MSI C236A Workstation Is A Great Skylake Xeon Motherboard For Linux Users
Written by Michael Larabel in Motherboards on 13 April 2016. Page 2 of 2. 15 Comments

When it comes to the motherboard layout, no real complaints. Everything is spaced nicely and when testing the nine different Xeon CPUs and swapping out various graphics cards and components over the past month and a half, there's been no real issues encountered.

When it comes to Linux compatibility, if you are running a recent Linux distribution, you really shouldn't have any issues. You'll want to be using a recent Linux 4.x kernel paired with any modern distribution like Ubuntu 16.04, Fedora 23/24, Arch Linux, etc. If you are using a motherboard with integrated graphics, you will ideally want to be on Mesa 11.2 for best performance and support or Mesa Git. During my testing with Ubuntu 16.04, I had no problems getting the P530 graphics working at 4K via HDMI with this motherboard. When it comes to BSD support, I had no troubles running FreeBSD/PC-BSD 10.3 on this board using NVIDIA graphics.

I've used this motherboard for many Linux benchmarks over the past month and it's held up very strong so far. Among those articles if you are looking for some MSI C236A Workstation + Xeon Skylake performance figures include among them:

- 9-Way Intel Xeon E3 v5 Skylake Benchmarks On Ubuntu Linux if you are trying to find a nice Xeon to pair with this board.

- 15-Way Linux OS Comparison a look at all the different Linux distributions tested with this board.

- Another few Linux distributions were benchmarks more recently on this board as well.

- FreeBSD 10.3 vs. Linux benchmarks that were done on the MSI C236A Workstation.

- Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu 16.04 NVIDIA OpenGL benchmarks so I even ended up testing Windows on here...

- The Performance Of Ubuntu Software Running On Windows 10 With The New Linux Subsystem as some more Windows vs. Linux benchmarks when paired with the Xeon CPU turboing up to 4GHz.

And many other benchmarks, many of which you can also find via searching on OpenBenchmarking.org.

So long story short, I've been very happy with the MSI C236A Workstation motherboard and it's held up very well with the many Linux/BSD benchmarks that have been pounding it the past month. I'll continue to be benchmarking this motherboard in various Linux configurations and update if any issues arise or I have any further thoughts. I'm very happy with the motherboard but about the only complaint is that I can't seem to locate it in the US yet at any major Internet retailers. They have it listed at Amazon.com but it's been out-of-stock. For $170 USD, the price is very competitive especially for being a motherboard with the C236 chipset rather than C232. If you can find the MSI C236A Workstation at your shop, it's certainly worth considering if you want to build a Skylake Xeon workstation. Thanks again to MSI Computer for sending out this motherboard and also for being interested in the Linux enthusiast segment of our audience.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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