The story to the MSI X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC is somewhat similar to that of ASRock’s X299E-ITX/ac. Both motherboard companies have made bold decisions for the respective form factors and stepped up to offer something where rivals had no interest for a variety of reasons.
MSI’s motherboard is less innovative and pioneering than ASRock’s, since micro-ATX doesn’t impose the same space constraints, but that still doesn’t detract from the achievement of MSI releasing a motherboard that ASRock, ASUS and Gigabyte all decided to opt out of on X299.
Perhaps the micro-ATX variation on X299 has been deemed too niche since Intel’s HEDT platform lends itself to larger motherboards that support abundant memory, PCIe and storage devices – one of the unique selling points of the platform as a whole.
Market antics aside MSI’s X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC is a very well-finished motherboard that delivers in all key areas for a high-end product. The design is pleasing, neutral and open to customisation while the feature set is in keeping with wider market trends and expectations.
Connectivity is inevitably abundant given the nature of the platform and the space afforded by micro-ATX means full quad channel memory support was easily achievable. Overclocking is catered for with various buttons, a dual BIOS, abundant fan headers, a well-equipped UEFI and diagnostic tools meanwhile the CPU VRM solution is more than strong enough for most Skylake-X CPUs if not being pushed to extremes.
The caveat to the VRM is that it can get toasty on a ten core i9-7900X CPU when overclocking so users opting for more than 10 cores and heavy overclocking would be wise to consider supplementary VRM cooling from watercooling or other viable means.
Given the relatively steep pricing for ASRock’s X299 mini-ITX motherboard the MSI X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC looks relatively affordable in comparison for a small form factor X299 build. UK Pricing for MSI’s X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC has been touted at around £260 but availability is scarce and we’ve yet to see a reputable retailer hold stock. Over in the USA consumers can pick this motherboard up for around $290 from Amazon. The standard warranty period for this motherboard is usually 3 years but some retailers may vary.
- Abundant connectivity
- Overclocking buttons and diagnostics
- Neutral and easily customisable design
- M.2 Shield is effective
- Dual Gigabit, Bluetooth and WiFi
- High-performance audio implementation
- More affordable and practical than mini-ITX
- CPU VRM heatsink is small
- Limited availability
KitGuru says: A sensible compromise between mini-ITX and ATX form factors, the MSI X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC is an ideal foundation for a small form factor system running Intel X299.