Conclusion and Final Thoughts
The MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK was until recently MSI’s top end X99 motherboard. The Gaming 9 ACK is loaded with useful features, not gimmicks. I’ve used this motherboard setup in my daily system for a few weeks now, and I must say the more I use it, the more impressed I become. Not eveyone will find all the features useful and some of them are still developing and waiting on hardware to become more readily available, such as USB 3.1.
Out of the box performance of the MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK is excellent and very little, if any tweaking by the user is necessary to get the board up and running. Benchmark tests show the motherboard is within a few percentage points either behind or ahead of the rest of the pack further solidifying the idea that a good motherboard’s performance should be within a few percent of the competition.
I’ve said in the past that I have not been a fan of the Killer networking components however, my mind is changing on this. Killer’s wired performance is very good and no longer depends on being optimized between gaming and throughput and performance matches the Intel networking products we’ve tested in the past. The wireless has choices between gaming and throughput and does actually show a performance difference. Combining both a Killer wired connection and a Killer wireless connection brings some interesting things to the table. Having the ability to prioritize an applications network access has for the most part been reserved for more expensive business class or enterprise class network gear and has filtered, to a degree, down to the end user level. Testing the streaming engine and Killer’s Doubleshot Pro did not result in any issues with game play or network access and did in fact send the different network streams out the assigned interfaces.
The streaming engine takes up the additional mPCIe slot that is provided on other motherboards however, there isn’t a need for it as MSI includes a wireless AC adapter. Since the card is installed and can be removed there may be future upgrade possibilities as 2K and 4K gaming becomes more prevalent. Currently the Streaming engine is limited to 1080 @ 30 fps max.
On board audio is excellent on either motherboard power or external power. I use a pair Sennheiser HD 380 Pro to do subjective listening for motherboard reviews and the MSI audio solution is excellent. I could not hear any distortion and the audio is crystal clear. I think that Gigabyte has one of the best audio solutions with their use of Creative’s CA0132 Core3Di processor and in my opinion the MSI solution rivals it. Both solutions sound great and I don’t feel there’s a clear winner in the audio department.
Overclocking this board is super easy. Right out of the box, just by pressing the OC genie button, I was able to reach 3600 MHz so a 100 MHz over the stock Intel Turbo boost. Changing the gear ratio DIP switch yielded an overclock of 3800 MHz. I was easily able to reach 4.4 GHz on the MSI X99A gaming 9 ACK using the Intel i7 5960X. I used the same BIOS settings that I have used in the other X99 motherboard reviews and noticed that the MSI board actually set the Vcore slightly lower than the other boards at 1.328 volts.
MSI continues to improve their product offerings. This board is packed with features aimed at gamers. I’m not a big streamer, but I can see that those that do, this easily takes the load off the CPU and frees up those cycles to be used where they are needed, in game. MSI is one of the first manufactures to offer USB 3.1 which should offer a nice speed boost over USB 3.0. The included software bundle is extremely easy to use, weather you’re overclocking or updating the BIOS. The software is easy, looks good, and works well. The full speed x4 m.2 slot is a welcome addition and allows you to take full advantage of the newest M.2 drives on the market. MSI has a complete package with the X99A Gaming 9 ACK. The board comes with useful features, great performance, good software and at a price that is not going to break the bank. At $440 USD it is not the cheapest X99 board on the market but it is not the most expensive either. I think the price is justified when you throw in the additional items included with the board. Not only does the board come with USB 3.1, a hardware video capture card (streaming engine), a great audio solution, you also get a 2 year Xsplit premium account valued at around $100.00. If you’re looking to build a sweet gaming rig, you should consider the MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK in your next build. The MSI X99A Gaming 9 gets our Editor’s choice award based on the features and performance.