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MSI X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC Motherboard Review

Rating: 9.0.

Just one mini-ITX motherboard currently exists for Intel X299 and with constraints like SO-DIMM only memory and steep pricing, system builders willing to put up with a larger footprint would be wise to consider micro-ATX as an alternative. Today we review one of only three micro-ATX motherboards for X299 – the MSI X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC.

Micro-ATX options on X299 are few and far between, only mini-ITX is more limited. The trio of currently available micro-ATX motherboards for X299 includes this MSI X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC, the MSI X299M-A Pro and the EVGA X299 MICRO.

MSI's X299M Gaming Pro Carbon goes head to head with EVGA's option but surprisingly MSI faces no competition in this segment from the rest of the “big four” motherboard vendors – ASRock, ASUS and Gigabyte – as small form factor solutions for Intel's HEDT have been mostly overlooked.

With ASRock owning the mini-ITX space and MSI almost owning the micro-ATX space for Intel X299, consumers would be forgiven for expecting inferior products. However, if our testing of the ASRock X299E-ITX/ac is anything to go by a near-monopolistic position needn't result in an inferior product.

A limited footprint means the MSI X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC is not as loaded as ATX counterparts but there's still a wide range of connectivity like quad channel memory with full-sized DIMMs, dual M.2, plentiful USB, dual-Gigabit and 802.11ac WiFi.

Features are well furnished onto the X299M Gaming Pro Carbon too including RGB lighting, an M.2 shield, a 10-phase VRM, a dual-BIOS with DIP switch and a customisable rear I/O cover.

MSI X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC
Form Factor micro-ATX, 24.38cm x 24.38cm
CPU Socket LGA 2066 (8+1+1 phase)
Chipset Intel X299
Memory DDR4, 4 DIMMs, up to 64GB, up to 4200MHz+ with OC, Two 2-phase VRMs
Onboard Graphics None
Discrete Graphics Up to Nvidia 2-way/Quad SLI, AMD 2-Way/Quad CrossFire
Expansion Slots 3 x PCIe 3.0 16X slots (16/16/8 with 44-lane CPU, 16/8/4 with 28-lane CPU)
Storage  8 x SATA III (via X299 chipset)
2 x M.2 (supports PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA III)*
*SATA III mode shares bandwidth with two SATA ports
USB 3 x USB 3.1 (2 Rear [Type-A and C], 1 Front [Type-C], all via ASM3142)
6 x USB 3.0 (4 Rear, Front, all via X299 chipset)
6 x USB 2.0 (2 Rear, 4 Front, all via X299 chipset)
Networking 1 x Intel I219V Gigabit
1 x Intel I211AT Gigabit
Intel Wireless-AC 8265 802.11ac dual band WiFi with Bluetooth 4.2
Audio  Realtek ALC1220 7.1 channel HD audio
Fan Headers 5 (1 x CPU, 1 x W_PUMP, 3 x SYS), all support 3/4 pin fans
Rear I/O Clear CMOS Button
BIOS Flashback Button
1 x PS/2 mouse/keyboard combo
2 x USB 2.0
Intel Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
2 x Intel Gigabit LAN RJ45
4 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 3.1 Type-A & C
5 x Gold-Plated Audio Jacks
Optical S/PDIF-Out
UEFI  UEFI AMI dual BIOS with DIP switch

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