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MSI X299 SLI Plus

Introduction, Design Features

The MSI X299 SLI Plus is one of a initial call of motherboards to support Intel’s Core X-Series CPUs. The motherboard straddles a business and consumer markets, able of being a substructure of a hip veteran workstation or a home-use gaming ultra-PC. And nonetheless we can find copiousness of other X299-based motherboards that are some-more sincerely designed for gaming (even ones by MSI itself), a MSI X299 SLI Plus wouldn’t be during all out of place in a gaming build, either.

Part of MSI’s Pro Series of motherboards, a X299 SLI Plus has fewer lighting options and gaming-related facilities than a company’s X299 Tomahawk and X299 Gaming boards. But a house does not skip inestimable features, including twin M.2 connectors and a U.2 connector, for hooking adult plenty of high-speed storage. The house also has a good array of inner fan headers (with automobile DC/PWM modes), and both front-panel and behind USB 3.1 Type-C connectors.

Onboard wireless networking isn’t available, that is a small surprising, deliberation that a house is directed during pros. On a other hand, we have that span of M.2 connectors, should we wish to collect adult a wireless tag in a M.2 form factor. And with twin Gigabit LAN controllers from Intel, connected networking is rubbed in spades.

One of a X299 SLI Plus’ biggest draws is a price. At $259.99, a motherboard lands on a low finish of a X299-board cost range. (The cheapest X299 play we saw during this essay were unresolved around a area of $220.) It isn’t a least-expensive house on a market, nonetheless with heavy-duty gaming play pulling a high $300s, we can see how a X299 SLI Plus will get a second demeanour from a operation of shoppers, regardless of a Pro Series label.

Design Features

The X299 SLI Plus has a tame, cloudy-black thesis that lets a motherboard’s LEDs do all a talking. The house isn’t as brightly illuminated as some we’ve seen recently, so possibly we like this pattern depends on what we wish from your PC. If you’re building a workstation for an bureau that values style, a X299 SLI Plus will fit right in. The LEDs give a house a small piquancy nonetheless venturing into profusion territory.

Some gamers competence wish some-more bling resplendent by their box windows. MSI put slash-mark-shaped LEDs on a heatsink during a tip of a house and a incomparable heatsink that cools a X299 chipset, that we like, nonetheless it skipped lighting in other primary locations, like between a memory slots and on a window-facing I/O cover. The house doesn’t roar “gaming” a approach an LED-lit dragon picture does, nonetheless we consider a X299 SLI Plus’s lighting rigging is improved than it competence seem during initial glance.

For one thing, a X299 SLI Plus has an RGB header, giving we a leisure to supplement your possess 5050 RGB strips (up to about 3 meters long). If we had to select between onboard lights and a header, we’d take a choice that gives us some-more customization options, any day. For another thing, a onboard LEDs are also RGB and customizable, interjection to MSI’s Mystic Light features.

The X299 SLI Plus facilities 8 memory slots and an army of energy phases, so a tip half of a motherboard is indispensably crowded. That said, MSI did a good pursuit of gripping components divided from a CPU socket. We attempted several glass coolers and building coolers on a X299 SLI Plus nonetheless any interference, even from a massive G.Skill TridentZ DDR4-3200 memory modules. (Many coolers designed for LGA 2011 processors will fit a LGA 2066 bracket.)

The 8 memory-module slots support dual- or quad-channel memory configurations. Note, though: Whether or not we can go with a quad-channel setup depends on a specific Core X-Series processor we install. “Kaby Lake X” CPUs (like a Intel Core i7-7740X we used in a exam build, or a Core i5-7640X we’re now testing) extent we to dual-channel configs, while a “Skylake X” processors (certain other Core X Core i7s, as good as a Core i9 lineup, including a Core i9-7900X we usually tested) can accommodate quad-channel ones. The slots support adult to DDR4 4133 memory for quad-channel setups, and adult to DDR4 4500 for dual-channel setups. In possibly case, a limit upheld RAM is a vast 128GB.

MSI combined a underline that comes in accessible when you’re installing a processor and memory. Power on your PC, and a rectilinear LED in a upper-right dilemma of a house (near a debug display) indicates a compulsory memory configuration: red for quad-channel, and white for dual-channel. You should know possibly you’re going twin or quad before we start a installation, nonetheless we positively don’t mind additional troubleshooting help.

The reduce half of a X299 SLI Plus is also sincerely crowded, interjection in vast partial to a large heatsink over a X299 chipset. The heatsink has 3 prolonged LED stripes, along with a chrome MSI trademark that catches a light simply when a LEDs are on. As bustling as a motherboard is, MSI done good use of a singular space, squeezing a twin M.2 connectors between a sum of 6 PCI Express slots.

MSI wrapped a initial and third PCI Express x16 slots with steel, withdrawal a other twin x16 slots exposed. We like MSI’s patience here. The PCI Express slots are a primary aim for motherboard makers looking to compute their boards, and we’ve seen some gimmicky container covers. MSI went a other instruction by safeguarding usually a twin enlargement slots that run during x16 with a 44-lane CPU onboard. The steel adds additional support for holding complicated graphics cards, and bracketing usually a twin slots is enough, generally as Nvidia is tying a GTX 1000 array “Pascal” cards to twin play in SLI. If you’re critical adequate to go with a three- or four-card AMD CrossFireX configuration, we think it won’t be a problem spending a small some-more mix for a fine house with even some-more of a slots metal-braced.

Packed as this plot of a house is, it also carries twin PCI Express x1 slots. MSI took advantage of a passed space behind a x1 slots by parking a twin M.2 slots there. The reduce container supports M.2 inclination adult to Type-22110 (that is, 110mm long), giving we copiousness of coherence when selling for storage. The tip M.2 container handles inclination adult to 80mm prolonged (Type-2280) and has a defense that covers your storage device to supplement a small bit of additional pacifist cooling, for M.2 SSDs that skip a cooling penetrate on top…

Both slots also support Intel’s Optane Memory, for caching information to benefit speedier opening with usually a tough expostulate as a foot drive. Most folks shopping into a X299 platform, though, we think will be some-more than peaceful to dash out for a “true” SSD.

The usually downside to this M.2 container is that it’s firm to be lonesome by your graphics tag or cards; once a initial tag goes in, you’ll need to take it out again to entrance a M.2 slot. That’s a teenager inconvenience, nonetheless it creates us wish that a defense was designed to be transmutable with a reduce connector. We think users who devise to stock usually one of a M.2 slots will gaunt towards a one they can simply strech (in a single-graphics-card system).

Ports Headers

MSI put copiousness of ports on X299 SLI Plus’ I/O panel. A USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C (10Gbps max) pier gives a house some future-proofing, while 5 USB 3.0 and 4 USB 2.0 ports hoop standard peripherals. The row also has a PS/2 pier and twin LAN ports, rubbed by an Intel I219-V Gigabit controller and an Intel I211 Gigabit controller.

The audio ports are corroborated by MSI’s Audio Boost IV sound package, that facilities Chemi-Con audio capacitors and an audio-specific PCB layer, and offers a 120dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).

The initial thing you’ll notice when we go to block in your peripherals is that a row has CMOS and BIOS cycle buttons. The Clear CMOS symbol can come in handy, nonetheless a some-more notable symbol is partial of MSI’s BIOS Flashback+ feature. With usually a PSU connected a motherboard, we can refurbish a BIOS by loading a refurbish onto a USB peep drive, plugging it into a designated BIOS Flashback+ pier (you can see it in a shot of a I/O image above), and dire a BIOS button. That’s an easy approach to move a house adult to date. When you’re not regulating that USB pier to refurbish a BIOS, it acts as an standard USB 2.0 port.

MSI combined some inestimable inner headers, including a U.2 connector, that lets we implement a PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe device regulating a interface, a biggest claimant being Intel’s 750 Series SSD. The house also facilities a new-style USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C connector for really new PC cases that have a front-panel USB 3.1 Type-C connector. (Most to date haven’t incorporated this wire yet.) You can see it graphic below…

Sandwiched between a U.2 connector and a USB 3.1 Type-C connector are 6 of a X299 SLI Plus’ 8 SATA 6Gbps connectors. Like a U.2 connector, a SATA connectors face off a right side of a board, creation for cleaner wire routing. The other twin SATA connectors lay during a bottom-right dilemma of a board, confronting upwards.

We don’t have any complaints about a approach a SATA connectors face, nonetheless we wish that MSI had found a opposite plcae for them. MSI finished adult putting a front-panel headers nearby a core of a bottom dilemma of a board, good divided from a right corner, where you’ll typically find front-panel headers. If your PC box has prolonged front-panel connector cables, a new header plcae won’t matter. But if you’re traffic with shorter cables, we could see how it competence lead to cable-management headaches.

Another underline value indicating out is a twin BIOSes. Tanking a BIOS is about as unavoidable as experiencing a buffer bender, during some point; if we apparatus around with your PC enough, you’re substantially going to finish adult in a BIOS pickle. On a X299 SLI Plus, we can solve a problem simply by flipping a switch that sits behind a U.2 connector. The switch enables a second BIOS, that should get your PC behind on a feet.

MSI strike a home run with a fan headers, both in terms of apportion and placement. The motherboard builder put a sum of 6 fan headers on a X299 SLI Plus. Three lay along a bottom of a board, while a other 3 are during a top. We like to see during slightest one fan header in a core of a house (to give users some-more options for plugging in a PC’s back empty fan), nonetheless given a swarming center, adhering to a tip and reduce edges creates sense.

The fan headers during a tip of a house are widespread out. A system-fan header sits nearby a I/O enclosing for your empty fan, while a other twin headers are closer to a debug display. One of these doubles as a siphon header (supporting adult to 2A) for your liquid-cooling kit.

MSI put twin USB 3.0 headers on a right side of a house (one of that faces off a side for easier wire routing) and twin USB 2.0 headers. Despite a gray ink (on a black PCB, no less), many of a header labels are easy to mark and read. MSI even put “USB” in white ink directly on a USB 2.0 header cosmetic itself, that creates them unfit to miss. We wouldn’t have disposed if MSI had left with white labels for all a headers, nonetheless we can’t complain.

Most of a other headers are a house are typical, like a audio and TPM headers, nonetheless there are a integrate surprising additions. One of those is a Thunderbolt header, that connects to a wire that comes with PCI Express Thunderbolt appendage cards.

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