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ASUS ROG STRIX X99 GAMING (Intel X99) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 2011 in Motherboards | Posted: Jun 21, 2016 7:12 pm
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: ASUS

Packaging and Overview

 

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The STRIX X99 GAMING's box highlights its RGB capabilities, and the packaging does an excellent job of protecting the motherboard.

 

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Accessories include 4x SATA6Gb/s cables, SLI Bridge, ROG SLI Bridge, RGB header extension cable, CPU installation tool, Q-connector, 2T2R WIFI antenna, zip ties, IO shield, M.2 screws, color decals/panels, ROG fan labels, ROG cable labels, manual, and driver DVD.

 

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The ASUS STRIX X99 GAMING has six fan headers (circled in blue and orange), the CPU headers auto sense PWM or DC mode fans, and the other headers can be manually set to either PWM or DC mode. The header circled in orange is a high-amperage header. While all the fan headers support 1A output, the high-amperage header supports up to 3A, so you can use it with a splitter and not risk frying the header. There is an input for an external temperature sensor circled in purple. The motherboard does support ASUS's fan extension card, which allows for extra temperature inputs and a few extra fan headers.

 

The aesthetics of the motherboard, especially with the orange color cards, looks good. The black and gray color theme makes matching accessories and customizing the look of the motherboard very easy. While we are on the subject of RGBs, the center block that says "Republic of Gamers" does have RGBs underneath it, and it lights up in a classy way. The PCI-E slot latches are transparent, and there are RGBs located underneath them to illuminate the latches. The back of the motherboard is bare except for some chips such as an ROG special features controller, some drivers covered by a metal heat sink, and some other miscellaneous components.

 

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The IO panel on the STRIX X99 GAMING carries four USB 2.0 ports, PS/2 keyboard or mouse port, four USB 3.0 ports, USB 3.1 type-A, USB 3.1 type-C, 1Gbit RJ-45 LAN, BIOS Flashback button, WIFI/BT antenna screw ports, and 7.1 audio ports with TOSLINK.

 

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The first thing you might notice is the first reinforced PCI-E 16x slot; the metal reinforcement secures the slot in x, y, and z directions and should help with preventing GPU droop and damage. The PCI-E layout is not super simple, but it is also not difficult to understand. For starters, you should subtract 4x PCI-E 3.0 from the CPU's PCI-E lane count for the U.2/M.2 connectors, they use CPU bandwidth like most other X99 motherboards since the PCH only supplies PCI-E gen2 bandwidth. The third PCI-E 16x slot will be hardwired 16x with a 40 lane CPU and 8x with a 28 lane CPU. The first and last PCI-E 16x slots will operate at 16x/0x or 8x/8x with both 40 and 28 lane CPUs.

 

The second PCI-E slot is a 4x electrical slot that gets its bandwidth from the PCH, and it shares three PCI-E lanes with the USB 3.1 controller (shares two lanes) or the second PCI-E 1x slot (shares one lane). The first PCI-E 1x slot shares its bandwidth with the WIFI/BT controller; they are mutually exclusive. You might think this is a lot of bandwidth sharing, but X99 doesn't have as much bandwidth as Z170. To keep up with Z170, motherboard manufacturers have come up with some crazy schemes to provide more features, and the STRIX X99 GAMING is one of the most simple when it comes to lane sharing.

 

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One advantage X99 chipset has over Z170 is support for many more SATA6Gb/s ports, all of the SATA ports are from the PCH. ASUS also added an SATA Express connector. There are two USB 3.0 internal headers on the motherboard; one is located right below the 24-pin power connector. The motherboard supports a 32Gb/s M.2 slot and a 32Gb/s U.2 slot; they are mutually exclusive so you cannot use them at the same time.

 

There is an XMP switch located right above the ThunderBolt GPIO header, which will enable XMP without requiring the user to enter the UEFI. There is an ROG extension header, I think this might work with the ROG OC Panel, but I am unsure. There are 10 SATA6Gb/s ports; two will be used if you use the SATA Express connector. The six SATA6Gb/s ports closest to the top of the motherboard support RAID, while the four stacked towards the bottom do not. If you want more clarification on SATA RAID or storage configuration, I highly recommend reading the manual (it is a wonderful resource). A single USB 3.0 header is located below the two SATA 6Gb/s ports below the 2-pin power connector.

 

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A second USB 3.0 internal header is located at the bottom of the motherboard. There is also a USB 2.0 header on the bottom row closer to the right edge of the motherboard. A very handy POST code display is located at the bottom, near power and reset buttons. There is an RGB header for RGB strips. To clear the CMOS, you must use the jumper. The MemOK button is located in the top right corner of the motherboard and will load a failsafe memory profile to ensure bootup.

 

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ASUS has done a nice job with their plastic shield; it really spruces up the look of the SupremeFX audio and Gold series Nichicon audio capacitors. The motherboard has a standard 8-pin CPU power connector and an extra 4-pin connector for extra power during overclocking. Three CPU/pump fan headers are also conveniently located towards the top left corner of the motherboard.

 

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The heat sinks used on this motherboard are hefty and are pretty solid; you don't mess around when it comes to X99 VRM cooling solutions. The plastic shield that covers the IO panel and audio area is a single plastic piece, and an RGB LED strip is mounted at the top for illumination of the color panels/cards. The center ROG block is not a heat sink, but rather an aesthetics-enhancer.

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