MSI X99S XPower Extreme Overclocking Board Hands-On, Specs, Overview

By Published August 31, 2014 at 12:02 pm
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The first of our more major X99 motherboard coverage comes bearing MSI’s dragon-engraved badge. Intel’s new platform and CPU officially launched on day one of PAX (where we got some video), bringing a new era of $1000 Extreme Series CPUs for professional development and enthusiast rigs. We saw ASUS’ X99 Deluxe board on day one, but didn’t get much of a chance to go in depth.

MSI, EVGA, and Gigabyte also have a presence at PAX Prime 2014, making for a firm hardware showcase at a typically gaming-oriented event. MSI’s booth hosted the X99S XPower AC board, the X99S Gaming 7, and the X99S SLI Plus. We took an extended look at the company’s X99S XPower AC motherboard, home to 5xPCI-e slots, the X99 chipset, M.2 SATA, SATA-e, and one of the biggest VRMs we’ve seen recently.

MSI X99S XPOWER AC Video Hands-On & Overview

MSI X99S XPOWER Specs

  X99S XPOWER X99S Gaming 7 X99S SLI Plus
Socket LGA2011 LGA2011 LGA2011
Form Factor E-ATX ATX ATX
BCLK 100 / 125 / 167MHz 100 / 125 / 167MHz 100 / 125 / 167MHz
Memory DDR4 2133/2200

OC up to 3333MHz
Quad-Channel
DDR4 2133

OC up to 3333MHz
Quad-Channel
DDR4 2133

OC up to 3333MHz
Quad-Channel
Slots 8 DIMM 8 DIMM 8 DIMM
PCI-e 1xPCI-e x16 Gen3
4xPCI-e x8 Gen3
1xPCI-e x1
1xPCI-e x16 Gen3
3xPCI-e x8 Gen3
1xPCI-e x16
3xPCI-e x8
Storage 10xSATA III (2 reserved)
1xSATA-E
1xTurbo M.2
10xSATA III (2 reserved)
1xSATA-E
1xTurbo M.2
10xSATA III (2 reserved)
1xSATA-E
1xTurbo M.2
Network 2xEthernet 10/100/1000
Wireless AC
1xEthernet 10/100/1000

1xEthernet 10/100/1000
OC 12-phase
On-board button control
8-phase 8-phase

We’ve always tried to define manufacturer naming conventions to make life easier. MSI’s new boards are all suffixed with the letter ‘S,’ which we’re told is indicative of SATA Express support. SATA Express, of course, is the new SATA interface that operates at ~10Gbps and seems to be a proper successor to SATA III.

msi-xpower-2

Beyond that, the more interesting storage specifications include a Turbo M.2 slot, which operates at approximately 32Gb/s, 10xSATA III ports (two reserved), 1xSATA-E port, and – finally – 0 SATA II ports. An era finally ended. RAM is supported up to 128GB in the quad-channel, eight-slot configuration driven by X99 and the 5960X.

As with the MPOWER boards, the XPOWER motherboard is centrally focused on overclocking. MSI offers more granular BCLK tuning of supported CPUs, including on-board modifier buttons to manipulate BCLK and multipliers in real-time. BCLK can be adjusted in 0.1MHz or 1MHz increments using the physical buttons and can be changed while the system is running or benchmarking, making it a strong tool for finding the limit of the motherboard once a high OC is already achieved. A CMOS reset button is also available, though it offers added functionality on top of the regular CLR_CMOS function; MSI’s button will clear values stored in the X99 PCH (Platform Controller Hub – the chipset) in the event an overclock prevents system boot. The VRM uses a 12-phase power design.

Voltage point checking on the board ensures precision when using a high-end voltmeter or multimeter, giving users a clearer picture than software offers when overclocking. Voltage check points include:

  • CPU Input Voltage
  • IMC Voltage
  • Core0 Voltage
  • IGP Voltage
  • Ring Bus Voltage
  • System Agent Voltage
  • And 3 Grounds

The board supports simultaneous use of up to three multimeters. For peripheral input, a USB port is offered top-side for easier access during benchmarking and burn-in.

msi-xpower-3

In the event an overclocker goes too far, MSI has some very limited protections in place to hopefully prevent collateral damage to connected devices. CPU overcurrent protection will shut down the system and lock its boot state until the current is resolved – you might lose your CPU if you’ve pushed current high enough to trigger this, but the rest should be a bit safer.

MSRP will approach a $400 MSRP, once listed.

Check the video for some hands-on with the board at MSI’s booth.

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.

Last modified on August 31, 2014 at 12:02 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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