|by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig | May 31, 2017|
Computex 2017: ASUS Launches X299 PRIME & TUF Motherboards
At this yearís Computex we have been seeing a lot of X299 motherboards since Intelís Skylake-X platform will be available in only a few weeks. ASUS of course will be launching a ton of models like the ROG editions that will target gamers but thereís also their legendary TUF boards and more mainstream Prime models too.
A lot of people are asking about what is so special about X299 and Intelís upcoming Skylake-X processors. Basically this platform is meant for people who want more than what current Z270 boards and Kaby Lake processors offer. X299 is for people who want extreme systems and are willing to pay a premium for them. The CPUs will have up to 24 threads while featuring native compatibility with Intelís VROC technology which connects multiple NVMe SSDs in RAID directly to the CPU and triple graphics card support.
The ASUS PRIME series is built for power users and prosumers whereas the ROG series is supposed to focus primarily on gamers. Thatís an important distinction to make since while some Prime and ROG products will have similar price points, their feature sets likely wonít align at all levels. But that doesnít mean the PRIME boards are basic since theyíre anything but simple.
Thereís even an enhanced onboard audio solution featuring a Realtek S1220A codec paired with an amplifier and premium components. ASUS says this setup can actually rival some stand-alone sound cards!
I know we usually start at the high end of any lineup but letís do things a bit differently this time around since one of the most interesting motherboards is actually the PRIME X299-A.
Honestly, this simple motherboard looks great while still keeping a ton of features. As a matter of fact, like other Z170, X99 and Z270 A-series boards before it, Iím convinced many X299 systems will feature the X299-A since it is supposed to be very affordable.
Like more expensive motherboards it supports up to three-way graphics configurations across a trio of x16 slots. You can add VROC arrays via and optional add-in card from ASUS but only if the two onboard M.2 slots are not enough. Remember, ASUS allows you to use onboard M.2 slots for VROC so that will come in handy if you are setting up a simple two-drive RAID array. Even if the understated looks arenít enough for you, there are still plenty of integrated LEDs and LED headers to put out more than enough RGB illumination.
Thereís nothing left out on the connectivity front either with a USB 3.1 Gen2 internal header for chassisí that support the new 10Gbps standard, plus Type-A and reversible Type-C ports at the rear. If you are looking for a simple and affordable X299 motherboard, this may be a perfect fit! But what happens if that isnít enoughÖ..well ASUS has the big daddy X299 Deluxe.
This is the board which has everything and leaves nothing else on the table. It will also be one of the most expensive motherboards in ASUSí X299 lineup. It looks stunning with extensive heatsink shrouds which keep with the usual white and black color scheme.
The chipset heatsink also houses the all-new LiveDash, an integrated OLED screen capable of displaying valuable system information and custom graphics. You can see vital stats like temperatures, frequencies, and fan speeds without alt-tabbing away from games and other full-screen tasks. LiveDash can also display text messages and graphical animations to set your rig apart from the rest. However, I think that it will only be useful for people who use a window on their case or donít have a graphics card that would cover this from view.
The Deluxe has things covered on the storage front too with a U.2 port and dual M.2 slots. Those two slots are pretty interesting since one is covered with the chipset heatsink for optimal temperatures while the other is all the way up near the memory slots and mounted vertically. This may sound like an odd and potentially dangerous location but it is supposed to help reduce drive temperatures by allowing for better cooling from the system fans.
As usual the Deluxe gets a whole load of RGB LED features with integrated lighting zones and Aura Sync but ASUS is also stepping things up with an eye towards next generation LED support. This board is compatible with upcoming addressable lighting strips that offer independent control over each LED on the line which enables considerably more advanced effects. Of course those RGB headers are also able to power regular strips as well.
Yes this board really has every since ASUS even integrated a next generation dual bad wireless 802.11AD module which can theoretically work up to 4.6Gbps. There are even add-in cards for ThunderboltEX 3 and Fan Extension included.
So that covers the additions to the PRIME lineup but wait weíre not done yet because ASUS is also launching two X299 TUF series boards.
The ASUS TUF series has a lot of history behind it and with good reason. These motherboards are built with the very best components and are then stress tested for countless hours before making their way to clients. A TUF motherboard may not be as feature rich as a PRIME series board or loaded with feature that gamers will want like ROG boards but those things are replaced with longevity. Donít expect a ton of RGB lighting here guys, this is all about making a rugged, stealthy motherboard.
The latest board in this range is the X299 TUF Mark 1 and it looks quite a bit different than its predecessors since ASUS has designed a new reinforced ďarmorĒ that covers most of the PCB. Supposedly this protective cover streamlines airflow from a dedicated fan over the board and prevents dust from accumulating in nooks and crannies. Thereís even a backplate that is made of folded metal for reinforcement against warping and an included GPU holder that supports heavy graphics cards.
Like other products in the TUF lineup, the Mark 1 has a ton of additional temperature sensors to monitor different zones on the motherboard and in your system as a whole. TUF Detective is back again too. This smartphone-powered troubleshooter and monitoring utility was pretty good when we last tested but this time it doesnít need a USB connection. Rather all of the items are monitored wirelessly over Bluetooth using the included USB adapter.
If you donít want to spend the premium being charged by the X299 TUF Mark 1, ASUS is now also launching a TUF Mark 2 which looks a lot like the PRIME X299-A. Basically it offers all of the TUF upgrades in terms of components but removes the extensive heatsink and goes with a bit more stealthy look. If you are looking for a good blend of features and a motherboard that has been tested to the max, then this one might be a great option.
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