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MSI B350 Gaming Pro Carbon Motherboard Review

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Introduction

Carbon fiber instantly sends visions of speed, performance, and exotic technology to many. Wrapped in carbon fiber look trim, B350 Gaming Pro Carbon aims to instaill many of those same visions. Built on MSI’s Military Class 5 foundation, the B350 Gaming Pro Carbon supports AMD’s newest Ryzen processors and DDR4 memory up to 3200Mhz via four memory slots. There’s Turbo M.2 connectivity with transfer speeds up to 32 Gb/s.

It seems that all the bases are quite well covered, but there are some additional features which ass even more performance, flexibility, and value. DDR4 Boost gives your DDR4 memory a performance boost with a simple click of the mouse. Steel Armor PCI-E and memory slots offer additional strength to reduce tear out during transport and shield from EMI. Support for 2-way Nvidia SLI and 3-way AMD CrossFire is standard. Audio Boost 4 delivers thigh sound quality with premium quality audio components and an isolated audio PCB.

MSI has also paid close attention on the software side. They have revised their UEFI based Click BIOS to version 5, which has exclusive MSI Boost Overclocking features. There are also several applications that allows quite a bit of control over the BIOS, overclocking, LAN, and other various features from inside the Windows environment as well.

MSI’s take on the B350 Gaming Pro Carbon

  • Supports AMD RYZEN Series processors and 7th Gen A-series / Athlon Processors for socket AM4
  • Supports DDR4-3200+(OC) Memory
  • DDR4 Boost: Give your DDR4 memory a performance boost
  • VR Ready and VR Boost: Best virtual reality game experience without latency, reduces motion sickness
  • Mystic Light and Mystic Light Sync: Control all LEDs in system with one click by GAMING APP or mobile devices
  • Lightning Fast Game experience: Turbo M.2, M.2 Shield, Lightning USB 3.1 Gen2
  • Audio Boost 4 with Nahimic 2: Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality for the most immersive gaming experience
  • GAMING LAN with LAN Protect, powered by Intel: The best online gaming experience with lowest latency and bandwidth management
  • Military Class 4, Guard-Pro: Latest evolution in high quality components for best protection and efficiency
  • MULTI-GPU: With Steel Armor PCI-E slots. Supports AMD Crossfire
  • In-Game Weapons: Game Boost, GAMING Hotkey, X-Boost, Xsplit Gamecaster
  • EZ Debug LED: Easiest way to troubleshoot
  • Click BIOS 5: Award-winning BIOS with high resolution scalable font, favorites and search function
  • GAMING CERTIFIED: 24-hour on- and offline game and motherboard testing by eSports players
  • WHQL certified for Windows 10

Specifications

CPU

• Supports AMD® RYZEN series processors and 7th Gen A-series/ Athlon™ processors for Socket AM4

Chipset

• AMD® B350 Chipset

Main Memory

• 4 x DDR4 memory slots, support up to 64GB

– Supports DDR4 1866/ 2133/ 2400/ 2667(OC)/ 2933(OC)/ 3200(OC)+ Mhz

• Dual channel memory architecture

• Supports non-ECC UDIMM memory

• Supports ECC UDIMM memory (non-ECC mode)

Slots

• 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slot (PCI_E2)

– RYZEN series processors support x16 mode

– 7th Gen A-series/ Athlon™ processors support x8 mode

• 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slot (PCI_E4, supports x4 mode)*

• 3 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots

* PCI_E4 slot will support PCIe 2.0 x1 when installing PCIe device in any PCIe x1 slot.

Onboard Graphics

• 1 x DVI-D port, supports a maximum resolution of 1920×1200@60Hz

• 1 x HDMI™ 1.4 port, supports a maximum resolution of 4096×2160@24Hz

Multi-GPU

• Supports 2-Way AMD® CrossFire™ Technology

– Only when all PCIe x1 slots are empty, this motherboard could support AMD® CrossFire™ technology.

Storage

• AMD® B350 Chipset

• 2 x SATA 6Gb/s ports (SATA1, SATA2)

– Supports RAID 0 and RAID1

• 1 x M.2 slot (Key M)

– Supports PCIe 3.0 x4 (RYZEN series processors) or PCIe 3.0 x2 (7th Gen A-series/ Athlon™ processors) and SATA 6Gb/s 2242/ 2260 /2280/ 22110 storage devices

• ASMedia ASM 1061

– 2 x SATA 6Gb/s ports (SATA3, SATA4)

 USB

• ASMedia® ASM2142 Chipset

– 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 (SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps) Type-C port on the back panel

– 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 (SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps) Type-A port on the back panel

• AMD® B350 Chipset

– 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 (SuperSpeed USB) ports available through the internal USB 3.1 Gen1 connectors

– 6 x USB 2.0 (High-speed USB) ports (2 Type-A ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB 2.0 connectors)

• AMD® CPU

– 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 (SuperSpeed USB) Type-A ports on the back panel

Audio

• Realtek® ALC1220 Codec

– 7.1-Channel High Definition Audio

– Supports S/PDIF output

LAN

• 1 x Intel® I211AT Gigabit LAN controller

Internal I/O Connectors

– 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector

– 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector

– 4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors

– 2 x USB 2.0 connectors (support additional 4 USB 2.0 ports)

– 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 connectors (support additional 4 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports)

– 1 x 4-pin CPU fan connector

– 1 x 4-pin water-pump-fan connector

– 4 x 4-pin system fan connectors

– 1 x TPM module connector

– 1 x Front panel audio connector

– 2 x System panel connectors

– 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector

– 1 x Clear CMOS jumper

– 1 x 4-pin RGB LED strip connector

 Back Panel I/O Ports

– 1 x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse combo port

– 2 x USB 2.0 Type-A ports

– 1 x DVI-D port

– 1 x HDMI™ port

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– 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports

– 1 x LAN (RJ45) port

– 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port

– 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port

– 5 x OFC audio jacks

– 1 x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector

 Dimension

• 12 in. x 9.6 in. (30.5 cm x 24.4 cm)

• ATX Form Factor

 Mounting

• 9 mounting holes

Packaging and Unboxing

The MSI B350 Gaming Pro Carbon box is perhaps the most colorful box we’ve see a motherboard come in. A literal rainbow of color dominates the background with a carbon fiber dressed hyper car featured predominately in the foreground.

The rear of the box features several detailed pictures showcasing many of the motherboard’s features. Some of the motherboard’s basic specifications are included as well. It is quite detailed and easy to read.

The B350 SLI Plus is nestled in a cardboard tray in the top of the box.

Under the divider we are greeted with all the accessories

MSI has included a User Guide and a CPU cooler mounting guide.

There is also a utility disk and registration card.

Quick Installation Guide and cable labels.

Four  SATA cables.

A RGB extension cables and the rear I/O shield are the final included accessories.

A Closer Look

The B350 Gaming Pro Carbon is part of MSI’s Performance Gaming series motherboards. The Performance Gaming Series feature more subtle cosmetics than MSI’s Enthusiast Gaming and Arsenal Gaming series’.

Carbon fiber look trim adjourns the B350 Gaming Pro Carbon in plenty. It borders on being subtle and aggressive at the same time.

There are two USB 2.0 ports and four USB Type-A 3.1 Gen1 ports. MSI has are included two “Lightening” USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, consisting of a Type-A and Type-C design. USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports offer twice the bandwidth of USB Type-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports.

A PS/2 keyboard/mouse port allows for legacy input device connectivity. There are also HDMI and DVI video connections.

The lower rear of the motherboard contains most of the front panel audio connections. There is also a system fan connector and a RGB LED connector. Audio on the B350 Gaming Pro Carbon is provided by MSI’s Audio Boost 4 which is powered by Realtek’s latest ALC1220 chipset.

The lower front of the motherboard contains most of the rest of front panel connections.

The lower M.2 socket features a shield. The shield acts as a heats preader to wick away heat from the M.2 drive. This allows he drive to last longer and to maintain peak speeds longer due to lessened heat throttling.

The lower front of the motherboard contains 4 SATA 6.0 connectors, as well as a single USB 3.0 front panel connector.

The upper front of the motherboard has a second USB 3.0 front panel connector, the 24 pin power connector, and two fan connectors.

The 8-pin CPU power connector is almost unnoticeable being tucked in the upper left hand corner.

Things are a bit snug around the CPU socket, but still a bit more open than might be expected in part to the VRM heatsink design.

System Configuration and BIOS

Testing Hardware

  • MSI B350 Gaming Pro Carbon
  • AMD Ryzen 7 1700 Processor
  • G.Skill Flair X 3200MHz DRR4 Memory
  • Gigabyte Windforce GTX 1070 Graphics Card
  • Crucial M550 256GB Solid State Drive
  • Spotswood Small Tech Station
  • XFX PRO850W XXX Edition 850w Silver Power Supply

Drivers

  • GeForce 375.95

CPU Cooling:

  • Swiftech H320 X2 Prestige AIO

Testing Operating System:

  • Microsoft Windows 10 Home

General System Benchmarks:

  • PCMark 8
  • Super Pi

CPU Benchmarks:

  • Fritz Chess
  • Handbrake
  • Cinebench R15
  • 7-Zip

Memory Benchmarks:

  • AIDA64 Engineer
  • Passmark Performance Test 8.0
  • SiSoft Sandra

Storage Benchmarks:

  • ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • CrystalDiskMark 3.0
  • AS SSD
  • Passmark Performance Test 8.0

Game Benchmarks:

  • 3Dmark
  • Bioshock: Infinite
  • Metro: Last Light
  • Thief
  • Tomb Raider

BIOS

The B350 Gaming Pro Carbon BIOS is similar to the previous generation of MSI motherboards. The sheer number of screens and settings are far too numerous to display here, so we will just take a look at the basics. The screens are fairly self-explanatory. There are two modes, basic and advanced.

Basic

Advanced

Click BIOS 5 is where all the overclocking action really happens. Every imaginable setting for clock speed or voltage is available, for both the CPU and the memory. Recent settings can be recalled and multiple profiles can be saved.

I found the BIOS pleasurable to use, with it flexible and easy to read. I did not have any difficulty finding the settings that I wanted to change and everything seemed to be logically laid out.

Software

Up next is MSI Command Center MSI Command Center. This is utility used for overclocking and tweaking inside the Windows environment.

The first tab is the CPU tab and allows for CPU overclocking and fan adjustments.

The DRAM tab allows control over the system’s memory.

Dragon Eye is a video streaming utility.

Nahimic is a feature rich audio control utility.

Live Update 6 checks for software updates and keeps track of changes made.

The X-Boost software allows you to boost the performance of any storage or USB device connected to you system.

Gaming App allows for quick adjustments of many of the system setting aimed at gaming performance and board cosmetics.

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RAMDisk is a utility that can be used to create a system drive using the system memory. System memory is far faster than regular drives and can increase system performance.

Gaming LAN Manager is used for network adjustments.

 

Performance Testing

General Performance Testing

All performance testing was done with the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 at stock clocks. Games where ran at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and higher settings enabled.

PCMark 8

“Use the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark to test the performance of SSDs, HDDs and hybrid drives with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games. You can test the system drive or any other recognized storage device, including local external drives. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices.”

Super PI Modded 1.5

“In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi in collaboration with Dr.Y.Kanada at the computer center. This record should be the current world record. (Details are shown in the windows help.) This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environment such as Windows NT and Windows 95. In order to calculate 33.55 million digits, it takes within 3 days with a Pentium 90 MHz, 40 MB main memory and 340 MB available storage.”

CPU Performance Testing

Handbrake

“HandBrake is a tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs.”

The workload video file is a ~6.27 GB, 3840 x 1714, 73.4 Mbps, 24fps, H.264, .mov video file that is transcoded to a ~1480 MB, 1920×858, ~17.1 Mbps, 24fps, H.264, .mp4 video file. Transcoding is done using Intel Quick Sync.

Fritz Chess

Fritz Chess is a benchmark in which a fictitious game of chess is played. As each move has to be calculated by the computer, it is an excellent test of CPU muscle.

CINEBENCH R15

“CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Iron Man 3, Oblivion, Life of Pi or Prometheus and many more.

CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.”

7-Zip

The benchmark shows a rating in MIPS (million instructions per second). The rating value is calculated from the measured speed, and it is normalized with results of Intel Core 2 CPU with multi-threading option switched off. So if you have modern CPU from Intel or AMD, rating values in single-thread mode must be close to real CPU frequency. There are two tests, compression with LZMA method and decompression with LZMA method. Once the total passes reaches 100, the score is taken.

 

Memory Performance Testing

AIDA64 Engineer Edition

“FinalWire Ltd. today announced the immediate availability of AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.50 software, a streamlined diagnostic and benchmarking tool for home users; and the immediate availability of AIDA64 Business Edition 1.50 software, an essential network management solution for small and medium scale enterprises. The new AIDA64 update implements AVX-optimized benchmarks for the upcoming Intel Sandy Bridge processors, adds a brand new video encoding benchmark, and supports the latest AMD and nVIDIA graphics processors.”

Passmark Performance Test – Memory Mark – Threaded

“Fast, easy to use, PC speed testing and benchmarking. PassMark PerformanceTest ™ allows you to objectively benchmark a PC using a variety of different speed tests and compare the results to other computers.”

SiSoft Sandra

“SiSoftware Sandra provides a robust package of diagnostic tools for testing your system and teasing out its problems–or potential headaches.”

Storage Testing

The B350 Gaming Pro Carbon features both standard SATA and M.2 storage connections, so both will be included here.

ATTO Disk Benchmark

“As the industry’s leading provider of high-performance storage & network connectivity products, ATTO has created a widely-accepted Disk Benchmark freeware utility to help measure storage system performance. As one of the top tools utilized in the industry, Disk Benchmark identifies performance in hard drives, solid state drives, RAID arrays as well as connections to storage. Top drive manufacturers, like Hitachi, build and test every drive using the ATTO Disk Benchmark”


SATA


M.2

CrystalDiskMark 3.0

“CrystalDiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds.”


SATA


M.2

AS SSD

“Test the sequential or random read/write performance without using the cache. AS SSD Benchmark reads/writes a 1 GByte file as well as randomly chosen 4K blocks. Additionally, it performs the tests using 1 or 64 threads and it determines the SSD’s access time.

Two extra benchmark tests examine the drive’s behavior when (1) copying a few big files, a lot of small files and a mixture of file sizes by using cached copy functions of your OS as well as (2) reading/writing data depending on the data’s compressibility.”

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SATA


M.2

SiSoft Sandra

“SiSoftware Sandra provides a robust package of diagnostic tools for testing your system and teasing out its problems–or potential headaches.”


SATA


M.2

The B350 Gaming Pro Carbon drive performance is on par from what we’ve seen from other X370 motherboards.

Performance Testing continued

Game Testing

3DMark – Fire Strike

“Fire Strike is a showcase DirectX 11 benchmark designed for today’s high-performance gaming PCs. It is our most ambitious and technical benchmark ever, featuring real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today”

3DMark – Time Spy

“3Dmark Time Spy is a new DirectX 12 benchmark test for Windows 10 gaming PC’s. Time Spay is one of the first DirectX 12 apps to be built “the right way” from the ground up to fully realize the performance gains that the new API offers. With DirectX 12 engine, which supports new API features like asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, and multi-threading, Time Spy is the ideal test for benchmarking the latest graphics cards.”

CINEBENCH R15

“CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Iron Man 3, Oblivion, Life of Pi or Prometheus and many more.

CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.”

Alien: Isolation

“Discover the true meaning of fear in Alien: Isolation, a survival horror set in an atmospheres of constant dread and mortal danger. Fifteen years after the events of Alien, Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda enters a desperate battle for survival, on a mission to unravel the truth behind her mother’s disappearance.”

Grand Theft Auto: V

“When a young street hustler, a retired bank robber and a terrifying psychopath find themselves entangled with some of the most frightening and deranged elements of the criminal underworld, the U.S. government and the entertainment industry, they must pull off a series of dangerous heists to survive in a ruthless city in which they can trust nobody, least of all each other.”

Metro: Last Light

“It Is the Year 2034. Beneath the ruins of post-apocalyptic Moscow, in the tunnels of the Metro, the remnants of mankind are besieged by deadly threats from outside – and within. Mutants stalk the catacombs beneath the desolate surface, and hunt a midst the poisoned skies above.”

Thief

“Garrett, the Master Thief, steps out of the shadows into the City. In this treacherous place, where the Baron’s Watch spreads a rising tide of fear and oppression, his skills are the only things he can trust. Even the most cautious citizens and their best-guarded possessions are not safe from his reach.”

Overclocking

We’ve recently changed how we test overclocking performance. With newer BIOS and software becoming increasingly more capable of doing overclocking, it seems pertinent to also include those results.

Overclocking – BIOS

MSI offers adjustable overclocking via Game Boost. We were able to only hit a dismal 3.4 GHz at 1.45v.

Overclocking – Manual

I started out configuring the Ryzen 7 1700 at its default settings with the BIOS. Once the default settings were in, it was now time to see how high I could push the CPU with our water cooling system and have it still be 100% stable. All cores and SMT were still enabled. The memory was left at XMP default.

We still managed to squeeze 4.14 GHz out of the Ryzen, but the voltage was seriously high at 1.56v. This is definitely not recommended for most users.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

The MSI B350 Gaming Pro Carbon a beauty to behold and instantly instill a strong sense of speed. The carbon fiber look trim combined with MSI’s excellent Mystic RGB Lighting is sure to win many fans and I’m one of them. The beauty and speed extends deep into the heart of the B350 Gaming Pro Carbon as well.

Throughout the testing the B350 Gaming Pro Carbon showed mostly well above average scores. Storage performance was quite good as well. The overclocking ability of the B350 Gaming Pro Carbon is good. General layout is very good, with every connecter, jack, and switch in their proper places. I was rather surprised how much room there was around the CPU socket. The angles of the VRM heatsinks surrounding the CPU socket made cooler installation much easier than most of the enthusiast boards at this price.

Speaking of price, the MSI B350 Gaming Pro Carbon is available currently for $139.99 at Newegg and Amazon, an extremely attactive price. Combined with a 3 year warranty, MSI has a winning combination.

Likes

  • Carbon Fiber and More Carbon Fiber
  • Excellent Gaming Performance
  • Good Overclocking Ability
  • Well Thought-out Features and Utilities
  • RGB LED Case Lighting Control
  • Reasonable Price

Dislikes

  • None

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