Intel is refreshing its Core X-series CPUs with higher performance potential and solder TIM, and Asus is getting ready for those chips with its Prime X299-Deluxe II motherboard. This mobo drops support for Intel's late Kaby Lake-X CPUs and wisely focuses on making the most of Skylake-X parts.
The Prime X299-Deluxe II's improvements start at its VRM. This board now has a 12-phase getup for the CPU itself, and Asus caps it off with a heatsink that's just as much about function as it is about clean looks. The primary power-delivery heatsink has a strip of actual fins (!) bonded to its surface for better heat dissipation, and it appears to use a heat pipe and secondary heatsink to further increase the system's heat-removal capabilities.
The X299-Deluxe II also incorporates a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports right into its back panel. Those ports sit next to a pair of DisplayPort 1.4 inputs so that builders with Thunderbolt 3 displays can send pixels over a single cable. On top of those do-it-all connectors, Asus includes six USB 3.0 ports and two Ethernet jacks—one an Aquantia-powered 5-GbE unit, the other an Intel-powered GbE jack. An Intel 802.11ac card with 2×2 MIMO support serves folks like me who don't have Ethernet runs in their offices.
Since refreshed Skylake-X CPUs no longer suffer from Intel's past practice of turning off PCIe lanes, the X299-Deluxe II's CPU-connected PCIe slots can provide x16/x16/x8 connections to as many as three graphics cards, storage expansion cards, or other accelerators. Three M.2 slots (two M.2 22110, one vertical) provide plenty of room for NVMe gumsticks, while eight SATA ports stand ready to connect 2.5" SSDs or plain old spinning media.
Asus bedecks the Prime X299-Deluxe II in plenty of blinkenlighting, including a massive "LiveDash" monochrome OLED amidships with a 2" diagonal. Builders can use this screen to monitor key temperatures, voltages, and clock rates, or they can show off animated GIFs of their choosing. RGB LEDs under the chipset heatsink and I/O shroud complete the package. Asus didn't provide pricing or availability info, but we'd expect this high-end board to demand a pretty penny when it hits e-tail shelves.