Supermicro X10DAX (Intel C612) Workstation Motherboard Review

Supermicro X10DAX (Intel C612) Workstation Motherboard Review

Supermicro's X10DAX motherboard supports plenty of goodies including NVIDIA GeForce GPUs in SLI, loads of DDR4 memory and Hyper-Speed (overclocking).

| Feb 5, 2015 at 8:42 am CST
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Supermicro

Introduction and Packaging

VIEW GALLERY - 64 IMAGES

Today we are going to take a look at the Supermicro X10DAX workstation motherboard. This board is very similar to the X10DAi motherboard we previously reviewed.

The Supermicro X10DAX workstation motherboard is one of three products in this class; the products in this class include the X10DAi, the X10DAC, and the X10DAX. The X10DAX adds overclocking features (BCLK only), which Supermicro calls "Hyper-Speed," and it also adds support for 3-way GeForce SLI (4-way SLI support for dual GPU video cards).

All three motherboards support dual Intel E5-2600 v3 (Socket R3) Haswell-EP processors that are based on Intel's 22nm processing technology. Supermicro designed these motherboards as balanced solutions that deliver performance, power efficiency, and feature load. The key features of the X10DAX workstation motherboard are:

  • Dual HSW EP E5-2600 v3 (Socket R3 up to 160W), QPI up to 9.6GT/s
  • Supports 3-way GeForce SLI, (4-way SLI support for dual GPU video cards)
  • Hyper-Speed and Hyper-Turbo performance boost
  • 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)
  • Ten SATA3, eleven USB ports (six USB 3.0)
  • 7.1 HD audio
  • Six USB 3.0
  • Thunderbolt AOC support
  • 12" x 13" E-ATX Form Factor

Some of the key features of the X10DAX include Supermicro's Hyper-Speed hardware acceleration technology and Hyper-Turbo mode, which allow more power to be delivered to the CPUs and maximize the CPU Turbo Mode frequency.

7.1 HD audio and Thunderbolt AOC support are included to round out the features on the X10DAX. Let's move on to unpacking this motherboard.

Packaging

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Today we have what looks like a new retail box for a Supermicro product - new to us anyway. This is a nice, catchy, bright blue colored box, and it looks very good.

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On the back, we have a product matrix that shows feature listings for a wide range of motherboards offered by Supermicro.

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Here we get our first look at the retail package contents.

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Upon removing the top layer of packaging, we find the X10DAX motherboard inside. Simple foam padding protects the contents.

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Here we get a look at the accessories for the X10DAX; these accessories include:

  • Six SATA cables
  • One I/O shield
  • One Quick Reference Guide

A convenient checklist for the provided accessories is also included. 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
  • Thunderbolt 2, W/Display and GPIO cable

PRICING: You can find the Supermicro X10DAX 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 X10DAX retails for $440.00 at Amazon.

Specifications and Layout

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The product specifications for the X10DAX are very similar to the X10DAi. The X10DAX has added workstation features like audio outputs, but the big difference between these boards is that unlike the X10DAi, the X10DAX supports 3-way GeForce SLI (4-way SLI support for dual GPU video cards), and includes Supermicro's Hyper-Speed features.

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Here we get a look at the block diagram, which shows how all of the input and output devices connect to the C612 Chipset. Let's move on and take a look at the motherboard.

Layout

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Here we get our first look at the X10DAX workstation motherboard.

The X10DAX can fit many cases, including different rack mount types and 4U tower cases. It also has a nice, clean layout, and CPU sockets that are staggered to offer better airflow to the processor heat sinks. The X10DAX should run nice and cool.

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Here we see the PCIe slots, which are:

  • 3x PCI-E 3.0 x16
  • 3x PCI-E 3.0 x8

The 3x PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots support 3-way GeForce SLI (4-way SLI support for dual GPU video cards). Just to make a note of the battery location, it is right under the release tab of PCIe slot number two, which does make it difficult to remove the battery if you need to.

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Here we are looking at the upper right section of the motherboard. There are only two fan headers located here, in addition to the audio front panel connector just to the right of the first USB stack. A third fan header is located just to the left of the memory slots on the left side.

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Now we are looking at the lower left side of the motherboard. There are ten SATA ports seen here. The Intel SCU controls the top four S-SATA ports. The Intel PCH C612 chipset controls the remaining six I-SATA Ports. The X10DAX does not have the LSI 3008 SAS3 12Gbps controller that the X10DAC does, so those locations are empty.

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The lower right side of the motherboard has its main power connectors over on the right edge of 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 the first four USB ports, we have the 7.1 Channel High-Definition audio outputs. Then we find two Gigabit Ethernet ports. The last stack features two USB 3.0 ports.

BIOS and Software

The BIOS for the X10DAX workstation is the same as the X10DAi, with the exception of a few added key features that support Hyper-Speed.

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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. The difference here is the first menu called "SMC Performance Tuning."

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This is the SMC Performance Tuning menu. We can see the listed functions that support Hyper-Speed.

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The CPU Vcore Voltage menu allows you to adjust Vcore in small increments, should you need to do so. For our testing, we did not need to increase the Vcore at all, so we left the VID-Offset at 0m Volts.

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Looking at the Supermicro Hyper-Speed features. These are very simple to select. This area shows three levels with a fourth that is not recommended. The reason level four is not recommended is that some CPUs may not function at this setting.

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In the memory timing section, you can adjust several memory related functions.

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Here we are looking at the Boot Feature menu.

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Here we are looking at the CPU Configuration menu.

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Now we are looking at the Advanced Power Management Configuration menu.

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

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

Select 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.

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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.

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Here is a list of all memory frequencies that the X10DAX supports. Not all memory kits will support every frequency listed here.

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Now we are looking at the USB Configuration menu.

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Here we see the SATA Configuration menu.

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Now we are looking at the sSATA Configuration menu.

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Now we are looking at the PCie/PCI/PnP Configuration menu.

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Now we are looking at the Intel Thunderbolt Configuration menu.

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In addition, we see plenty of boot options for the X10DAX.

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The final screen we see is the Save & Exit screen.

Software

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The downloads page for the X10DAX includes a Driver CD ISO, which you can mount to install the drivers you need to bring this board alive.

Test System Setup

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We would like to thank Supermicro, Intel, Crucial, SanDisk, Yokogawa, Thermaltake, SPEC, Passmark, Primate Labs, Noctua, and AIDA64 for their support in providing parts for our test system.

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The platform that the X10DAX motherboard uses is the Wellsburg (Intel C612), with new Haswell-EP processors. The processor we will be using is the Intel Xeon E5-2699 v3, which features 18 cores; hyper-threading is used on these tests.

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The Wellsburg Platform (Intel C612) will have support provided for four to 18 cores with dual socket capability. TDP ranges from 55W up to 160W for workstations. Memory is now DDR4, and can gave 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 10. 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 four lanes.

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Here we get a look at the task manager for our test system, which shows 36 cores / 72 threads that two E5-2699 v3 Xeon processors supply. These two CPUs provide a staggering amount of cores/threads in our test system.

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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 DDR4-2133 DRx4 RDIMM Memory Review - Testing up to 256GB.

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Here we can see the timings of the Crucial DDR4 memory that we will be using in our tests. As we filled every slot with memory sticks, the speed will drop to 1833 MHz.

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Here we see how the memory in Slot /DIMMs per channel can effect memory speed. Okay, let's get on with testing, and take a look at Supermicro Hyper-Speed.

Hyper-Speed

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Supermicro Hyper-Speed technology includes several options in the BIOS to increase system performance. In fact, what this does is increase the BCLK of the processors that raises the CPU and memory frequencies.

We have four different levels of Hyper-Speed available to us, but level four is not recommended. Not all CPUs can support level four.

Each level of Hyper-Speed raises the BCLK by ~1.3MHz.

Level 1 = 101.3

Level 2 = 102.6

Level 3 = 103.9

Level 4 = 105.2

In the past, we have noted on several other reviews that most CPUs can support an increase of the BCLK to 104; many CPUs cannot go higher, even with Vcore increases. This is why we think level four is not recommended.

On all of our adjustments using Hyper-Speed, we also turned on Hyper-Turbo. CPUz can report slightly different speeds depending on what the system is doing at the time the screen shots were taken, so the numbers report may not be exact.

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Here we show a CPUz screen shot of our E5-2699 v3s with Hyper-Speed set to level one. We can see the BCLK has been adjusted to 101.3. We started with a base memory frequency of 1833 MHz, and now we are at 1890.4 MHz with level one enabled.

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After setting Hyper-Speed to level two, we now have a 102.45 BCLK, and memory frequency of 1912.4 MHz.

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With our final Hyper-Speed setting of level three set, we can see a 103.77 BCLK, and memory frequency adjusted to 1937.2 MHz.

With these adjustments in mind, we should see our E5-2699 v3 speeds adjust as follows:

Base Speed = 2.3 GHz

Level 1 = 2.329 GHz

Level 2 = 2.359 GHz

Level 3 = 2.389 GHz

Memory Frequency Adjustments.

Base Speed = 1833 MHz

Level 1 = 1890.4 MHz

Level 2 = 1912.4 MHz

Level 3 = 1937.2 MHz

Clearly, these are not huge adjustments to the system, but they do increase system performance. It is extremely hard to boost CPU frequencies on dual CPU systems like these; multipliers are locked, and these CPUs can only handle a small about of BCLK adjustment. With that in mind, Supermicro created Hyper-Speed systems, which work very well, and make it simple to increase system performance.

We decided that we would push our testing a little further than we normally do with the X10DAX. First, we will see how a normal system would perform, and then we will set Hyper-Speed to Level three, and run the tests again.

Let's engage Hyper-Speed, and start testing!

CPU Benchmarks

We will begin testing the CPU portion of our benchmarks. On our system's test, we set the BIOS to default settings, and change only the boot device. We will see the effects of power management, and other power saving features here. Then we will rerun all of our tests with Hyper-Speed set to level three.

We will be using two Intel Xeon E5-2699 v3 (18 core) processors on all of our tests from now on. We have also dropped Cinebench 11.5 from our benchmarks because it will only use 64 cores/threads; the E5-2699 v3s used here will total 36 cores/72 threads, which exceeds Cinebench 11.5 limits.

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The X10DAX shows very good results in the multi-core benchmark. With Hyper-Speed set to level three, it pushes another 200 points in multi-core tests.

The single-core results also get a nice boost from Hyper-Speed.

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 X10DAX using E5-2699 v3s shows very good 32M scores; the 1024M tests also show good improvement.

Memory & System Benchmarks

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 X10DAX is looking very good. All though not huge increases of bandwidth, the X10DAX is showing good strong bandwidth numbers. Latency on the X10DAX was at 78.1ns and was lowered to 75ns with Hyper-Speed set to level 3.

Again, we see all motherboards using the new C612 chipset and Haswell-EP processors are performing very close to each.

Linpack

Intel Optimized LINPACK Benchmark is a generalization of the LINPACK 1000 benchmark. It solves a dense (real*8) system of linear equations (Ax=b), measures the amount of time it takes to factor and solve the system, converts that time into a performance rate, and tests the results for accuracy.

LINPACK is a measure of a computer's floating-point rate of execution ability and measured in GFLOPS (Floating-point Operations per Second); ten-billion FLOPS = ten GFLOPS.

LINPACK is a very heavy compute application that can take advantage of the new AVX2 instruction. As it puts a very high load on the system, it is also a good stress test program.

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LINPACK running on dual E5-2699 v3 processors is very impressive, and shows strong bandwidth numbers. With Hyper-Speed set to level three, we have recorded 981 GFLOPS, which is very impressive. These speeds, coupled with fast DDR4, should give a real boost to application performance.

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.

Geekbench - Stream

Geekbench 3 is Primate Labs' cross-platform processor benchmark, with a new scoring system that separates single-core and multi-core performance, and new workloads that simulate real-world scenarios. It also includes STREAM based memory tests which we will include on our reviews.

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Here we are looking at the single-core STREAM memory tests. Bandwidth is about where expected for single-core applications. Again, with Hyper-Speed set to level three, we are seeing strong bandwidth numbers for the X10DAX.

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Now we are looking at multi-core STREAM tests. The speeds we are seeing are a little faster than advertised bandwidths for our Crucial Memory kits, which shows these new X10 platforms from Supermicro can squeeze out fast memory bandwidth.

UnixBench and SPEC CPU2006v1.2

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 shows what the X10DAX can really do well, and that is multi-threaded workloads using the E5-2699 v3 processors.

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 basic commands to run these tests.

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

To do multi-threaded, we add in " --rate=72."

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 things to effect the results of CPU2006 runs, including 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 single socket motherboard has.

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.

In multi-threaded interger workloads, the X10DAX with Hyper-Speed at level three and the E5-2699 v3 processors shows nice improvements in performance.

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Looking at the results of single-threaded integer runs, we can get an idea of speed at which the E5-2699 v3s 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 36 cores/72 threads cores on the E5-2699 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 36 cores/72 threads cores on the E5-2699 v3 processors. Like the multi-threaded integer test, more cores/threads will have a greater impact on the test.

Just like the integer multi-threaded tests, the X10DAX with Hyper-Speed at level three really takes off here.

Power Consumption & Final Thoughts

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 Supermicro X10DAX shows power levels that are normal for systems like this. Turning on Hyper-Speed to level three does increase power usage by ~50 watts when under full load.

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Under our boot power tests, we do not see a significant increase in power usage. We also noticed that the X10DAX booted faster with Hyper-Speed at level three, which is a nice bonus.

Final Thoughts

The feature list of the X10DAX is very similar to the Supermicro X10DAi we previously reviewed; in fact, these two boards look very much alike if you place them side by side.

The X10DAX does offers several key features not found on the X10DAi. The first is the ability to run GeForce TRI-SLI or Quad SLI using two Dual GPU video cards. This can give you serious graphics power using NVIDIA Titans or Titan Zs. It also has the ability to run NVIDIA Quadro video cards for applications that need these.

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Besides the graphics options available on the X10DAX, it can also utilize Supermicro's Hyper-Speed technology to boost performance, which is one of the main selling points of this board. Hyper-Speed technology features proprietary motherboard-level optimizations that accelerate CPU, memory, and PCIe cards to improve performance. These features are also important for low latency and jitter optimizations in systems like those used for high frequency trading.

In our memory tests, we did see improvement in bandwidth, and a reduction in latency; these factors, combined with OS optimizations, improve this workstation motherboard even further, which makes these systems ideal for applications that can take advantage of this.

We did like the added performance boost for CPU tests vs a stock system. Supermicro's Hyper-Speed technology makes it very easy to set the desired level in the BIOS and reboot. Besides a little higher power draw on fully loaded systems, we did not notice any shortcomings in using Hyper-Speed. Our test system was very stable throughout our bench sessions.

Supermicro is known for building motherboards that insure quality and longevity, which means a great deal to customers. The X10DAX is also idea for enthusiasts who want a motherboard that is stable, can run multiple video cards, can overclock, and use the maximum amount of memory for these platforms. It may not have the bling factor with shinny heat sinks, but it does have rock-solid stability, and good performance.

One of the problems we noticed with the X10DAX is the location of the SATA ports on the edge of the motherboard. If you install a full-size GPU in the slot closest to the edge, it will cover up these ports. You will need to use left angle and right angle connectors to use both sets of ports. We did do a few Google searches, and found several suppliers for these cables.

We also noticed the placement of the battery is right under the release lever of the second PCIe slot. This is really a minor concern when you consider how many times you are going to need to access the battery (most likely never).

We would like to see a motherboard from Supermicro that combines both features of the X10DAC and the X10DAX into one board. This would give you Hyper-Speed, GPU support, and 8x SAS3 (12Gbps) ports w/ LSI 3008 controller. The location on the motherboard is there, it just needs to be installed.

PRICING: You can find the Supermicro X10DAX 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 X10DAX retails for $440.00 at Amazon.

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:33 pm CDT

TweakTown award
Performance99%
Quality including Design and Build97%
General Features96%
Bundle and Packaging90%
Value for Money95%
Overall Rating95%

The Bottom Line: With Hyper-Speed and support for 3-way GeForce SLI and 4-way SLI support with dual GPU cards, the Supermicro X10DAX has the best performance we have seen in the lab yet.

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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