A Closer Look
MSI’s X299 MEG Creation is a large EATX form-factor board with a very unique image. The ‘Element Explosion’ aesthetics cover the entire board from the Chipset to the M.2 heatsinks to the rear I/O cover to the VRM heatsink in a cohesive pattern.
There isn’t much to see on the rear of the board. One metal bar across the back of the VRM area, and numerous surface mount components. MSI has a few ‘Case Standoff Keep Out Zones’ where no through-hole components are on the board to prevent extra standoffs from shorting out the board if they are mistakenly not removed before installation.
Rear I/O coves all of the bases, you get no less than ten USB ports, Intel Gigabit Ethernet and Realtek 2.5G Ethernet, the latest Intel Wi-Fi, Clear CMOS & BIOS FlashBack+ buttons, a PS/2 port, gold plated 8-channel audio jacks and an optical output.
Intel’s large LGA-2066 socket covers the center of the top of the board and is flanked with eight armored quad-channel DDR4 memory slots. The 13 phase VRM is powered from an unusual trio of 8-pin EPS connectors and is connected to an additional heatsink with a large heat pipe.
The bottom half of the board is dominated by four armored PCIe x16 slots and three Turbo M.2 slots that have heatsinks that blend seamlessly into the chipset heatsink.
The bottom edge of the board is packed with connectors. You start with the front-panel audio header, an RGB connector, supplementary power connector, thermal sensor and TPM connectors, three fan headers and a water flow meter header that is easy to mistake for a fan header.
Going forward, we have the front panel I/O connector, two USB 2.0 headers, another fan header, and a USB 3.0 header. Above these are a BIOS select switch, power and reset buttons, Thunderbolt controller connector, and an addressable RGB header.
Going up the front edge, you have a Turbo U.2 port, eight SATA 6Gbps ports, USB 3.0 and 3.1 headers and 24-pin main power connector.
Above the 24-pin power, you have the VROC key connector. Next to it is an addressable RGB header configured for compatibility with Corsair RGB devices, two fan headers, one rated for higher power for Pumps. Next to this is the Game Boost knob and EZ Debug LED’s.
The top edge of the board has three 8-pin EPS connectors for the CPU that spreads the power out to keep the connectors and cables cool even under extreme overclocking loads from high-core-count CPU’s.
The M.2 area is exposed under two separate heatsink pieces.
Each of the three drives is thermally coupled to the heatsink with a preinstalled thermal pad.
Under the rear cover is a large heatsink for the 2.5G Ethernet as well as additional cooling for the VRM.
On the back of the main VRM is a back plate of sorts that also holds the heatsink on.
After a few more screws are removed we get a closer look at everything.
Realtek’s latest RTL8125 chipset provides the faster 2.5Gbps Ethernet at the rear panel.
Intel’s latest Wireless-AC 9260 provides wireless speeds up to 1.73Gbps as well as Bluetooth 5.
MSI’s glowing red LAN ports return, but you can see the accent lines and CREATION logo’s glow with RGB glory.
The M.2 Xpander-Aero might look like a GPU but in fact, holds four M.2 drives. Under a massive fan cooler heatsink.
It supports any PCIe based SSD up to 22110 on each port and has a thermal probe for each. Pins on the rear allow drive activity to be passed to your case LED indicator if wanted. A supplementary PCIe power connector can help with power-hungry high-performance drives.
The Thunderbolt card provides two Thunderbolt 3 40GBps ports that support up to DisplayPort 1.2.