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MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium Review

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Category: Motherboards
Price: $249
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MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium Introduction:

Ryzen turned out to be a pretty nice surprise that really caught Intel a little un-prepared for the storm that was a Ryzen. Both the 8-core and 6-core chips turned out to be fairly impressive across the board. This significant improvement in performance has been long awaited and the motherboard partners put together some significant packages to pair up with the new product stack.

This board from MSI, the X370 XPower Gaming Titanium, sits at the top of the AMD product stack and is a unique board visually that comes with the who's who of features. Honestly, it's what I have come to expect from MSI on its upper tier boards. You get Steel Armor protection on the DIMM, PCIe, and U2 slots that offer EFI protection, as well as a more robust retention mechanism to the PCB. On top of that we see Military Class 5 VRM components, Click BIOS 5, and so very much more. Let's dig in and see what MSI has brought to the table.

MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium Closer Look:

MSI's XPower series boards usually sit at the top of the enthusiast product stack and this one is no different. With Titanium in the name, you get an idea where the theme of the board is going to go. The Titanium coloring of the package is yet another indicator of what you will see inside on the PCB. The front panel of the package shows an image of the board with the MSI Dragon logo at the top right and the X370 chipset and Ryzen compatibility shown at the bottom of the box. The back side goes a bit deeper into the expansive feature set, including BIOS Flashback+, Audio Boost 4, Gaming LAN, Steel Armor, and more.

Flipping the front cover open you can see that MSI is really pushing each of the features to the consumer in a bold way on the left panel. A cutout in the shape of the Dragon Logo Shield on the right gives the end user a good look at what is in store if they choose to move this far up in MSI's X370 product stack. Inside the package are two boxes, one for the board and one for the accessory bundle. 

 

 

 

The accessory bundle for this board includes both the hardware and documentation that is needed to get the board installed and working. The documentation consists of a manual, quick installation guide, memory installation guidance, a thank you notice, Dragon Army decal, and data cable identification tags. The hardware side of the bundle includes the I/O panel, RGB LED harness, a flexible SLI Bridge, and six silver SATA 6Gbps data cables. A slim bundle, but it includes enough to get you going properly.

 

 

The MSI X370 XPower Gamig Titanium is an ATX form factor board built around the X370 chipset for use with AMD's latest Ryzen processors from the Ryzen 7 1800X down to the Ryzen 5 1500X. As you might guess, the color scheme is all about Titanium coloring front and back. The CPU socket and DIMM slots are in the traditional layout and leaves room for larger heatsinks and water blocks. Equipped with MSI's Military Class 5 VRM controls and Steel Armor around the DIMM, PCIe, and U2 slots, this board is built to be an overclocker's dream with all the parts attached to a custom PCB. The back side shows the mounting hardware for the heat sink package and shows a list of supported technologies. One standout feature not really fully visable from the front of the PCB is the dividing line between the main PCB and divorced PCB for the Audio Boost 4 audio hardware. The Titanium coloring sets the board apart from most other boards on the market. An interesting visual to be sure.

 

 

I/O connectivity starts, oddly enough, with a combination mouse/keyboard PS/2 port and a pair of USB 2.0 ports. A clear CMOS button is follwed up with a vertical USB 2.0 port that is used with the BIOS Flashback+ process when not being used otherwise. A DisplayPort  1.2 port and HDMI 2.0 port are used when a 7th generation A-Series Athlon processor is installed. Up next in red are a quartet of Gen 1 USB 3.1 ports, with the right hand pair specifically optimized with a VR Boost chip to provide a more consistant signal to your VR devices. MSI uses an Intel I211AT controlled Gigabit LAN connection that is protected from current spikes of up to 15KV. A single USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C connection are used, followed up by the gold plated analog audio outputs for the Realtek ALC 1220 based 7.1 audio solution. An optical S/PDIF output is available.

A total of six PCIe slots are available. The two Steel Armor-equipped slots are PCIe 3.0 16x that operate at 16x/0x or 8x/8x, while the non-shielded slot is a PCIe 2.0 slot that operates at 4x. The three PCIe 1x slots support the PCIe 2.0 standard. Between the two primary PCIe 3.0 16x slots is where you would mount your M.2 drive. MSI is using what is called the M.2 Shield to keep your drive from cooking under the heat of a pair of high end GPU's. Down the left side of the PCB are the components used for the Audio Boost 4 sound solution that include Chemicon capacitors, de-pop circuitry, and a dedicated headphone amplifier that senses the best impedance based on your headphone's capabilities.

 

 

Along the bottom of the PCB are some of the added connectivity options on this board. First up is the front panel audio connection, a 6-pin PCIe power connection to supply the PCIe bus with added current, and a PWM-controlled fan header. It is one of four on board that supplement the CPU fan connection and water pump connection. An RGB LED header is used and controls the LED lighting via MSI's LED controls in the Gaming App. A pair of USB 2.0 ports support an additional four ports. The front panel connection point and USB 3.1 Type C header lets you put a single Type C connection on the front of the chassis. Power and Reset buttons sit next to the Game Boost buton. This button lets you pre-select an overclock from mild to fairly robust in 11 steps. The final overclock is dependent on the type of Ryzen processor you have installed. The maximum overclock set for an 8-core chip is 4.4GHz, while the 4-core chips are 4.2GHz, and the just right 6-core chip seeing a maximum boost of 4.3GHz.  

 

 

The right side of the custom PCB starts with the Slow Mode jumper used when really pushing the core clock speeds using sub zero cooling and the BIOS Flashback+ button to start the BIOS flash process outside the BIOS environment. The first of the USB 3.1 Gen 1 front headers sits below the six SATA 6Gb/s connections. A pair of M.2 ports that fit devices up to 22110 in slot M1 and 2280 in slot M2 sit between the PCIe slots and support PCIe 3.0 4x with Ryzen series processors or PCIe 2.0 4x with Athlon series processors. Maximum support comes to six SATA 6Gb/s drives or up to two M.2 drives and four SATA drives. A single Steel Armor equipped U.2 slot offers an additional high speed storage option. A second USB 3.1 Gen 1 port supports an additional two ports for the front panel of the chassis. This port is is colored red indicating it is a charger port that can supply additional current for quickly charging your mobile devices. The 24-pin ATX power connection sits in the standard location and connectivity is rounded out with a 4-pin fan header.

The EZ Debug LEDs are mounted on the edge of the board and are a good tool to help diagnose boot issues. The debug LED does much the same thing, but doubles as a temperature monitor once into the operating system. DDR4 memory is used on the X370 platform. There are four Steel Armor shielded DIMM slots that support up to 64GB of memory at speeds of 1866 / 2133 / 2400 / 2667(OC) / 2933(OC) / 3200(OC)+ MHz. XMP SPDs are supported and memory compatibility continues to improve.     

 

 

Across the top of the PCB is the dedicated water pump fan header, the top section of the interconnected cooling solution, and a pair of auxilliary power connections for the processor - a 4-pin and 8-pin EATX connection. An AM4 socket uses 1331 pins to support both Ryzen and AMD's 7th generation Athlon processor stacks. As we found out with the launch, the spacing between the mounting bosses for the heat sink retainer are further apart than on AM3+ boards, but the overall distance on the brackets is the same so that you can use your existing heat sink as long as it mounts to the AMD brackets. AMD's Wraith cooler is a good option if you are not going to really overclock heavily.   

 

 

MSI is using a robust heat sink package on the X370 XPower Gaming Titanium. A large, flat heat sink covers the X370 chipset, while a pair of heat pipe-connected heat sinks cover the Military Class 5 VRM package. Using Dark Chokes that run cooler, Dark Capacitors with a lower ESR value to improve lifespan, and Titanium chokes that offer an up to 30% improvement in power efficiency, overclocking and stability should be improved with this 10-phase power solution.

 

 

So far what we have is a feature rich motherboard that sits at the top of MSI's X370 product stack. It has an extensive feature set that should allow it to excel for both the short and long term. Let's see how it compares to one of the top boards in a competitor's product stack. 




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