Intel Core i9-10980XE Cascade Lake-X 18 Core, $979 US CPU Review With MSI Creator X299 – Creation Enthusiasts Ahoy!
Intel Core i9-10980XE CPU / MSI X299 Creator Motherboard2019
MSI X299 Creator Motherboard- Close Up
The MSI X299 Creator is a very neat and well laid out motherboard. Everything about this board feels very premium and the design choice used here is solid from top to bottom. The E-ATX form factor the motherboard carries makes it feel a little bit too big but that's also one thing that you should expect from a proper high-end desktop motherboard.
At first glance, it feels like the motherboard features a singular matte-black color scheme with some reflective accents on the I/O shield and the PCH heatsink but the X299 Creator rocks a two-tone design that is actually hidden beneath the three M.2 heatsinks.
The color scheme isn't all bling and that's a good thing, rather than focusing on cosmetics, MSI paid focus to what needed more attention and they got a lot right on this motherboard. Plus, the motherboard is aimed at content creators and high-end users who want the best performance, not the best bling. Regardless, there's enough bling to keep RGB lovers like myself want to buy this board. There's an option to disable the RGB completely and still the motherboard would look great.
The motherboard comes in at a price point of over $500 US price and has a ton of features to talk about so let's get started.
The board uses the LGA 2066 socket to support the Intel Core-X series processors. The socket is compatible with both Intel Skylake-X and Cascade Lake-X processors. The socket LGA 2066 is super-easy to use. You open two latches as pointed on the socket itself, align the processor with the two notches on the sides while facing the triangle marking with the one on the socket and that's it. Then proceed to close the two latches, starting with the one you previously opened and you have successfully installed the processor.
The motherboard packs a 12+1 phase digital design to power the CPU. The motherboard also makes use of 90A Dr.MOS Power Chokes to deliver massive amounts of power to the socket to keep the CPU running stable and ready for the most demanding workloads.
The CPU is supplied power through triple 8 pin power connectors. This will feed the CPU with up to 450W of power.
MSI highlights the following reasons for featuring three 8-pin connectors on their X299 Creator motherboard:
- Triple power connectors reduce the temperature up to 30 degrees for both power cable and power connectors.
- The lower temperature protects all the components on the motherboard, also prevent any dangerous situation on your whole system.
- For high-end multiple core processors, triple power connectors provide the best condition for all cores extreme overclocking and 24/7 working that creators need.
There's a comprehensive heatsink layout on the motherboard which includes the primary VRM heatsink which comes with an all-aluminum design and has a full copper heat pipe that extends towards the extended heatsink under the I/O cover.
The motherboard has a total of eight DDR4 DIMM slots which can support up to 256 GB (Quad Channel) memory. These slots are rated to support XMP profiles up to 4266+ (O.C) MHz. Each slot is labeled, making it easier to install DIMMs in the proper orientation.
Expansion slots include four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 and triple M.2 slots. The board can support 4-Way multi-GPU (CrossfireX / SLI). The M.2 slots are rated to support NVMe PCI-e Gen3 x4 and Intel Optane series memory. Only a CPU that offers 44 lanes can deliver full x16 operation on two SLI or Crossfire configured discrete GPUs.
- 4 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
- Support x8/ x8/ x16/ x8 and x16/ x0/ x16/ x8 modes with the 48-lane CPU.
- Support x8/ x8/ x16/ x8 and x16/ x0/ x16/ x8 modes with the 44-lane CPU.
- Support x8/ x8/ x8/ x0 and x16/ x0/ x8/ x0 modes with the 28-lane CPU.
- The PCI_E4 slot will run 3.0 x4 speed with a 44-lane CPU when installing the M.2 PCIe device into the M2_3 slot.
- The PCI_E4 slot is unavailable with a 28-lane CPU.
MSI has featured their PCIe Steel Armor technology on the expansion slots. Not only do these slots offer a solid cover plate for high-end cards but it also prevents from any sort of signal interference.
The supported types for the M.2 socket are 22110, 2280, 2260, 2242 and 2230. M.2 slots offer up to 32 GB/s link speed compared to just 6 GB/s on SATA 3 bus.
All M.2 slots can operate at full x4 (32 GB/s) speeds, provided that enough PCIe lanes are available. Otherwise, users will have the choice to select from PCIe and SATA 3 modes. All three come with the MSI M.2 Shield Frozr heatsinks which provide adhesive thermal tapes so that heat can easily be transferred to the aluminum frames and blown off by the chassis airflow.
The X299 PCH is housed beneath a metallic heatsink with an MSI logo embedded in it. The MSI PCH heatsink looks really nice with the triangular textured acrylic design. There are several RGB LEDs embedded underneath the acrylic cover which provide a nice and subtle lighting effect when the board is powered on.
Storage options include 8 SATA III ports rated to operate at 6 GB/s. These can support 8 different storage devices at a single time. There's also a single Turbo U.2 port that runs at PCIe 3.0 x4 mode.
Following is a list of all internal connectors on the motherboard:
- 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- 3 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connectors
- 1 x flat 4-pin ATX 12V power connector (Provides additional power for PCIe x16 slots)
- 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
- 1 x U.2 port
- 2 x USB 2.0 connectors (support additional 4 USB 2.0 ports)
- 2 x USB 3.2 Gen1 connectors (support additional 4 USB 3.2 Gen1 ports)
- 1x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C Port
- 1 x 4-pin CPU fan connector
- 4 x 4-pin system fan connectors
- 2 x 4-pin extend system fan connectors
- 1 x 4-pin water-pump fan connector
- 1 x 3-pin Water Flow connector
- 1 x Front panel audio connector
- 2 x System panel connectors
- 1 x TPM module connector
- 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
- 1 x 2-pin Thermal Sensors connector
- 1 x Thunderbolt Add-on Card Connector
- 1 x Virtual RAID on CPU connector
In terms of audio, the MSI X299 Creator comes with the latest Audio Boost technology, featuring a Realtek ALC1220 codec that powers the 7.1 channel HD audio jack. The audio PCB is isolated from the rest of the motherboard and has its own heatsink featured over it.
The motherboard comes with a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C and dual USB 3.2 Gen 1 front panel headers. The CMOS battery is situated right beneath the middle M.2 Shield Frozr heatsink so you would have to take it off whenever you need to access the CMOS battery.
The I/O on the motherboard includes the following ports:
- Clear CMOS Button
- Keyboard / Mouse
- Gigabit LAN
- 10G LAN
- Audio Connectors
- Flash BIOS Button
- Wireless / Bluetooth
- USB 2.0
- USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
- USB 3.2 Gen2x2 20G Type-C
- USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
- Optical S/PDIF out