|by MAC | September 27, 2017|
ASUS ROG STRIX X299-E Gaming Review
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When Intel announced their new LGA2066 HEDT platform at Computex 2017, it came as a surprise to many since the company wasn't expected to unveil their new X299 chipset and mix of Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors until much later in the year. And they certainly weren't expected to announce any 12, 14, 16, and 18-core processors this generation. While only one of those high-core count models has been released, what we do have is a bunch of interesting X299 motherboards and some potent processors like the ten-core Core i9-7900X and the high frequency quad-core Core i7-7740X.
ASUS has currently revealed seven LGA2066 motherboards spread across the PRIME, TUF, and ROG product lines. The STRIX X299-E GAMING model that are reviewing today represents the most affordable entry into the Republic of Gamers X299 family with a retail price of about $345 USD / $420 CAD. This price point places in behind both the overclocking-focused Rampage VI Apex and the extravagant Rampage VI Extreme. In fact, you could say that the X299-E is the only 'normal' ROG X299 model available right now.
When it comes to specs, this model has an 8-phase CPU power design, three PCI-E x16 slots, two PCI-E x4 slots, one PCI-E x1 slot, two M.2 x4 slots, and eight SATA 6Gb/s ports. Basically, the key fundamentals are well accounted for. When it comes to USB connectivity, there are two high speed USB 3.1 Gen2 ports on the rear I/O panel, one Type-A and one Type-C, as well a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C header that can provide up two ports to the front of the case. There are also four USB 3.0 ports, two internal USB 3.0 headers, two USB 2.0 ports, and one USB 2.0 header for a grand total of twelve possible USB ports.
When it comes to networking, there is one Intel-powered gigabit LAN port and an onboard Realtek-based 802.11ac Wi-Fi solution with Bluetooth 4.2. As you would expect from an ROG model, the onboard audio duties on this model are handled by a SupremeFX solution. This implementation is based on the familiar Realtek ALC1220A HD audio codec, but also features two dedicated Texas Instruments headphone amplifiers and audio-grade Nichicon capacitors. The codec has its own electromagnetic interference (EMI) cover and it is also protected by a PCB-level isolation line, which helps keep noise out of the audio signal. Another benefit of SupremeFX is compatibility with the ASUS audio software suite that consists of Sonic Studio III and Sonic Radar III. Unlike most gaming-oriented motherboards, the audio section on this model doesn't have any illumination, but this model does have two lighting zones as well as three RGB LED headers that form the overall AURA lighting feature.
When it comes to little extras, we appreciate the onboard thermal sensor header and included thermistor cable, the Q-Code debug LED, the BIOS Flashback button that allows you to flash the UEFI without powering on the system. The onboard power button is hugely handy for those with test benches, but the lack of a reset or even clear CMOS button is disappointing, especially the latter since it forces us to make due with an old school jumper. There are seven total fan headers, all of which are four-pin PWM/DC capable and are fully controllable from within the UEFI and the Fan Xpert 4 utility. Two of those seven fan headers are dedicated towards AIO and water pumps, and there's even a M.2 fan header for those who want to print themselves some kind of bracket and make use of the onboard 3D Mounts.
At first glance, this motherboard look promising, but we are going to do a deep dive and determine how capable it actually is. Of particular interest is going to be the automatic overclocking features - especially given that we are dealing with two different CPU types - which is one area that ASUS have historically proven themselves to be a cut above the competition. Let's find out if that is still the case.
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