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GIGABYTE X299 Designare EX (Intel X299) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 2066 in Motherboards | Posted: Jan 18, 2018 4:00 pm
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Here are key points about the GIGABYTE X299 Designare EX.

 

What's Hot

 

Holy VRM: GIGABYTE went back to the drawing board, switched from 50A true eight phase VRM to a twelve phase VRM (six doubled) with 60A power stages. They did change the inductors, but since there are so many more of them (due to phase count) their slightly lower current limit doesn't hold them back. The new heat sink also helps a lot, and it seems GIGABYTE also changed their thermal pads to better ones, and we see the results in our thermal testing of the VRM. Overall, excellent VRM.

 

ThunderBolt 3: GIGABYTE is using Intel's new ThunderBolt 3 controller which offers two ThunderBolt 3 ports. The reason we have two DisplayPort input jacks on the rear IO is that ThunderBolt 3 requires a Display Port signal, so you would hook those up to your GPU if you want to use ThunderBolt 3. It has to be this way on every motherboard without integrated graphics, that's one reason you don't see ThunderBolt 3 on many X299 motherboards. The TB3 type-C ports double as USB and DP type-C ports, and the power delivery ICs should provide a lot of power.

 

 

Tons of Fan Headers and Temperature Sensors: A total of eight fan headers and full hybrid control over each allows the motherboard to act as a fan controller. With the ability to add external temperatures as your reference point for your fan cooling curve, this motherboard offers a lot in regards to cooling. The good news is that you can configure it all in the UEFI and not have to install software to configure the fans and temperature probes.

 

Aesthetics: The white and silver aesthetics on the motherboard increase the uniqueness of the motherboard in a sleek manner. White is easy to match, and inside a case, you wouldn't be able to tell the color is more silver. I like the default blue LED color matched with the white. The motherboard also offers many RGB LED headers (RGBW and digital), and the PCH overlay is customizable (you can replace it).

 

 

What's Not

 

3-Way SLI/CF on 44-Lane CPU: You can do x16/x16 for 2-way, but you can only do x8/x16/x8 for 3-way with this motherboard. It's due to the complexity of supporting both Kaby Lake-X and SKylake-X CPUs.

 

Rear USB Count: While the two type-C ThunderBolt 3 ports double as USB 3.1 type-C ports, the Display Port inputs take up a lot of room, so GIGABYTe had to remove some USB 3.0 ports. Instead, you get four USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports on the rear IO. There is a total of five internal USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 headers.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

The GIGABYTE X299 Designare EX is the reincarnation of the X299 Aorus Gaming 9, but I am told it's actually going to cost somewhere in between the Gaming 7 and the Gaming 9. I actually like the Designare EX more than the Gaming 9, not only because of the ThunderBolt 3, but because of the improved VRM. GIGABYTE really made a lot of changes to the VRM from the components to the phase count and finally to the cooling.

 

gigabyte-x299-designare-ex-intel-motherboard-review_93

 

The aesthetics of the motherboard are also desirable and offer a more professional look rather than a playful one. I do miss the high-end audio setup, the digital RGBs built into the IO and audio shields and the illuminated IO panel, the extra USB type-A on the rear IO, and the high current fan headers, but that's practically all I miss. If you want a loaded X299 motherboard with the features and the capabilities to match an HCC (>10 core) Intel CPU, the X299 Designare EX might be the right board for you.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance (including Overclocking)90%
Quality including Design and Build96%
General Features96%
Value for Money91%
Overall TweakTown Rating93%

The Bottom Line: The X299 Designare EX is loaded with solid performance and features, including the king of all connectivity; dual ThunderBolt 3 ports. .

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