Here are key points about the ASRock X299E-ITX/ac.
The Obvious: It's the only X299 motherboard built in the Mini-ITX form factor. It's a beautiful creation, and the fact that it keeps all major platform features is awesome. You still get quad channel memory, albeit you need to use SO-DIMMs. You get three M.2 slots, and you get a nice serving of USB 3.0 and SATA6Gb/s from the PCH. The motherboard rocks in regards to the way ASRock crammed everything in.
Three M.2 slots, VROC, and no DMI bottleneck: The CPU-to-PCH DMI connection is limited to roughly 3.5GB/s, and when we have M.2 drives that can singlehandedly go up to 3.5GB/s, trying to RAID two of them when connected to the PCH will result in a bottleneck. However, ASRock routed the two M.2 slots on the rear of the motherboard to the CPU, while the one on the daughterboard is routed to the PCH, meaning you can use VROC and RAID three Samsung 960 Pros and not be bottlenecked by the DMI connection. I believe this is one of the only X299 motherboards to allow you to do that with built-in M.2 slots.
Can handle HCC CPUs with Waterblock: The full cover waterblock cools down the CPU, but it also cools down the VRM's power stages and inductors. The result is a Mini-ITX X299 motherboard that can easily handle Intel's 16 and 18 core chips and also overclock them. That is impressive. I got my 7960X to 4.4GHz with ease, and the VRM wasn't throttling the CPU.
Overclocking!: The X299E-ITX/ac easily overclocked my G.Skill 3800Mhz SO-DIMM quad channel kit to 3.8GHz, that's intense. All I had to do was enable XMP. With the full cover block, I can overclock HCC CPUs very high as well, and that's just impressive. While the CPU gets 6 phases, those 6 phases are capable of 350W with the monoblock.
Riser Support: PCI-E bifurcation is the act of splitting up a larger PCI-E grouping into smaller ones. The motherboard supports splitting the x16 slot into x8/x8, x8/x4/x4, x4/x4/x8, and even x4/x4/x4/x4 through a BIOS setting.
You are going to need VRM airflow: The built-in VRM block is only really effective when you have airflow over it. It would have been nice to see ASRock include some type of fan bracket. If you get the water block, you won't have issues then.
No 16 lane CPUs: The two current Kaby Lake-X CPUs are not supported on this motherboard. ASRock made that decision because it would require more hardware to support both, and I figure they ran out of trace space.
ASRock has done a fine job with the X299E-ITX/ac; it might be one of my favorite X299 motherboards. It's just so cool! I love how ASRock figured out how to get all those components and traces on the motherboard. While the rear IO might look like it could handle more ports, the truth is that you can easily run out of PCB trace space and end up with too much noise with too many features. ASRock struck a nice balance of features to space and even went so far as to consolidate connections and build daughterboards. The motherboard's quality is also top-notch, and ASRock gave it a price tag that reflects its quality.
The cooling solution we used isn't cheap either, it's $164.99, and together with the rad/pump combination, the price tag comes to $349.99. With the motherboard, your price tag comes out to $749.99 for the complete cooling solution and the motherboard, which might be a lot, but if you are going to pack in an HCC Intel CPU like the 7980XE and want to go Mini-ITX, it is an excellent solution.
I would add in the high-speed G.Skill SO-DIMM kit in as well, and that is because the motherboard can easily take full advantage of it. It's an excellent motherboard; there is just nothing else like it on the market.
|Overall TweakTown Rating||93%|
The Bottom Line: If you want some of the highest performance per square inch currently available, there is no alternative to the ASRock X299E-ITX/ac.
PRICING: You can find the product discussed for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:
- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and X299E-ITX/ac Overview]
- Page 3 [ASRock X299E-ITX/ac Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [ASRock X299E-ITX/ac Circuit Analysis Continued]
- Page 5 [BIOS and Software]
- Page 6 [Test System Setup]
- Page 7 [Overclocking With G.Skill 3800MHz SO-DIMMs]
- Page 8 [CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks]
- Page 9 [System IO Benchmarks]
- Page 10 [VRM and System Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption]
- Page 11 [What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts]