The test setup was built in our In Win 509 chassis and doubled as our practical build.
Overclocking was on par with the other boards that we tested Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 with. We were able to maintain a stable and constant 3.9GHz on our Ryzen 7 1700 CPU with 1.34V and what we would consider 'normal' temperatures topping out in the low 60C-64C region under sustained load. The overclocking result appears to be limited by the CPU and not the board itself - given that this is our test platform going forward, we will keep working on the overclocks.
I really liked the layout of the board as both a builder and then later on once it was finished - being able to keep the final build neat is always a nice feeling.
The audio performance of this board was also solid and for the most part I used the HyperX Cloud headset but did switch to Logitech speakers as well. The sound didn't distort at high volume and when gaming with the headset (I didn't push it with the speakers due to neighbours and general comfort), distinct sounds of the environment or communication with other players were crystal clear. In Battlefield 1, the cavalry footsteps were clear - even directional. The explosions, vehicles, weapon reloading and general atmosphere were all done justice by the Audio Boost 4 solution. Black Ops 3 is another title where good audio can influence a gamer's success and the X370 Gaming Pro Carbon lived up to its name - all sounds were clear with the voice chatter coming through exactly as per the volume mixer settings. Cinematic games and games with strong musical themes or dialogue were also great to play and I couldn't find a situation where I was left wanting with the audio.
I did use headphones via both the front and rear jacks at different times but was unable to determine a difference in the audio quality - which is the result I was hoping for.
The RGB lighting isn't as "in your face" as some other boards but it adds a configurable accent to your build. This can be setup independently for different zones and you could make your system look like a rainbow or rave if you really wanted to - the end result is up to the owner.
Whilst the layout is very practical and a dream to build with, the CLR_CMOS jumper is in an interesting spot - right in the middle of the board. It means that you have to deliberately activate the jumper and won't do it by mistake but depending on your CPU cooler and graphics card, it could be a real pain to get to. Generally, most of us will almost never need to use it so this isn't a deal breaker, just a little puzzling when the rest of the board layout just makes so much sense.
The socket area is relatively clear and mounting our heavy copper water block was both easy and safe from obstructions. The 6 SATA ports on the right edge of the board are likely to be enough for most people - especially when you consider the 2 onboard M.2 sockets, high speed USB 3.1 ports and growing trend of home NAS devices. Once upon a time we'd have PCs here with 4 or 5 hard drives but now we tend to only have 1-2 larger drives and our Drobo (NAS).
MSI's software made things easier and didn't get in the way at all. I spent a little more time with Dragon Eye during this review and saw how handy that might be for tutorials or watching TV shows when playing turn based games like XCOM 2.
Dual USB 3.1 internal headers proved to be a good match for our In Win 509 chassis and given the number of new cases emerging with dual USB 3.1 front panel ports, it's worth investing in a board that can support them.
When we received the review sample X370 Gaming Pro Carbon, there was a BIOS update. Generally speaking, I hate updating a motherboard's BIOS and I do mean hate. In this case, MSI has made it very easy with prompts and a process that you are in effect forced to follow. The process worked, was quick and a far cry from the experience that many of us slightly older PC gamers grew up on 10-15+ years ago.
For this review, I didn't use the X99 Intel system at all - I made the complete switch to this PC with the view that if there were stability issues when working with photos, transcoding, doing website work, gaming or watching content, I'd be sure to see them. This system has been 100% rock solid, applications have not faultered, games have been played without glitching and updates have been applied without incident at both a Windows level and MSI software level. Zero complaints from myself and everyone else that used the system. I'd be more than happy to call this test system my own and would be feeling happy with my purchase if I'd bought the X370 Gaming Pro Carbon with my own cash.