MSI X399 Pro Gaming Carbon AC Review

MSI X399 Pro Gaming Carbon AC Review


If you’re in the market for a X399 motherboard you must own an AMD Ryzen 1950X Threadripper, and thus if you own the aforementioned processor then money isn’t too much of a concern. This means that a lot of the X399 motherboards come very much at the top end of each manufacturers range. We saw that with the ASUS Zenith Extreme and the MSI X399 Pro Gaming Carbon AC continues this trend.   

In a lot of ways this is revisiting the X299 Carbon we looked at a month or so ago. The designs are extremely similar and it is a testament to how far the chipset designs have come that a manufacturer can now plug a new chipset into a pre-existing design without needing to chop and change too much to fit everything on. The days of looking yearningly at the designs of the competition are behind us.

You don’t need to look too hard at the specifications list for the X399 Carbon before you come to the conclusion that it wants for nothing. If it exists, it is pretty much here. There are features that are useful to everyone – more USB ports than even the most peripheral happy gamer owns for one – whilst also having the high end options that will be demanded by anyone who considers themselves a power user. Quite how MSI have managed to squeeze three M.2 slots onto the PCB is a level of witchcraft we think it is best not to focus too deeply upon lest we turn into a newt.

It isn’t just raw performance that the MSI Pro Gaming Carbon AC has in spades, as the quality of the components is equally high. All the slots are braced with the Armor to provide long lasting protection, whilst the power phases use high quality parts everywhere you look. You will look too as the aesthetics of the Carbon are fantastic. Whether you choose to utilise the switchable heatsink covers or stick with the default black carbon ones you’ll agree that the X399 Carbon is a fine looking motherboard. Add to that the MSI Mystic Light which helps bring a little colour to your monochrome motherboard and it is a winner all round.

The only elements we can really gripe about are the small size of the VRM heatsink and the slight lack of fan headers. We’ve mentioned umpteen times how desperately the Threadripper CPU needs some beefy cooling to extract the maximum from it, and the Carbon could do with another three or four fan headers, particularly at the top edge. The the big issue is the BIOS and we feel this is an area that needs the most work due to the fact its capable of delivering table flipping, rage inducing levels of frustration.

In most regards the MSI X399 Pro Gaming Carbon AC is a fully-featured, good performing, connectivity heavy motherboard that could be on your shopping list if you’re dipping your wallet into the Threadripper waters. Just dont expect to overclock very high till they have put some time into the BIOS.

EDIT: 13/09

After reporting this issue to MSI and giving them a chance to read and watch the review they have sent us a BETA BIOS and asked us to give it a quick skim over. Its has solved all of the annoying restart and hang issues we were experiencing, the problem is its a BETA BIOS and isnt available to you guys yet so until we see it pop up on their website our thoughts above stand, because right now that’s the product and experience you as the general public get at the moment.

If and when the BIOS goes up and it performs like the version we got sent (it may not be the same version at the end of the day) then and only then we will take another look and possibly maybe think about giving the board an award. Early indications based on what we saw with the BIOS we got sent are looking positive though.

The BIOS is now available publicly on the website and we would suggest that if anyone has purchased this board they ensure they are running the most up to date BIOS to ensure the best possible performance. 

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