Intel’s X299 platform with accompanying Skylake-X CPUs is inherently loaded with copious amounts of connectivity and performance as standard. The challenge for motherboard vendors is to add something unique and valuable to that high default baseline that justifies additional premium over entry level X299 motherboards.
MSI’s X299 Gaming M7 ACK does well in achieving that with a range of innovative and performance-enhancing features. To start MSI goes all-in on enabling easy and fruitful overclocking and performance tuning. The list of overclocking-centric features is relentless – power, reset and overclocking buttons, a debug code reader, sequential POST debug light, a CPU POST debug light split into SA, ring, core, etc., dual BIOS chips, USB BIOS flashback, a 12 phase CPU VRM, granular LLC and VCore options and more.
MSI delivers excellent networking options for Gamers or Prosumers with capable gigabit Ethernet and dual-band 802.11AC WiFi with Bluetooth. The solution is Killer, not Intel, which will not appeal to everyone but the Double Shot Pro feature that allows users to combine the bandwidth of the WiFi and LAN is certainly interesting, even if of limited real-world applicability. Perhaps the only “trick” MSI missed out on is offering either dual-gigabit ports or a standard of wired connectivity faster than Gigabit.
On the innovation side MSI’s M.2 Shield Frozr performed admirably and prevented our M.2 test drive from getting anywhere close to throttling, even under prolonged heavy load. MSI’s dual-codec audio solution delivered excellent performance metrics and the independent codecs for front and rear audio is sure to provide great utility to intense gamers and multitaskers who can benefit from two separate audio streams.
There’s hardly anything worth complaining about with MSI’s X299 Gaming M7 ACK aside from the bewildering software ecosystem. MSI has an application for just about every option, or in some cases more applications than options, and functionality is often duplicated several times across software utilities. MSI’s App Manager is a step in the right direction towards unifying its offerings but MSI needs to cull unnecessary software and focus on making a smaller number of utilities better for the consumer.
The case in point is MSI’s Mystic Light utility which delivered its promised functionality. However, it lacked an intuitive and user-friendly design, had insufficient pre-configured lighting modes and as a result this made it tiresome and unpleasant to get the most out of the motherboard’s onboard LEDs. It is a chink in the armour in all fairness as MSI’s X299 Gaming M7 ACK is a sleek, well-built and no holds barred motherboard that has immense potential and does justice to the performance-hungry spirit of Intel’s X299 platform.
The MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK is available at Overclockers UK for £389.99. MSI offers a manufacturer warranty of 3 years with this product.
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- Neutral and sleek aesthetics
- Impressive M.2 cooling solution
- Smart new App Manager software
- Dual audio codecs
- Well fleshed out overclocking features and buttons
- High-spec wired and wireless networking
- RGB lighting software and functionality needs optimisation
- Functionality duplication across the software bundle
- Pricing on the high-side
KitGuru says: Everything but the kitchen sink, MSI’s X299 Gaming M7 ACK is a top-draw motherboard for Intel’s most prestigious consumer platform.