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MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK Review

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MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK Testing:

Testing this new platform will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 10 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and NVIDIA drivers for the NVIDIA GTX 1080 Founders Edition. In the past we had locked the clock speed on the processor to eliminate any easily controlled variables due to processor speed. However, there is a difference in how each manufacturer handles the CPU default and boost speeds, creating opportunity for one board to deliver a higher level of performance. This variable is a point of difference between boards. The majority of users will run the stock settings, making this point a valid concern, so we are changing up the test methods to capture this difference.

Testing Setup: Intel Socket 2066

 

 

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

 

Overclocking an Intel processor has not changed much over the past few years. Well, other than using gear ratios to jump the bclock up higher in large blocks rather than a few MHz at a time. To overclock the Core i9 7900X, I used the same methodology I have used to overclock Intel processors in the past. I start by bumping up the bclock multiplier until the system fails to boot. On the Core i7 7900X, it was with a multiplier of 47 and a bclock of 100MHz. Here is where my challenges started, since both of these processors are able to overwhelm the Corsair H115i if you start hitting the voltage heavily. Moreso with the Core i9 7900X than when I tested the Core i7 7740X.

With the Core i9 7900X, 4700MHz was not stable with the BIOS-controlled voltage and the voltage I could apply to make the chip stable would almost instantly throw it into a thermally induced throttling of the CPU clock speeds. I set the load line calibration on the board to Mode 1, dropped the core clock speed to 4600MHz, and started dropping the core voltage and testing until I reached a stable 4600MHz using 1.18v applied to the cores. I was able to eek out a bit more core clock speed by bumping the bclock up to 101MHz and I could stay out of throttling in all of the test workloads with stability. Running the memory at the XMP profile of 3600MHz and 17-18-18-38 using 1.35v did not present any challenges. After fine-tuning the clock speed and core clock multiplier, 4613MHz using 1.18v across 10 physical cores is still going to take a very good water cooled solution to keep the thermals in check. Comparing to the Haswell-E and Broadwell-E processors, this chip holds its own from a core clock speed perspective.

Overclocking with this board from MSI can be accomplished through multiple ways. Manual tuning is going to get you the furthest, but by using MSI's Command Center application you can get some modest frequency enhancements through this process. Or you can use the Game Boost button as a means to run the preset options MSI has in place for each step up the ladder from a mild 4.4GHz all the way to 5GHz, if you have the cooling system to do it. I set the feature to #6 and the system came up and booted at a healthy 4.7GHz. I was able to run some of the less strenuous benchmarks at this speed, but anything other than some single threaded applications got the chip into thermally induced throttling. That in itself is the biggest challenge when running processors with this many cores.

With all the brouhaha about VRM's going thermonuclear, I found that by keeping some airflow over the area (fans from the H115i AIO cooler) the VRM heat sink stayed just over ambient while loading the processor. Now a full-on Prime 95 load for days may bump up that temperature, but airflow over the area will greatly reduce your chance of failure.  If you are a benchmark junkie running sub-zero cooling you already have the thermals covered. 

         

 

 

Maximum Core Clock Speed:

Each CPU has been tested for stability at the listed overclocked speeds. These clock speeds will represent the level of performance shown by the overclocked scores in the testing.

 

 

Benchmarks:

  • Scientific & Data:
  1. PCMark 8
  2. SiSoft Sandra 2016
  3. Cinebench R15
  4. HW.bot X265 Benchmark
  5. AIDA64
  6. CrystalDiskMark
  7. ATTO
  8. iPerf
  9. Rightmark Audio Analyzer
  • Gaming:
  1. 3DMark
  2. Tom Clancy's The Division
  3. Hitman (2016)



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