MSI X370 CARBON PRO GAMING AM4 Motherboard Review
- MSI X370 CARBON PRO GAMING AM4 Features
- First Look
- Test Setup and Overclocking
- [1800X Overclocking]
- [Testing Method]
- Conclusion – TL:DR
MSI X370 CARBON PRO GAMING AM4 Motherboard Review. MSI debuted their Carbon series on Intel, and now it’s time to expand over to the freshly launched, AM4 X370 chipset. With a sleek and clean visual appearance, decent feature set, and very respectable price tag. Is the board worth your cash?
Being a launch product, pricing will vary from region, and day to day, but today as we write, it is £174 $ 199 99. Feature wise we have a lot on offer including 3 WAY AMD Xfire, two-way SLI, dual M.2 slots, DDR4 up to 3200, Steel Armor, RGB and more…
MSI X370 CARBON PRO GAMING AM4 Features
- Supports AMD® RYZEN Series Processors and 7th Gen A-series / AthlonTM Processors for socket AM4
- Supports DDR4-3200+(OC) Memory
- DDR4 Boost with Steel Armor: Give your DDR4 memory a performance boost
- VR Ready and VR Boost: Best virtual reality game experience without latency, reduces motion sickness
- Mystic Light and Mystic Light Sync: 16.8 million colors /17 effects controlled in one click with GAMING APP or mobile devices.
- Lightning Fast Game experience: Turbo M.2, M.2 Shield, Lightning USB 3.1 Gen2
- Audio Boost 4 with Nahimic 2: Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality for the most immersive gaming experience
- GAMING LAN with LAN Protect, powered by Intel® : The best online gaming experience with lowest latency and bandwidth management
- Military Class 4, Guard-Pro: Latest evolution in high quality components for best protection and efficiency
- MULTI-GPU: With Steel Armor PCI-E slots. Supports NVIDIA SLI™ & AMD Crossfire™
- In-Game Weapons: Game Boost, GAMING Hotkey, X-Boost, Xsplit Gamecaster
- EZ Debug LED: Easiest way to troubleshoot
- Click BIOS 5: Award-winning BIOS with high resolution scalable font, favorites and search function
- GAMING CERTIFIED: 24-hour on- and offline game and motherboard testing by eSports players
- WHQL certified for Windows 10
Taking a look at the bundle now in no particular order, you’ll find the following:
- User’s manual
- 2 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
- 1 x Driver/Software DVD
- 1 x SLI BRIDGE
- 2 x Extension Cable for RGB strips
- 1X Black I/O Sheild
- SATA Labelling kit
For the price point, this is exactly what we’d expect.
We start our tour with a complete top down view, to absorb what’s on offer. If you’ve been following the Intel side from MSI, you’ll recognize the overall design and layout. A black board with subtle silver elements, and carbon
MSI had a winning design on the Intel versions, and we’ve no issue seeing them lift and reuse it here on AM4. It’s not the cleanest PCB that I’ve laid eyes upon, but its fair considering what’s crammed upon it.
The Carbon appears on the X370 Chisept, but also around the entire I/O shroud and MOSFET heatsinks. Carbon has a tendency to react well with light, and once you active the RGB it does just that.
The use of carbon is a wise move, and end results is a classy and enticing element
The chipset heatsink, also sports a carbon strip, and is one of the four lighting zones. Each is controlled with MSI’s own application
MSI has opted to included a feature we’ve seen on almost every recent Intel board, their Steel Armor is no gimmick. The extra solder points and shrouding adds much-needed strength to two of the three, PCIe slots.
• 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (PCIE_2, PCIE_4)
– RYZEN series processors support x16/x0, x8/x8 mode
– 7th Gen A-series/ Athlon™ processors support x8/x0 mode
• 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slot (PCIE_6, supports x4 mode)*
• 3 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
ISOLATED AUDIO DESIGN WITH RGB LED BORDER
Audio Boost operates like a dedicated soundcard by being physically isolated from the rest of the motherboard circuitry to ensure the purest audio signal possible. A bright border illuminated by LEDs showcases and protects the Hi-Fi audio unit.
SEPARATED AUDIO LAYERS FOR CLEAN LEFT & RIGHT CHANNELS
Using separated layers in the PCB ensures equally pristine sound quality for both left and right audio channels.
NEXT-GEN HIGH DEFINITION AUDIO PROCESSOR
Audio Boost 4 is powered by an EMI-shielded High Definition audio processor with built-in DAC, making sure you enjoy the purest sound quality in both stereo and surround sound.
- 120dB SNR / 32-bit
- Supports DSD Super Audio CD playback & recording (64x better than regular CD quality)
DEDICATED HEADPHONE AMPLIFIER THAT AUTO-DETECTS IMPEDANCE
The built-in dedicated headphone amplifier rewards audiophiles with headphones up to 600Ω impedance by delivering studio-grade sound quality from your gaming PC. Audio Boost 4 automatically detects the optimal impedance for your headphones and adjusts the output for the best sound quality.
6 SATA ports on the Carbon, but sadly MSI have done here what they’ve done a few times now, and separated the ports. With four right-angled on the edge, and the other two in a vertical manner. My understanding, is that the latter are easier to access for troubleshooting for example, and eliminate the need to remove your GPU.
- 6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s),
- Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
While I see the benefit, im not a fan, and would have preferred 6X on the board edge
[M.2 / U.2]
The appeal of M.2 drives is obvious, apart from the benefits of being super fast, they look great and do away with the need of both data and power cables.
- • 2x M.2 slots (Key M)
– M2_1 slot supports PCIe 3.0 x4 (RYZEN series processors) or PCIe 3.0 x2 (7th Gen A-series/ Athlon™ processors) and SATA 6Gb/s 2242/ 2260 /2280/ 22110 storage devices
– M2_2 slot supports PCIe 2.0 x4 and SATA 6Gb/s 2242/ 2260 /2280 storage devices**
MSI has included a welcome addition, in the form of an M.2 Drive heatsink, Again like SATA im happy with the idea, but would have preferred a second cover for enthusiasts. At the price point, however, it is understandable!
MSI offer ample amount of header for fans, to keep your rig cool!
[Other ports/ Features]
Along the motherboard base, you’ll find additional connectivity and options
- – 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- – 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- – 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
- – 2 x USB 2.0 connectors (support additional 4 USB 2.0 ports)
- – 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 connectors (support additional 4 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports)
- – 1 x 4-pin CPU fan connector
- – 1 x 4-pin water-pump-fan connector
- – 4 x 4-pin system fan connectors
- – 1 x TPM module connector
- – 1 x Front panel audio connector
- – 2 x System panel connectors
- – 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
- – 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
- – 1 x 4-pin RGB LED strip connector
Finishing up our tour of the board, looking at the I/O which consists of:
- – 1 x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse combo port-
- – 2 x USB 2.0 Type-A ports
- – 1 x DVI-D port
- – 1 x HDMI™ port
- – 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports
- – 1 x LAN (RJ45) port
- – 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port
- – 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port
- – 5 x OFC audio jacks
- – 1 x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector
2016 was the year of RGB. like any trend, it snowballed, and you’ll struggle to find a board that doesn’t offer RGB. While I had an issue with earlier versions, from MSI… credit to them here, this is much better!
They’ve focused th light into the X370 heatsink, along with the right edge, the shroud and down the left audio section. You can independently choose colors for each, and customize them with effects
Test Setup and Overclocking
Proudly Powered by our Dimastech Mini V1.0 Test Bench
|AMD Ryzen 7 1800X|
|Memory:||16GB Kingston Kingston Predator 16GB DDR4 PC4-24000C15 3200MHz Quad Channel Kit|
|Video Card:||AMD/ XFX 390X|
|PSU:||Bitfenix Fury 750G|
|Hard Drives:||SSD – Crucial M550 |
M.2 – Kingston M.2 HyperX Predator 240GB
|OS:||Windows 10 X64|
We’ve spent the last few years taking for granted to simple overclocking that Intel allows with K series processors. With XFR now in the mix, is it worth it anymore on AMD? And is it easy?
The short answer in is yes, it is relatively straight forward, you can and should spend some time tweaking, with the plethora of settings. For this test, we utilized a simple approach and maxed the vcore, and aimed for the best raw speed (MHz on ALL cores).
Our CPU peaked at 4.05Ghz on all cores, which seems to be fairly common. Its early days, and being our first AM4 review we have no direct comparison (yet)
What’s been overlooked by many, is that small increments on AM4 yield stronger and more positive gains. The Intel effect, we’ve become accustomed to, has cast a negative light on these seemingly poor overclocks. AMD suggest a safe spot is around 1.35V, but up to you if you’re willing to push more volts in the Ryzen core.
Temps do increase rapidly once an overclock is applied, so you’ll need an able air cooler, or ideally an AIO, and at best a custom water loop!
A quick note on DDR4 frequency, we highly suspect over time with BIOS updates, this and the other boards will support higher! And a quick note on Stability etc, we had no issues running at 3000Mhz
Our test method uses a large variety of software to determine the results and product award. For your viewing, these are broken down into the following categories
- General System
- CPU & Memory
- Storage & USB
- Audio &Networking
We start with a broader view of general system performance and then break it down, as we delve deeper with sub testing, where we can examine key areas.
[PC Mark 8]
PCMark 8 from Futuremark. PCMark 8 is designed to test the performance of all types of PC, from tablets to desktops. With five separate benchmark tests plus battery life testing, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance. It’s the complete PC benchmark for home and business.
The first test we run is PCMark 8, as we’re also able to gauge an all-around score. This test is heavily affected by all internal components rather than focusing on just one.
In prior reviews, the focus has to be AMD vs. Intel, as we had no comparison.
Now we do, and I’m actually surprised how close this is, to a product that’s considerably more money!
This is echoed in demanding set of tests, with microscopic differences between the two AM4 boards. Nothing more than a few seconds difference
Cinebench is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.
AMD frequently pitted the 1800X against the 6900K in the lead up the launch, and here’s why…half the price and better results!
As the Bios’s have matured we’re now seeing better scores, but also with compatibility and stability. I had some minor niggles when reviewing the ASUS board, but now AMD has updated the code, and it’s been pushed by the 3rd parties (MSI in this case) I had no problems benching at 3000Mhz
Its been no secret, many publications have reported lower than anticipated 1080P results, and our findings echoes exactly that. AMD has since reported, with time for changes and enchantments to compilers and software to catch up; these numbers will improve across the board.
I’d suggest following AMD on social media; they’ve recently announced and shown, clear gains in some titles (since launch).
We are confident in time this will translate across other titles, and the gap will close between them and Intel.
[GAMING 1440P /AKA 2K]
Theirs very little to worry about in most games, once we push past 1080P, but again I’m confident these gaps will close in time. For now, we have to focus on the two AM4 boards, and like other aspects of our testing, the difference is tiny!
Our first look at the I/O on the X370 chipset and SATA results are magnificent
Fanatic results with our M.2 drive, besting the Intel X99/Z170 & Z270,
We don’t have any USB 3.1 (Gen2 ) devices at the time of testing, so will be focusing on 3.0/3.1 only. Be sure to understand the actual difference between USB 3.0/3.1 Gen 1 & Gen 2. As it’s something that not all brands have explained clearly.To measure speeds, we use AS-SSD, with an SSD inside a USB 3.0 Caddy from Startech
The Kingston SSD has a theoretical limit of 499MB/s Write, when hooked up internally to an SATA 6GB/s port. Overheads and such we accept that some degradation occurs when used over USB 3.0/3.1
The AM4 platform has had upgrades in all areas, including USB and the numbers speak for themselves!
Using the inbuilt network test for Performance test 8. The method is to install the software on two machines, which are on the same network. One acts as a client and the other as a server, a designated amount of data is sent across and then the Min, Avg, and Max transfer speeds are outputted.
MSI has recently made to switch from Killer to an Intel LAN solution, which has in the past and continues to deliver the best all round results. While the max between the rear aren’t too far apart di pay attention to the better minds and average especially
While the max speeds, between the rest, aren’t too far apart, do pay attention to the better min’s and average especially!
We use RightMark Audio Analyzer, connecting “Line out” to “Line in” with a 3.5mm cable.
|Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB|| |
|Noise level, dB (A)|| |
|Dynamic range, dB (A)|| |
|THD, %|| |
|THD + Noise, dB (A)|| |
|IMD + Noise, %|| |
|Stereo crosstalk, dB|| |
|IMD at 10 kHz, %|| |
|General performance|| |
The Audio quality, was better than we expected for a Gaming Board
Conclusion – TL:DR
The MSI X370 CARBON PRO GAMING has delivered the goods, with solid and consistent performance. Nipping away at the heels of the ROG Hero, which is priced at over 100 pounds more! Now that’s impressive. Not a single weak area, from our subtests in M.2, SATA, USB or network, incidentally I’m pleased to see an Intel controller opposed to the Killer NIC’s, which don’t provide the same overall performance as mentioned earlier.
Looks? A winner in my book, with a straightforward clean black PCB. With clever use of carbon and silver elements, the end results is stunning. This is critical for the RGB feature to work, and it performs better than I expected. With a plethora of effects, and unlimited color choice, the zones they’ve to added lighting to, really pops and allows for some unique options. While I’m personally a fan of single colors, you can be very creative here on the CARBON PRO GAMING.
I won’t echo what I’ve already covered in detail earlier, I’ll just get the point. The MSI X370 CARBON PRO GAMING is a fantastic motherboard, and if you have a budget for about 170GBP, this is one to go for!
We would like to thank MSI, for sending the review sample, and eagerly await more from them soon!
Thoughts? Drop a comment below or on the video!