The decision to transition towards a dominantly black colour scheme means the X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon is more adaptable to a variety of different build colour schemes. It’s possible to add colour via the RGB lighting software and through other key system components like graphics cards or memory. MSI’s flagship GTX 1080, the Gaming 8G, isn’t consistent with the colour scheme of the Godlike Carbon though it does feature RGB.
The trend towards “colour-less” components with RGB lighting isn’t exclusive to MSI, ASUS has implemented a similar thing for X99 but also carried this over to its graphics cards with software to unify the two.
It would be wise for MSI to consider a “Carbon” RGB-enabled variant of the GTX 1080 Gaming 8G and work with memory manufacturers to sell some similarly themed RAM.
The underside of the motherboard reveals the PCIe wiring of 16X, 8X, 8X, 16X, 8X though the electrical configuration varies depending on the PCIe slots populated, the CPU used and PCIe bandwidth sharing with storage devices and other system controllers.
There is, unfortunately, no armour, reinforcement or heatspreaders underneath the motherboard which is something other vendors offer. At this price point it would be nice to see as it adds another level of structural rigidity and improves overall build quality.
The armour on the top of the motherboard is made from metal so may have some cooling benefits but primarily it feels good quality and adds a more refined edge to the aesthetic. The metal armour on the motherboard is easily removable if you’re that way inclined.
Storage connectivity is par-for-the-course – 10 SATA (shared with SATA Express) and M.2 or U.2. The tendency for motherboard vendors to add extra SATA ports has fizzled out into a distant memory since Intel bolstered the baseline storage for the X99 chipset, compared to X79.
As a premium motherboard the heatsinks function for more than just decoration, MSI links the two CPU heatsinks with a 6mm heatpipe to aid heat transfer away from the VRMs. A cut-out in the heatsink allows the CPU power connectors to be accessed though installation of these cables can be tricky with a pre-installed radiator inside the case.
Running along the bottom edge of the motherboard is a number of USB connectors (2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, another USB 3.0 is next to the 24pin), front panel connectors, a UEFI switch for the dual BIOS chips and a debug code reader. Near the audio section you will find the front panel HD audio connector and a switch for the dedicated amplifiers.
The rear I/O seems a bit light on USB ports though the overall trend for most motherboards has been towards a greater variety of connections rather than a large quantity of a singular type.
MSI has 8 USB ports of varying speeds (3.1/3.0/2.0), a PS/2 combo, dual LAN, WiFI antenna sockets, audio jacks including a 6.35mm jack and a clear CMOS button.