MSI, in addition to the well-known series of gaming motherboards, also has simpler products nominally ranked as a professional series. X299 SLI Plus is one of them. There is no emphasis on additional hardware or software «gaming» attributes, the main emphasis is on technical equipment. The model that got into our laboratory turned out to be a little older than the simplest one based on the X299 hub. First of all, the number of third-generation USB outputs has been increased here.
One of the most pressing issues is the temperature of the power converter, we’ll talk about it during overclocking events, but for now let’s get acquainted with the capabilities of the product, their main set is collected in the table below.
|Model||MSI X299 SLI Plus (MS-7A93 VER:1.2)|
|Official product page on the Web||ua.msi.com|
|Processor socket||Socket 2066|
|Processors||Core i9, Core i7, Core i5 (Skylake-X, Kaby Lake-X)|
|Memory||8 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400/2667/2800*/2933*/3000*/3200*/3333*/3400*/3466*/3600*/3733*/3800*/3866*/4000*/4133*+(OC),
128 GB maximum (4 DIMMs and 64 GB maximum for quad-core models)
|PCI slots||3 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16+x0+x0, x16+x16+x0, x16+x16+x8) — CPU with 44 lanes
3 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16+x0+x0, x16+x8+x0, x16+x8+x4) — CPU with 28 lanes
3 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16+x0+x0, x8+x8+x0, x8+x4+x4) — CPU with 16 lanes
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x4), 2 x PCI Express 3.0 x1
|M.2||1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4, SATA (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4, SATA (Key M, 2242/2260/2280)
|Integrated video core (in the processor)||–|
|Number of connected fans||6x 4pin|
|PS/2 ports||1 (keyboard/mouse)|
|The port is USB||3 x 3.1 Gen2 (2 connectors on the rear panel (A and C)
2x ASM3142), 3 x 3.1 Gen1 (3x rear panel, ASM1074)
5 x 3.1 Gen1 (1 connector on the rear panel, X299)
8 x 2.0 (4 connectors on the rear panel, X299)
|Serial ATA||8 x SATA 6Gb/s (X299)|
|RAID||0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA, X299)
0, 1 (M.2 PCI-E, X299)
|Built-in sound||Audio Boost 4:
Codec — Realtek ALC1220 (7.1, HDA)
Op Amp — Texas Instruments OPA1652
|Networking||Intel I219V (Gigabit Ethernet)|
|Intel I211-AT (Gigabit Ethernet)|
|Dimensions, mm||305 x 243|
|Additional features||U.2 port, Thunderbolt header, EZ Debug LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, BOOT LED), POST LED, Power, Reset, Reset CMOS (rear panel), BIOS Flashback+ buttons; RGB LED strip connector, M.2 Shield, support for AMD 3-Way CrossFireX and NVIDIA 3-Way SLI|
|Retail price, $||278|
Packaging and equipment
The product is in a box of regular sizes. In addition to the large designation of the model on the front side, there is nothing interesting.
On the reverse side there is a photo of the board, an image of the back panel, a table with the main characteristics and a collage of technical features. According to the status, there is no word on backlighting or software additions.
The delivery set does not differ in anything remarkable, you can call it the starting one. There is:
user manual, which illustrates and describes the UEFI sub-items in detail (in English);
- multilingual quick installation guide;
- memo on the correct installation of memory modules;
- disk with drivers and proprietary software;
- buyer registration card;
- two SATA 6Gb / s cables, one of which has an L-shaped connector on one of the ends;
- a plug for the body, complete with a black sticker with a symbolic designation of all sockets;
- double hard bridge for organizing SLI.
The board provided a lot of auxiliary indicators, several buttons and one switch for working with two CMOS chips. Dimensions comply with ATX standards, there are nine holes for case screws.
The topology of the printed circuit board is quite complex, there are a considerable number of elements on the reverse side. Radiators and decorative trims are fixed with screws.
The cooler on the PCH is composite, the lower part is a radiator, and the upper part is equipped with three light guides for illumination (a larger radiator was designed in a similar way, for the needs of the CPU power stabilizer).
There are two M.2 sockets, the upper seat has a length limit for installed devices, but a heatsink is fixed there, where a rather massive thermal pad acts as a heat conductor.
Eight SATA sockets are also prepared, two of which are transverse. We also unsoldered one socket of the U2 type. It will not be possible to use all these interfaces at the same time, since the resources of the chipset are limited.
There are five pads for USB body cables: one symmetrical and two traditional for the third generation of the interface, and two more for its second version.
Along the lower edge are smaller racks. Separately, I would like to highlight the presence of buttons for starting and restarting the system.
Under each chip with UEFI there is an indicator, a switch was immediately soldered to interact with them.
There are many indicators at the top of the board. The main one is for POST codes. Nearby there is a simpler option for the same purposes — from four LEDs, forming the EZ Debug LED complex. The fifth one, which is slightly higher than the rest, indicates the type of processor (Skylake-X or Kaby Lake-X), thereby indicating the number of available slots for RAM. In our case, it glowed red. Another pair of two-color LEDs is located at the blocks for coolers. Their role is to indicate the type of deceleration method being used. Above each of the RAM slots there is a white LED that indicates the presence of the module. There is also an active XMP indicator below the main power socket.
Three full length PCI-E x16 slots are connected to the CPU socket. Shielded will be able to have a large number of lines. The scheme will primarily depend on the type of processor used. Two PCI-E x1 and one not listed long slot work together with the X299 hub.
The sound subsystem is based on the senior codec from Realtek — ALC1220. Shielding structures are not provided, there is one auxiliary op-amp and a considerable number of special capacitors.
There are no luminous elements in the decorative overlay near the rear panel, it is not too massive and is unlikely to interfere with the placement of cooling systems on the processor.
The processor voltage regulator is based on an eight-channel PWM controller International Rectifier IR35201. However, only four «phases» are used for CPU Input Voltage. On the reverse side you can see four IR3598 doublers. Then, in each of the newly formed channels, the number of elements was doubled, placing them both on the front side of the board and on the back. It turned out four transistors for each of the eight channels, which means a total of 32 pieces. Two more placed under the radiator are involved in the formation of the CPU SA Voltage. The models and manufacturer have been traditional for MSI products for several years — these are PK616BA and PK632BA from Niko Semiconductor. There is only one socket for the power supply — eight-pin, so it’s easy to figure out — this board was definitely not designed for extreme overclocking events. For the variable CPU IO Voltage and each of the four memory channels, a Texas Instruments CSD87350Q5D assembly is provided.
On power heatsinks, a sufficiently large spacer acts as a heat conductor, and paste is used on chipset heatsinks.
There are no questions about filling the back panel. For convenience, buttons for resetting CMOS settings and another one for emergency firmware recovery were brought here. Perhaps someone will need the latest version of USB (3.1 Gen2) and / or a wireless adapter fixed on the board, but with such wishes, you will have to increase the budget provided for the motherboard.