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GIGABYTE X299 Designare EX (Intel X299) Motherboard Review (Page 2)

By Steven Bassiri from Jan 18, 2018 @ 10:00 CST
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Packaging and Overview


The motherboard box is silver and white just like the Designare itself. Packaging is top notch, and very well done.


The accessory package includes six braided SATA6Gb/s, SLI HB Bridge, M.2 to U.2 converter, Wi-Fi antenna, two RGB extension cables, case badge, G-Connector, two temperature probes, driver DVD, manuals, and two Velcro ties.


GIGABYTE put a ton of fan headers on the X299 Designare EX, for a total of eight. However, one of those headers is already occupied by a fan used to cool down the VRM heat sink if VRM temperatures go over 90C. All the fan headers work in PWM or DC mode depending on how you set it up, and each header supports up to 1A. There are two pump headers circled in red; they default to 100%.

There are also two EC temperature headers; they connect to the temperature probes so you can use them for monitoring temperatures of components not built into the motherboard. The silver/white and black color theme is a very nice one, and the default lighting is baby blue, which creates a wonderful theme. The back of the motherboard is protected by a large metal shield, and it helps reinforce the PCB.


GIGABYTE put an integrated IO shield on the motherboard. You get two USB 2.0 ports, PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, two DisplayPort inputs (for ThunderBolt 3), two ThunderBolt 3 ports (double as USB 3.1 type-C), four USB 3.0 ports (white doubles for BIOS recovery), two Intel Gbit NICs, WIFI connectors, and gold plated 7.1 audio output with S/PDIF out.


The PCI-E layout is not that simple, the PCI-E slots are physically (from top to bottom) PCI-E x16/CPU, x4/CPU, x16/CPU, x4/PCH, x8/CPU. The top PCI-E x4 slot is routed to the CPU and is not available when using a 16-lane CPU. The only PCI-E bandwidth difference between 40 and 28 lane CPUs is that the second x16 slot operates at x8 higher.

For 16 lane CPUs, you lose one PCI-E x4 slot (the top one), and you can operate at x8 in each of the x16 slots for 2-way. There are three M.2 slots on the motherboard, the middle slot shares all bandwidth with the first PCI-E x4 slot (second x16 physical slot) and it also will not be usable with an x16 lane CPU. The bottom M.2 slot shares all of its bandwidth with four SATA ports (ports 5-8). All M.2 slots get GIGABYTE's M.2 heat sink.


The motherboard features eight SATA6Gb/s connectors connected to the PCH, except two ports that are connected to an ASMedia SATA6Gb/s controller. The motherboard also features a USB 3.0 internal header under the 24-pin connector and a USB 3.1 type-C internal header.


The motherboard features two 8-pin CPU power connectors and an RGBW header at the top of the motherboard. At the bottom of the motherboard, we find a USB 3.0 internal header to the left of the front panel headers. A POST code display can also be found at the bottom of the motherboard.


There are two USB 2.0 internal headers to the right of a power button, reset button, and OC button. A small TPM header is also located near the buttons. We also find an RGBW LED header and a digital RGB header. A jumper above the digital RGB header can switch voltage on the digital header from 5v to 12v.


The heat sinks on the motherboard are all screwed in. The VRM heat sink has been re-designed and offers very good cooling capability, and it features different thermal pads from what we have seen in the past from GIGABYTE.

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