MSI X99A XPOWER Gaming Titanium Motherboard Review

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MSI X99A XPOWER Gaming Titanium Motherboard Review 10

Introduction

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Brand: MSI
Model: X99A XPOWER Gaming Titanium
Price: £372.72 @ Amazon.co.uk (At time of review)
Price: $429.99 @ Amazon.com (At time of review)

Due to the demand of the ever-changing PC scene, MSI had to come up with something different to attract your attention away from all of these multicoloured motherboards in the marketplace – queue up the MSI X99A XPOWER Gaming Titanium. The Z170A variant was something that was a first, and MSI received a lot of praise for their efforts to bring this motherboard to market. Well, I mean, it wouldn’t have inspired an X99 based motherboard if it weren’t a hit; right? The board itself is still an XPOWER, but it no longer has that yellow and black theme which MSI became known for with their MPOWER and XPOWER designs in the past. I am personally interested to find out how well the memory behaves on the Titanium, as the performance on the MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon was sublime. I want to know if it was a fluke, or if MSI really does have the ace up their sleeve like I think they do. I know that their performance tuning team have been extremely busy, so I am very eager to see if that happens on this occasion as well. That will have to wait until later, though. What does the MSI X99A XPOWER Gaming Titanium have to offer the world?

In terms of the offerings that the refresh brings to the table, it’s not an awful lot. Unfortunately, if you’ve already got an X99 motherboard, there’s no real reason to make the switch to a ‘new’ one unless your current one dies. However, with that said, it does offer all of the goodness such as multiple graphics card support, M.2 PCIe storage, ten SATA 6 Gbps ports that are native to the chipset and the usual good stuff that you get from a HEDT platform. The biggest selling point that has been added to the majority of the refreshed product lines is the inclusion of RGB LEDs. They are ranked amongst one the most controversial additions to have ever been implemented on a motherboard, but you either love them or you hate them. Good job you can (usually) turn them off entirely if you are in the hate camp! As for the RGB LED madness when it comes to the Titanium, you may be very pleased to find out that there are very little LEDs on this board. Aside from your usual audio circuit insulator, and the various LEDs dotted around the motherboard to help you with diagnostics, there are no other RGB LEDs in sight. Oh yes, that’s right, no RGB LEDs on the Titanium! A little part of me is sad about it, but another part is elated as I feel that the addition of them may otherwise ruin a very classy (if I may say so myself) looking motherboard. The only major LED factor on this motherboard is underneath the ICH heatsink, which illuminates the MSI dragon in white – it’s neat, you’ll see. The only thing that I find a little strange right off of the bat is the fact that they decided to call it the ‘Gaming Titanium.’ It would have been much better off without the ‘Gaming’ tag in my mind. I have noticed a few other well-respected guys in the industry say the same, and I’d have to agree. I know it is the branding, but I feel that it cheapens it somewhat, especially when you’re talking about naming it as a precious metal in the first place. Anyway… let’s find out what this puppy has in store for us!

Closer Look

If the idea of the Titanium is news to you, it is a silvery, shiny motherboard. It looks incredible in person, but I don’t think it shows quite so well for you, the viewer, in the images. I have tried my best to get it to gleam for you, though.

Like most X99 motherboards that are headed towards the upper end of the pricing spectrum, the MSI X99A XPOWER Gaming Titanium comes in an E-ATX factor, so be careful and be sure to check your case can fit the board before you smash that buy button. It’s generally not an issue as most ATX cases can fit them anyway, but you have been warned. I know that in a case such as the Fractal Design R5, it will fit, but it will be extremely close to hitting that raised edge on the right of the motherboard tray. I’d have test fitted it into my R5, but it would be a full teardown of a custom water cooled build… I’m sure you guys are smart enough to find the Google images that are floating around there with various E-ATX boards fitted into your case of choice. Just be a little creative with your search. Anyway, moving forward…

MSI X99A XPOWER Titanium - Overview

The MSI Titanium branch of their products brings a whole new meaning to the cool factor of motherboards in my mind. I know that there are some wicked looking products out there, but none are quite as unique as the Titanium range. I first saw the Titanium scheme when I reviewed the Z170A XPOWER Gaming Titanium back in December. The X99A board took a little longer to get the market, although it is now finally here. Rather than going with the full RGB spectrum for the LEDs, MSI have decided to keep it simple and classy. The only colour that you will find on the motherboard is a soft white glow, other than a few that are red near the DIMM slots to indicate certain system features, such as the XMP LED that is between the right-most DIMM and the 24 pin ATX power input. Whilst I have grown more and more fond of these RGB LEDs being dotted around every product imaginable, I am pleased that they are not an included feature on the MSI X99A XPOWER Gaming Titanium. I feel that the looks would be ruined if they were. Given that this is the second from the highest motherboard that MSI produce, it almost goes without saying that they have included as many features as the budget for this product allows. Naturally, as it is an X99 board, eight DIMMs are on the cards, along with multi-way graphics cards via the PCIe lanes, an M.2 port that supports a full 22110 (110mm) SSD, and plenty more that you will see as we go through the various segments that I always cover for you.

A twelve phase power delivery is in order according to MSI to feed these power hungry, high-end desktop (HEDT) CPUs. As with all of the MSI products that feature the Military Grade 5 components, the inclusion of Titanium Chokes and Dark CAPs are pretty much a standard feature. The chokes are able to run as high as 220°c with up to 40% higher current capacities, and are up to 30% more efficient which will provide more stable power. The CPUs pull high amounts of current, and therefore wattage, which means it is essential to have a smooth delivery whenever possible to avoid system instabilities. It is worth noting that they are most likely never even going to get close to that temperature, so fear not. The design, however, typically results in lower VRM temperatures overall, along with more stability when pushing the clocks on the CPU and its various components embedded within the chip, such as the memory controller and the system cache. The inclusion of the Dark CAPs has proven to be a good one as it provides a lower Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) and also comes with a greater than ten-year lifespan.

MSI X99A XPOWER Titanium - VRMs

The heatsink assembly comprises of two separate parts, and so does the IO cover. The only power going into any of the parts, unlike on some other motherboards which have LEDs everywhere, is in the ICH heatsink that illuminates white when powered on.

MSI X99A XPOWER Titanium - HS (1)

While I have the covers off, we may as well take a look at the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 module that MSI have included on the Titanium. It supports Intel’s Wi-Di (Wireless Display) features, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 all from within one module. It’s pretty neat and a great feature to have for those who cannot run an Ethernet cable (poor you!) to their gaming rigs.

MSI X99A XPOWER Titanium - Wireless

The memory slots are protected with MSI’s Steel Armour which is supposed to add rigidity to the DIMMs and in addition provide more protection against electromagnetic interference (EMI). MSI have implemented their DDR4 BOOST feature on the Titanium, which also aids the memory performance by insulating the signals. It is said to further add to the performance aspects and it allows for increased overclocking abilities. This is one thing I am very eager to dive into, as the MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon that was reviewed previously did extremely well in the memory portion of our tests. As it is an X99 board with eight DIMMs, you can expect it to support up to 128GB of DDR4 memory at frequencies up to 3466 MHz (overclocked) and beyond. Best of luck finding anything much higher than that in such high densities, or getting it stable for that matter, but it is possible with the right gear.

MSI X99A XPOWER Titanium - DIMM

As the CPU area is fairly crammed, there is no space for fan headers near the socket. The closest ones are to the right of the DIMM slots, which consist of the optional CPU fan(s) and the pump header, with the CPU fan header being at the very top of the board, right next to the LED debugger. Keeping the cables tidy may prove to be a little difficult if you are opting to use an air or an All-in-One (AIO) cooler, as the headers are to the right of the board like the OC features. Speaking of which, as this product is on the higher end of the spectrum, there is of course an OC section. MSI’s Game Boost button is present, as ever, along with the power on/off, reset and multiplier adjustment buttons. Further switches and buttons include the likes of the discharge button, which is fantastic for clearing the CMOS as it completely drains every capacitor on the board, and the DIP switches to control the PCIe lanes. This has come in handy for many extreme overclockers who wish to ‘remove’ a GPU from the system without physically having to remove it, as that can become extremely tedious when you’re using liquid nitrogen. It’s far easier to just turn that lane off and effectively remove it from the system that way. The last of the useful OC features is the ability to monitor system voltages directly with a digital multimeter via the read points on the motherboard. It isn’t a necessity as such, but we like to know what is happening with our voltages when we are pushing upwards of 1.65v through our CPUs. Current draw in those situations is extremely high, and it is typically advised that you keep an eye on the voltage fluctuations to see if your system is going to crash out on you or not.

MSI X99A XPOWER Titanium - OC Panel

As you have most likely come to expect from the X99 system now, largely due to it being a standard feature, there are a total of ten SATA 6 Gbps ports on the Titanium as well, two of them come from the SATAe port. Aside from the usual SATA ports, you also get an M.2 (Key M) for ultra-fast SSDs that hook up directly into the PCIe 3.0 lanes with support for devices from 2242 to 22110 (42mm to 110mm) in length. A single U.2 port is also available for those whom actually adopted the platform. Yes, it is a standard feature, but I think that it will be killed off before it is majorly adopted, purely due to M.2. Anyway, that’s a topic for another day. The U.2 port is unavailable when you install an add-in card into PCIe lane 6, as that is the lane that comes from the PCH and is shared between the two ports. Finally, SATA ports 1 through 6 are IDE/AHCI/RAID capable, whilst 7 through 10 are only IDE/AHCI (really, IDE? Still?) capable.

Aside from the standard USB 3.0 headers, of which you get two, there’s also a USB 3.1 Type-C connector on the internal side of the motherboard. You may be wondering what the reasoning is. MSI wanted to stay one step ahead, and can see this being the future of connectivity, and so can I. It’s small, super fast, and it is not going to disappear any time soon. This has to be the first that I’ve seen. Finishing off here, we have the discharge button to the right of the USB 3.1 Type-C connector. When this button is pressed, every capacitor on the motherboard is drained and therefore effectively resetting it to a factory-new state, which has proven invaluable to enthusiast/extreme overclockers around the globe.

MSI X99A XPOWER Titanium - SATA Ports

X99 is undoubtedly the choice for a powerful, HEDT CPU, but it is also known for providing up to 40 lanes of PCIe 3.0 goodness for multi-way GPU setups. If you’d like to know which configurations are supported, check out the specs part of this review. There is a pretty big list of supported configurations due to the two differentiations of CPUs with either 28 or 40 lanes. Other notable features in this area are the Molex power input for the graphics cards – useful when pushing high clocks on LN2! We have an LED pin out to the left of the Molex input and we also have some PWM fan headers, along with two USB 2.0 headers for another four USB 2.0 ports. The other stuff is pretty much a standard affair with the M.2 port that I mentioned earlier and the audio header. There are two buttons underneath the PCIe retention clips, and they are there for overclock optimising. One can assume that they are for a few benchmarks as they have the shortened name of what we call Fire Strike (OC_FS1) in the benchmarking world, and there’s also OC_ALL which as the name would suggest optimises all settings.

MSI X99A XPOWER Titanium - PCI

The back panel is loaded with USBs of all generations, from 2.0 through to 3.1 Type-C, and a few more bits… here’s the extensive list of what you will be able to use on the Titanium;

– 1 x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse combo port
– 3 x USB 2.0 ports
– 1 x BIOS FLASHBACK+ port
– 1 x Clear CMOS button
– 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 port
– 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port
– 6 x USB 3.1 Gen1 ports
– 1 x LAN (RJ45) port
– 1 x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector
– 5 x OFC audio jacks
– 1 x Wi-Fi/ Bluetooth® expansion module with Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 chip

MSI X99A XPOWER Titanium - IO

As the MSI X99A XPOWER Gaming Titanium is the second highest motherboard on X99 that MSI produce, you can bet your sweet bottom dollar that it is going to come with a bountiful accessories pack. What we have here is the following:

1x Wi-Fi antenna
1x User manual
1x Quick start guide
1x Door hanger
2x LED extension cables (short and long)
1x Labelling stickers pack
10x SATA 6 Gbps cables (half right angled, half straight)
2x SLI flexible bridges (short)
2x SLI flexible bridges (long)
1x IO shield
1x Voltage checkpoint cables (pack)
1x Front panel connector for easy connectivity

MSI X99A XPOWER Titanium - AccsSpecifications

CPU
• Supports New Intel® Core™ i7 Processor Extreme Edition for LGA2011-3 Socket
• Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0*
* This function will be supported depending on the CPU.

Chipset
• Intel® X99 Chipset

Main Memory
• 8 x DDR4 memory slots, support up to 128GB*
– Supports DDR4 3466(OC)/ 3400(OC)/ 3333(OC)/ 3200(OC)/ 3000(OC)/ 2933(OC)/ 2800(OC)/ 2666(OC)/ 2600(OC)/ 2400/ 2200(OC)/ 2133 MHz
• Quad channel memory architecture
• Supports non-ECC, un-buffered memory
• Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
• Supports RDIMM 1Rx8 memory module (Operates in non- ECC mode)
* For the latest information about memory, please visit http://www.msi.com

Slots
• 5 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (PCI_E1~PCI_E4 & PCI_E6*), support up to 4-way mode.
– 1-way mode: x16/x0/x0/x0/x0
– 2-way mode: x16/x0/x0/x16/x0**, x16/x0/x0/x8/x0***
ƒ- 3-way mode: x16/x0/x0/x16/x8** x8/x8/x0/x8/x0***
ƒ- 4-way mode: x8/x8/x0/x16/x8**, x8/x8/x0/x8/x4***
• 1x PCIe 2.0 x1 slot (PCI_E5)

* PCI_E6 slot, U.2 port and M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 share the same bandwidth. Please refer to page 33 for PCIe bandwidth tables.
** For the CPU that supports 40 PCIe lanes
*** For the CPU that supports 28 PCIe lanes

Multi-GPU
• Supports 4-Way AMD® CrossFire™ Technology
• Supports 4-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology

Storage
• Intel® X99 Chipset
• 10 x SATA 6Gb/s ports (2 ports from SATAe port)
• 1 x M.2 slot (Key M)
– Supports up to PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA 6Gb/s
– Supports 2242/ 2260 /2280/ 22110 storage devices
• 1 x U.2 port*
– Supports PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe storage
• 1 x SATAe port (compatible with 2 SATA ports)**
– Supports up to PCIe 2.0×2
• Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology***

*The U.2 port will be unavailable when installing the PCIe device in PCI_E6 slot.
** SATAe port is backward compatible with SATA.

RAID
• Intel® X99 Chipset
• SATA1~6 ports support RAID 0, RAID1, RAID 5 and RAID 10
• SATA7~10 ports only support IDE mode and AHCI mode.

USB
• ASMedia® ASM1142 Chipset
– 2 x USB 3.1 Gen2 (SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps) ports (1 Type-A port and 1 Type-C port on the board)
ƒ- 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 (SuperSpeed USB) ports available through the internal JUSB4 connector.
• VIA® VL805 Chipset
– 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 (SuperSpeed USB) ports on the back panel
• Intel® X99 Chipset
– 5 x USB 3.1 Gen1 (SuperSpeed USB) ports (2 Type-A ports on the back panel, 1 internal Type-C port on the board, 2 ports available through the internal JUSB3 connector)
– 7 x USB 2.0 (High-speed USB) ports (3 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB connectors)

Audio
• Realtek® ALC1150 Codec
– 7.1-Channel High Definition Audio
– Supports S/PDIF output

WLAN & Bluetooth
• Wi-Fi/ Bluetooth® expansion module with Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 chip
– Supports Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz) up to 867 Mbps speed.
– Supports Dual Mode Bluetooth® 2.1, 2.1+EDR, 3.0, 4.0, BLE, 4.2

LAN
• 1 x Intel® I218-V Gigabit LAN controller

Internal I/O Connectors
– 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
– 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
– 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
– 1 x flat 4-pin ATX 12V power connector*
– 10 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
– 2 x USB 2.0 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 2.0 ports)
– 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports)
– 1 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C port
– 1 x 4-pin CPU fan connector
– 1 x 4-pin Water Pump connector
– 2 x 4-pin OPT fan connectors
– 3 x 4-pin system fan connectors
– 1 x Front panel audio connector
– 1 x RGB LED connector
– 1 x TPM module connector
– 1 x OC retry button
– 1 x OC force enter BIOS button
– 2 x Front panel connectors
– 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
* Provides additional power to PCIe x16 slots

Back Panel I/O Ports
– 1 x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse combo port
– 3 x USB 2.0 ports
– 1 x BIOS FLASHBACK+ port
– 1 x Clear CMOS button
– 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 port
– 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port
– 6 x USB 3.1 Gen1 ports
– 1 x LAN (RJ45) port
– 1 x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector
– 5 x OFC audio jacks

Dimension
• 12.0 in. x 10.7 in. (30.5 cm x 27.2 cm)
• ATX Form Factor

Mounting
• 9 mounting holes

Testing Setup:

Motherboard:
CPU: Intel Core i7-6950X @ 4.0/3.5 GHz core/cache
CPU Cooling: Corsair H100i V2
GPU: GALAX GTX 980 SOC @ 1228 (1329 boost)/1800 MHz
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 4x8GB C15
PSU: Corsair AX1200i 80+ Platinum
OS: Windows 10 Professional x64 (built on February 13th 2016)

Methodology:

All benchmarks are done on a fresh install of Windows 10 Professional 64-bit that is fully up-to-date with Windows Updates when the .ISO was created to ensure that the performance reflects a real-world scenario and not that of a tweaked benchmarking system. We do not update the operating system or our benchmarking software as it would skew our data further down the line, which could be a positive or negative change. Our .ISO was built by Microsoft on the 13th of February, 2016; and as such will not be updated due to the reasoning above.

2D Benchmarks:

AIDA64 – CPU Queen/CPU Photoworxx/CPU AES & Memory Read/Write/Copy/Latency
Cinebench 11.5 – CPU & OpenGL
Cinebench R15 – CPU & OpenGL
Geekbench 3 – Single & Multicore
SiSandra – CPU Arithmetic/CPU Multi-Core Efficiency/Cache & Memory Bandwidth

3D Benchmarks:

3DMark 11 – Performance & Extreme
3DMark Fire Strike – Normal & Extreme

Gaming Benchmarks:

Company of Heroes 2 – Maximum Settings @ 1080P & 1440P
F1 2015 – Ultra Preset @ 1080P & 1440P
Total War: ROME II – Extreme Preset @ 1080P & 1440P

AIDA64

This simple integer benchmark focuses on the branch prediction capabilities and the misprediction penalties of the CPU. It finds the solutions for the classic “Queens problem” on a 10 by 10 sized chessboard. At the same clock speed theoretically the processor with the shorter pipeline and smaller misprediction penalties will attain higher benchmark scores. For example — with HyperThreading disabled — the Intel Northwood core processors get higher scores than the Intel Prescott core based ones due to the 20-step vs 31-step long pipeline. CPU Queen Test uses integer MMX, SSE2 and SSSE3 optimizations.

MSI X99 Titanium - AIDA CPU Queen

MSI X99 Titanium - AIDA Photo

MSI X99 Titanium - AIDA AES

MSI X99 Titanium - AIDA Mem Read

MSI X99 Titanium - AIDA Mem Write

MSI X99 Titanium - AIDA Mem Copy

MSI X99 Titanium - AIDA Mem Lat

Cinebench 11.5

CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MSI X99 Titanium - 115 CPU

MSI X99 Titanium - 115 OGL

Cinebench R15

CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MSI X99 Titanium - 15 CPU Score

MSI X99 Titanium - 15 OGL

Geekbench 3

Geekbench 3 is Primate Labs’ cross-platform processor benchmark, with a new scoring system that separates single-core and multi-core performance, and new workloads that simulate real-world scenarios. Geekbench 3 makes it easier than ever to find out if your computer is up to speed.

MSI X99 Titanium - GB3 Single

MSI X99 Titanium - GB3 Multi

SiS Sandra

SiS SANDRA, in our opinion, is a pretty stringent benchmark, capable of testing your systems limit. It is a pretty extensive suite of benchmarks, but I have narrowed down the more relevant ones to compare the performance.

MSI X99 Titanium - Sandra CPU Arith

MSI X99 Titanium - Sandra CPU Multi-media

MSI X99 Titanium - Sandra CPU Multicore Effi

MSI X99 Titanium - Sandra Cache Band

MSI X99 Titanium - Sandra CPU Mem Band

MSI X99 Titanium - Sandra CPU Mem Lat

3DMark 11

3DMark 11 is a DirectX 11 video card benchmark test for measuring your PC’s gaming performance. 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of DirectX 11 features including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 consistently and reliably tests your PC’s DirectX 11 performance under game-like loads.

MSI X99 Titanium - 3DM11P

MSI X99 Titanium - 3DM11E

3DMark Fire Strike

3DMark is a computer benchmarking tool created and developed by Futuremark Corporation (formerly MadOnion.com and initially Futuremark) to determine the performance of a computer’s 3D graphic rendering and CPU workload processing capabilities. Running 3DMark produces a 3DMark score, with higher numbers indicating better performance. The 3DMark measurement unit is intended to give a normalized mean for comparing different PC hardware configurations (mostly graphics processing units and central processing units), which proponents such as gamers and overclocking enthusiasts assert is indicative of end-user performance capabilities.

MSI X99 Titanium - 3DMFSP

MSI X99 Titanium - 3DMFSE

Company of Heroes 2

You are a commander of the Soviet Red Army, entrenched in brutal frontline warfare to free Mother Russia from the Nazi invaders. It is 1941 and the beginning of what will become the bloodiest conflict of World War II resulting in more than 14 million casualties. Witness the struggles of the Red Army from near defeat through their incredible triumph over Germany in the most challenging and costly theatre of the war, the Eastern Front. Your military tactics hold the power to tip the very balance of this conflict. Engage in tactical combat that will define you as a military leader and wield the might of the Soviet Empire as you smash your way to Berlin.

MSI X99 Titanium - COH2 1080 MSI X99 Titanium - COH2 1440

F1 2015

Race like a champion in F1 2015 – get closer than ever before to the experience of racing in the world’s most glamorous, exciting and prestigious motorsport. F1 2015 puts you in the heart of the action with a stunning new game engine that recreates the blisteringly fast and highly responsive racing cars of FORMULA ONE™ and features all-new ‘broadcast presentation’ that immerses you in the unique race day atmosphere.

MSI X99 Titanium - F1 1080

MSI X99 Titanium - F1 1440

Total War: ROME II

Total War: Rome II is a strategy game developed by The Creative Assembly and published by Sega. It was released on 3 September 2013 for Microsoft Windows and is the eighth standalone game in the Total War series of video games. Rome II is a successor to the 2004 game Rome: Total War. The game suffered from significant technical problems upon release (some of which were fixed by the Emperor Edition), but proved a commercial success, surpassing all other games in the Total War series in both sales and number of concurrent players on its release day.

MSI X99 Titanium - Rome 1080

MSI X99 Titanium - Rome 1440

Overclocking

MSI have come a long way in the overclocking department. I remember the older motherboards being a little difficult to get stable due to a few key features missing (if you don’t know, don’t worry!). However, I am pleased to say that they are now very much in a different place on the field, and their products provide a much better overclocking experience on the whole. I had absolutely no issues when pushing the top-end i7-6950X to its limits with my cooling limitations (I wonder why no one will let me use LN2 on their CPUs??) and personal voltage limitations.

I never expect to have any issues on modern motherboards when it comes to overclocking the CPU, but I always expect to encounter some issues when pushing the memory speeds as there is always something else other than the IMC that can hold it back, and it often takes a lot of time to fine tune the settings so that they are stable. Unfortunately, I don’t have weeks on end to tune the memory that Corsair gave to me, so I have to run with the next best thing and use some of the pre-configured settings along with a bit of knowledge to bring them up to speed. I can confirm that I was able to get the modules running at 3200 MHz in quad channel with ease, and I was even able to get some benchmarks to pass at 3400 MHz without much difficulty. Now, you need to remember that your mileage may vary significantly, and it is down to the CPU, motherboard and the RAM, not just one or the other. Although the results aren’t on the graphs, as we don’t test the overclocked RAM and the system is overclocked for all benchmarks as it is (by me, not by the UEFI profile(s)), the scores which I was able to obtain from the memory was astonishing. The modules that I am using aren’t even the best out there as they are still on the Hynix MFR based ICs (Integrated Circuits) which are slower than Samsung’s latest B-die creation. I was able to push over 80 GBps, yes, eight zero Gigabytes per second, out of the board. It would probably be even higher with the Samsung modules. This is something that I’ve not seen before and it left me with a cheeky grin on my face. That’s probably quite sad, but hey…

Overclocking on the CPU side of things is very typical of anything past the Sandybridge generation with the exception of a few other voltages such as the input voltage and the cache to toy around with. Bang in a multiplier, apply appropriate volts, see if it works … you know, that amazingly ‘fun’ kind of overclocking. Can you tell how exciting it is to overclock on a modern day platform when you’re not tweaking the RAM? Anyway, the board performed as I had expected from a high-end product such as this one. It had no issues rebooting when a failed overclock was applied purposefully, and it also had no issues in holding the overclock that the other products which I’ve tested were capable of either. At the end of the day, all X99(A) motherboards should be able to cope with most daily overclocks thrown at it without a hassle. If not, and they burst into flames (yes, that does happen!) … it means that you may have a slightly duff product. It happens, no product is ever truly perfect.

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for an X99A motherboard and you happen to like the looks of the Titanium; is it the one for you if you’re also searching for something that represents good value for money, and also happens to have some pretty wicked performance to back it up? I think that you’re hit the nail on the head and here’s why in a slightly more descriptive manor than ‘go buy this product now!’ sort of screech.

I will talk about the aesthetics and features of this motherboard to start with and then move on to the other aspects in which we base our final verdicts on in just a few moments. The Titanium motherboard is somewhat out there in terms of every product having to be black or red, but it is a look that really grows on you very quickly if it is something that you’re unsure on. I did first have a few thoughts about its viability when I looked at the Z170A XPOWER Gaming Titanium, but my oh my do I love it now! The features which you get on the motherboard are second to none and they are features which you’d really expect to find on a motherboard of this calibre. There’s a whole host of things such as its Wi-Fi module that supports everything from 802.11b through ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and Intel’s Wi-Di technology. The rest of the features are pretty much a standard occurrence with any X99 motherboard – M.2 and U.2 are standard X99 features, as are the ten SATA 6 Gbps ports. Notable features which you may not be all too aware of are things such as the LED control header, and the internal USB 3.1 Type-C (nice touch!) connector which MSI are trying to lead the way in terms of internal connectivity options for future generations of cases/chassis.

MSI X99A XPOWER Titanium - Cover

If you read my review on the MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon, you will probably remember how I raved about its memory performance and how it is just so far ahead of the competition that it is unreal. No? Well, I’ll refresh your memory and go one step further again with the Titanium. Even though the Titanium is a larger board and has more area to cover in terms of its DIMM positioning, the performance is yet another level ahead of the already very fast MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon. The Titanium does not always hit the highest benchmark scores in every single test, but with thanks to its insane memory throughput, it helps to claw back some performance and put it on the top of the charts (for now) in a significant amount of our testing suite. As I always say, the results are literally a within a margin of error for the most part, except for some of the results which are so far out of whack as they technically a statistical anomaly in these instances. Luckily, there’s nothing that really jumps out at me too much, which means that the board is a solid performer in almost all of the scenarios.

Value is always something of a subjective matter as each of you will perceive value as a different figure. For me as a tech journalist, I have to give you something that I would be comfortable with, so here goes! As it currently stands, for £370 ($430 USD), I can’t say that it is cheap, but it is by no means expensive as it has a lot to offer. The performance is great, and the accessories that you get with the product is pretty intense. Performance is something which comes into the factor as well, and my feelings on that are pretty clear (I’d hope.)

That leaves us with the final aspect of the conclusion, and that is the awards. Oh, yes, there are a few! So let’s go through them and see why I feel that the MSI X99A XPOWER Gaming Titanium deserves them. Here… we… go!

Platinum Award – It goes without saying that the MSI X99A XPOWER Gaming Titanium is worthy of the highest award that we give out at Play3r. It is one of the fastest, most awesome looking motherboards that I would recommend (hence my next award.)

The Play3r Platinum Award

Editor’s Choice Award – Striking looks, great performance and a not too demanding price tag to match gets two jolly big thumbs up from me!

The Play3r Editor's Choice Award

Design Award – Just look at the board, it needs no words.

awards-design

Performance Award – While it does not always perform at the top of its group, it hits top spot very often and the memory performance is enough to gain this award by itself.

The Play3r award for Performance

Value Award – Yes, £370 ($430 USD) is rather expensive, but it is a cracking motherboard for the money. X99 is not intended for cheap users to come in and swoop the market, it is for enthusiasts with a fair amount of cash to spend on a solid, long lasting rig.

The Play3r Value Award

I’d like to conclude by thanking MSI for sending us their X99A XPOWER Gaming Titanium motherboard. It’s a wicked board at a great (as far as some products go) price.

 

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3 COMMENTS

    • Hi Calvin,

      The kit in question is this one (part number): CMK32GX4M4B3000C15

      The IC’s are MFR to my knowledge as they a single sided DIMM.

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