MSI has decided to target the “mid” level HEDT buyers with a new board, the X299M-A Pro. Limited to the Kaby Lake-X processors, namely the i7-7740X and i5-7640X, this motherboard sits in a really weird spot in the market. Thanks to Intel’s… unique… product lineup, this X299 based board is compatible with only two CPU SKUs.
This LGA2066 board is in the Micro-ATX form factor, and features three physical PCIe x16 slots. However, Kaby Lake-X’s PCIe lane limitation means that the X299M-A Pro is limited to a total of 16 lanes across all three slots. These could be in x16/ x0/ x0, x8/ x8/ x0 or x8, x4, x4 mode, with the third slot drawing lanes from the PCH, not the CPU. Another limitation is the lack of RAM slots for RAM channels 3 and 4.
Oddly, the board is provided power via a combination of 24-pin ATX, 8-pin EPS, and 6-pin PCIe (optional). More reliance on the 12V rail is great, but this isn’t the right way!
Storage connectivity includes two 32Gbps M.2 slots, 8 SATA 6Gbps ports. The board’s rear IO includes separate PS/2 for mouse and keyboard (what?!), two USB 2.0 ports (this is HEDT…), 4x USB3.0 ports, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, and a USB3 Type C port. Realtek’s ALC1220 codec is implemented for the onboard audio. LAN connectivity runs the Intel i219-V controller, with no WiFi option.
The board is expected to land for US$170 retail.
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