"Haswell-E is Coming" will likely be the phrase of the month ahead of its expected release in September, and MSI are quick out of the blocks with an image of their X99S SLI PLUS; you may recall glimpses of pre-production samples at Computex, but this is the first look at a retail board. Of course not a great deal is known beyond the obvious - it supports Intel's Haswell-E CPU via an LGA2011 socket that probably isn't pin-compatible with Ivybridge-E and Sandybridge-E, in addition to Quad-channel DDR4 RAM - but there are a few features we can probably glean from the image.
To start with: it's an all-black design; not only that, it doesn't have any of those misplaced gun motif 'gaming aesthetics' seen on previous generations. From the outset therefore it'll be something of a win in the looks department for enthusiasts wanting to work with a blank canvas upon which to place their own stamp.
Three-way SLI looks to be a shoe-in, with an additional fourth x16 slot likely intended for lower bandwidth cards (i.e. wired for x2 or x4). Despite the number of x16 lanes the X99S SLI PLUS conforms to an ATX form factor, hence for the vast majority of users chassis compatibility shouldn't be an issue.
Storage features appear to be extensive. In addition to the eight SATA ports at right-angles running along the edge, likely most or all of which are SATA 3, both M.2 and SATA Express are also supported. Given the bandwidth available via these standards it's perhaps unsurprising that they make an appearance, but good to know all the same. It remains to be seen if these are stock chipset features.
Beyond that, we can observe six 4-pin System/CPU fan headers, two USB 3.0 headers, two USB 2.0 headers and the welcome return of on-board PWR/Reset/OC Genie switches. Power is fed to the motherboard via 24-Pin ATX and 8-pin EPS 12V plugs, so exotic PSUs shouldn't be the order of the day.
Overall it's looking like a very tidy basis for a Haswell-E system. Obviously pricing and availability won't be known for some time to come, but expect this motherboard to have an MSRP in keeping with the premium price of a Haswell-E CPU and high-end graphics.
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