My affection for hardware festooned in RGB LEDs is something of a meme among the TR staffers, and one that many gerbils are no doubt familiar with. Still, even I have to admit that motherboards glowing with rainbow light shows or bedecked with dragon accents can look decidedly tacky in a workstation environment. For that kind of machine, you'd do better to get a board like Asus' new WS-X299 Pro. This ATX motherboard has an LGA 2066 socket and all the connectivity you expect from a workstation offering without any gamer glitz.
Builders basing their work- or battlestations on this board can slot any LGA 2066 Core X-series CPU into it, though the board won't take Xeons. Capacity for RAM therefore maxes out at 128 GB of non-ECC DDR4, though all that memory can run at up to 4133 MT/s. Maximum performance is the order of the day here, and the board supports a trio of graphics cards from Nvidia or AMD in its four PCIe x16 slots. Other PCIe devices can hook up to the fifth slot, to the U.2 connector, or to one of the two M.2 sockets—all of which support data connections over four lanes of PCIe 3.0. For further storage expansion, there are also six SATA ports available.
On the outside, the WS-X299 Pro has four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 connectors, and two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports. Internal headers can hook up yet another pair of USB 2.0 ports, a pair of USB 3.0 connectors, a third USB 3.1 Gen 2 port, and regular old serial port. Dual RJ-45 jacks hook up to Intel Gigabit Ethernet controllers. Curiously, Asus equips the WS-X299 Pro with its high-end Crystal Sound 3 audio package based on a Realtek ALC1220A codec—the same one that's used by the ROG boards' SupremeFX audio.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the WS-X299 Pro is that it actually fits the ATX form factor. Many high-end LGA 2066 boards sprawl out into the larger E-ATX form factor, but not this one. That said, you'll probably want a nice big case to fit the necessary cooling for your many-core CPU. The WX-X299 Pro has dedicated connectors for water-cooling pumps and thermal sensors, along with the usual CPU and case fan headers. While the board doesn't offer onboard LED lighting, it does have Aura headers for RGB LED strips.
As the product page mysteriously materialized on Asus' site overnight, we don't know when this board will be available or for how much. Keep an eye out, though. The board's relatively staid styling might make it popular with workstation builders.
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