Asus’ X99 Deluxe motherboard reviewed

At long last, Haswell-E is upon us—and it was worth the wait. Intel’s latest high-end desktop processor crams up to eight cores and 16 threads into a single socket. It has enough PCIe Gen3 lanes to fuel exotic graphics configurations, and it’s backed by quad channels of DDR4 memory. So, yeah, pretty awesome.

And the processor is just one part of the overall package. Haswell-E comes with a new chipset, dubbed X99, that replaces the aging X79 Express Intel has been milking since the Sandy Bridge era. This updated I/O hub brings native USB 3.0 support, provisions for next-gen storage devices, and more SATA ports than most cases have drive bays. After years of being tied to a middling chipset, Intel’s premier high-end desktop CPU finally has an appropriately over-the-top companion.

Motherboard makers have readied a range of X99-based products, each one with its own blend of special herbs and spices. The first to hit our labs is Asus’ X99 Deluxe.

As its name implies, the Deluxe is a decidedly premium offering. The board should start selling today for an eye-popping $399. That ain’t cheap, but neither is the thousand-dollar Core i7-5960X processor that caps the Haswell-E lineup. This is Intel’s high-end desktop platform, after all.

The Deluxe’s black tie motif seems appropriate given the price tag. The gleaming white trim looks great against the largely blacked-out board.

Much of the white is confined to a plastic cover that stretches up the left edge. This purely cosmetic piece is secured with just a few screws, so it’s easy to remove if you don’t like the look. Ditching the shroud should improve airflow to the VRM heatsink lying beneath. Asus recommends installing DIMMs in the gray slots first, which ends up blocking the main inlet, leaving only the virtual hood scoop at the top.

Eight memory slots let the X99 Deluxe accommodate up to 64GB of DDR4. The slots only work with 288-pin DDR4 modules; 240-pin DDR3 sticks need not apply. Don’t try to plug in an older LGA2011 CPU, either. Haswell-E uses a special “v3” version of the socket that’s incompatible with previous chips.

Between the DIMM slots and VRM heatsinks, the socket is packed tighter than the front row at Lollapalooza. Slim clearances are unavoidable with this much hardware squeezed into an ATX footprint. We can’t test whether every combination of components will fit, but we have taken a few key measurements that should be helpful.

Although the VRM heatsinks come closest to the socket, they’re relatively short compared to some of the oversized memory modules out there. Taller DIMMs pose the biggest threat to CPU coolers that branch out from the restricted zone surrounding the socket. Most coolers should get along just fine with standard-height modules, though, and closed-loop liquid coolers should be immune to motherboard clearance issues altogether.

The PCI Express expansion slots have enough breathing room to take two triple-wide graphics cards or three double-wide ones. Only the open-ended x4 slot is linked to the Gen2 lanes in the X99 chipset. All five of the x16s have Gen3 connectivity from the CPU, whose 40 lanes can be distributed in a litany of configs, including an even spread with eight lanes per x16 slot.

That’s how it works with 40-lane versions of Haswell-E, anyway. Intel’s annoyingly segmented lineup also includes a 28-lane variant, the Core i7-5820K, which forces the third and fifth x16 slots to trade their Gen3 links for sluggish Gen2 x1 connections to the chipset. The remaining x16 slots retain their Gen3 connectivity, which can be distributed in x16/x0/x8 and x8/x8/x8 configurations.

Those setups only add up to 24 lanes each, leaving four lanes untapped. The remainder is reserved for PCIe SSDs plugged into the Deluxe’s M.2 socket.

Most motherboards’ M.2 implementations are restricted to dual Gen2 lanes from the chipset. On top of that, they’re bound by limited interconnect bandwidth shared with the X99’s other I/O components. The Deluxe’s M.2 socket bypasses those handicaps by hooking directly into the CPU.

When installed, M.2 SSDs stick straight up instead of running parallel the PCB. The removable bracket holds drives securely, but the orientation still looks awkward. The positioning should also keep drives cooler than typical M.2 configs, though. M.2 SSDs usually hug the motherboard between expansion slots, a region that can get quite toasty with multiple power-hungry graphics cards installed. If temperatures rise high enough, they could trigger the thermal throttling mechanisms designed to keep some M.2 SSDs from overheating.

The rest of the onboard storage is split between the X99 and a collection of ASMedia controllers. The chipset supplies all the individual SATA ports in addition to the two in the top SATA Express connector. SATAe devices plugged into that port connect to the chipset via dual PCIe 2.0 lanes, much like similar implementations on Z97 boards. This “flex I/O” configuration is officially endorsed on the Z97 chipset, where connected devices are managed by Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology driver. However, Intel doesn’t provide any support or validation for the feature on the X99. While motherboard makers are free to use the flex I/O port for SATAe or M.2 storage, Intel warns that some RST features may not work like they do on other 9-series chipsets.

The bottom SATA Express port is tied to an ASMedia controller that can switch between SATAe and SATA modes. Another ASMedia controller powers the two USB 3.0 ports on the left side of the rear cluster. The other eight ports are driven by just two USB connections in the chipset, each of which is shared via a four-way ASMedia hub. If you want a straight line to the X99’s SuperSpeed goodness, you’ll have to tap one of the four ports accessible via internal headers.

The X99 Deluxe covers all the networking bases. Wired options comprise dual Gigabit Ethernet jacks fed by Intel controller chips. On the wireless front, a Broadcom adapter brings 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. The Wi-Fi is a dual-band “3T3R” implementation that Asus claims can hit speeds up to 1.3Gbps. Network traffic management software is also included in the box.

Integrated audio has become a hotbed for upgrades in recent years, and the Deluxe follows a familiar playbook. It has a high-end Realtek codec, fancy Nichicon capacitors, auxiliary amplification, extra shielding, and isolated routing for the analog traces. A couple of DTS features complete the package: DTS Ultra PC II, which enables surround sound virtualization for stereo speakers and headphones, and DTS Connect, which provides real-time encoding for multi-channel digital output.

The analog audio output sounds decent enough, with no evidence of distortion or buzzing during heavy system loads. Audiophiles or music lovers will probably want to use the digital out—or run a discrete sound card or USB DAC.

Asus peppers the X99 Deluxe with sensible extras that system assembly and maintenance much easier. There are the usual suspects, like the POST code display and onboard buttons, along with some less common touches, like the multi-GPU switch that lights up the correct PCIe x16 slots for two- and three-way setups. Port blocks simplify the wiring process for front-panel hardware, while the cushioned I/O shield ditches the annoying bits of sharp, pokey metal that line traditional I/O covers. The board also has a DirectKey header that, when connected to a typical case switch, boots the system directly into the firmware.

That’s just what’s on the board. Additional components lurk inside in the box.

The Hyper M.2 card is a full-sized adapter for mini SSDs. It has four lanes of bandwidth, just like the onboard slot, and it’s capable of operating at Gen3 speeds.

The other item is an expansion module that bumps the number of temperature-controlled fan headers from six to nine. Along with three extra fan headers, the module sports a trio of connectors for standard temperature probes. Attached thermistors supply reference temperatures to the fan control intelligence managed by the board’s firmware and utility software. We’ll dive deeper into fan controls—and tackle the X99 Deluxe’s tweaking options—on the next page.

A refined tweaking experience

Much of the X99 Deluxe’s firmware and software is inherited from Asus’ Z97 boards, but that’s hardly a disappointment. Asus routinely has some of the best motherboard firmware and software around.

The only thing that’s really lacking is the resolution of the firmware interface. It’s 2014, Asus; time to move beyond 1024×768. The GUI looks surprisingly good in spite of its limited pixel array, but the text and graphics just aren’t as crisp as on the 1080p firmware available with some competing boards. It sounds like Asus plans to surpass that resolution by scaling all the way up to 4K with its next-gen firmware. If that happens, there’s no guarantee the upgrade will trickle down to the X99 Deluxe.

What the firmware lacks in resolution it makes up in usability. The EZ interface pictured above contains a basic assortment of monitoring and control options along with shortcuts to key features like fan speed control and automatic system tuning. More experienced users should stick to the advanced interface, which has fine-tuning options for just about every system variable open to adjustment.

Multiplier, frequency, and voltage options abound in the advanced UI. The layout is logical, and users can roll their own custom assortment of options in the Favorites tab. They can also track changes using a “Last Modified” function that details adjustments made during the previous tweaking session. Upon exit, the firmware displays a list of changes made during the current session. Pretty slick.

Most enthusiasts expect that modifying one firmware setting won’t alter unrelated variables, so I have to point out that the X99 Deluxe boosts the CPU’s Turbo multipliers when the memory frequency is changed. This illicit overclocking is nothing new—motherboard makers have been doing it for years—but it’s still an annoying and ultimately undesirable trait. At least the firmware’s default configuration observes the CPU’s stock Turbo multipliers, which is more than can be said for some of the shadier overclocking schemes we’ve encountered.

Apart from the addition of more fan headers and temperature probes via the expansion module, the fan speed controls mirror those of Asus’ other 9-series boards. Three-pin DC and four-pin PWM spinners both work with the fan control logic, and there’s a built-in calibration routine to determine the exact speed range of each connected fan. Users can rely on pre-baked configs or create their own three-point profile with the easy-to-use GUI. Dipping into the advanced interface unlocks the ability to define the reference temperature associated with each fan.

The only catch is that the CPU and CPU_OPT headers share the same profile. That’s fine for push/pull fan duos, but it’s less ideal for pump-and-radiator combos, especially those that rely on a mix DC and PWM connectors. For water coolers with multiple components, Asus recommends plugging fans into the CPU headers and pumps into the chassis headers.

Motherboard firmware is a lot more approachable now than it was even a few years ago, but some users still prefer tweaking system settings from the familiar confines of Windows. There, Asus’ AI Suite software combines much of the firmware’s functionality along with a bunch of other perks.

The fan controls are bolstered by adjustable spin-up and spin-down times for each header. Increasing those intervals smooths out the fan response to changes in temperature, preventing brief spikes from producing audible oscillations in rotational speed. The name and location of each fan can also be defined, which should help to organize loaded rigs use all the available headers. Too bad AI Suite can’t alter the reference temperature for each fan header.

In addition to serving up fan speed controls, AI Suite is loaded with overclocking and power options. The CPU voltage options are presented particularly well, with visual graphs illustrating how prescribed offset and “OC” voltages are applied as the CPU’s Turbo multipliers engage. Other variables can be altered by dragging mouse-friendly sliders or inputting specific values directly with the keyboard.

The power controls cover functions like load-line calibration and current limits. As in the firmware, there are separate options for the circuitry feeding the processor and system memory. There’s even a GPU overclocking panel built in, though you’ll need a compatible Asus graphics card to take advantage of it.

If you’re shy about making changes manually, Asus’ auto-tuning wizard can take the reins. A version of it is included in the firmware, and the software implementation is even more robust. It scales up clock speeds iteratively and tests stability at each step, just like an enthusiast would. The auto-tuning engine is also highly configurable, with options to adjust temperature thresholds, voltage limits, and whether to start ramping up from the stock frequency or a higher speed. The duration and nature of the stress test can be altered, as well, and a strenuous AVX test has been added to the mix for the X99.

Saved profiles can be loaded manually or via Turbo App, which invokes them automatically based on application-specific preferences. Individual apps can be tied to a combination of performance, fan, audio, and networking profiles. The audio and networking settings are fairly simplistic compared to the other profiles, but they make Turbo App more of a full-fledged system tuner than a selective overclocker.

On the next page, we’ll explore the X99 Deluxe’s overclocking chops and performance characteristics.

Overclocking

Modern motherboards typically have less impact on peak CPU frequencies than the characteristics of individual chips and the effectiveness of the associated coolers. That said, mobos still determine how much effort is required to reach top speed—and how much cursing occurs along the way. To get a sense of the overclocking experience, we dropped in a Core i7-5960X processor, strapped on a mammoth liquid cooler, and pushed the CPU as far as we could.

Auto-tuning mechanisms are useful for establishing a starting point for manual overclocking, so we let Asus’ AI Suite software have the first crack at the CPU. The automated intelligence ramped the chip up to a peak Turbo speed of 4.5GHz on 1.3V. That speed applied only to single-core loads; with all eight cores occupied, the CPU ran at 4.3GHz.

The auto-tuned config survived our usual torture test, which combines the Unigine Nature benchmark with AIDA64’s CPU stress test. CPU temperatures hovered around 56°C, and there was no evidence of throttling. So far, so good.

Feeling cocky, we set the all-core CPU multiplier to 45X and fired up our torture test once more. Everything was OK for a few moments, but a BSOD error soon appeared, forcing a reboot. We had to nudge the CPU voltage up to 1.325V to get the system stable with the CPU pinned at 4.5GHz. At that speed, CPU temperatures crept into the 70-76°C range.

Our test rig booted at 4.6GHz without complaint, but BSOD errors hit as soon as we launched any kind of multi-core load. Increasing the CPU voltage didn’t help, and neither did lowering it or adjusting other system voltages. Same deal with the power limits, which were mostly maxed out already. We even kicked the cooler into overdrive by ramping its 140-mm up to full speed, to no avail. 4.5GHz was it… or so we thought.

When we tried to grab some Cinebench scores, the dreaded blue screen returned. The multithreaded rendering benchmark is apparently more strenuous than our usual stress test—or just better at pushing hot-clocked chips over the edge. We had to dial back to 4.4GHz to get Cinebench working, which at least let us drop the voltage to 1.3V.

Asus tells us that 4.4-4.5GHz is an average overclocking result based on the pre-production chips it’s tested. Some of the company’s samples have gone up to 4.7GHz, while others haven’t made it past 4.3GHz. For what it’s worth, our Cooler Master Nepton 280L water cooler seemed up to the task of keeping thermals in check. Temperatures spiked up to 84°C at top speed, but there was no evidence of throttling.

Although I will admit that some colorful language escaped my lips after a few overclocking-induced crashes, the overall process was silky smooth with both the auto-tuner and the manual tweaking software. Overclocking with the firmware was pretty pleasant, too. The “auto” voltage and power settings did a good job of keeping up when we increased the CPU multiplier manually.

Performance

We intended to compare the Deluxe to another X99 board, but our second subject got stuck in customs and arrived far too late to test for this review. We had to switch to the next best thing, Asus’ X79 Deluxe.

The trouble is, we could only pair that motherboard with an older Ivy Bridge-E processor that has fewer cores, higher clocks, and a different architecture than the Haswell-E chip in our X99 rig. The X79 Deluxe uses different memory, too, and it has a different chipset. Those factors make it difficult to isolate the motherboard’s effect on system performance.

Scott’s Core i7-5960X review is a much better resource for information on how Haswell-E compares to Ivy-E; it’s loaded with far more application benchmarks and alternate CPUs than we include in motherboard reviews. We can, however, tell you a few things about how the X99’s peripheral performance compares to that of its predecessor.

USB transfer rates are faster, but that’s not exactly surprising. The X79 lacks integrated SuperSpeed connectivity, forcing boards to use third-party controllers. Auxiliary peripheral chips have traditionally been slower than Intel’s native implementations, and that dynamic has not changed with the X99.

The ASMedia chips on both boards deliver similar throughput—and much lower transfer rates than the X99’s integrated controller. We’ve seen a similar performance disparity when comparing the USB performance of Intel’s Z97 chipset to that of third-party controllers.

SATA performance is similar between the two Deluxes, whose chipsets both support 6Gbps speeds. Those results aren’t even worth graphing. Neither are the networking scores, which are nearly identical. (The X99 system exhibited slightly lower CPU utilization during GigE transfers, but it also has more CPU cores at its disposal, making the comparison a bit moot.)

There a slight difference in boot times, with the X99 Deluxe reaching the Windows desktop a few seconds after its X79 counterpart:

Both are fairly slow compared to the Z97 boards we’ve tested, which boot in just 14-16 seconds. The X99 Deluxe and its forebear spend almost that long just winding up before their initial splash screens appear.

We have more X99 motherboard reviews planned, so we’ll be able to assess the Deluxe’s performance against its true competitors soon. Don’t hold your breath for fireworks, though. Motherboards typically have a negligible performance impact when all other system components are the same.

Power consumption

Motherboards can influence total system power consumption, but the numbers we’ve gathered won’t shed light on that fact. They’re tainted by differences between the systems’ respective Haswell-E and Ivy Bridge-E processors and DDR4 and DDR3 memory. Again, Scott’s CPU review is a better source for power consumption data along those lines. Make what you will of the following figures.

The X99 rig consumes less power than the X79 at idle but not under load. The EPU power-saving measures on both boards have little effect on power draw at the wall socket.

We’re more interested in how the X99 Deluxe’s power draw compares to that of the Haswell-E alternatives. Stay tuned.

Detailed specifications

We’ve covered most of the X99 Deluxe already, but here’s the full spec sheet in case we missed anything.

Platform Intel X99, socket LGA2011-v3
DIMM slots 4 DDR4, 64GB max
Expansion slots 5 PCIe 3.0 x16 via CPU

(x16/x16/x8)

(x8/x8/x16/x8)

(x8/x8/x8/x8/x8)

1 PCIe 2.0 x4 via X99

Storage I/O 1 M.2 type 2242-22110 via CPU (PCIe only)

1 SATA Express via X99

10 SATA RAID 6Gbps via X99

1 SATA Express via ASMedia ASM1065E

2 SATA RAID 6Gbps via ASMedia ASM1065E

Audio 8-channel HD via Realtek ALC1150

Real-time digital encoding via DTS Connect

Surround virtualization via DTS UltraPC II

Wireless Dual-band 2.4/5GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi via Broadcom adapter

Bluetooth 4.0

Ports 2 USB 3.0 via ASMedia ASM1042

8 USB 3.0 via X99 and 2 x ASMedia ASM1072 hub

4 USB 3.0 via internal headers and X99

2 USB 2.0 via X99

4 USB 2.0 via internal headers and X99

1 Gigabit Ethernet via Intel I218-V

1 Gigabit Ethernet via Intel E211-AT

1 analog front/headphone out (amplified)

4 configurable analog ports

1 digital S/PDIF out

Overclocking All/per-core Turbo multiplier: 31-80X

Min/max CPU cache ratio: 12-80X

CPU strap: 100, 125, 167, 250MHz

Base clock: 80-300MHz

Base:DRAM ratio: 100:100, 100:133

DRAM: 800-4000MHz

CPU voltage: 1.0-2.0V

CPU cache voltage: 1.0-2.0V

System agent voltage: 0.8-2.0V

CPU input voltage: 0.8-2.7V

DRAM A/B voltage: 0.8-1.9V

DRAM C/D voltage: 0.8-1.9V

PCH core voltage: 0.7-1.8V

PCH I/O voltage: 1.2-2.2V

VCCIO CPU 1.05 voltage: 0.7-1.8V

VCCIO PCH 1.05 voltage: 0.7-1.8V

VTTDDR A/B voltage: 0.2-1.0V

VTTDDR C/D voltage: 0.2-1.0V

PLL termination voltage: 0.2-2.1938V

Fan control 2 x CPU, 4 x SYS, 3 x EXT fans:

Standard, silent, turbo profiles

Manual profile with three temp/speed points per fan

DC and PWM fan support

The PCIe configurations are for 40-lane CPUs. See the first page of the review for the skinny on how things work with neutered 28-lane processors.

Our testing methods

We upgraded our motherboard test rig with a couple of new components just for this review. The first is Cooler Master’s beastly Nepton 280L water cooler:

With dual 140-mm fans and a fat radiator, the Nepton is fairly extreme as far as liquid coolers go. It sells for $139.99 at Newegg right now, and it seems to do a good job of keeping our Haswell-E processor cool. However, we’ve had some issues with the pump not turning on properly on boot, which sends CPU temperatures skyward. This only happens intermittently, but we’ve observed it on a couple of different motherboards. Seems like we might have gotten a unit with a wonky pump.

The other addition to our test rig is some swanky DDR4 memory from Corsair:

These Vengeance LPX modules have standard-height heat spreaders that steer clear of potential cooler conflicts. The quad-channel 16GB kit is rated for speeds up to 2800MHz with 16-18-18-36-2T timings. Asking price: $399.99 at Newegg.

All of our testing was conducted with the memory running at 2800MHz, and none of our usual benchmarks complained. We had to adjust the system voltages by a smidgen to get the machine stable in Prime95, though. Upping the DRAM voltage by 0.05V and the CPU System Agent voltage by 0.025V did the trick. We’re still investigating whether the CPU, memory, or motherboard is at fault there.

If you’ve made it this far, you may be curious about what the rest of our test system looks like. We’ve posed it for your viewing pleasure.

We used the following configurations for testing.

Processor Intel Core i7-5960X Intel Core i7-4960X
Motherboard Asus X99 Deluxe Asus X79 Deluxe
Firmware 0501 0801
Platform hub Intel X99 Intel X79 Express
Chipset drivers Chipset: 10.0

RST: 13.1.0.1058

Chipset: 9.3.2

RST: 12.80.1016

Audio Realtek ALC1150 Realtek ALC1150
Memory size 16GB (4 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 SDRAM at 2800MHz Corsair Vengeance DDR3 SDRAM at 1800MHz
Memory timings 16-18-18-36-2T 9-10-9-27-2T
Graphics Asus GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II with 340.52 drivers
Storage Corsair Force Series GT 120GB

Samsung 840 Series 256GB

Power supply Corsair AX850 850W
OS Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro x64

Thanks to Intel, Corsair, Samsung, and Asus for providing the hardware used in our test systems. And thanks to the motherboard makers for providing those.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

Some further notes on our test methods:

  • All testing was conducted with motherboard power-saving options enabled. These features can sometimes lead to slightly slower performance, particularly in peripheral tests that don’t cause the CPU to kick into high gear. We’d rather get a sense of motherboard performance with real-world configurations, though; we’re not as interested in comparing contrived setups with popular features disabled.
  • DiRT Showdown was tested with ultra detail settings, 4X MSAA, and a 1920×1200 display resolution. We used Fraps to log a 60-second snippet of gameplay from the demo’s first race. To offset the fact that our gameplay sequence can’t be repeated exactly, we ran this test five times on each system.
  • Power consumption was measured at the wall socket for the complete system, sans monitor and speakers, using a Watts Up Pro power meter. The full-load test combined Cinebench’s multithreaded CPU rendering test with the Unigine Valley DirectX 11 demo running in a 1280×720 window. We reported the peak power consumption during the Cinebench run. Our idle measurement represents the low over a five-minute period sitting at the Windows desktop.
  • The Force GT 120GB SSD was used as the system drive for all tests. The Samsung 850 Series 512GB was connected as secondary storage to test Serial ATA and USB performance, the latter through a USAP-compatible Thermaltake BlacX 5G docking station. The Samsung SSD was secure-erased before each test that involved it. The Corsair drive was also wiped before we loaded our system image.
  • Ethernet performance was tested using a remote rig based on an Asus P8P67 Deluxe motherboard with an Intel 82579 Gigabit Ethernet controller. A single Cat 6 Ethernet cable connected that system to each motherboard.
  • Analog audio signal quality was tested using RMAA’s “loopback” test, which pipes front-channel output through the board’s line input. We tested while the system was loaded with Cinebench’s multithreaded rendering test, the Unigine Valley benchmark, and a CrystalDiskMark 4KB random I/O test running on the Samsung SSD attached via USB 3.0.

The tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. All tests except power consumption were run at least three times. Unless otherwise indicated, we reported the median result for each test. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

Conclusions

Haswell-E and its X99 sidekick are all about giving users more. This dynamic duo has more CPU cores, more memory bandwidth, more PCI Express lanes, and more chipset I/O than Intel’s standard desktop gear. It’s only fitting, then, that the X99 Deluxe embodies the same philosophy. The Deluxe is more motherboard than we’ve ever seen squeezed into an ATX form factor.

A lot of the goodness comes from the CPU and chipset. Asus takes full advantage of everything baked into the platform, and it does a particularly nice job with the processor’s PCIe payload, which is split between x16 slots for multi-GPU graphics and a four-lane M.2 socket for wicked-fast SSDs. Hanging M.2 drives off the CPU avoids the chipset interconnect bottleneck and provides Gen3 connectivity for next-gen hotness, while the adapter card imparts additional flexibility.

The Deluxe excels in other areas, such as networking, where it combines multiple GigE controllers with top-notch wireless options. Then there’s the DTS-infused audio and the assortment of builder-friendly features. And don’t forget the auxiliary fan module, which extends Asus’ already excellent fan management profiles to even more headers and temperature inputs.

Everything is tied together with highly polished firmware and software that’s approachable enough for newbies yet powerful enough for seasoned enthusiasts. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but the fact is that the last few generations of Asus boards have shown more firmware and software refinement than competing products. Even if that attention to detail hasn’t led to higher overclocks or faster performance, it has made life easier for tweakers trying to get the most out of their systems.

Now, we haven’t spent enough time with other X99 boards to know how the Deluxe stacks up against its immediate competition. The bar has been set very high, though. The X99 Deluxe is easily one of the most luxurious motherboards we’ve ever tested. It will be a very tough act to follow.

Comments closed
    • TEAMSWITCHER
    • 5 years ago

    I got my ASUS X99 Deluxe from newegg yesterday and my experience was anything but “Premium.” First off, I had to update the BIOS to fix support for my wired USB keyboard which prevented me from using the BIOS utility – by now USB keyboards should not be an issue.

    Once in the BIOS I discovered that all the SATA ports on the first controller (six of them) refused to detect any attached SATA devices. Only the four ports on the second SATA controller worked. Ok so the board is definitely going back, but I installed Windows anyhow just because I put the whole thing together and wanted to see it do something….anything.

    Then there is something wacky with using a Razor Death Adder mouse on any of the USB 3.0 ports. The Mouse pointer gets stuck every couple seconds and is basically unusable – so I switched it to a USB 2.0 port…I still have one left on the back thank goodness. But then I got to experience ASUS “Crystal Sound 2” technology, which seems to add a loud crackle at the end of sound. And right there I gave up and started dismantling my dream.

    So now I’m praying that this was an isolated incident. $400 bucks for this X99 experience (not too mention the 5930K and Corsair DDR4 RAM) isn’t exactly money well spent.

      • TEAMSWITCHER
      • 5 years ago

      Hi Geoff Gasior,

      Are you still checking this comment section? I need to find serious help in navigating ASUS’ wretched customer service, and disappointing X99 Deluxe motherboard product.

      I have now received TWO defective X99 Deluxe motherboards now with the exact same issue. SATA ports 1-6 fail to detect any attached SATA devices. Simply moving the SATA cable to a Port 7-10 and it get’s detected on the 2nd SATA controller.

      Since this is my second defective motherboard, can you think of any compatibility issues that might cause the 1st SATA controller on the PCH to malfunction. Other than having two video cards (GTX 680) and Two SSD’s (840 EVO 750GB + 840 Pro 256GB) I don’t have anything exotic. And I use a Corsair HX750 power supply, so I think I have enough power. I have an Intel 5930K processor and 16GB or Corsair 2800 DDR4 RAM.

      It cost me $80 to send the first Motherboard back to newegg (Whittier, CA) and I can’t keep sending motherboards back hoping to get one that eventually works. ASUS chat support has been completely unable to assist me – almost laughable really. Do you know anyone at ASUS that could help me get to the bottom of this?

      Any help would be most appreciated.

    • DarkUltra
    • 5 years ago

    I hope Asus improve AI Suite, right now it is just a black rectangle with text and lots of wasted space. Maybe some Direct2D stuff floating around in hardware accelerated heaven, like Steams Big Picture mode.

    • DarkUltra
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]When we tried to grab some Cinebench scores, the dreaded blue screen returned. The multithreaded rendering benchmark is apparently more strenuous than our usual stress test—or just better at pushing hot-clocked chips over the edge. We had to dial back to 4.4GHz to get Cinebench working, which at least let us drop the voltage to 1.3V.[/quote<] This is not good enough. Use Prime95 Blend max threads 80% ram use and OCCT GPU simultaneously for two hours. This way the CPU, the memory, GPU and the PSU are all tested. If you use turbo OC test one to eight cores individually.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 5 years ago

    The font on this board instantly reminds me of the Super Nintendo font on the console. Not that that’s a bad thing.

    • Jafo
    • 5 years ago

    OK. I don’t get it. Where are the benchmark results?

      • Pez
      • 5 years ago

      I was wondering that myself.

      • Dissonance
      • 5 years ago

      [url<]https://techreport.com/review/26973/asus-x99-deluxe-motherboard-reviewed/3[/url<]

        • cobalt
        • 5 years ago

        I think the confusion is because on page 4, it lists a whole bunch of benchmarks (DiRT, Cinebench, RighMark etc., performance, and so on) along with the version of the benchmark it claims were tested, but those don’t appear in the article.

          • Dissonance
          • 5 years ago

          Those are the tests we ran. Since motherboards typically have little impact on application and peripheral performance, we don’t always graph all the results. There isn’t much point to highlighting minute performance differences that are often smaller than the run-to-run variance for each board.

          In this case, we didn’t even have another X99 motherboard to compare against, making most of the results largely irrelevant. There may be more benchmark graphs in future X99 mobo reviews, where we can make a more direct comparison. Or there may not, if mobos continue to offer largely identical performance.

      • Krogoth
      • 5 years ago

      Motherboard performance has become more and more homogenized as more core logic is thrown onto the CPU. The only differences are attributed to what kind of third-party chips are used for extra stuff (Firewire, USB, SATAe, Thunderbolt etc.) and timings programmed with the BIOS.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 5 years ago

    It’s sad that I’ve been more excited about chipsets than I have Intel CPU’s for generations now.

    I guess I might have been blown away by Haswell-E had it been the first of the Haswell line to show up, not the last.

    Don’t get me wrong. It’s impressive. Hell, far and away, if you combine the X99 and the Haswell-E launches, it’s more impressive than either SB-E or IVB-E, too.

    It’s just… I’m not feeling that old magical, “Whoa,” feeling I used to feel. Perhaps I’m just old. 😉

      • LoneWolf15
      • 5 years ago

      You’re not wrong. One could say the same about Devil’s Canyon; more impressive than IVB or Haswell (non-refresh), but not as magical a feeling as Sandy Bridge.

      I think some of that is AMD’s inability to compete, so the CPU and chipset arms race has gone largely to Intel. There hasn’t been the leapfrogging that there was in the K6, Athlon, and Athlon XP days (or dominance during the Athlon 64/64 X2 period), and chipsets for AMD processors haven’t been groundbreaking quite possibly since HyperTransport was invented and refined.

      Then again, I saw Ghostbusters re-released in the theater yesterday (birthday today), realized it was new thirty years ago, and that I was in my first year of junior high at the time. So the old thing may have relevance too. 😉

    • Corion
    • 5 years ago

    Could somebody please propose a scenario where I would need all 10 of the USB 3.0 and 2 USB 2.0 ports (as well as the 4 from the internal headers)?

      • cobalt
      • 5 years ago

      What, you mean you can’t come up with 12+ devices that you might have plugged into your system?

      How about printer, scanner, keyboard, mouse, gamepad, UPS, stereo IR emitter, external optical drive (2 ports), external HD, webcam, and one each always-plugged in micro-usb, mini-usb, and ipod cable. That’s fourteen right there. 🙂

      Add any other gaming peripherals (leap motion, oculus rift head tracker, kinect) for good measure. And then internal ones go to card readers, fan controllers, and front ports.

      Yeah, there are always hubs, but those suck more often than they should.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 5 years ago

      Okay, let’s see.

      You have two external hard drives. One to back up your internal hard drive, one to back up the external by mirroring its file structure. Of course, you have a NAS and/or some kind of cloud solution in place to mirror that, too.

      You have a mouse (3), a keyboard (4), a webcam(5), a USB mic like a Snowball (6), a flightstick (7), a fightstick for Ultra SF IV/MK9/Injustice/KotF XIII/Skullgirls (8), a controller (Xbox 360 or PS4 preferably) (9), a steering wheel and pedals (10), a USB headset/sound card to move the sound system outside your PC’s internals (11), a digital artist tool/touchscreen to draw on PC (12), an external optical drive (13), an external floppy drive (14), a flash drive you keep updated with your files for when you need to take things with you to the office (15)…

      It’s easy once you start really embracing peripherals. USB hubs often add boot issues and delays or even device failures to the mix. Better to go with ports integrated into your PC.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 5 years ago

    So where’s the Editors’ Choice Award?

    • krazyredboy
    • 5 years ago

    Granted, this comment has nothing to do with the motherboard review, but it may help with one of your issues.

    My recommendation, in regards to the water pump, is not to plug it into the board. What I have found with mine (and also through research), is that they require the full voltage, from start to finish. They’re best used with a fan controller or straight into one of the molex adapters, to supply them full power, whenever the system is turned on.

    Some motherboards don’t kick the fans on into full voltage, at the start, so there may be occasions when you aren’t getting enough power to start the pump.

    Again, this is just from experience and researching the issue, myself.

    Otherwise, great review and I can’t wait to see some more comparisons!

    • Ryhadar
    • 5 years ago

    [quote=”Article”<]Much of the white is confined to a plastic cover that stretches up the left edge. This purely cosmetic piece is secured with just a few screws, so it's easy to remove if you don't like the look. Ditching the shroud should improve airflow to the VRM heatsink lying beneath.[/quote<] I've seen other board makers adopt this shroud, so I thought it was for something functional. Thanks for pointing out it's uselessness.

    • drfish
    • 5 years ago

    I just don’t think I could ever spend $400 on a mobo, even one as nice and modern as this. I’ve spent over $500 on GPUs a few times, over $500 on a CPU once, but never more than about $200 on a motherboard, it just doesn’t merit that percentage of the budget to me…

    I’d put this is the same range as Titans and Extreme Edition CPUs (which I know this was tested with in this case) desirable but rarely justifiable.

      • Krogoth
      • 5 years ago

      If you want to go dual-sockets and ECC support. You going to have to go the extra mile, but then again the cost of a workstation-tier board is trivial to the cost of the dual-socket capable CPUs. 😉

    • anotherengineer
    • 5 years ago

    “Haswell-E and its X99 sidekick are all about giving users more. ”

    Including more debt!! Wow high end is still pretty pricey!

    prices from the egg.ca

    mobo $429
    corsair ram per TR setup $415
    cpu – Core i7-5960X $1155

    3 component total $1999 + $15 shipping = $2014+13% tax = $2275.82

    I can see how a complete system can easily break the $3500 mark!

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      This is up close to the highest of high end X99 boards. If you want to cut corners, ASRock has you covered for about half that. You can cut more corners by buying 4x4GB Crucial DIMMs for about half the price of TR’s memory.

      But if you’re buying a $1200 CPU, in Canadian moneys, why cut corners?

      • Krogoth
      • 5 years ago

      It is a workstation/server-tier platform guise as an “Ultra High-End” gaming/desktop solution.

      The prices for the motherboard, CPU are quite normal for this tier (Even back when AMD was competitive)

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