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EVGA X299 Dark (Intel X299) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 2066 in Motherboards | Posted: 1 week, 2 days ago
TweakTown Rating: 95%Manufacturer: EVGA

Packaging and Overview

 

 

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The back of the box (not shown) has pretty much nothing on it; I guess you could say it's dark. Everything is individually packaged, most things are in their own sealed anti-static bag, including SATA cables...

 

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The accessory package includes something really cool, a replica PCB (no copper) that details different features and configurations of the motherboard. It will tell you what slots to use with different CPUs, and it can double as a stand for the motherboard, and tall standoffs are included. Other accessories include ProbeIt breakout, IO shield, six SATA6Gb/s cables, optional socket bracket (for LN2), M.2 adapter (for WIFI), two thermal pads, 3-way SLI bridge, USB 2.0 rear breakout, case badge, nice manual, and driver DVD.

 

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EVGA put just five fan headers on the motherboard, there is a sixth, but it's occupied by the VRM's fans. The two headers boxed in red are PWM mode headers, while the three boxed in blue offer DC/PWM operation so that you can choose between them. The motherboard has one of the most unique aesthetics I have seen, and I really like how they have added in gold plating in certain areas just to make it look cooler. The shroud over the fan on the PCH should help more air over the M.2 slots. The back of the motherboard reveals a huge backside heat sink for the VRM, as well as the audio area gold plated PCB divide and a bunch of the other components on the motherboard. The back of the PCB also features a hole under the CPU so you could stick in a thermal probe or some type of wire to monitor certain voltages.

 

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The rear IO panel features PS/2 keyboard/mouse, six USB 3.0 ports, two Intel Gbit LAN ports, USB 3.1 type-A, USB 3.1 type-C, clear CMOS button, holes for WIFI antenna, and 7.1 audio with S/PDIF out. The IO shield is integrated, but you can also remove the integrated one and use the normal one provided in the accessory package.

 

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The motherboard supports both Kabylake-X and Skylake-X CPUs, and as such has a pretty crazy slot bandwidth allotment setup. They actually provide a chart on the blank PCB that is included within the package. Also, one of the M.2 connectors might or might not be connected to the CPU; it depends on the slot configuration, and that M.2 slot shares lanes with the PE6 PCI-E slot. Both M.2 slots are x4 PCI-E 3.0. One of the U.2 connectors is routed to the CPU, and that same connector shares lanes with the M.2 slot that doesn't connect to the CPU/PCH. The motherboard comes with thermal pads for M.2 drives, so when you install the M.2 drives, put the pad down near the connector and then install the drive, that way the pad will direct heat from the drive's controller into the PCB.

 

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Here is a chart detailing recommended configurations for all slots and M.2/U.2 connectors depending on CPU used.

 

 

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We find eight right angled SATA6Gb/s connectors near two U.2 ports. The two SATA6Gb/s ports closest to the U.2 ports come from an ASMedia controller and not from the PCH. We also find out right angled USB 3.0 header, Probe It header, and 24-pin header. The right-angled connectors might be a bit harder to utilize in a smaller case, but they offer superior aesthetics in many cases. The motherboard also features two 8-pin power connectors at the top of the motherboard, and the heat sink for the VRM is a real heat sink. It features two small fans, but they can be a bit annoying since smaller fans tend to make more noise.

 

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At the top of the motherboard, we find out power and reset buttons right above our quad POST code display. There is also a clear CMOS button here and a detailed CPU status boot LEDs that can help you debug boot issues. The motherboard features three BIOS ROMs, and one is removable. A physical switch is located above the BIOS socket. To the edge of the motherboard, we find our Probe It connector as well as the DIP switch used to disable PCI-E x16 slots.

 

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At the bottom of the motherboard, we find our front panel headers, but we also see empty solder pads, one of them is labeled OC-DBG, so perhaps modders will find a way to make use of these extra features that were removed from the retail version of the motherboard. At the bottom of the motherboard, we find a speaker and a 6-pin PCI-E input power plug. There are some four-pin headers that are not labeled clearly or mentioned, and there are empty LED pads on the backside of the motherboard PCB that line the audio section, so perhaps the board has some leftover RGB LED features that were nixed at the last minute.

 

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We also get two USB 2.0 internal headers to the left of the VROC header. Check out the heat sinks on this motherboard. That is a huge thermal pad for the backside of the VRM, and we can also see the individual power stages get their own thermal pads.

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