MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Carbon Pro AC Review
In the many years we've been bringing you reviews here at OC3D we've seen a lot of different takes upon packaging, from the minimalist "just the model name" type all the way up to packaging that seem like it was designed for a 'box opening' Youtube channel. We think this is the first one we've seen that could double as modern art. We've not the slightest idea what the image on the box is meant to represent and, like pointillism, the closer you look the less you see. Answers on a postcard please.
Thankfully the MPG Z390 Gaming Carbon pro is much more normal when freed from its cardboard confines. The memory slots are reinforced and there is a good sized power phase cooler and IO shield combination on the top left corner. The top right houses the three fan headers including a dedicated water pump header, vital in these days when almost everyone runs an AIO. There is also a RGB LED strip header to take full advantage of the MSI Mystic Light technology.
Down the bottom we find the chipset heatsink which is extended to provide a heat spreader for your M.2 drive. It's amazing how little of the Gaming Carbon actually has the carbon fibre effect on it, particularly when compared to the early models with this suffix. The primary two PCI Express slots are reinforced to help improve the longevity of your motherboard, important if funds are tight but also given that motherboards are the least changed element this side of the power supply in your system.
A nice close up of the fan and pump headers as well as the RGB header.
At the bottom edge we find the reduced size front panel connector with the 4 pin speaker header moved to just above, allowing the designers to include more headers on the bottom edge for USB extenders and, at at the far left of the photo, the three extra fan headers for your case fans.
Although you need a fairly new case to take advantage of the USB 3.1 front panel connector there is also a USB 3.0 for those of us with older chassis.
Lastly the two primary areas of connectivity are the six SATA 6Gb/s sitting alongside another USB 3.0 front panel connector, something you'll probably need to make use of as the rear of the Gaming Carbon Pro has all that you would expect to find on a Z390 motherboard, but little more. With everything being USB these days and the affordability of peripherals meaning most of us have a good selection we'd have liked to see a few more ports around the back.