Intel's recent announcement of Cascade Lake-X processors and the coming massive price drop, you can bet there will be a much higher HEDT demand this time around. With the 18 core unit dropping from $2000 to sub $1000, you can bet that the X299 platform just became far more obtainable for a large part of the enthusiasts market.
GIGABYTE has released the newest in their X299 lineup, labeled the X299X series. Don't let the name fool you; all of the same parts are still in place with the chipset backbone being X299. Beyond that, GIGABYTE worked to improve connectivity and capability of their X299 based parts in the new X299X offerings.
All of the X299X offerings feature the same 70A power stages for power delivery to ensure you can push all of the new Cascade Lake-X CPU's to the limit of your cooling. These boards also enhance the memory capability and support in lockstep with the new CPU's supporting up to 256GB DDR4.
Starting from the top, we have the X299X Aorus Xtreme Waterforce, which like all Waterforce based boards, includes a full board block. This block cools not just the CPU but the power delivery, PCH chipset, and even dual M.2's. The inclusion of the liquid cooling to the M.2 I do wonder what kind of issues this may pose down the road if you opt to swap M.2 drives for a more sizable unit.
From the looks of things since the Waterforce Monoblock appears not to have the ability to quick disconnect this portion, we have to assume upgrades can become a very in-depth experience. The X299X Aorus Xtreme Waterforce routes PCIe so that the board can support full x16 to all three of the full-length slots for massive GPU or HBA usage. One usage for a full x16 slot would be the GIGABYTE Gen 4 AIC adapter.
The Aorus AIC can place four total M.2 SSD's into the AIC and with bifurcation, can split the slot into four discrete regions for the M.2 interface.
Next down the stack is the X299X Aorus Master. The Master boards have been a staple of enthusiasts and overclockers alike from GIGABYTE and for a good reason. The Aorus Master series has been one of the creams of the crop entries in regards to component selection and trace layout.
Ensuring optimal performance when pushing for the last little bit of edge performance. Employing an actual aluminum fin stack design, the X299 Aorus Master should keep the 16 phases well under control when pushing the Cascade Lake-X chips past their average operating speeds.
Unlike the Waterforce, the Master model employs triple N.2 slots with dual full X16 slots for GPUs. The other slots run at x8 electrically. This, of course, will be more than enough for most benchmarker needs and can still support the aforementioned M.2 AIC.
Last on the list, but certainly, not least is the X299X Designare 10G. The Designare model board has always been targeted at content creators and connectivity. While the X299X Designare 10G employs a similar power solution using the same 70A power stages, it applies only 12 of them.
The board is more targeted at HSIO and look no further than the 10G name to know this holds true. The name 10G references the 10G networking onboard, but the X299X Designare 10G does not merely stop there. It employs dual 10G NICs to ensure you not only have one of the fastest RJ45 based connections, but you have two of them. The Designare series also has another feather in its cap with dual 10G Thunderbolt to ensure that 10G is not just for networking but external storage and other mediums as well.
Pricing for the new motherboards is still unknown but we can guess with the feature set, they will cost a few pretty pennies.
With the steep fall in pricing on LGA2066 based CPU's, do you plan to upgrade to a new Cascade Lake-X chip? If so, which model? And what board would you choose to power it?
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