ASRock X299 Taichi Motherboard Review
While AMD's ThreadRipper X399 platform has undeniably stolen a lot of the spotlight from Intel's newest HEDT offerings, there still no doubt that the Skylake-X X299 platform has a lot going for it. This is especially true with the recent launch of the higher core count Core i9-7960X and Core i9-7680XE processors.
Although there's no really budget-friendly way of buying into this platform, we did want to test out an LGA2066 motherboard that was a bit more affordable than the ASUS STRIX X299-E that we have recently reviewed. With this in mind, we turned to ASRock and their promising X299 Taichi. Over the last few years the Taichi models have consistently impressed us by serving up all of a platform's key features, having top-notch VRMs, and avoiding unnecessary extras.
At the moment, ASRock's LGA2066 motherboard lineup currently consists of six different models ranging from $210 USD all the way up to about $370 USD for the flagship X299 OC Formula. The motherboard that we are going to be reviewing today - the aforementioned X299 Taichi - retails for about $270 USD / $380 CAD, which makes it the mid-range model in ASRock's lineup. Despite this positioning, there's really nothing that we find seriously lacking from this model.
For starters, the X299 Taichi has a 13-phase CPU power design, four steel-reinforced PCI-E x16 slots, one PCI-E x1 slot, two M.2 x4 slots, and ten SATA 6Gb/s ports. To put that into perspective, compared to the pricier ASUS X299-E, this ASRock model has one additional PCI-E x16 slot, one more M.2 slot, and two more SATA ports. High-speed USB connectivity is adequate thanks to two high speed USB 3.1 Gen2 ports on the rear I/O panel, one Type-A and one Type-C, four USB 3.0 ports, two internal USB 3.0 headers, two USB 2.0 ports, and two USB 2.0 header for a grand total of twelve possible USB ports. We would have maybe liked to see an internal USB 3.1 Gen.2 header to provide next-gen USB connectivity to the front of the case.
When it comes to networking, there are two Intel-powered gigabit LAN ports and onboard Wi-Fi in the form of an Intel-based dual-band 802.11ac modules that tops out at 433Mbps, supports Bluetooth 4.2, and is attached to 1x1 external antennas. Onboard audio duties are handled by the Purity Sound 4 design that is based on the Realtek ALC1220 ten-channel codec, linked to an array of Nichicon audio-grade capacitors, and a physical PCB-level audio separation line that protects the audio components from EMI. There is also dedicated Texas Instruments op-amp that serves as headphone amplifier for the front panel headphone jack. While the audio section on this model doesn't have any illumination, there are a few RGB LEDs placed under the chipset cooler. If that is not enough lighting for you, there are also two light strip headers that can be fully controlled from within the ASRock RGB LED utility.
This model has a grand total of five fan headers, which doesn't compare all that well to the ASUS X299-E's seven fan headers. However, they are all 4-pin that are fully controllable via both DC and PWM fan control modes from within the UEFI or the A-Tuning utility. Two of the five headers are also of the high amperage variety that can be used to power all-in-one coolers, high speed fans, or water pumps. While we are on the topic of cooling, it will be interesting to see how well this motherboard's MOSFET heatsink performs, since very high VRM temperatures are plaguing most X299 motherboards when you combine overclocking with certain high intensity workloads.
Overall, we have a lot to dig into with the X299 Taichi, but at first glance it's bringing quite a lot of positives to the table. As long as everything is well implemented, we could be looking at another winner from ASRock.
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