Looking back on our time with the MSI X99A Tomahawk there really is not much to be found to nit-pick over. Sure, the layout of the PCIe x16 ports means 4-way GPU configurations is impossible. Sure the M.2 port will be limited to x2 mode when used with a 28-lane CPU and its only 40 lane CPUs that will unlock the full potential of the M.2 port. One could even nit-pick over the use of ASMedia instead of Intel USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller. However, none of that really matters.
First and foremost, this is an X99 motherboard that costs less than many Z170 motherboards. The fact that we can really only come up with three nits to pick is simply stunning. Even excluding the shear value of this motherboard lets actually think about those nits. Firstly, in return for the ‘loss’ of 4 way GPU configurations each and every one of those three x16 PCIe cards come clad in MSI Armor which makes them not only robust but also able to pass clear signals on to the CPU like no non-clad PCIe slot can do. If that was not enough the layout of those cards actually makes using dual GPU configurations a breeze as there is lots of space between them – enough for even three slot GPUS! I think it is safe to say that for the 99.9999% of consumers MSI made the wise decision… and you simply cannot satisfy everyone all the time.
The same holds true of M.2 and 28-lane CPUS. To be blunt running a lower end 28-lane CPU negates nearly all the benefits of running X99/socket 2011-v3 in the first place. You might as well drop down to LGA1151 and call it a day. You can either afford socket-2011v3 system or you cannot. Thankfully this board does make it a lot easier to find the room in your budget for a higher priced 40lane CPU.
In the end the only issues is the use of the lower powered ASMedia chipset for USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports. In the grand scheme of things that really is not that big a hardship as the average consumer is not going to notice the difference… and those who do can simply add in a daughter card and still be in money compared to the typical $350 x99 motherboard. Put simply the Tomahawk is a bloody awesome deal that does not in any shape nor form feel like a value motherboard. Brilliant stuff.