MSI X99A XPOWER AC USB 3.1 Review
Up Close - The Board
The X99A MPOWER is certainly striking. The majority of the board is black with only a few yellow accents. Not only does this make for an eye-catching motherboard but by being judicious with their use of the yellow colour you aren't forced to build a yellow rig if it isn't to your tastes.
The CPU area is very clean indeed, hinting at the maximum overclocking ethos that runs through the DNA of the X99A XPOWER AC. As well as a smooth top side the backplate of the CPU socket is almost flush with the motherboard allowing for easy installation of more extreme cooling solutions.
Like all high-end motherboards the X99A supports quad-GPU's for those record breaking high scores. This also means that those of us with more financially sensible arrangements have some PCI lanes free for the SATA Express and USB 3.1. Speaking of SATA Express the X99A has 10 SATA ports of which 2 can be used as SATA Express.
The IO portion of the X99A, here shown without its cover, shows how far connectivity has come in recent times. Dual Gigabit LAN ports, 8 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0 and two of the latest USB 3.1 ports give more inputs than even the most demanding user could fill. If that isn't enough there is a USB port built into the motherboard internally allowing you to boot and tweak regardless of the setup you have. Admittedly not something that the average user will require, but this isn't designed for the average user.
The OC buttons are an integral part of any MSI motherboard and the X99A doesn't disappoint. As well as BCLK adjustment (in either 1MHz or 0.1MHz increments) and multiplier changes, there is a two-stage OC Genie - 120% and 130% overclock - and a 'complete discharge' button which clears the CMOS and VRAM as well as the X99 PCH.
If that isn't enough to whet your appetite then the XPOWER also comes with a different socket. It's still the LGA2011-3, but in the same way that ASUS introduced the OC socket which freed up certain elements of the Intel CPUs, so MSI have their own socket too which promises similar gains. The ASUS socket is on the left, the MSI in the middle and the regular Intel LGA2011-3 on the right. It looks very different, so let's discover if it frees up any performance..