MSI specialists have released, perhaps, the largest number of devices supporting AMD AM4 processors. The older solutions using the X370 hub have more power converter power than the younger ones, where the more modest B350 chip is taken as the basis. Today’s guest of our laboratory is located at the junction of these segments. Its role is gaming PCs, here they decided to abandon the support for an abundant number of slots of various kinds, leaving the functionality of the hub fundamental for the future system. And from older products, she got a powerful power subsystem, which we plan to test during overclocking tests. In addition, it is here that you can find the older model of the codec from Realtek, as well as six slots for fans, all of them are controllable.
Still, it could not do without third-party controllers, there is ASM2142, which accompanies the operation of a pair of USB 3.1 Gen2 outputs on the rear panel and ASM1061, which is necessary for two SATA connectors on the board. The last step is very curious, because the B350 is able to work with four drives on its own, moreover, combine them into a RAID array according to the “10 (1 + 0)” scheme. Probably, the targeted rejection of such a “luxury” forced the engineers to use a third-party solution. To put it simply, the technique of limiting the possibilities was used in order not to create unnecessary competition for models based on the X370. The rest of the technical nuances can be found using the table with the characteristics.
|Model||MSI B350 Gaming Pro Carbon (MS-7B00 VER:1.1)|
|Official product page on the Web||msi.com|
|Processor socket||AMD AM4|
|Processors||AMD Series: Athlon X4, A6, A8, A10, A12, Ryzen 3, Ryzen 3 Pro, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 5 Pro, Ryzen 7, Ryzen 7 Pro|
|Memory||4 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 1866/2133/2400/2667*/2933*/3200+*(OC), 64 GB maximum|
|PCI slots||1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16) — CPU
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x8) — APU/Athlon
1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 (x4) — B350
3 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 — B350
|M.2||1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4, SATA (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110) — CPU
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x2, SATA (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110) — APU/Athlon
|Integrated video core (in APU)||Radeon Series: R7, R5|
|Video connectors||HDMI, DVI-D|
|Number of connected fans||6x 4pin|
|PS/2 ports||1 (keyboard/mouse)|
|The port is USB||2 x 3.1 Gen2 (2 connectors on the rear panel (A and C), ASM2142)
4 x 3.1 Gen1 (4 connectors on the rear panel, CPU/APU/Athlon)
4 x 3.1 Gen1 (no connectors on the rear panel, B350)
6 x 2.0 (2 connectors on the rear panel, B350)
|Serial ATA||2 x SATA 6Gb/s (B350)
2 x SATA 6Gb/s (ASM1061)
|RAID||0, 1 (SATA, B350)|
|Built-in sound||Audio Boost 4:
Codec — Realtek ALC1220 (7.1, HDA)
Op Amp — 2х Texas Instruments OPA1652
|Networking||Intel I211-AT (Gigabit Ethernet)|
|Dimensions, mm||305 x 244|
|Additional features||EZ Debug LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, BOOT LED), RGB LED strip header (+12V, 5050), M.2 Shield, AMD 2-Way CrossFireX support|
|Retail price, $||139|
Packaging and equipment
The box is medium in size, on the front you can note the designation of the board belonging to the five-star series – “Performance Gaming”, this is the average category of gaming devices from the manufacturer.
There are technical details on the reverse side, they noted: equipping with a high-quality audio complex (in addition to the older codec, there is also bonus software), VR support, network application prioritization, the ability to connect an LED strip and control the backlight from a mobile device (using a special application there). There is also a product photo, a diagram of the ports on the rear panel, and a table with the main characteristics.
In addition to the board inside the box is:
- user manual, which illustrates and describes in detail the sub-items of UEFI (in English), provides a brief overview of the capabilities of proprietary software;
- brochure-memo on the correct installation of the cooler and memory modules;
- multilingual quick installation guide;
- disk with drivers and proprietary software;
- buyer registration card;
- set of twelve labels for labeling SATA cables;
- extension cord for connecting LED strip (length about 80 cm);
- two SATA 6Gb / s cables, one of which has an L-shaped connector on one of the ends;
- plug for the body, complete with a black sticker with the symbolic designation of all sockets.
The device is full-format and fully complies with ATX standards, there are nine holes for mounting in the case. Its lower part looks somewhat deserted, most likely, PCB developments from older boards were used, and they decided not to compensate for the refusal to support various kinds of interfaces. Such a board is designed exclusively for assembly, there is nothing that could facilitate its operation in the open bench mode – buttons, switches, POST code indicator.
All hinged structures are securely fixed with screws. Most visible at the back of the group of LEDs, they are directed to the side and these are multi-color models with a lens.
Several similar products are also soldered under the chipset cooler. A very massive bar is used, a decorative overlay is glued on top.
You can use one device in the M.2 format, there is a proprietary M.2 Shield cooler for it, however, the most dimensional models will only be partially covered by it.
Just below the main chip – B350 – you can see the auxiliary ASM1061, all four SATA outputs of the longitudinal type.
Under the USB body cables, two pads were provided – for the second and third generations.
For a shielded PCI-E slot, the lines come from the CPU, the rest of the slots work with the hub. Their resources are interconnected; work according to the PCI-E x4 scheme completely excludes the use of the most compact ones – PCI-E x1.
The audio part is implemented at the highest level: the ALC1220 has a screen, a group of special capacitors and a pair of operational amplifiers. That is, headphones with a high impedance can be connected both to the back and to the front of the case.
Miniature red LEDs form a diagnostic corner – EZ Debug LED, a small red indicator is also soldered under the PCI-E x16 petal (working on a reduced formula will change the color of the glow to white). In the absence of a graphics accelerator in the system, another one located closer to the CPU socket will glow. Another one of these will notify the active status for A-XMP, it was soldered near the main power socket. Memory slots are also equipped with four lamps; they glow when installed modules are detected.
The visor at the rear includes an illuminated RGB type logo, its shades depend on the settings. The design itself is compact enough not to interfere with the installation of cooling systems. Radiators are also not too overall.
The construction of the stabilizer circuit is not new, it is used on almost all models of the manufacturer using the B350 hub, an example in our laboratory was the MSI B350 Tomahawk. The Richtek RT8894A PWM controller provides “4+2” channels for CPU and SOC (NB) voltages, respectively. This time, they used the technique of doubling all the elements without exception in each channel of CPU Voltage (even now there are not four, but eight chokes), but they decided not to change anything for the remaining two “phases”. Of course, the load is mainly on the processor part, so it will be interesting to study how such a circuit implementation will change the behavior of the device. Power elements of the same models are PK616BA and PK632BA from Niko Semiconductor (twelve pairs in total).
Monolithic bars do not have any ribs that increase the total surface area to improve heat exchange with the environment. The thermal pads turned out to be of sufficient size, the contact with the transistors was full.
The rear panel configuration here is much more in line with modern trends, if you look back at its composition on the cheaper B350 Tomahawk. They abandoned the analog video output, but instead introduced an additional pair of USB ports of the most modern versions, provided with work thanks to an external controller. Now the total number of USB sockets is eight pieces. S/PDIF also appeared. You can only complain about the lack of a wireless adapter, but its presence would affect the cost, which plays an important role as an alternative to more expensive products based on the X370 in the face of the considered B350 Gaming Pro Carbon.