|Number of USB 2.0 Ports||3|
MSI LGA 1151 Intel C236 HDMI DDR4 USB 3.1 ATX Motherboard (C236A Workstation)
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- Supports Intel Xeon E3 v5 series / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron processors for LGA 1151 socket
- Supports ECC DDR4 Memory
- Supports Nvidia Quadro and AMD FirePro professional graphics cards
- DDR4 Boost: Perfectly optimizing memory performance
- Turbo M.2 32Gb/s + Turbo U.2 ready + USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C + SATA 6Gb/s
- MULTI-GPU with Steel Armor: Steel Armor PCI-E slots. Supports NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire
- 4K UHD Support: Ultra-high Definition Visual Experience
- Windows 10 Ready: 100% Compatibility, Performance, Trusted and Certified
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|Sold By||SuperE, LLC||Amazon.com||Amazon.com||Amazon.com||Amazon.com|
|Chipset Type||Intel C236||Intel C246||Intel C246||Intel C246||INTEL Z390|
|CPU Socket||LGA 1151||LGA 1151||LGA 1151||LGA 1151||LGA 1151|
|Item Dimensions||13.80 x 10.70 x 3.60 inches||13.58 x 11.57 x 2.76 inches||12.00 x 1.00 x 9.60 inches||10.62 x 10.55 x 2.67 inches||12.00 x 1.00 x 9.60 inches|
|Item Weight||3.00 lbs||—||3.05 lbs||2.20 lbs||3.50 lbs|
|Memory Slots Available||4||4.0||3.0||4||4.0|
|RAM Memory Maximum Size||64 GB||—||64 GB||—||1 GB|
|RAM Memory Technology||SDRAM||DDR4||DDR4||DDR4||DDR4|
|Supported Motherboard||atx||atx||atx||Micro ATX||atx|
The MSI C236A WORKSTATION motherboards are engineered to cater even the most demanding professional. The WS motherboards fully support Intel Xeon E3 v5 processors and are optimized for Nvidia Quadro multi-GPU setups. By using industries' highest quality components, with an unmatched R&D design and extreme QA testing, the C236A WORKSTATION motherboards guarantee the best in performance, stability and reliability.
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Pros: Supports ECC memory and M.2 NVMe. Quality build components. I already had two M.2 NVMe drives...I plugged one into the motherboard and the other into a Lycom DT-120 adapter plugged into the X4 slot...both drives are running at X4.
Cons: Will not POST without an attached monitor. I installed the "fit-Headless" by Compulab dongle into the HDMI port which allowed boot without monitor. This is not actually a con, as the product description clearly states Workstation, not Server, but it is important to be aware of if you plan to use it without a monitor.
Other Thoughts: System is rock solid so far with the following configuration: 32 GB (4x8 GB) Kingston (KVR21E15D8/8) ECC memory, 16 TB (2x8 GB) WD Red NAS (WD80EFZX) drives, 1 GB (2x512 MB) Samsung 950 Pro (MZ-V5P512BW) drives, Intel Xeon Skylake (E3-1245 v5) processor with Reeven Justice (RC-1204) cooler, and Seasonic Prime Titanium 850W (SSR-850TD) power supply, installed into a Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX (PH-ES515E_AG) case.
Prior to this motherboard I was using an Asus P10S WS and had multiple problems and annoyances. One issue was it would only recognize the second NVMe device intermittently (latest BIOS did not help so swapped out for replacement motherboard which worked). A couple of months later the replacement motherboard made a pop sound and would no longer power on (not a power supply problem). I've generally been impressed by my previous consumer Asus motherboards, but it appears to me that they either have design problems or quality issues with their Server motherboards, or at least the P10S WS. I replaced the Asus motherboard with this MSI one and have had zero problems.
I wrote my original review below about overcoming a raid driver issue. All was well until I went to put my server in it's closet home. it would turn on but not boot. I quickly learned that this board would NOT boot without a monitor connected.... This is listed as a workstation board, I am willing to bet a good amount of users set up their workstation / servers as headless systems. I could not find an option in the BIOS to get around this so I contacted MSI. Their response was prompt but I was told that a monitor is required. Their suggestion around it was to purchase a dummy vga adapter that has a few resistors in it to trick the board into thinking a monitor is attached. These devices are also used for bitcoin mining so I was able to get one on ebay for $15 but still, my old server board from 2010 ran fine with no monitor attached. Why would they force this on a workstation board?! Seems like something a small BIOS update could correct.
I ran into an issue when using UEFI mode, RAID mode, and trying to install Windows Server 2016 (also tried Windows 10). The board came with AMI BIOS Ver D.2 dated 2016-03-03. This had Intel RST (RAID) driver ver 13.x built in. On Intel's site they list ver 14.8 as the first to support Windows 10. When trying to install Win10 or 2016 it said "no drives detected". I've seen this before so i downloaded the RAID driver from Intel's site onto a flash drive and supplied it during the setup. When the setup tried to use this driver it would then BSOD and restart before it got to copying files. I could have used the legacy non-UEFI mode but my drives are 6TB so I would have been limited to using only 2TB of it with the legacy option. I also could have used AHCI but then would not have been able to run the two drives in a RAID. I solved this by flashing AMI BIOS Ver D.4 dated 2016-07-27. This included Intel Rapid Storage Technology RAID driver ver 14.8. I then started the Server 2016 install again. This time it saw the drives but threw an error when it got to the "copying files" step. I one last time started the install running the D.4 BIOS and supplied the Intel RST ver 14.8 drivers from MSI's website manually using the Load Driver option during setup. This time the install went through without any issues. Server 2016 found all needed drivers except 4. Running the Intel Chipset Driver ver 10.1.1.9 from MSI's site installed the rest.
My settings that worked
Intel RST Driver: 14.8
Secure Boot: Disabled
Win 8.1/10 WHQL: Enabled
Win 7 Install: Disabled
MSI Fast Boot: Disabled
Fast Boot: Disabled
SATA Mode: RAID Mode
*Make sure only UEFI devices are listed in the "Boot Priority" section, if not your settings are wrong. Boot Mode Select should also show "UEFI"