MSI know that if you’re going to hype a feature, it had better work under most configurations. The X99S MPower gets there by lane switching, but does it have enough added features to breach the $300 class?
What does it take to make a $300 motherboard? Combining Intel’s premium on the X99 chipset with the added motherboard layers needed to support its 2011-pin CPU interface, we can understand why entry-level motherboards come at a decidedly non-mainstream price. But if $250 can buy us a great board, and if most of the features needed to make those platforms “high-end” are already built into the chipset, what feature is so important that enthusiasts should pay an extra $50 to get it?
Asus answered that with 802.11ac Wi-Fi. ASRock decided that wasn’t enough and added dual GbE plus the 802.11ac controller. Yet, I slammed both of those boards for dropping the third PCIe 3.0 graphics slot whenever a PCIe-based M.2 drive was installed. It’s not that PCIe M.2 and three-way SLI are super popular, but rather that both vendors went cheap on PCIe 3.0 lane switches and caused the conundrum. If you’re going to charge someone $300 for a motherboard, don’t leave out a few minor components.
You could say that we love the X99’s integrated features. Or you could say that we have an issue with products that don’t implement them properly. Either way, MSI’s X99S MPower includes the low-cost components needed to overcome its competitors’ biggest headaches. But what of lust? Didn’t we see a similar slot configuration on the company’s own X99S Gaming 7? Which X99S MPower features will entice us to pay a $35-higher price?
Today we’re comparing MSI’s X99S MPower to its closest rivals. But a look back at theX99S Gaming 7 review reveals that the MPower gains only a slightly larger voltage regulator, a slow-mode switch to assist extreme overclockers at boot, dual BIOS and a couple of buttons for firmware-level overclocking. None of these are particularly lust-worthy, though the aforementioned extreme overclockers might find value in the small upgrades.
By Thomas Soderstrom – tomshardware