MSI X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC Motherboard Review

How We Test

Because this is our first X399 motherboard review, we'll detail our prosumer rig component choices. First, we're rocking a Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, with its 16 cores and 32 threads; because it tops out at a TDP of 180W, we'll need proper cooling to reach maximum Turbo Core speed.

The Hardware

Test System Configuration

Sound

Integrated HD Audio

Network

Integrated Gigabit Networking

Software

Graphics

NVIDIA

Chipset

AMD X370

Fractal Design provided its Celsius S36 360mm all-in-one cooler, which has the standard round-style baseplate attached to the pump head. AMD did a good thing by providing the TR4 socket adapter with the Threadripper processor so that no custom adapters are required.

We purchased a spanking new Gigabyte GTX 1080 G1 Gaming card to properly test this system.

To pump out enough power and wire up enough ports on our test boards, we have migrated an Antec High Current Pro 1200W power supply from other projects. Given the number of available PCIe slots and power connectors on the board, having the PSU's extra dedicated 12V connectors is a necessity, and we hope to one day draw every available watt from this 80 Plus Gold product.

We’ve had great success with G.Skill’s memory on our AM4 test bench, and the company provided two sets of Flare-X 2x8GB DDR4-3200 DIMMs for this testing. As much as we want to populate all of the DRAM slots, with X399 we'd be looking at close to $900 in RAM at today’s prices.

Toshiba continues to provide our M.2 NVMe drive of choice, the RD400 256GB SSD. We'd love three of them, but Thomas believes that would be too greedy.

Unfortunately, our X399 chassis hasn't arrived yet, so we're borrowing the Thermaltake F51 Suppressor from our AM4 rig and will be installing the radiator at the top to exhaust air out of the case. We will reintroduce the Corsair 570X in our next review, placing the radiator in the front of the system in order to utilize all three of its gorgeous 120mm RGB fans as intakes across the radiator and into the system.

We're sticking with our LG 4K display. 1080p data is useful for some instances, but it'd be wasteful paired with all of this sweet hardware. We will provide 1080p and 4K data for gaming benchmarks, and we are using 4K as our standard desktop resolution unless otherwise noted. If requested, we can provide 1440p as well in future articles.

Benchmark Settings

Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings

PCMark 8

Version 2.7.613
Home, Creative, Work, Storage, Applications (Adobe & Microsoft)

SiSoftware Sandra

Version 2016.03.22.21
CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography
Memory Bandwidth

Iometer

Version 1.1.0
4k Random Read, 4k Random Write
128k Sequential Read, 128k Sequential Write

Cinebench R15

Build RC83328DEMO
OpenGL Benchmark

CompuBench

Version 1.5.8
Face Detection, Optical Flow, Ocean Surface, Ray Tracing

3D Tests and Settings

3DMark 13

Version 4.47.597.0
Test Set 1: Skydiver, 1920x1080, Default Preset
Test Set 2: Firestrike, 1920x1080, Default Preset
Test Set 3: Firestrike Extreme, 2560x1440 Default Preset

Application Tests and Settings

HandBrake CLI

Version: 0.9.9
Sintel Open Movie Project
4.19 GB 4k mkv to x265 mp4

LAME MP3

Version 3.98.3
Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3
Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)

Adobe After Effects CC

Release 2015.3.0
Version 13.8.0.144
PCMark driven routine

Adobe Photoshop CC

Release 2015.5.0
20160603.r.88 x64
PCMark driven routine (light and heavy)

Adobe InDesign CC

Release 2015.4
Build 11.4.0.90 x64
PCMark driven routine

Adobe Illustrator

Release 2015.3.0
Version 20.0.0 (64-bit)
PCMark driven routine

Blender

?Version 2.68a
BMW 27 CPU Render Benchmark
BMW 27 GPU Render Benchmark

7-Zip

Version 16.02
THG-Workload (7.6 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=9"

Game Tests and Settings

Ashes of Singularity: Escalation

Version 2.50.28527
High Preset - 1920x1080, Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAA
Crazy Preset - 1920x1090, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA
High Preset - 3840x2160, Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAA
Crazy Preset - 3840x2160, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA

F1 2015

2015 Season, Abu Dhabi Track, Rain
1920x1080 - UltraHigh Preset, 16x AF
3840x2160 - UltraHigh Preset, 16x AF

Metro Last Light Redux

Version 3.00 x64
High Quality, 1920x1080, High Tesselation
Very High Quality, 1920x1080, Very High Tesselation
High Quality, 3840x2160, High Tesselation
Very High Quality, 3840x2160, Very High Tesselation

The Talos Principle

Version 301136
1920x1080 - High Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AF
1920x1080 - Ultra Preset, VeryHigh Quality, VeryHigh Tesselation, 16x AF
3840x2160 - High Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AF
3840x2160 - Ultra Preset, VeryHigh Quality, VeryHigh Tesselation, 16x AF

We do have to make some changes and tweaks to our normal motherboard testing methodology for the X399 platform. For starters, some of the software in our suite does not support the plethora of cores available. As such, we have to deactivate resources in some instances and bypass certain features in others. These changes will be listed in the benchmarking results section, but we will be consistent from a test methodology perspective.

One Threadripper specific feature that we covered in Paul Alcorn's CPU reviews is the use of Game Mode versus Creator mode. If I’m buying X399, I want all of my resources, regardless of the gaming penalties. Both modes will be tested in the benchmarks for the sake of this comparison, but moving forward we will only test with Creator Mode enabled.

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