Final Words & Conclusion
Final words & conclusion
When Intel released processors with more than 10 cores, the dynamic changed. The procs are fairly power hungry, and as this review once again has shown, once overclocked the power draw is ginormous. Within that mindset, motherboard manufacturers jumped into designing refresh X299 motherboards with strong and powerful VRMs and added features. The conundrum in the result of it all is a product like shown today, the MEG X299 Creation is extreme and capable in all its ways. And hey, it has all the right features as well. The point shielding design is a bit trivial and will not be for everybody, but there are other models to choose from of course. Also what I like very much is that MSI didn't go over the TOP with RGB LEDs. I also really like the metal shielding on the PCI and DIMM slots.
We need to talk money though. As if the 7960X proc tested today isn't expensive enough at 1500 EUR, this motherboard will cost you the staggering sum of € 579,- / 549 USD. As huge as that amount is, you can tell where the money went. The add-in cards for 4x extra properly cooled full-speed M.2 SSDs, and the advanced dual two-way Thunderbolt 3 cards would easily cost you 150 bucks each in retail alone. Then there's the intricate design, component selection, strong VRM, proper VRM cooling, quality audio and things like Dual-Band WIFI as well as 2.5 Gbps Ethernet. Yes, everything and anything on this board is extreme.
With the current BIOS firmware, the processor temps remain trivial, at ~70 Degrees C under full load conditions. MSI is bypassing the Intel recommended p-state spec only slightly as you can observe from power consumption levels. With most synthetic benchmarks you will not notice huge perf differences. Performance is as expected with a many-core (10+ cores) Intel processor.
We paired the motherboard with a 7960X, a 16-core Intel processor that we cannot tame even with a 280mm radiator based liquid cooler. The motherboard is extreme, the proc really could run 4700 on all cores, it's just that the heat levels of the processor do not allow for it. And that is a bit of a dim moment when you figure that out to be a fact. Props to MSI though for designing a beast of a motherboard. If you pair it with the right proc, and leave the clocks as reference as can be, the temperatures of that proc will remain under control. But the current 10+ core processor range from Intel as well as AMD Threadripper are difficult to tweak products. Your best bet is to find the highest all-core frequency based on Voltage defaults. That's likely a 4400~4500 MHz range which, let's be honest, ain't bad either. Processors aside, this is an amazing motherboard, really it is, as IF you had the right cooling combined with, say, a delidded proc, the mobo would not restrict your overclock whatsoever.
Depending on the hardware p-state the motherboard is fitted with, your numbers will be all over the place. So, with sixteen cores you get a 165 Watt TDP processor. With the system at idle with a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti installed / 32 GB memory / SSD and the X299 motherboard, I hovered at roughly 80 Watts in IDLE. That's just fine really, the load values are however more significant. When we stressed the processor in a 100% run we reach almost 300 Watts (entire PC) with this sixteen core part (it was a Prime 1024M stress test though). So, we go from 80 Watts towards 300 Watts.
We quickly have to discuss PCI-Express lanes, as honestly here is Intel just goofing up. Here is the breakdown:
- Kaby Lake-X quad core gets 16 PCI-Express Lanes 3.0
- Skylake-X six and eight core procs get 28 PCI-Express Lanes 3.0
- Skylake-X ten or more core procs get 44 PCI-Express Lanes 3.0
The bottom line
I still find the current 10+ core processor range from Intel to be an incredibly difficult sell. Make no mistake, these frackers are fast! Compared to a similar core version Threadripper, Intel wins in performance. The facts are that simple. However, Intel has one thing against it, processor pricing. Intel is almost twice as expensive per core, compared to a similar core Threadripper. The 7960X proc we used is sweet (as long as you don't tweak it lol), it is a sub-1500 EUR/USD proc. However, if you do plan to order a proc of this price range, you need to pair it with a proper motherboard. And that's where we land at the MEG X299 Creation. It's a thing of beauty, it's versatile, lean and mean. MSI probably should create an SKU excluding the M.2 add-in card and the Thunderbolt controller. I can see this board at 349~399 USD without them, and then all of a sudden the pricing makes better sense, right? Hilbert, any remarks on the mobo? Well, I love 2.5 Gbps ethernet jack, but why not drop the Intel one and go for a 5 or 10 Gbps one? The power and reset buttons are small? My comments end there though as, really, the rest is tuned to perfection. Features wise the sky is the limit. Neither did MSI go over the top with RGB LEDs, they kept things subtle, I like that as well. In the end, the MSI MEG X299 Creation is a near perfect product for a processor product series that remains a very hard sell. We cannot fault MSI for that though as, really, I take my hat off for what MSI is offering here. What a nice product.
Once again, apologies for some of the photos. My prime Canon L lens has a defect in focus, something we could only notice after the photo-shoot.
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