Ryzen+ launch revealed new motherboards
The release of Ryzen+ in 2018 came with the release of a new motherboard platform, the X470, the successor of the previous X370 lineup of motherboards. If you own a Ryzen 7, you will probably realize that the newest X470 platform is the best motherboard platform for your Ryzen 7. There are many excellent X470 motherboards to choose from, but one motherboard, in particular, stands out from the rest having all the necessary features you could want from a motherboard. Many times, we think that the more expensive a motherboard is the better quality it offers, which is totally untrue. The financial sweet spot for motherboards (whether Intel or AMD) has always been on the $150-$200 price range. At this price range, you will find all the neat features you need for your build while not overpaying for features you would never use anyways.
MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC
The MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC has it all. From RGB lighting to excellent overclocking support to M.2 support there is nothing missing on this motherboard. For the sake of this review, I had been looking at 4 motherboards: The Asus Rog Crosshair VII Hero, The AsRock X470 Taichi, The Gigabyte X470 Aorus Gaming 7 and finally the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC.
Surprisingly, while all the above-mentioned motherboards except for the MSI Gaming Pro Carbon AC were more expensive, not only did they not offer anything worthwhile for their higher price, but also missed features like DisplayPort, HDMI and USB Type-C, features only available on the Taichi and MSI board. Considering the fact that the AsRock X470 Taichi is more expensive than the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC and that the latter excels in reviews, is much cheaper and has all these features, it is clear why the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is the undisputable winner.
Features and Characteristics
Aesthetics and RGB lighting
The first thing that you notice when you get your hands on the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is its beautiful design. MSI chose a black and silver color combination, which goes well with any color scheme. Whether you want to build a white, orange or red build, the importance of RGB lighting in gaming PCs nowadays is apparent and the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC has you covered with its neutral color combinations and its Mystic Light Sync technology allowing you to switch between 16,8 million colors and 17 color effects. Simply download the Mystic Light Utility and adjust the colors to your preference. The utility also allows you to sync RGB lighting between your motherboard and other gaming hardware compatible with Mystic Light such as CPU coolers and peripherals like mice and keyboards. Universal syncing is a very cool feature if you care enough about RGB lighting.
Four RGB LED strip connectors are available without the necessity to buy a separate RGB controller for your RGB lighting. 2x 12V connectors, 1x 5V connector as well as 1 connector specifically for Corsair LED strips are available on the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC . MSI put a big emphasis on RGB and every of it aspect is individually controllable through software since the LED strips are directly connected to the motherboard.
Ryzen+ fixed RAM compatibility issues
The first Ryzen CPUs released in 2017 had huge RAM compatibility issues since the Ryzen platform is still new and motherboard manufacturers had to find their way around the new CPU architecture. Ryzen+, on the other hand, has eliminated most RAM issues and MSI advertises that their X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC can effortlessly run RAM at a 3466MHz max memory speed. The Ryzen formula has improved and while the level of compatibility is still weak compared to Intel processors, the second gen of Ryzen CPUs has improved vastly as far as RAM compatibility is concerned. Just remember to enable the X.M.P profile in the BIOS in order to let your RAM run at its advertised speed because on default all RAM modules run at their base frequency of 2133MHz.
If you have been looking at the i7 8700k and are looking for a great motherboard, check out this link.
USB, SATA, and M.2 support
If you are worried about the lack of USB connectors and M.2 support, the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is your motherboard. With 12 total USB ports (6x USB 2.0 and 6x USB 3.1), you will have plenty of headroom to connect all your devices to your motherboard. The MSI board additionally supports 8x SATA 6GB/s ports letting you connect up to 8 hard drives or SSD drives and 2 M.2 ports with one port being covered by an M.2 shield for the best performance and lowest temperatures.
The only issue is that the M.2 shield is placed right under the upper PCI-E slot forcing you to take out the GPU before being able to access it. Most of us tend to install our graphics card in the upper PCI-E slot and if our GPU is a two or three slot card (which it probably is) we will have a hard time reaching the M.2 slot. Moreover, all the dissipated heat from the GPU will move towards the M.2 slot and I am not sure how much lower temperatures the M.2 shield can provide if it is placed directly under the GPU. Apart from that, the M.2 shield looks great adopting the classical black-silver design of the motherboard.
Overclocking and Power Consumption
In case you have been thinking about overclocking your Ryzen 7 CPU, the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC offers amazing overclocking potential when compared to other high-end X470 boards. The motherboard features a 13-phase power design ideal for extreme overclocking. Overclockers were able to reach the 4,3 GHz threshold of Ryzen+ CPUs with this board with a Vcore of 1,425. While it is not recommended to bump up voltage that high for your Ryzen CPU as it will certainly degrade the lifespan of your CPU, it still provides solid performance and is a great example of the overclocking capabilities that this motherboard offers. The board also has a fully RGB customizable heat sink which not only provides great overclocking results but also looks the part and can be tweaked to your likings.
If you want to know how to effectively overclock your CPU, click here.
Power consumption is another area where the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC shines. The board drew 267 watt of power which is 25 watts less than what the Gigabyte Aorus Gaming 7 drew from the wall. Find out more about power consumption and overclocking of the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC here.
Audio, WiFi, and Bluetooth
The Realtek ALC1220 Codec offers a supreme audio experience with support for 7.1 surround audio. Audio Boost 4 is specifically designed for an immersive audio gaming experience and the newest Nahimic 3 software lets you customize every small aspect of your audio, from 7.1 surround sound to volume, bass and even treble settings for sound frequencies. Furthermore, it allows for individual customization for your gaming sessions, movies, music, and communication. Communication allows you to tweak settings like Static Noise Suppression, Echo Cancellation, Lateral Sound Cancellation and Voice Stabilizer, giving you absolute freedom on how you want to be heard by teammates or enemies while playing.
The MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC comes with an integrated dual channel (2,4 and 5 GHz) WiFi support up to 433Mbps speed. The difference with the MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is that the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC only provides the antennas and the WiFi is integrated into the motherboard while the former provides you with a separate WiFi card which you have to connect to the motherboard in order to have WiFi connectivity. While many people find this inconvenient, I personally prefer to have the WiFi card separately as I can remove it or even give it to a friend, if I want to. In the end, however, it is a matter of personal preference.
I have never had network stability problems with integrated WiFi while external adaptors always gave me a headache with constant reboots and signal losses. It is common knowledge that Ethernet is the golden standard for great internet connections, but if you have to be reliant on WiFi, it would be a wise move to invest in integrated WiFi rather than buying an adaptor. Bluetooth support is there as well and while it is not widely used anymore, it is a nice feature to have for sending or receiving a small number of files.
The Bluetooth is also integrated while on the MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC, the Bluetooth cable has to be connected to the WiFi card itself. Integrated Bluetooth support is the way to go in my opinion and MSI did a great job this time of going with integrated Bluetooth rather than offering it separately.
Multi-GPU support and Steel Armor PCI-E and RAM slots
If you prefer multiple GPU configurations, the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC has you covered with its 3-Way AMD CrossFire and 2-Way NVIDIA SLI support. Connect up to 3 AMD graphics cards or 2 NVIDIA cards and use the SLI-Bridge that comes with the motherboard to connect your GPUs effortlessly. Although multi-GPU support is not recommended due to extensive heat output and incompatibility with many games, it is still a feature a minority will take advantage of and the fact that it is supported by a sub-$200 motherboard is pretty amazing.
PCI-E and RAM slots have been enhanced with Steel Armor technology. Weak slots could cause problems especially if you have a three slot GPU. Many times, due to the weight of the graphics card, it tends to bend and if the slots are not strong enough it could damage either the card or the slots themselves. The same principle applies to RAM slots. It has happened to me that I was pretty sure that one of my RAM modules was faulty only to discover that the RAM slot had been damaged. Steel Armor slots are way more resilient to pressure and will ensure that your motherboard slots will be in a good condition for the whole lifespan of your motherboard.
Abundance of internal fan connectors
I do not like the idea of having to buy a separate fan controller for my chassis fans. The ease of directly connecting your fans to the motherboard is priceless and the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC makes your life easier by providing 4x system fan connectors, 1x CPU fan connector as well as 1x water pump connector for your AIO liquid cooler. Considering that you could also use a fan splitter, you can connect more than 5 system fans directly to the motherboard and control each one of them through the BIOS. The system fan connectors are also greatly placed on the motherboard so you can connect your intake and exhaust fans easily.
Display Port and CMOS Button
Most motherboard manufacturers decide not to include a display port connector sincemost gamers make use of the display port on their GPU. MSI, however, decided to include a Display Port connector on their motherboard. This feature can be especially useful for content creators who do not rely on GPU power to get their work done. The Display Port allows them to use their 4K screen in the best way possible along with the integrated graphics of their Ryzen processor.
The CMOS reset button is a great feature to have if your BIOS update fails or your current BIOS version is corrupted. The CMOS reset button can be found on the back of the motherboard, right next to the golden audio jacks. If you are unable to enter the BIOS, chances are that your BIOS is either corrupted or you have the wrong BIOS version. In any case, pushing the CMOS button will revert the BIOS version to the initial
version. Pretty useful if you consider that the alternative is to either use the CMOS jumper on the motherboard or remove the CMOS battery for a couple of minutes. Both alternatives are quite bothersome since they can be time-consuming. The CMOS reset button saves you from trouble and frustration.
The MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is packed with features you do not want to miss out on
The MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is the perfect motherboard if you do not want to make compromises on important features like overclocking, WiFi support, multi-GPU support and an immersive audio experience without forcing you to reach deep into your pockets. The 13-phase power design will allow you to reach your CPUs limits if you have the cooling capacity to achieve high overclocks. The motherboard also excels in terms of power consumption, drawing significantly less power from the wall than its competition. MSI made sure to make aesthetics their top priority with the X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC by going for the black-silver color combination, perfect for any color scheme build.
The two disadvantages are the placement of the M.2 shield right under the upper PCI-E slot and MSI’s decision to not include the WiFi card separately as the case is with their MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC. The latter, of course, comes down to preference but, personally, I would prefer to have the option to not install the WiFi card especially when most of the time I play on Ethernet.
Despite those few drawbacks, the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is the ideal motherboard for your Ryzen 7 CPU and it will surely not disappoint you in the long run.
Check out a quick video summary by MSI on the main features the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC has to offer in the following video:
Also, check out MSI’s website for detailed information, HERE.
If you liked my review, make sure to leave a comment in the comment section below and tell me YOUR opinion on the MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon AC. What motherboard would you buy for your Ryzen CPU? Would you stick with Intel instead or do you prefer Ryzen?