Intel took a big step forward in decreasing the gap between their mainstream and HEDT market segments when they released the 9000 series of Core processors. Just a few short years ago, breaking past the eight-thread barrier required deep pockets (well, deeper pockets anyway) and an HEDT framework. However, what if you still have those deeper pockets and a professional workload that demands a professional build? Does Intel still have a compelling HEDT product on offer? MSI certainly does with the MEG X299 CREATION.
Before getting into the X299 CREATION, I want to reiterate the details of the new MSI product designations. I promise that I will eventually have reviews from each product category; for now, here are the basics. Starting with this generation of boards in both the mainstream and HEDT segments, MSI motherboards will be sorted into four categories: the MEG series, MPG series, MAG series, and PRO series. The first three, which are new designations, are acronyms (M.E.G., M.P.G., and M.A.G.). Punctuation has been left out in order to accommodate inventory management systems that may have trouble with punctuation symbols. MSI intends these segments to sort boards based on features instead of price. So what can consumers expect from each category?
The MEG (MSI Enthusiast Gaming) series boards boast the most advanced technologies, specifically for this launch. The two MEG models (the GODLIKE and ACE) feature Killer network controllers, a dedicated audio DAC, and an infinity mirror RGB light zone.
The MPG (MSI Performance Gaming) series is designed around the mainstream gaming market, both in features and aesthetic design.
The MAG (MSI Arsenal Gaming) series focuses on pure functionality and is designed to have a rugged military aesthetic.
The PRO series, which is not new, covers all boards designed for home or business use. These boards will not feature support for the MSI software suite that is included with the other three categories of motherboard.
The MEG X299 CREATION, as its name has already given away, is another halo product; part of the MEG line with top-shelf features and performance. The X299 chipset isn't exactly new, but still a platform to be reckoned with. Featuring the Intel 2066 socket and designed for Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X, I will be pairing it up with a Core i9-7980XE for this review.
Obviously, the MEG X299 CREATION isn't just another X299 board. To hold the MEG designation, it has to bring more to the table, and the CREATION certainly delivers. Featuring unique styling, steel-reinforced PCIe and DIMM slots, and no less than three 8-pin CPU power connections, the MEG X299 CREATION is ready to work. Oh, and did I mention the included Thunderbolt PCIe card or M.2 Xpander-Aero? That second card features four additional M.2 slots, all cooled by a GPU-grade heatsink. I have something special in mind for it later on thanks to the help of ADATA.
There is a whole lot in store on the following pages, so I will stop wasting time here. Let's see what the MEG X299 CREATION has to offer.
|CPU Support:||Intel Core X-Series Processors|
|Power Design:|| CPU Power: 13 phase |
Memory Power: 1 phase
|Memory:||8x DIMM, Support Quad Channel DDR4-4200 (OC) MHz|
|BIOS:||Dual AMI UEFI BIOS|
|Expansion Slots:|| 4x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (lanes dependent on CPU)|
1x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots
|Storage:|| 8x SATA 6 Gb/s port |
3x M.2 port (SATA3/PCIe 3.0 x4)
1x U.2 port
|Networking:||1x Intel I219-V Gigabit LAN|
1x Realtek RTL8125-CG 2.5G LAN
1x Intel Wireless-AC 9260
|Rear Ports:|| 2x Antenna ports|
1x Optical SPDIF out port
2x LAN (RJ45) ports
2x USB 2.0 Type-A port
1x USB 3.1 (Gen2) Type-C port
1x USB 3.1 (Gen2) Type-A port
6x USB 3.1 (Gen1) ports
1x Clear CMOS button
1x BIOS Flashback button
5x 3.5 mm Audio jacks
1x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard combo port
|Audio:||1x Realtek ALC1220 Codec|
|Fan Headers:||8x 4-pin|
|Form Factor:||E-ATX Form Factor: 12.0 in x 10.7 in, 30.5 cm x 27.2 cm|