My Core i7 5960X + MSI X99 Experience So Far: It's Smoking, Really

Written by Michael Larabel in Motherboards on 6 September 2014 at 10:30 AM EDT. Page 1 of 2. 52 Comments.

Update (1 October): The MSI X99S SLI PLUS Is Working & Running Well On Linux. After extensive investigation by the parties involved, it looks like this was a rare, isolated incident and the replacement motherboard is working under Linux without fault.

This weekend I was planning to publish the first Linux benchmarks for Intel's incredibly powerful Core i7 5960X Haswell-E processor with X99 motherboard and DDR4 system memory. Unfortunately, all I can tell you now is that it's smoking, quite literally!

The testing has unfortunately been delayed again since when powering up the X99 motherboard for the first time, it had a quick flame and then smoke from two locations. The motherboard in question was the MSI X99S SLI Plus.

At the end of August, Intel released the Core i7 5960X Haswell-E processor that has eight physical cores plus Hyper Threading to yield a total of sixteen threads. The CPU has a 3.0GHz base frequency and up to 3.5GHz Turbo Frequency, 20MB Smart Cache, 40 PCI Express 3.0 lanes, and ushers in DDR4 memory to the desktop with having DDR4-2133MHz support. By all indications this is an incredible beauty albeit pricey with a retail price currently above $1,000 USD.

Unfortunately I didn't have any launch-day Linux benchmarks as the i7-5960X sample from Intel hadn't arrived until Tuesday due to Labor Day. When it arrived, it was just the CPU without motherboard or RAM. Rather than taking the time to arrange some X99 and DDR4 samples with Phoronix partners, I was anxious to get the powerful system up and running for Linux benchmarking, and decided it would be the quickest to just quickly an X99 motherboard and DDR4 memory for this initial testing -- while reviews on other motherboards and DDR4 RAM samples will come in the weeks ahead.

The motherboard I settled for was the MSI X99S SLI Plus, since it was an ATX motherboard with all the features I care about and one of the lowest-cost X99 motherboards currently available. I bought the MSI X99S Plus for $229 USD whereas many X99 motherboards are available for $300+. The memory I settled for was the Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR4-2666MHz memory. Those components arrived Friday so I was looking forward to finally getting out the i7-5960X tests over the weekend.

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