MSI X99A XPOWER AC USB 3.1 Review

Conclusion

MSI X99A XPOWER AC USB 3.1 Review

Conclusion

Rarely has a product so comprehensively defied a pithy summary. If a motherboard was designed solely for balancing the Yin with the Yang, then the X99A is the most balanced one around. Almost everything comes with a caveat, and yet equally with a reason for hope.

There is much to like with the design and it wouldn't be putting too fine a point on it to suggest that the X99A is designed with heavy overclockers in mind. The PCB is extra thick, there is a raft of high-quality power components and the onboard tweaking capabilities are up there with the very best. Dual-BIOS, a button to clear absolutely everything, voltage monitoring points and the OC Socket all lend themselves to use in extreme scenarios.

Even for those of us who have more 24/7 types of setups will find much to like. M.2 32GB/s support, Quad-GPU support - with individual lane on/off switches for fault finding, one click OC Genie overclocking and the latest super-fast USB 3.1 support all add up to a motherboard which has spared no expense in attempting to lead the X99 class. There is even a custom LGA2011-3 socket. We're not suggesting that they're following the lead of ASUS, but it was extremely successful there so it makes sense for other manufacturers to try their hand at it.

Stock results are particularly good. It's a rare day when we can stick in our DDR4 and have it run at 3000MHz without much fiddling about with voltages, but the MSI handled it with aplomb something the previous version ws not able to do at all. The scores we attained were also a highlight with the large proportion of our tests showing a good score for the X99A. 3D benchmarks in particular had an excellent showing. Overclocking is a far thornier issue though. As with any new motherboard there are a few BIOS revisions before the full performance is extracted, and clearly the ones we had to work with during our review time were a mixed bag. 4.4GHz and 3000MHz is 100MHz shy of what we regularly achieve, and although we could get 4.5GHz from our i7-5960X we couldn't have both that and the memory speed as we'd wish. Perhaps worse still were some of the results. Although the overclock was rock solid and gave reliable results in purer speed-based benchmarks, ones like Sandra were disappointing and PC Mark was positively woeful. We are certain this is just the '15' BIOS is very poorly optimised but for the sake of the review it did allow us a much higher overclock than the original '10' and shows that MSI are making advancements with their BIOS releases.

Clearly the MSI X99A XPOWER AC USB 3.1 has plenty to recommend it and the hardware is by no means lacking. It has all the tools available to produce some spectacular results. Like so many motherboards a more mature BIOS will produce better and better performance, but we feel in the case of the XPOWER the BIOS needs a lot of work before the full potential of the X99A can be unleashed. This still has a lot of good points, but you just need to be aware that you will need to keep a close eye on the latest MSI downloads to ensure that you're extracting the maximum from it at all times. This board is best put in one of two catagories, you will either buy it because its black and yellow and the board matches your theme for a build or you are an overclocker/tweeker that fancies a new challenge and doesnt want to buy in to the black & red brigage. In it's current state we can only award it our OC3D Silver Award but we honestly do feel if MSI whip their BIOS team into action they could change this board into a total animal and its just sad they didnt do this before releasing it because we are actually tired of being part of the BIOS testing.

You can discuss your thoughts on the MSI X99 XPOWER AC Motherboard Review in the OC3D Forums

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Most Recent Comments

12-05-2015, 12:09:34

hoxlund
i absolutly love my x99a xpower ac motherboard

now about this 15 bios? care to share? im running their A.1

id love to try it out on mineQuote

04-06-2015, 07:28:10

MSIRawZ
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoxlund View Post
i absolutly love my x99a xpower ac motherboard

now about this 15 bios? care to share? im running their A.1

id love to try it out on mine
See here: http://forum.hwbot.org/showthread.php?t=133282Quote

04-06-2015, 07:49:23

Dicehunter
Could someone please educate me on this.

On the Rampage 5 in Tomb Raider you get 92FPS and on the XPower you get 101FPS, Does this have to do with bandwidth or more lanes via an add-in chip or something along those lines ?Quote

04-06-2015, 16:17:42

hoxlund
both boards have dual full x16 pci-e slots. so shouldn't come into play. as long as your using a full 40 pci-e lane cpu, ie not the 5820k cpuQuote

04-06-2015, 16:32:44

MSIRawZ
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dicehunter View Post
Could someone please educate me on this.

On the Rampage 5 in Tomb Raider you get 92FPS and on the XPower you get 101FPS, Does this have to do with bandwidth or more lanes via an add-in chip or something along those lines ?
BIOS can play a huge part. Many FAE teams from all vendors spend time optimising it better for applications like 3DMark, Cinebench and even popular games. As motherboards mature over time from launch the performance improves thanks to BIOS updates that may also improve OC ability too.Quote
Reply
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