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Supermicro X10DAi (Intel C612) Workstation Motherboard Review

Supermicro's new X10DAi workstation motherboard can run three video cards, tops out at 1TB of DDR4 RAM, and uses the latest Intel Haswell-EP processors.

@William_Harmon_
Published Tue, Oct 14 2014 9:05 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:59 PM CST
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Supermicro

Introduction

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The Supermicro X10DAi workstation motherboard is one of three products in this class. These are X10DAi, X10DAC, and X10DAX.

The basic motherboard is the X10DAi, which we will review here. The X10DAC adds an LSI 3008 SAS3 (12Gbps controller) and enhanced network ports. The X10DAX adds overclocking features (BCLK only).

All three motherboards support dual Intel E5-2600 v3 (Socket R3) Haswell-EP processors based on Intel's 22nm processing Technology. Supermicro designed these motherboards as balanced solutions that deliver performance, power efficiency, and feature load.

Using the PCH C612, the X10DAi motherboard supports Intel's Node Manager 3.0, Intel Management Engine, and new DDR4 with speeds up to 2133MHz. The end result is the X10DAi is optimized for workstation platforms used for graphics applications and engineering CAD drawings. The key features of the X10DAi workstation motherboard are:

  • Dual HSW EP E5-2600 v3 (Socket R3 up to 160W), QPI up to 9.6GT/s
  • Intel C612 chipset
  • 16 DIMM, 1TB Reg. ECC DDR4 up to 2133 MHz
  • Three PCIe 3.0 x16, two PCIe 3.0 x8, one PCIe 2.0 x4 (in x8 slot)
  • Intel dual i210 GbE
  • 10 SATA3, 11 USB Ports (6 USB 3.0)
  • 7.1 HD audio
  • 6x USB 3.0
  • Thunderbolt AOC support
  • 12" x 13" E-ATX Form Factor

This motherboard can handle up to 160W processors, which allows it to run the E5-2699 v3 (16 core) CPUs. Having ten SATA ports is very common on the new platforms, so you should have no issues with storage options.

This board also includes eleven USB ports, and six of those are USB 3.0. This allows a large number of external devices to be connected. We always seem to need more USB ports on our workstations, and the X10DAi is equipped to handle that. 7.1 HD audio and Thunderbolt AOC support are included to round out the features on the X10DAi.

PRICING: You can find the Supermicro X10DAi (Intel C612) Workstation Motherboard for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Supermicro X10DAi-O (Retail Pack) retails for $403.00 at Amazon, and the Supermicro X10DAi-B (Bulk Pack) retails for $395.00 at Amazon.

Specifications and Layout

Specifications

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We only received the X10DAi motherboard for our tests. The retail package should contain:

  • Six (6) SATA Cables - 61cm flat S-S PBF
  • One (1) I/O Shield
  • One (1) Quick Reference Guide

Optional accessories are:

  • Heat Sinks
  • TPM security module - TPM module with Infineon 9655, RoHS/REACH, PBF; Vertical or Horizontal depending on the server layout and expansion cards used
  • SuperDOM - Supermicro SATA DOM Solutions
  • AOC-TBT-DSL5320 Thunderbolt Add-On Card
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Here we get a look at the block diagram, which shows how all the input and output devices connect to the C612 Chipset.

Layout

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Here we get our first look at the X10DAi workstation motherboard. With a size of 12" x 13" E-ATX form factor, it can fit many different cases that include rack mount types and 4U tower cases. Please note that a Revision M chassis is recommended for this motherboard. The overall layout of the X10DAi is clean, not cluttered, and the CPU Sockets are staggered to offer better airflow to the processor heat sinks.

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Here we see the PCIe slots, which are:

  • 3x PCI-E 3.0 x16
  • 3x PCI-E 3.0 x8
  • 1x PCI-E 2.0 x4 (in x8)

When installing video cards, the first slot clears the RAM slots of the first CPU socket. The last PCIe slot is close to the edge of the board, and our NVIDIA K5000 did hang over the edge, so keep this in mind when deciding what case to use.

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Now we are looking at the lower left side of the motherboard now. There are ten SATA ports seen here. The top four S-SATA Ports are controlled by the Intel SCU. The remaining six I-SATA Ports are controlled by Intel PCH C612 chipset. The X10DAi does not have the LSI 3008 SAS3 12Gbps controller that the X10DAC does, so those locations are empty.

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Here we are looking at the upper right section of the motherboard. There are only two fan headers located here, and the audio front panel connector just to the right of the first USB stack.

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The lower right side of the motherboard has its main power connectors over on the right edge on the motherboard.

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Now we are looking at the back I/O Ports. At the left, we see the audio front panel header. Next, we find two USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports. Following those, we have the 7.1 channel high-definition audio outputs. Then we find two Gigabit Ethernet ports. The last stack is two USB 3.0 ports.

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This is a close up of the new Socket 2011 R3. As you can see, it looks very much like the normal Socket 2011 that we saw on past boards. However, last gen processors will not fit this new socket because it has a different pin configuration, and notches inside the socket will only work on the new Haswell-EP E5-2600 v3 processors.

The mounting holes for heat sinks are the same as those used on Socket 2011 systems, so you should have no problems using those heat sinks.

BIOS and Software

BIOS

The BIOS for this motherboard is standard for server motherboards, so we will only show a few BIOS screens, and go over new menu options.

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This is the main BIOS screen, which shows basic system information.

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The Advanced tab brings you to the main advanced screen.

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This is the advanced Boot Feature menu. There are many options in this area, and most work just fine with default settings.

Hardware Prefetcher (available when supported by the CPU):

If set to Enable, the Hardware Prefetcher will prefetch streams of data and instructions from the main memory to the L2 cache to improve CPU performance.

Adjacent Cache Prefetch (Available when supported by the CPU):

Select Enable and the CPU will prefetch both cache lines for 128 bytes as comprised.

DCU (Data Cache Unit) Streamer Prefetcher (available when supported by the CPU):

The DCU Streamer Prefetcher will prefetch data streams from the cache memory to the DCU (Data Cache Unit) to speed up data accessing and processing to enhance CPU performance.

Direct Cache Access (DCA):

Intel DCA (Direct Cache Access) Technology will improve the efficiency of data transferring and accessing.

X2APIC (Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller):

Based on Intel's Hyper-Threading architecture, each logical processor (thread) is assigned 256 APIC IDs (APIDs) in 8-bit bandwidth. When this feature is set to Enable, the APIC ID will be expanded from 8-bit (X2) to 16 bit to provide 512 APIDs to each thread to enhance CPU performance.

AES-NI:

Select Enable to use the Intel Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) New Instructions (NI) to ensure data security.

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This is the CPU Configuration screen.

CPU P-State Control (available when Power Technology is set to Custom):

This includes EIST (P-States), Turbo Mode, and P-State Control.

This feature is used to change the P-State (Power-Performance State) coordination type. P-State is also known as "SpeedStep" for Intel processors. Select HW_ALL to change the P-State coordination type for hardware components only. Select SW_ALL to change the P-State coordination type for all software installed in the system. Select SW_ANY to change the P-State coordination type for a software program in the system.

CPU C-State Control (available when Power Technology is set to Custom):

This includes CPU C3 Report and Enhanced Halt State (C1E).

CPU T-State Control (available when Power Technology is set to Custom):

This includes ACPI (Advanced Configuration Power Interface) T-States.

CPU T-States supports CPU throttling by the operating system to reduce power consumption.

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Now we are looking at the North Bridge IIO configuration menu.

EV DFX (Device Function On-Hide) Feature:

When this feature is set to Enable, the EV_DFX Lock Bits that are located on a processor will always remain clear during electric tuning.

IIO0 Configuration:

IIO1 Port 1A, 2A, and 3A Link Speed.

Use this item to configure the link speed of a PCI-E device installed on the PCIE slot specified by the user. The options are Gen1 (2.5 GT/s), Gen2 (5 GT/s), and Gen3 (8 GT/s).

IIO1 Configuration:

IIO2 Port 1A, 2A and 3A Link Speed.

Use this item to configure the link speed of a PCI-E device installed on the PCIE slot specified by the user. The options are Gen1 (2.5 GT/s), Gen2 (5 GT/s), and Gen3 (8 GT/s).

IOAT (IntelĀ® IO Acceleration) Configuration:

Enable IOAT

Select Enable to enable Intel I/OAT (I/O Acceleration Technology) support, which will significantly reduce CPU overhead by leveraging CPU architectural improvements and freeing the system resource for other tasks.

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The VT menu focuses on Intel's virtualization technology.

Intel VT for Directed I/O (VT-d):

Select Enable to use Intel Virtualization Technology support for Direct I/O VT-d support by reporting the I/O device assignments to the VMM (Virtual Machine Monitor) through the DMAR ACPI tables. This feature offers fully-protected I/O resource sharing across Intel platforms, providing greater reliability, security, and availability in networking and data-sharing.

Interrupt Remapping:

Select Enable for Interrupt Remapping support to enhance system performance.

Coherency Support (Non-Isoch):

Select Enable for the Non-Iscoh VT-d engine to pass through DMA (Direct Memory Access) to enhance system performance.

Coherency Support (Isoch):

Select Enable for the Iscoh VT-d engine to pass through ATS to enhance system performance.

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Here we are looking at the QPI General Configuration menu.

Link Frequency Select:

Use this item to select the desired frequency for QPI Link connections. The options are 6.4GB/s, 8.0GB/s, and 9.6GB/s.

Isoc Mode:

Select Enable for Isochronous support to meet QoS (Quality of Service) requirements. This feature is especially important for Virtualization Technology.

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Here we are looking at the Memory Configuration menu.

Data Scrambling:

Select Enabled to enable data scrambling to enhance system performance and data integrity.

DRAM RAPL (Running Average Power Limit) Baseline:

Use this feature to set the run-time, power-limit baseline for the DRAM modules.

Set Throttling Mode:

Throttling improves reliability, and reduces power consumption in processors via automatic voltage control during processor idle states.

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Now we are looking at the PCH SATA Configeration menu.

Configure SATA as:

Select IDE to configure a SATA drive (specified by the user) as an IDE drive. Select AHCI to configure a SATA drive (specified by the user) as an AHCI drive. Select RAID to configure a SATA drive (specified by the user) as a RAID drive.

Support Aggressive Link Power Management:

When this item is set to Enabled, the SATA AHCI controller manages the power usage of the SATA link. The controller will put the link into a low power state when the I/O is inactive for an extended period of time, and the power state will return to normal when the I/O becomes active.

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This is the Intel Thunderbolt Configuration menu.

Security Level:

Use this item to set the security level for Intel Thunderbolt features. The options are Legacy Mode, Unique ID, One Time Saved Key, and DP++ only.

AIC Support:

Select Enabled for the system to execute the Go2Sx command before going to sleep.

Thunderbolt PCIe Cache-line Size:

Use this item to set the PCI-E cache-line size to be used in the Thunderbolt subtree. The options are 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128.

SMI/Notify Support:

If this item is set to Enabled, SMI (Structure of Management Information) notification will be provided for Thunderbolt Technology support.

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The last menu is the Boot options menu.

Software

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Here we see the drivers and tools menu. We are happy to see that Supermicro has included a driver ISO file that we can download to install drivers and tools.

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The Supermicro SuperDoctor 5 is a hardware-monitoring program that functions in a command-line or web-based interface in Windows and Linux operating systems. The program monitors system health information such as CPU temperature, system voltages, system power consumption, fan speed, and provides alerts via email, or Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).

SuperDoctor 5 comes in local and remote management versions, and can be used with Nagios to maximize system monitoring. With SuperDoctor 5 Management Server (SSM Server), you can remotely control power on/off, and reset chassis intrusion for multiple systems with SuperDoctor 5, or IPMI. SD5 Management Server monitors HTTP, FTP, and SMTP services optimize the efficiency of your operation.

Test System Setup

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We would like to thank Supermicro,Crucial,SPEC, Yokogawa,NZXT,SanDisk, and Noctua for their support in providing parts for our test system.

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The X10DAi uses the Wellsburg (Intel C612) and new Haswell-EP processors. The processor we will be using is the Intel Xeon E5-2698 v3, which features 16 cores, with hyper-threading used on these tests, and it will supply the processing power.

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The Wellsburg Platform (Intel C612) will have support provided for 4 to 18 cores with dual socket capability. TDP ranges from 55W up to 160W for workstations.

Memory is now DDR4, and can give a frequency of up to 2133 MHz. The E5-2600 v3 processors use two QPI 1.1 channels with up to 9.6 GT/s. These processors support PCIe 3.0 with up to 8 GT/s and 40 lanes. The chipset will be Wellsburg PCH. This gives support for a huge number of SATA ports at ten. A large number of USB devices can be used with six USB 3.0, and eight USB 2.0 ports. Wellsburg (C612) also supports DMI2 with 4x lanes.

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In our tests, we will be using the new Crucial DDR4 memory, which has a speed of 2133 MHz, and is rated at CL15.

We have already taken a look at these memory kits, which you can find here: Crucial DDR4 Memory Performance Overview Early Look vs. DDR2 & DDR3

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Here we can see the timings of the Crucial DDR4 memory that we will be using in our tests.

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Here we see how memory in Slot /DIMMs per channel can effect memory speed.

CPU Benchmarks

Cinebench 11.5

CINEBENCH is a real-world, cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. The test scenario uses all of your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene. This scene makes use of various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. You can also run this test with a single-core mode to give a single-core rating.

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Here we are looking at our Cinebench 11.5 tests; the X10DAi shows a good score. The X10DAi has good BIOS optimization for performance in this test.

Cinebench R15

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The X10DAi has a slightly higher score in Cinebench R15, which shows very good performance optimization.

wPrime

wPrime is a leading multi-threaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance. This is a great test to use to rate the system speed; it also works as a stress test to see how well the system's cooling is performing.

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In wPrime, the X10DAi has a slightly slower score. As we said before, these small score adjustments are not much to be concerned about with these tests.

Memory & System Benchmarks

AIDA64

AIDA64 memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, and Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth.

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Memory bandwidth for the X10DAi is looking very good. Although there are no huge increases of bandwidth, the X10DAi is showing good, strong bandwidth numbers.

Linpack

LinX 0.6.4 is a CPU benchmark that measures floating-point operations per second, and is used to compare CPU performance; it is also a very good stress test to run.

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Linpack shows strong bandwidth numbers, and is comparable to other motherboards we have tested. These results are almost two times faster than our Ivy Bridge-EP tests, and show just how well the new Haswell-EP platforms perform. These speeds, coupled with fast DDR4, should give a real boost to application performance.

PCMark8

PCMark 8 is the latest version in the series of PC benchmarking tools by Futuremark. It is fully compatible with Windows 8, and can be run under Windows 7.

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Our PCMark 8 tests were completed on a basic system; we used only one NVIDIA Quadro K5000 here. Using more video cards would increase this score a great deal, so this is only for reference.

Sony Vegas Pro 13

Sony Vegas Pro 13 is a leading video editor that is used by many people. In Vegas Pro 12, Sony introduced a benchmark that renders a Mercedes convertible like one you might see in a commercial. Even though Sony has removed this test, you can still find it on the internet. We will be using this benchmark to render in Sony Vegas 13 Pro in 720p, 1080p, and 4K resolutions with our NVIDIA Quadro K5000.

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Just like our PCMark 8 tests, our Sony Video Pro benchmark was completed on a basic system; we used only one NVIDIA Quadro K5000 here. Using more video cards would increase this score a great deal, so this is only for reference.

SPECwpc

SPECwpc_v1.0.2 is a workstation benchmark that measures key aspects of workstation applications.

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These tests do put a huge load on the system, and take ~8 hours to run on this system. SPECwpc puts a heavy load on the GPU. Even small increases in scores show a big improvement in performance. Certain parts of this test rely on storage, so using setups with SSDs and RAID 0 would increase those scores.

UnixBench and SPEC CPU2006v1.2

UnixBench 5.1.3

UnixBench has been around for a long time now, and is a good general-purpose bench to test on Linux based systems. This is a system benchmark, and it shows the performance of single-threaded and multi-threaded tasks.

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Synthetic benchmarks only show part of the performance of a motherboard. When using tests that are more complex, we will start to see a different trend in the scores. UnixBench starts to show what the X10DAi can really do well, and that is multi-threaded workloads.

SPEC CPU2006 v1.2

SPEC CPU2006v1.2 measures compute intensive performance across the system using realistic benchmarks to rate real performance.

In our testing with SPEC CPU2006 we use the following basic commands to run these tests:

Runspec --tune=base --config=tweaktown.cfg; then int, or fp.

To do multi-threaded, we add in --rate=64.

When SPEC CPU first came out, these tests could take up to a week to run, but as computers become faster, our tests now take up to four days for a full run, and even less on some systems. The user can do many thing to effect the results of CPU2006 runs, such as compiler optimizations, add-ons like SmartHeap, and different commands used to start the tests.

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This benchmark has many different commands to use depending on what the user is looking for. For our tests, we used basic commands that run a full test with a base tune.

Here you can see the SPEC scores after full runs for Integer (int) and Floating Point (fp) tests.

Single-core runs show how fast (speed) a CPU can perform a given task. In the multi-core runs, we set SPEC CPU2006v1.2 to use all threads to measure the throughput of the system.

The additional cores/threads of this system have a huge impact on performance in these tests, and really show the amount of horsepower that a dual-socket system has over a single-socket board.

Single-threaded results are still very important, but when you need many single-threaded apps to run, moving to a CPU with more cores is the way to go. This is where the X10DAi starts to shine: multi-threaded interger workloads.

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Looking at the results of single-threaded integer runs, we can get an idea of speed at which the E5-2698 v3's can crunch through the different integer tests. Not all CPUs are equal here, and ones that have a higher speed will perform these tests faster. Naturally, using an overclocked system, or CPUs with a higher stock speed, will generate higher results.

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Now we run the test using all 32 cores/64 threads cores on the E5-2698 v3 processors to measure the throughput of the system. In this test, more cores/threads will have a greater effect on the outcome.

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Just like the integer tests, we now run the floating-point tests in single-threaded (speed) mode.

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Here we see the results of the multi-core floating-point run that uses all 32 cores/64 threads cores on the E5-2698 v3 processors. Like the multi-threaded integer test, more cores/threads will have a greater impact on the test.

Just like we saw in the integer multi-threaded tests, the X10DAi really takes off here.

Power Consumption & Final Thoughts

Power Consumption

We have upgraded our power testing equipment, and now use a Yokogawa WT310 power meter for testing. The Yokogawa WT310 feeds its data through a USB cable to another machine where we can capture the test results.

To test total system power use, we used AIDA64 Stability test to load the CPU, and then recorded the results. We also now add in the power use for a server from off state, to hitting the power button to turn it on, and take it all the way to the desktop. This gives us data on power consumption during the boot up process.

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The X10DAi uses ~100 watts at idle on the desktop, which is about 40 watts less than Ivy Bridge-EP setups we have run. The max power use is also very good. We find this system to be energy efficient, which will save on power bills in the end.

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With the X10DAi, we see only peak power use of ~245 watts during the boot up process. The system then settles down to ~100 watts after the boot up is completed.

Final Thoughts

The new Intel Xeon Haswell-EP processors really pack a punch in performance, so upgrading your workstation motherboards to support the new CPUs is a no brainer.

The new Supermicro X10DAi workstation motherboard is a next-gen powerhouse that is able to take on even more demanding workloads, and get them done faster.

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If your workflow demands high-end video cards such as NVIDIA Quadro K5000, K6000, or AMD W9000, W9100, then you are looking at serious graphics power, and need a motherboard to keep up with them. Supermicro designed a no compromise workstation motherboard to be the backbone of the system that supports the latest E5-2600 v3 processors and DDR4.

Many graphics applications such as Auto-CAD, Auto Desk Maya, 3DS Max, Solidworks, and many others, can use all this processing power. With up to 1TB of DDR4, the X10DAi gives you plenty of RAM to build and manipulate huge files.

While running our tests on the X10DAi, we found this motherboard to be rock-solid, and it had performance to run demanding tests. We only had one NVIDIA Quadro K5000 in the lab to test this out with, and upgrading to three GPUs would turn this system into a very high-end system.

When it comes to cases for the X10DAi, Supermicro has several to choose from. Cases recommended for this board are typical Supermicro cases, which come in 2U, 3U, and 4U Tower/Rackmount, such as the SuperChassis 747TG-R1400B-SQ.

The X10DAi workstation motherboard is a well-balanced motherboard in feature load out. There are plenty of SATA ports on this motherboard to build on with your storage needs. If you require a more robust storage setup, then the X10DAC would fit your needs very well with its LSI 3008 SAS3 storage controller.

We did feel the absence of IPMI/BMC on this board, as it helps IT administrators manage systems and rack mount solutions. Most deployments using the X10DAi would usually be stand-alone systems, so this is not much of an issue.

PRICING: You can find the Supermicro X10DAi (Intel C612) Workstation Motherboard for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Supermicro X10DAi-O (Retail Pack) retails for $403.00 at Amazon, and the Supermicro X10DAi-B (Bulk Pack) retails for $395.00 at Amazon.

TweakTown award
Performance97%
Quality including Design and Build95%
General Features90%
Bundle and Packaging85%
Value for Money95%
Overall92%

The Bottom Line: Supermicro's X10DAi workstation motherboard is a feature rich and high performing workstation product. We found this motherboard to be rock solid, and had the performance to run demanding tests.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

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DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

William Harmon started working with computers back in 2005 and began overclocking all kinds of different setups. My focus back then and even now is extreme cooling using Single Stage Phase units, Cascades and Liquid Nitrogen. During this time I was also in several competitions that GIGABYTE had sponsored, GOOC 2009 and 2010. Using technics in overclocking and cooling that I have learned over the years I started building high speed workstations and servers for clients who needed higher performing systems. Many of these systems are used in high frequency trader companies and work stations used in all kinds of professions. At TweakTown, I provide and develop accurate test and benchmark methods for servers and other equipment to help make purchasing decisions easier.

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