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MSI X99S Gaming 7 review

Andrew Unsworth
3 Nov 2014
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
200
inc VAT

The X99S Gaming 7 is a good Intel X99 board for gamers who also like to tinker with their setup

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Specifications

Processor socket: Intel LGA2011-3, Dimensions: 305x244, Chipset: Intel X99, Memory slots: 8, PCI-E x16 slots: 4, PCI-E x1 slots: 2, PCI slots: 0, USB ports: 2x USB, 8x USB3, Video outputs: None

The MSI X99S Gaming 7 is designed for gamers who want to make the most of the Intel X99 Haswell-E platform, with features such as a Killer E2205 Gigabit LAN controller designed to prioritise gaming traffic over your network, support for multiple graphics cards in SLI and CrossFire modes and some software utilities designed for gamers.

These utilities include Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility, which is handy for overclocking, monitoring and testing, a management utility for the Killer Ethernet adaptor, and a two-year premium licence for XSplit Gamecaster, an application for recording and streaming gaming videos. As the X99S Gaming 7 uses the Intel X99 chipset, it has a Socket 2011-3 socket and requires an Intel Haswell-E processor, such as the Core i7-5960X we used for testing.

There’s plenty of room for storage expansion with 10 SATA3 ports, one SATA Express port and an M.2 port. The SATA Express port lets you transfer up to 10GB/s of data from a compatible drive, but you’ll lose the use of two SATA3 ports if you do. With so many SATA3 ports available in the first place, though, we don’t think that’s too much of a problem.

As for PCI-Express expansion, it’s a mixed bag. There are four PCI-E x16 slots, which is useful. However, there are only two PCI-E x1 slots, one of which will be obscured as soon as you install a dual-width graphics card in the first PCI-E x16 slot, which is something the vast majority of people will do if they’re building a gaming PC.

The speed at which the x16 slots run depends on the processor and the number of cards installed. Whichever processor you plug in, if you install graphics cards they will both run at x16. If you install a third card, the first two cards will run at x16 and the third at x8 if you use any processor other than the Intel Core i7-5820K. If you do use the Intel Core i7-5820K, all three cards will run at x8 speed. As with all X99 boards, you can install up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM in the X99S Gaming 7’s eight memory slots, and the board supports memory overclocked to a fast 3,333MHz.

There are a generous eight USB3 ports on the back, along with two USB ports, a PS/2 connector, the Killer E2205 Gigabit Ethernet connector, five analogue 3.5mm audio jacks and an S/PDIF digital audio connector. That’s a sensible and useful set of connection ports, and few owners will want or need any more.

PERFORMANCE

The X99S Gaming 7 scored 113 overall in our PC benchmarks when we tested it with a Core i7-5960X. This result is what we’d expect from a Core i5-4670K, and the reason it didn't score more is because our benchmarks can’t adequately stress all eight of the Core i7-5960X's cores hard enough. We retested the setup with a tougher version of our conventional benchmarks, using larger images and 4K video files, and were pleased to see that the X99 Gaming 7 scored 221 overall, which is an impressive result. With the processor overclocked from 3.5GHz to 4.5GHz, and the memory overclocked from 2,133MHz to 2,666MHz, our test setup scored 151 overall in our standard benchmark tests and a highly impressive 285 overall in our tougher tests. If you like to tinker with the clock and voltage settings of your PC as much as you like gaming, you’ll love this board.

As is typical of MSI Gaming-series motherboards, there are plenty of overclocking options in the BIOS. The X99S Gaming 7’s BIOS looks a little dated, and we’d prefer some option lists to be better delineated with subheadings so you can find the options you need more quickly. As it is, it can be hard to find the option you want because it’s lost in a list of text that all looks the same.

One thing that we really like to see on enthusiast motherboards is a set of onboard buttons and debugging LEDs for quickly booting, resetting and diagnosing problems with the board on a test bench, or with the side of a PC removed. The X99S Gaming 7 doesn’t disappoint, with power and reset buttons and an OC Genie button, which lets you apply an automatic overclock with a single press. We found the feature to be too conservative with its overclock, however, and preferred to adjust clock and voltage settings manually in the BIOS.

MSI X99S gaming 7 is a great Haswell-E board for enthusiasts. The onboard buttons are useful for tweaking, and the board provides plenty of expansion. However, the rival Gigabyte X99-UD4 supports four-way CrossFire and SLI and is also cheaper, making it a better buy if you simply want a good board with which to build a powerful X99-based PC. The X99S Gaming 7 is still a compelling buy and is worth the extra cash for those who will make use of its onboard buttons, Killer Ethernet adaptor and software utilities.

Hardware
Processor socketIntel LGA2011-3
Form factorATX
Dimensions305x244
Processor supportIntel Core i7 Haswell-E processors
Processor external bus100MHz
ChipsetIntel X99
Supported memory typeDDR4
Maximum memory speed3333MHz
Memory slots8
Maximum memory64GB
Motherboard power connectors1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 8-pin 12V
PCI-E x16 slots4
PCI-E x4 slots0
PCI-E x1 slots2
PCI slots0
Motherboard fan headers3
SATA II ports0
SATA III ports10
RAID support0, 1, 5, 10
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000Mbit/s
Motherboard sound (ports)Realtek ALC1150 (5x analogue, optical S/PDIF)
USB ports2x USB, 8x USB3
USB headers4x USB, 4x USB3
Video outputsNone
Other ports1x PS/2, Clear CMOS button
Cables included5x SATA cables, 1x SLI ribbon
Motherboard clock adjustmentCPU/RAM/Chipset
Motherboard voltage adjustmentCPU/RAM/Chipset
Buying information
Price including VAT£200
WarrantyThree-year RTB
Supplierwww.overclockers.co.uk
Detailswww.msi.com
Part codeX99S Gaming 7

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