MSI X99A Tomahawk Motherboard Overview
Taking a first look at the X99A Tomahawk you can see that we have an all black PCB with black and grey accents. There are agressive heatsinks on the power delivery components as well as the PCH. There is a plastic cover on the rear I/O that goes down and covers the audio components as well.
Starting at the CPU socket we of course have the LGA2011v3 socket. There is an 8-phase VRM conditioning the CPU. This motherboard makes use of MSI’s Military Class 5 components, so you have Titanium Chokes which have a better ability in thermal and higher temperature tolerance. This allows the Titanium Choke to run at a 220 degree Celsius high temperature, have a 40% higher current capacity, a 30% improvement in power efficiency and better overclocking power stability. There are also Dark Caps which have been a staple in high-end motherboard designs and provides lower Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) as well as its over-10-year lifespan. Flanking the CPU socket on each side you have 4 DDR4 DIMM (8 total) slots. These slots support DDR4 memory up to DDR4-3300 speeds. At the top of the board above the heatsink you’ll find the 8-pin EPS connector. Moving to the right there is a 4-pin pump header and a 4-pin CPU fan header.
Moving down the board you have your 24-pin ATX power connection, another 4-pin fan header, and a USB 3.0 header.
Coming down to the storage connections you have a U.2 32 GB/s connector, a second USB 3.0 header which is set at a 90 degree angle, and six SATA 6GB/s ports.
At the bottom of the board we have a lot going on. At the bottom right corner you have a 4-pin fan header, two SATA ports, a SATA Express port, BIOS switch, two USB 2.0 headers, front panel header, small power and reset buttons, a post code display, RGB header, TPM header, another 4-pin fan header, and HD audio header.
Taking a look at expansion slots you have three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x16, x16/x16, x8/x16/x8) and two PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slots. The x16 slots feature MSI’s Steel Armor, which they claim is 4x stronger than other PCI-Express slots. At the far edge of the board you’ll find the components that make up MSI’s Audio Boost 3 solution. You have a high quality EMI-Shielded HD audio processor, Chemi-con audio capacitors, and dual headphone amplifiers. All of the audio components have complete PCB isolation from other components on your motherboard.
In between the 2nd and 3rd PCI-Express slots you’ll find an M.2 slot, which also has metal armor on it. This is a PCI-Express 3.0 x4 slot and supports M.2 solid state drives up to 110mm.
Finally moving to the rear I/O on the board from left to right you have PS/2 port, two USB 2.0 ports, clear CMOS button, two USB 3.1 ports (Type-A / Type-C), four USB 3.0 ports, dual Intel LAN ports, two more USB 2.0 ports, and your audio connections which are gold-plated.