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ASUS ROG STRIX X299-E Gaming Review

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  • Author: MAC
  • Date: September 27, 2017

A Closer Look at the X299-E Gaming pt.2

 

 

 
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In the lower-right hand corner of the motherboard, there is the front panel header, the CPU Overvoltage jumper, the 5V RGB LED header, one case fan header, one water pump header, the single USB 2.0 header, and one of two USB 3.0 headers. Next to the SATA ports you might also notice the M.2 fan header which is effectively just a case fan header, the VROC Key header, the temperature sensor header (there’s a temperature probe included), and the clear CMOS header. We really do wish that there was a clear CMOS button or switch instead of a an old-school header, but alas. There is also another 3D Mount standoff next to the PCH heatsink for those who want to 3D print something to add some extra flair to the motherboard.

The bottom edge of the motherboard is where you will find the EXT_FAN header if you need more fan headers and are willing to buy the Fan Extension Card, the power-on, the power button, the Q-Code LED display, a COM header, and one of two 12V RGB LED headers where you can plug in any 12V/2A 5050 RGB LED lighting strip and have it fully powered by the motherboard and controlled by the Lighting Control utility. The aforementioned 5V header supports individually addressable RGB WS2812B LED strips with a power rating of up to 3A and a maximum of 60 LEDs, and it is also fully controllable from within the UEFI or included software.

 

 
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The X299-E features an interesting assortment of three PCI-E x16 slots, one PCI-E x4 slot that operates at x4, one PCI-E x4 slot that operates at x1, and one PCI-E x1 slot, all of which are PCI-E 3.0 capable. Surprisingly, all of these slots are also functional no matter if you install a 44-lane or 28-lane Skylake-X processor or a 16-lane Kaby Lake-X one. However, the transfer rates will obviously vary significantly since the limited number of PCI-E lanes need to be judiciously carved up by the clever ASMedia ASM1483 PCI-E 3.0 switches. For example, in a simple dual graphics card configuration, a 44-lane CPU can support x16/x16 operation, while a 28-lane CPU is limited to x16/x8, and a 16-lane processor tops out at x8/x8 like on the mainstream LGA1151 platform. When three graphics cards are installed, the 44-lane CPU can support x16/x16/x8, while the 28-lane and 16-lane CPUs are basically crippled since they drop to x16/x8/x1 and x8/x8/x1, respectively. Having said that, x1 is perfectly fine for mining if that’s of interest to you. However, if you have your eye on SLI or CrossFire, definitely take a moment to check out the STRIX X299-E Gaming’s specifications page.

As we have come to expect from quality motherboards, this model features steel reinforced full-size PCI-E slots, which means steel sleeving and additional anchor points for the slots likely to hold graphics cards.

 


 
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As we have come to expect from every new ROG generation, the X299-E features a new variation of the SupremeFX onboard audio. While there is an EMI shield covering it, we know that this audio solution is based on the Realtek ALC1220A codec. The difference between the ALC1220A and the more common ALC1220 is that the A version is missing the I2S (Integrated-Interchip Sound) bus interface that is used to transfer digital data to a DAC. Since this motherboard has no third-party DAC, I2S is obviously not needed.

What’s impressive about this SupremeFX implementation is that it features two headphone amplifiers, which means additional power and impedance sensing for both the front and rear headphone outputs. One of the headphone amplifiers is a very common Texas Instruments R4580I op-amp (for the front panel), while the other is a higher-end Texas Instruments OPA1688 op-amp (for the rear panel). This latter component is part of the Burr-Brown Audio product series and it is EMI hardened.

As we have come to expect from just about every quality motherboard, Nichicon Gold audio-grade capacitors are used in the audio subsystem. There is also a PCB isolation line that surrounds the audio section and protects it from external electromagnetic interference (EMI). All of this serves to help to preserve the signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio and thus ensure the highest possible sound quality.

 


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This X299-E model has pretty decent connectivity on its rear I/O panel, but we would haven’t minded two additional USB ports, even USB 2.0 potrs. Starting from left to right, we have the BIOS Flashback button, two USB 2.0 ports, one gigabit LAN port, four USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port, one USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, the WiFi/Bluetooth antenna ports, and the five analog audio jacks plus the S/PDIF output.

The gigabit LAN port is powered by the ubiquitous Intel I219-V controller. This port is protected by a LANGuard surge protector and it can be managed using the ASUS GameFirst IV utility.

The onboard Wi-Fi module supports both dual-band 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2. Although it is not mentioned anywhere in the official literature, the Windows Device Manager reveals that this module features a Realtek RTL8822BE chip. This is a 2×2 802.11ac Wave2 controller that supports MU-MIMO. This 2×2 solution supports maximum wireless transfer speeds of up to 867Mbps, and although we personally haven’t yet made the leap to the 802.11ac standard, our 802.11n connection was rock-solid courtesy of the brand new 2T2R antenna that ASUS has included in the accessories bundle. While we would have preferred to see an Intel-based Wi-Fi solution due to superior OS compatibility, this Realtek chip is supposed to be fully supported in the upcoming Linux 4.14 kernel.

 



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What’s powering all these ports and other key motherboard functions? Well starting from the top left there is an Intel I219V ethernet controller, a brand new ASMedia ASM3142 USB 3.1 Gen2 host controller, a Nuvoton NCT6796D Super I/O monitoring controller, an STMicroelectronics STM32F072C8T6 is responsible for the AURA feature, a Turbo Processing Unit (TPU) is responsible for the automatic overclocking feature, while the ProClockII chip is a dedicated baseclock generator responsible for improving BCLK overclocking.

 

 
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When we take a look at the back of the motherboard, there’s really not much there aside from one or twosmall ICs. When we removed the rear-mounted backplate we expected to see some additional CPU VRM components, but there’s really nothing but some but some SMD capacitors or resistors.

While the PCB isolation line that surrounds the audio subsystem is quite visible, there are no LEDs mounted on the rear (or front) of the motherboard since the audio section is surprisingly not lit on this model.

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