ASUS X99 Deluxe LGA 2011-v3 Motherboard Review

ASUS X99 Deluxe promises to be a premium performance motherboard at a premium price. On paper it has the DNA to power any dream machine if your budget is big enough. With this new motherboard and chipset we get a new Intel Core i7 CPU as well, the venerable 6 and 8 core Haswell-E parts on an LGA 2011-v3 socket.

Introduction

ASUS is a manufacturer that generally needs no introduction unless you’ve been living in a cave or under a rock. Founded in 1989 the ASUS brand has grown into the largest motherboard manufacturer in the world and in the 5th largest PC vendor as of 2013 and employs over 20,000 workers. ASUS has built a reputation for being first to market with new technologies and setting the standard by which other motherboards would be judged from there on out. ASUS tradition of quality and innovation would eventually expand to include laptops, routers, monitors, graphics cards, workstations and tablet PCs.

Article Image

The ASUS X99 Deluxe is based on Intel’s brand new X99 Express chipset designed for their high end desktop or HEDT platform. These new motherboards are LGA2011-V3 compatible and the CPU sockets are electrically different than the older LGA2011sockets found on X79 motherboards. As a result the X99 Deluxe isn’t compatible with the older Core i7 3xxx and 4xxx series.

You can read our review of the new Intel Haswell-E Core i7-5960X CPU & X99 Chipset here.

The X99 Express chipset itself has had some improvements over its predecessor. 10x SATA ports, SATA Express, native USB 3.0 support for up to 6x ports, and of course support for up to 40 PCI-Express lanes. The X99 is built with an all digital 8-phase power system and incorporates an OC socket design to deliver more power to the CPU. Here is the description given on the ASUS website: "Designed to break performance barriers, ASUS OC Socket utilizes extra pins to connect a proprietary circuit to contacts found on Haswell-E's land grid array (LGA). Combined with our customized UEFI, this exclusive feature enables higher DDR4 memory frequencies, lower latencies and enhanced stability while overclocking, extending all the way to extreme overclocking conditions, such as Liquid Nitrogen (LN2). OC Socket is 100% compatible with new Haswell-E LGA 2011-v3 CPUs, ensuring the ideal combination of overclocking performance and compatibility."

ASUS’ exclusive T-Topology design minimizes noise and signal interference and uses equidistant memory channels which help ensure solid overclocking and memory compatibility. Returning this generation are features like MemOK, 5-Way optimization, 5x protection, Digi+VRM control, ESD guards, 5k solid electrolytic capacitors. The EZ XMP switch also makes its return on the X99 Deluxe. ASUS has some new features this time around as well. They have a vertical M.2 x4 bracket and an M.2 to PCI-Express x4 adapter.

Main Specifications Overview:

Article Image

Detailed Specifications Overview:

Article Image

Article Image

Packaging

Article Image Article Image Article Image

Article Image Article Image Article Image

Article Image Article Image Article Image

The packaging for the X99 Deluxe is standard ASUS fare in a standard box with a flap and transparent window to see the motherboard inside. The sample arrived protected in an anti-static bag with a cardboard retainer to hold it in place. The box is packed with tons of accessories. Included in the box are the following accessories; X99 user guide, exclusive features manual, installation guide, OC Adrenal sticker, WiFi antenna, SLI bridge, SATA cables, thermistor, screws, M.2 vertical mounting bracket, fan expander module, Q-connectors, I/O shield, M.2 to PCI-Express x4 card,

Board Layout

Article Image

The layout of the X99 Deluxe is exceptional despite the fact that the PCB is among the most packed I’ve ever seen. Even the CMOS battery is well placed due to being vertical. About the only complaint I have here is the location of the power and reset buttons. In a 4-Way SLI rig, or even a 3-Way SLI or CrossFire rig you wouldn’t be able to use these easily if at all. These would be better off on the right hand corner in front of the CPU socket near the motherboards edge in my opinion.

Article Image Article Image

The CPU socket area is surprisingly clear despite all the RAM slots and cooling hardware for the motherboards electrical subsystem. The RAM slots are very close as is the case with anything that utilizes an integrated memory controller onboard the CPU. With larger cooling systems lower clearance modules would have to be selected to avoid clearance problems.

Article Image Article Image

The 288-pin DDR4 RAM slots use a single sided locking mechanism for module retention. A total of eight color coded slots denoting proper quad-channel memory mode operation allows for up to 64GB of RAM to be installed. When you look at the clearances of the RAM slots to the PCI-Express x16 slots you can see almost no space between these thus necessitating the single slot retention mechanism. An unusual addition to this area is the M.2 slot which is a vertical type of slot. An included bracket is used to support the M.2 device vertically.

Article Image Article Image

The chipset is cooled with a low clearance heat pipe based heat sink. This is adorned with the same white cladding covering the rest of the cooling hardware on the motherboard. In front of the chipset you’ll find several SATA 6Gb/s ports and 2x SATA express ports. There are also several switches in this area such as the TPU, EPU, and EZ XMP switches.

Article Image

The expansion slot area is almost flawless. I don’t care however for the location of the power and reset buttons. There are five PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots and 1x PCI-Express 2.0 x4 slot. Depending on your chosen CPUs PCI-Express controller you have several possible lane configurations. These include x16, x16/x16, x16/x16/x8, x8/x8/x16/x8, and x8/x8/x8/x8/x8 modes. The PCI-Express x4 slot is placed underneath the primary PCI-Express x16 slot making sure that you never lose out on the larger x16 slots should you have a larger graphics card installed. A PCI-Express x4 M.2 card has been included to allow the use of a second M.2 device.

Article Image

The I/O panel is pretty well packed. You have 10 USB 3.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 2 RJ-45 LAN ports, 3 antenna connections, 1 optical output, and 5 mini-stereo jacks for audio. The latter are actually gold plated with color coded plastic affixed to the outer edges of the plugs. ASUS’ BIOS flashback button is also found on the I/O panel.