Asus’ X99-A motherboard reviewed

Asus’ X99 Deluxe provided our first taste of the next-gen goodness available in Haswell-E and its associated X99 chipset. The board pairs the platform’s prodigious I/O bandwidth with loads of auxiliary peripherals, wicked-fast Wi-Fi, and a bunch of extra features and accessories. It’s the motherboard equivalent of a burger loaded with multiple patties, bacon, fried onions, sautéed mushrooms, three kinds of cheese, and a fried egg… in addition to all the usual fixin’s.

Although the Deluxe is delicious, it’s a little over the top. The nearly $400 asking price is also tough to swallow for those who won’t fully exploit the board’s excess. For most enthusiasts, the X99-A looks like a more manageable meal. Asus’ most affordable Haswell-E offering distills the Deluxe down to its essential ingredients without losing sight of the platform’s strengths. Asking price: only $274.99 online.

Like its Deluxe daddy, the X99-A follows a monochromatic theme. Asus didn’t just strip a few chips off the higher-end model and slap on the name, though. The X99-A has a different PCB with a reconfigured slot layout. The electrical components seem to be the same, but their deployment is slightly different—and, in some cases, more sparing.

One of the biggest layout changes is the relocation of the M.2 slot. Instead of poking out vertically near the ATX power connector, the X99-A’s mini SSD mount runs parallel to the PCB in the bottom-right corner of the board. That location still provides enough room to host M.2 22110 drives up to 110 mm (4.3″) long.

Like Asus’ other Haswell-E boards, the X99-A has a proprietary “OC Socket” with more pins than the standard LGA2011-v3 design prescribed by Intel. These pins make contact with untapped pads on the processor, and they purportedly prevent unwanted voltage drops in highly overclocked systems. Asus’ promotional literature references a CPU running at 1.8V, an extreme voltage even for chips swimming in liquid nitrogen, so it’s unclear how much benefit there is for conventional overclockers bound by off-the-shelf coolers—and stuck with retail chips rather than cherry-picked samples.

For what it’s worth, Asus also claims the OC Socket enables higher memory speeds and tighter timings. The X99-A supports DDR4-3000 speeds even with all eight of its DIMM slots populated.

DDR4 modules are loaded into matching rows that flank the CPU to the east and west. A VRM heatsink looms to the north, while graphics cards threaten from the south, putting the socket in the center of a very crowded region. We can’t test every hardware combination for compatibility, so we’ve provided some clearance measurements below. We’re now taking measurements from the center of the socket, which should make them easier to compare to the dimensions published by cooler makers. Thanks to TR reader Meadows for the suggestion.

The VRM heatsinks are short enough to stay mostly out of the way. However, memory with taller heat spreaders could conflict with aftermarket coolers that branch out from the socket.

Note that we’ve measured the distances to two sets of memory slots. The pair farther from the socket is occupied by four-DIMM configs, while the closer couple is needed only with six- and eight-DIMM setups.

Six expansion slots match the total on the Deluxe, but only the first, fourth, and sixth connect to the CPU, capping CrossFire and SLI support at three cards. Multi-GPU teaming schemes experiencing diminishing returns after two cards, so the lack of four-way support isn’t a serious limitation. At least the slot spacing leaves enough room for three-way configs with dual-slot coolers and duallie combos with triple-slot coolers.

The distribution of PCI Express lanes to the expansion slots and onboard peripherals depends on multiple factors, including whether the CPU has 28 or 40 PCIe lanes enabled. (The Core i7-5820K is restricted to 28 lanes, while the 5930K and 5960X have 40.) We’ve mapped the possible configurations in the diagram below. The slot order matches the image above, and clicking the buttons adjusts the distribution for different CPUs.


The M.2 and last PCIe x16 slot share Gen3 lanes from the CPU. That arrangement is more about switching than sharing, though. The four lanes available to the M.2 can be re-routed to fuel the expansion slot, but the two can’t be used simultaneously.

On the chipset front, the first x1 and second x16 slots share Gen2 bandwidth with the auxiliary USB controller. Assigning four lanes to the x16 slot via the firmware effectively disables its companions, which otherwise get one lane each. The X99’s remaining lanes are solely devoted to the second x1 slot, the LAN controller, and the SATA Express port.

SATA Express brings us nicely to the X99-A’s storage payload, which we’ll explore on the next page.

Storage, ports, and the little things

Because the X99 chipset has 10 SATA 6Gbps ports, the X99-A can host a stack of drives without resorting to third-party controllers. There are some associated limitations, though. Only six ports are managed by Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology software, which has built-in RAID support. The remaining four (the ones on the left in the picture below) are separate from the RST framework. These second-class citizens work just fine with individual drives, but they can only participate in RAID arrays via third-party software.

Two of the full-fat SATA ports reside inside a slim SATA Express connector. This shared physical interface is tied to a “flex I/O” link in the chipset that can hook into dual SATA drives or one SATAe device. The latter has access to 1GB/s of bandwidth from dual PCIe Gen2 lanes, much like similar flex implementations on Z97 boards.

The X99-A’s M.2 slot is part of the storage picture, too, but it bypasses the chipset and hooks into the CPU. Mini SSDs have access to a staggering 4GB/s of bandwidth—enough headroom for not only today’s fastest M.2 drives, but also tomorrow’s next-gen hotness. The only catch is that the CPU has no clue what to do with SATA-based SSDs, ruling out compatibility with most of the M.2 drives on the market right now. And that’s just fine, because PCIe SSDs have a lot more potential. Besides, the X99-A has enough SATA connectivity already.

Both of the X99-A’s internal USB 3.0 headers are visible in the image above. Each one is connected to dual ports in the X99 chipset, leaving only two native SuperSpeed ports for the rear cluster pictured below. Asus bolsters those connections with a two-port controller and one-to-four hub, bringing the number of rear-mounted USB 3.0 ports up to six.

PS/2 LAN Audio
USB2 USB2 USB3 USB3 USB3
USB2 USB2 USB3 USB3 USB3
1 Gigabit Ethernet via Intel I218-V
8-channel audio via Realtek ALC1150 and amplifier
4 USB 2.0 via X99
2 USB 3.0 via ASMedia ASM1042AE controller
3 USB 3.0 via X99 and ASMedia ASM1074 hub
1 USB 3.0 via X99

The table above illustrates how the various ports are connected. The ports supplied by the ASMedia controller are slower than the other USB 3.0 options, so we wouldn’t recommend them for truly high-speed devices. That said, the ASMedia chip still hit 250-260MB/s in our sequential tests, so it’s certainly fast enough for mechanical storage.

Intel Gigabit Ethernet? Check.

CMOS reset button? Nope. What looks like a reset switch is actually the trigger for USB Flashback, which can update the motherboard firmware with only a thumb drive and power supply connected. Good guess, though.

On the audio front, Realtek’s ALC1150 codec collaborates with Texas Instruments’ R4580 amplifier. The amp can be switched between the stereo and front-panel outputs on the fly, and it’s joined by the usual assortment of enhancements, including audio-specific capacitors and isolated analog traces. More importantly, the drivers support DTS UltraPC II surround virtualization and DTS Connect multi-channel encoding.

The onboard audio sounds decent to my ears, and the X99-A scores well in RightMark Audio Analyzer, which measures analog signal quality. If you’re really serious about audio quality, though, you’re better off using the digital output or installing a discrete sound card or USB DAC.

Although they’re not terribly exciting, builder-friendly features like the X99-A’s cushioned I/O shield and front-panel wiring blocks make system assembly much easier. The shield won’t slice your fingers or get caught up in the rear ports, and the blocks simplify front-panel wiring immensely. Both should be standard equipment on all enthusiast-oriented motherboards.

Just behind the port blocks is a series of switches to control features like XMP profiles, EPU power saving, and TPU auto-overclocking. These features can be activated in the firmware, of course, but some folks apparently prefer onboard switches. The X99-A also has physical power and reset buttons, a POST code display, and a DirectKey header that can be used to boot directly into the firmware. Unless you want to short the DirectKey header with a screwdriver, you’ll need a momentary switch mechanism (like those used for chassis power and reset buttons) to trigger the boot-to-firmware shortcut.

So ends our tour of the X99-A’s hardware, but there’s a lot more to this board than what’s on the PCB. Next, we’ll look at the firmware, the software, and how well this thing overclocks.

Firmware and software tweaking options

The X99-A’s firmware is pretty much identical to that of the X99 Deluxe. Apart from a few platform-specific options, the UEFI is also the same as what’s available on Asus’ Z97 boards. Since our X99 Deluxe and Z97-A reviews already provide detailed tours, we won’t spend too much time rehashing them here. There are, however, a few finer points that are worth reiterating.

The first is the slick usability of Asus’ motherboard firmware. The options are laid out intuitively, the graphical fan controls are excellent, and the tuning wizard steps uninitiated users through the auto-overclocker and RAID setup. Using the UEFI feels more like navigating Windows software than poking around in a firmware interface.

There’s no shortage of fine-tuning options beneath the user-friendly facade. Advanced overclocking and memory tuning options are easily accessible, and the fan section is loaded with extra goodness. For example, users can define whether the temperature used to drive each fan’s rotational speed is drawn from one of multiple onboard sensors or from a two-pin header that accepts external probes. The fan control logic works with both three- and four-pin spinners, and independent controls are available for five of the six onboard headers. (The CPU and CPU_OPT headers share the same profile.) There’s even a built-in fan speed calibrator.

Asus’ Dual Intelligent Processors 5 tweaking software brings much of the firmware’s functionality to Windows. The utility even adds a few unique elements, like the ability to define spin-up and spin-down times for temperature-controlled fans. Hardware monitoring is built into the software, as well, complete with configurable warning thresholds for voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds.

One of the best parts of DIP5 is the configurable auto tuner, which lets users adjust a wide range of variables governing how the automated overclocking mechanism cranks up frequencies—and how it tests for stability at each step along the way. This optimization wizard can also adjust power settings and fan profiles automatically, and it can even push GPU frequencies on compatible graphics cards.

Overclocking

We put DIP5’s auto-overclocking intelligence to the test with a Core i7-5960X processor strapped to a mammoth Cooler Master Nepton 280L water cooler. The configuration options were left at their stock settings except for the duration of the stress test, which we increased from 15 seconds to 90 seconds.

After a few reboots, the tuning mechanism settled on a 4.5GHz clock speed driven by a 45X all-core multiplier and a 1.308V CPU voltage. The system was stable under a combined CPU and GPU load, and temperatures stayed under about 70°C.

4.5GHz matches the highest speed we’ve achieved with this particular CPU-and-cooler combo. The fact that we hit that frequency using the software auto-tuner is especially impressive—and good news for newbies who don’t want to get their hands dirty with manual tweaking.

Speaking of which, we spent a little time fiddling with various overclocking knobs to see if our CPU would hit 4.6GHz. We made it to the Windows desktop at that speed, but we couldn’t come up with a mix of voltage and power settings that kept the rig stable under load. The time we spent tweaking did, however, confirm that Asus’ firmware and software are great for making manual adjustments.

The only issue we encountered was with the software’s hardware monitor, which reported a CPU voltage 0.02V higher than what was set in the utility (and reported by CPU-Z). That’s a pretty minor problem in the grand scheme of things, especially since an earlier version of CPU-Z made a similar error.

Performance highlights

When equipped with the same components running at the same speeds, motherboards typically have little impact on system performance. There are rare exceptions, so we still run a range of application and peripheral tests to look for outliers, but we didn’t find any with the X99-A. In most cases, the performance differences between this board and the X99-Deluxe are smaller than the run-to-run variance.

Gigabyte’s X99-UD4 also appears in the graphs below. That board’s DRAM multipliers only go up to 26.66X, so the UD4 can’t run our DDR4-2800 modules at full tilt without also overclocking the CPU. We tested the UD4 at DDR4-2666 speeds to ensure stock CPU clocks, and that handicap was barely evident outside our memory bandwidth benchmark.

Nothing to see here, folks.

We also measured cold boot times, and the X99-A made it to the desktop slightly faster than the other Haswell-E boards we’ve tested:

Shaving a few seconds off the boot time is nice, but it’s hard to get excited about a task that’s performed so infrequently. If you really want quick boot times, you’re better off with Z97 boards, which typically boot in 13-16 seconds with similar hardware.

Power consumption

Although motherboards have little effect on performance, they can influence power consumption. We measured total system power draw (sans monitor and speakers) at the wall socket over a five-minute idle period and under a load comprising Unigine’s Valley graphics benchmark and Cinebench’s multi-core CPU rendering test. The Asus boards were tested with and without their EPU power-saving measures enabled.

The X99-A is particularly power-hungry at idle, where it consumes 3W more than its Deluxe sibling and 16W more than the Gigabyte board. The contest is closer under load, but even with its EPU mojo turned on, the X99-A still draws 11W more than our low-power leader.

Asus’ LGA2011 boards have a history of higher power draw, so the results aren’t terribly surprising, even if they are a little disappointing. At least the deltas are small enough that cooling requirements shouldn’t be affected.

Detailed specifications

Here’s the X99-A’s full spec sheet in case we missed anything.

Platform Intel X99, socket LGA2011-v3
DIMM slots 8 DDR4, 64GB max
Expansion slots 3 PCIe 3.0 x16 via CPU (x16/x16/x8*)

1 M.2 22110 PCIe 3.0 x4 via CPU (*shared with PCIe x16)

1 PCIe 2.0 x16 via X99

2 PCIe 2.0 x1 via X99

Storage I/O 1 SATA Express via X99 (shared with 2 SATA RAID 6Gbps)

6 SATA RAID 6Gbps via X99

4 SATA 6Gbps via X99

Audio 8-channel HD via Realtek ALC1150 with amplifier

Real-time multichannel S/PDIF encoding via DTS Connect

Surround virtualization via DTS Ultra PC II

Wireless NA
Ports 1 USB 3.0 via X99

3 USB 3.0 via X99 and ASMedia ASM1074 hub

2 USB 3.0 via ASMedia ASM1042

4 USB 3.0 via internal headers and X99

4 USB 2.0 via X99

4 USB 2.0 via internal headers and X99

1 Gigabit Ethernet via Intel I218-V

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 (combined), 4 x SYS:

Standard, silent, full-speed profiles

Manual profile with source temp, 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 lane assignments for 28-lane chips.

Our testing methods

If you’ve made it this far, you may be curious about what our test system looks like. Here it is:

We used the following configurations for testing.

Processor Intel Core i7-5960X
Motherboard Asus X99-A Asus X99 Deluxe Gigabyte X99-UD4
Firmware 1004 0501 F9a
Platform hub Intel X99 Intel X99 Intel X99
Chipset drivers Chipset: 10.0

RST: 13.1.0.1058

Chipset: 10.0

RST: 13.1.0.1058

Chipset: 10.0

RST: 13.1.0.1058

Audio Realtek ALC1150 Realtek ALC1150 Realtek ALC1150
Memory size 16GB (4 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2800 SDRAM
Memory config 2800MHz @ 16-18-18-36-2T 2800MHz @ 16-18-18-36-2T 2666MHz @ 16-18-18-36-2T
Graphics Asus GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II with 340.52 drivers
Storage Corsair Force Series GT 120GB

Samsung 840 Pro 256GB

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

Thanks to Asus, Cooler Master, Corsair, Intel, and Samsung 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

Asus’ Z97-A is my favorite board of that generation, so I had high hopes for its X99 counterpart. The X99-A doesn’t disappoint. It has everything we loved in the Z97-A—a smart spec, builder-friendly features, robust audio, great overclocking options, and excellent fan speed controls—grafted to an even more potent platform. The X99-A delivers just about everything Haswell-E and its X99 sidekick have to offer, too. The only thing missing is four-way CrossFire and SLI support, a feature of questionable value outside competitive overclocking circles.

Rather than piling on toppings to add flavor, the X99-A focuses on the main ingredients. If this were a burger, the patty would be a blend of grass-fed sirloin, chuck, and short rib. There would be only one kind of cheese, aged cheddar perhaps, and the lettuce and tomato would be garden fresh. The bun would be right out of the oven, and instead of being slathered in special sauce, it would be deftly spread with a hand-whipped aioli. And the bacon, because you’ve always gotta have bacon, would be double-smoked at least.

Asus X99-A

October 2014

The X99-A isn’t so much a case of less being more as it is an example of the right things being done really well. Seasoned enthusiasts should appreciate the subtleties, and even though some of the finer points will be lost on newbies, the sum of all those little touches results in a smoother building, setup, and overclocking experience for all.

Only two elements of the X99-A give me pause. The first is the relatively high idle power consumption, which probably won’t be a concern for most folks building Haswell-E rigs. The other is the $274.99 asking price, which is a little higher than the going rate for X99 boards with comparable specs.

For me, the premium experience is worth the mark-up for experienced veterans and first-time builders alike. The X99-A is an excellent board—and a TR Editor’s Choice.

Comments closed
    • Chrispy_
    • 5 years ago

    I wonder how long it will be before M.2 replaces SATAe….

    I’m kind of amazed SATAe was released, the kludge that it is. M.2 on the other hand, has all the elegance, simplicity and [i<]performance[/i<] that you'd expect from a next-gen interface.

    • Flapdrol
    • 5 years ago

    Right, so with a 5820K you can’t run multigpu in 8x 8x 8x, lame. Do all boards do this?

      • auxy
      • 5 years ago

      It’s a consequence of the CPU, not the board.

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 5 years ago

        I don’t know about that.

        There is a 16x lane, an 8x lane, and then a 4x lane with the way this board is laid out. But what if the board were laid out in such a way that when you switch to tri, you get 8x, 8x, 8x instead like on most non-E boards (only with two slots instead so 8x, 8x)?

        I think that’s definitely a motherboard layout problem. That slot that’s always 16x should have had some of its lanes redirected to give the option for tri-SLI.

          • jihadjoe
          • 5 years ago

          Dude, doesn’t matter how you lay out the board, 28 < 32 (8 + 8 + 8).

            • Flapdrol
            • 5 years ago

            3 times 8 is 24 …..

            • jihadjoe
            • 5 years ago

            I reject your reality and substitute my own!

            (actually surprised I didn’t get more downvotes for attempting math at 3am)

        • Flapdrol
        • 5 years ago

        It isn’t
        [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/8557/x99-motherboard-roundup-asus-x99-deluxe-gigabyte-x99-ud7-ud5-asrock-x99-ws-msi-x99s-sli-plus-intel-haswell-e[/url<] asrock x99 ws does x8 x8 x8 for instance.

    • Milo Burke
    • 5 years ago

    This motherboard is $15 off this weekend at Newegg with this promo code: EMCWPGW29

    • TwoEars
    • 5 years ago

    X99 is a beautiful platform but I still don’t see the point of it for most users when Z97 and the 4790k is so good. Sorry.

    There will be a small group of select users who will NEED 40 pci-lanes, but they are much fewer than you think.

    For most users Z97 and 4790k is the way to go, or just wait for skylake.

      • Airmantharp
      • 5 years ago

      Because no one would ever need another pair of cores…

        • auxy
        • 5 years ago

        Or twice as many cores.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 5 years ago

      People who are able to overclock their hexacore systems to 4.4 are going to see some benefit from Haswell-E, especially if they do more than game with their PC.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 5 years ago

    Really wish they’d spread the two PCIe x16 slots you’re most likely to use in SLI as far apart as possible while allowing room for triple-slot coolers. That’d make cooling two GPU’s a lot easier if there were more slots between them.

    As it is, it looks like (from the diagram) that the first two PCIe x16 electrical slots are the ones you’re supposed to use and the third one (next one down) is the one that’s hobbled, especially with a 5820k CPU and its 28 lanes. That third slot goes from usable in SLI to unusable in SLI because of nVidia’s restrictions about the speed they’ll allow before a slot can’t be used for SLI.

    I’m not saying I want them to magically make nVidia change its mind about what it requires or even that Intel shouldn’t go with 28 lanes, though. I’m just saying, why can’t Asus swap the second PCIe and the third PCIe so that we’d have more distance between two GPU’s instead of essentially slotting them in one after another?

    Seems like it’d be the smarter way to go.

      • Dissonance
      • 5 years ago

      Look over the diagram and accompanying text again 😉 The x16 slots are arranged how you want them.

      Unless you want the second card in a two-way SLI combo at the very bottom of the board, where you run into potential compatibility issues. Cases don’t necessarily have enough expansion slots to cover coolers that extend below the boundaries of the ATX layout. And bottom-mounted PSUs can potentially get in the way, as well.

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 5 years ago

        Oh! Good. 🙂

        Thanks for the clarification.

    • ChangWang
    • 5 years ago

    If I had gone X99, this was the board I had my eye on. I really wanted to try the enthusiast track this build, but the cost is what set me back. Wasn’t really prepared to spend the extra $$$ on DDR4 just yet.

      • Airmantharp
      • 5 years ago

      The difference between Z97 and X99 is somewhere around $250-$300, and the cost of jumping from DDR3 to DDR4 is only a small part of that :).

        • ChangWang
        • 5 years ago

        Exactly! Of course I could have waited another month or two and went for it. But I’ve been fighting that upgrade bug for a while now so I caved. lol

        Plus I went with the Devils Canyon i5 and nabbed a second R9 290 from the forums.

    • Deanjo
    • 5 years ago

    All that connectivity gone to waste with Asus’s broken VT-d support (like most Asus consumer boards) because of their crappy BIOS.

      • hansmuff
      • 5 years ago

      What a fundamentally stupid and wrong statement. Not only was VT-d fixed in ASUS’ BIOS, it’s far from the only usage for the connectivity.

        • Deanjo
        • 5 years ago

        [quote<]Not only was VT-d fixed in ASUS' BIOS[/quote<] Not only is that a load of horse crap....

          • Ryu Connor
          • 5 years ago

          Cursory reading from a Google search under the terms “Asus VT-D support” bears out his statement.

          Plenty of posts confirmed that Asus X79 models + SB-E worked. The search also detailed a problem that took about six months to iron out with Asus X79 + IB-E, but that too was fixed and confirmed working.

          I didn’t see any feedback on Asus X99 models + Haswell-E at the moment. Suppose I could test it myself in Mint/Xen.

          Would be strange for it to be broken with advanced VT-D features like ACS (Access Control Services) exposed to be turned on/off.

            • Deanjo
            • 5 years ago

            Just subscribe to the Xen mailing list. Nothing has improved towards VT-d on Asus boards. In fact there are many instances where they “fix VT-d” only to break it on the next BIOS release. If you want working VT-d in consumer boards, look at Gigabyte or Asrock.

            As far as X79 Asus boards go with VT-d, the only chance that you ever get it to work on there is to disable motherboard features such as disabling 3rd party Sata controllers and if you stuck with certain BIOS revisions.

            /glares at Sabertooth 990FX and X79 motherboards on bench….

            • Krogoth
            • 5 years ago

            Not the first nor last time that features on a motherboard are *broken*.

      • Krogoth
      • 5 years ago

      >implying that VT-d is a customer-tier feature

        • Deanjo
        • 5 years ago

        VT-d included on consumer tier products would mean that it is.

          • Krogoth
          • 5 years ago

          If you *need* to use VT-d. Chances are that are you looking at workstation-tier board not a customer-grade stuff like the aforementioned board.

          You are grasping straws at a non-issue.

            • Deanjo
            • 5 years ago

            FYI, that isn’t even close to being the truth in either the personal or professional arena. Millions of professionals use consumer grade hardware on a day to day basis. Even Asus knows this and offers many corporate stable models of consumer boards.

            Next is about your “need” vs “want”. Nearly nobody “needs” a personal computer either when there are publicly available ones to use. Nobody “needs” to game, that is a want as well. Somehow I think you would be singing a different tune if your graphics card didn’t work because it is a “want” instead of a “need”.

            My use for VT-d is so that I can utilize a [u<]consumer[/u<] peripheral in my VM. If I needed to do professional work, [u<]I would buy the enterprise version of the card for several thousands of dollars more and wouldn't need VT-d as most enterprise level hardware supports linux natively![/u<] I am not alone in using Xen and VT-d like this. The Xen user groups and mailing lists are over flowing with people not using those capabilities for enterprise/professional use.

            • Krogoth
            • 5 years ago

            *sigh* you are still not getting it.

            The majority of enthusiast don’t know or care enough about VMs to worry about it. They certainly aren’t going to worry about the lack of VT-D support. The vocal minority of hobbyist (like yourself) that care about VT-d tend to be prosumers who use it for real work. They want to play around with VMs as a hobby to get a feel for their hardware/software capabilities (looks good on a resume).

            Competitors may or may not try exploit this tiny market, but it is not enough of an issue for ASUS to worry enough about it. This board is marketed towards higher-end enthusiast/gamers not prosumers. ASUS’s management feels that VT-D is not a high priority feature for this board’s intended market.

            VT-D support is in the realm of prosumer-tier features like ECC memory support. Intel’s and AMD’s own CPU line-up reflect this.

            • Deanjo
            • 5 years ago

            [quote<]VT-D support is in the realm of prosumer-tier features like ECC memory support. Intel's and AMD's own CPU line-up reflect this.[/quote<] It seems you are the one that "doesn't get it". VT-d is present and a feature on intel and AMD's consumer tier product. It is not a Xeon / Opteron only feature. It is a [b]consumer realm product feature [/q]. Don't believe me? Just check out their product pages. AMD "get it", intel "get it", Gigabyte "get it", Asrock "get it", many others "get it". You do not "get it" that not every consumer out there limits what they use their system for to exactly what you use your system for. Gamers/enthusiasts as a whole are a small fraction of total computer users as well but you would be screaming bloody murder if the board had a flaw that would prevent you from adding in a gaming or professional video card.

            • Krogoth
            • 5 years ago

            VT-d is only available on a limited selection of non-Xeon/Opteron tier chips. AMD tends to be better about it, but most of their current A series doesn’t have it. The lower-end Core i3 and i5s do not have VT-d support. Intel only started to offer it in a limited number on K series Socket 1155 chips (Haswell). You were SOL if you got an earlier K series chip. You have to carefully research your chip in order to get VT-d if you care enough about it.

            I wouldn’t exactly call that a customer tier feature. Again, it is just like ECC memory support where you have to carefully research your memory controller and motherboard in question to get proper support.

            You are creating mountains out of a tiny issue at best. If you want and need VT-D support. You can get it and the options for it do exist. It is not worth losing your sleep over it.

            • Deanjo
            • 5 years ago

            [quote<]VT-d is only available on a limited selection of non-Xeon/Opteron tier chips[/quote<] Intel has 91 i3/i5/i7 haswell processors in their current lineup that support VT-d. Before that most non K series i5 / i7 processors supported it. AMD has one consumer low end line that does not support it the rest all do. [quote<]I wouldn't exactly call that a customer tier feature. Again, it is just like ECC memory support where you have to carefully research your memory controller and motherboard in question to get proper support. [/quote<] 1000% pure BS. ECC is not a requirement nor needed to take advantage of it. What ECC is sometimes needed for is the roles that virtualized systems can be used with. If you are not doing a mission critical server, [b<]it is not needed[/b<]. [quote<]You are creating mountains out of a tiny issue at best. If you want and need VT-D support. You can get it and the options for it do exist. It is not worth losing your sleep over it.[/quote<] You are right, the options are "not to buy an Asus motherboard".

            • Krogoth
            • 5 years ago

            If you actually took a list at the VT-d list versus the full product-line you will immediately notice that it is supported only on the mid-range or higher. It is also the same deal on the AMD end.

            You completely missed the point again. I never said that ECC support was a requirement. I was merely using it as an example as a prosumer-level feature that it is only available on a limited range of products like VT-d. You have to research your components carefully to get proper support.

            It will remain a prosumer-level feature as mainstream demand is practically non-existent.

            • Deanjo
            • 5 years ago

            [quote<] If you actually took a list at the VT-d list versus the full product-line you will immediately notice that it is supported only on the mid-range or higher. It is also the same deal on the AMD end. [/quote<] And you will also notice that unlocked cores are only found on fewer skus that vt-d support. Does that mean that mean that unlocked cores are only a prosumer item? [quote<] You completely missed the point again. I never said that ECC support was a requirement. I was merely using it as an example as a prosumer-level feature that it is only available on a limited range of products like VT-d. You have to research your components carefully to get proper support. [/quote<] No I understand what you are trying to justify your argument with, it just happens to be completely irrelevant. You again are completely missing the point. If a function is put into bios/eufi and the hardware supports it, then damn well support it and make sure it works! If you are not going to support it, THEN REMOVE IT COMPLETELY FROM THE EUFI/BIOS AND REMOVE ANY REFERENCE IN YOUR DOCUMENTATION SAYING IT IS SUPPORTED! HELL IT WOULD EVEN BE PREFERABLE TO MAKE A NOTE IN YOUR DOCUMENTATION SAYING THAT IT IS NOT SUPPORTED AT ALL!

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 5 years ago

        If a feature is listed and promised, it should be included.

        • ludi
        • 5 years ago

        Are you implying that enthusiasts dumping $1500 into a system built on these kind of components are NOT likely to be running Virtualbox, if not VMWare Workstation?

        I can tell you this much, my hardware budget and needs are well below the level of a $275 motherboard plus a Haswell-E, but I sure didn’t install Windows 10 tech preview onto bare metal.

          • Deanjo
          • 5 years ago

          Actually in VMware Workstation, it cannot take advantage of VT-d. In VirtualBox, it has limited success being used on a couple of NIC cards. The lack of VT-d wouldn’t prevent you from testing OS’s in a virtual machine. It would just prevent you from passing through PCI-e/PCI cards to the VM so it can see and use them natively.

            • Chrispy_
            • 5 years ago

            For me, VT-d preventing a VM from seeing the GPU is a show-stopper:

            A common scenario I come across for these high-level boards is as a workstation with local storage. Since the storage is local but likely shared, there’s a good chance that other machines (render nodes or other clients) will need 24/7 uninterrupted access – so you run the background services off one VM which has your storage and any local node software such as a job manager that requires uptime, and then then the second VM is your production OS that spends all day in Premiere/Maya/3DSMax

            Sure, you could use a seperate server and network storage, but firstly – what’s the point in including a feature that’s broken if your competitors can make it work fine (we’re a Gigabyte house for the most part) and secondly, if you’re in the business of animation, each workstation can generate terabytes of temporary data per pass. You really don’t want to clog up your network storage like that when the vast majority of it is both local and temporary in nature.

          • Krogoth
          • 5 years ago

          Virtualbox and VMware do not require VT-d to work.

          The people that handle VT-d are in the professional world and they typically do it on servers/workstations not customer-grade boards.

    • Anomymous Gerbil
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]Six expansion slots match the total on the Deluxe, but only the first, third, and sixth connect to the CPU[/quote<] First, [b<]fourth[/b<] and sixth?

      • Dissonance
      • 5 years ago

      Fixed. Thanks.

    • Airmantharp
    • 5 years ago

    The 40 lane vs. 28 lane chart is [b<]exactly[/b<] what I was looking for, thanks!

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 5 years ago

      I concur. It was very clear about how the lane scenario affects the motherboard and very helpful.

    • albundy
    • 5 years ago

    “The only catch is that the CPU has no clue what to do with SATA-based SSDs, ruling out compatibility with most of the M.2 drives on the market right now.”

    can you please elaborate? does this mean that any M.2 drives out there are not going to function with this board? if thats the case, what’s the purpose of having the connection slot in the first place?

      • Dissonance
      • 5 years ago

      Most M.2 SSDs use the same flash controllers as the current crop of 2.5″ drives. These chips need to be connected to a SATA controller rather than raw pure PCIe lanes, so they can’t be linked directly to the CPU.

      SATA-based M.2 drives are aimed primarily at notebooks and small-form-factor systems. There isn’t much point to them in full-sized desktops with enough room to accommodate 2.5″ SSDs, which offer the same performance.

      PCIe-based SSDs can offer much better performance, especially with four lanes at their disposal. They’re in the minority right now, but there are still a few out there, and more are on the horizon.

        • tsk
        • 5 years ago

        I’m still a bit confused. Why do the M.2’s work in notebooks then? Is there any way to get an M.2 ssd to work on X99? What is the point of the slot if not? Wifi card?

          • stdRaichu
          • 5 years ago

          All M2’s are not created equal; an M2 can have either a SATA controller or a PCIe controller on the other end of the interface, unlike a regular SSD. M2 slots that are wired up to the noruthbridge (or whatever it’s called this week) can typically support both the SATA and PCIe connections, but slots wired to the CPU can only speak PCIe and thus would need an SSD with a native PCIe controller.

          As Dissonance points out, the vast majority of M2 drives out there right now use the same SSD controllers as their 2.5″ counterparts and are thus SATA-only and those are the ones that dinky laptops are packed out with. M2 drives with PCIe controllers are much faster but much harder to come by. The Plextor M6e’s are pretty much the only ones I’ve seen commonly available in the retail channel although if you’re prepared to do some digging you can find people flogging the Samsung XP941 as well.

            • albundy
            • 5 years ago

            ohhhh, i see. thanks for clearing that up. i had no idea that there were 2 different kinds of m.2 drives out there. i noticed that the Samsung XP941 pin layout is different most but its also pcie x4 while the plextor m6e’s is at pcie x2. its definitely very early in the game, so i hope this tech takes off.

        • dashbarron
        • 5 years ago

        Need a TR sponsored M.2 education class. I missed the scope on these things awhile back!

    • James296
    • 5 years ago

    Still waiting on that Rampage V Gene, Asus -.-

    Edit: forgot this, First

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