone. The design is precise and works well in theory. Although the ratcheting mechanism seems excessive, a convincing torque click click shows the exact tension on the screw. Screw sequence tagging is also helpful, as you may only tighten or loosen it seriously.
Our only worry is with Threadripper cassette. With all the components of this solid metal socket, the thin plastic material that surrounds the Threadripper does not seem to be sufficient. Also, sleds that are glided by a slightly smaller processor. We did need to double-check that our processor is actually lined up with a sled before putting the module down for retention. There is a discussion of the exact length of the screw, and about the sockets that Foxconn vs. Lotes produces. The products we reviewed use various Lotes.
The aesthetics of the MSI X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is much less conspicuous than some of the existing AM4 boards on the market, and the option for users to replace the cover over the X399 chip, Audio boost, and I / O port can help deliver. a little more personality. On-board LEDs are not the focal point of this board and vice versa help draw focus to installed components. The only layout changes we will propose will be to move the PCIe power connector next to the 24 pin ATX connector, and shuffle the two SATA vertical ports elsewhere. Also, move the M.2 connector and PCIe slot around so that the lower x16 slot does not hang at the bottom of the pin and the debug header will allow the use of longer cards in the bottom slot.