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ASUS ROG STRIX X299-E Gaming Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,141
Location
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Feature Testing: AURA SYNC

Feature Testing: AURA SYNC


As you would expect on any gaming-oriented motherboard in 2017, the STRIX X299-E has onboard RGB LED lighting. Thankfully, at least for those who despise this new 'feature', it is an incredibly tame implementation when compared to some competing disco balls...err, motherboards. The lightning is in only two locations, but ASUS have included three RGB LED headers for those who actually do like to brighten up their systems.

AURA SYNC is what ASUS calls their particular feature, and what it brings to the table is the ability to synchronize all AURA SYNC compatible components together, be it a graphics card, keyboard, or mouse. Basically, using the AURA lighting control utility – which you can see below – you can have all of the RGB LEDs that are integrated into those parts display the exact same colour or all just have matching lightning effects.


On the X299-E, the RGB LEDs are integrated into the rear I/O shroud and the weird decorative piece in the middle of the board, and they can be controlled using the AURA lightning control utility. The lights can be adjusted to any number of different colours and customized to create cool lighting effects. The presets can cause the LEDs to change shades to indicate CPU temperature, pulsate with the beat of your music, cycle through all the colours, fade in and out, flash on and off, or just statically display one colour.

There are also three RGB Headers, two of which can power any 12V/2A 5050RGB LED lighting strip, and have it fully powered by the motherboard and controlled by the AURA app. One is near the CPU fan headers and the other is near the bottom-left corner of the motherboard near the front panel header. The third header is a 5V variant and it can power WS2812B RGB LED strips with a maximum amperage rating of 3A and a maximum of 60 individual LEDs.


These are the only two areas of the motherboard with any lighting, and at default settings they simply automatically go through all available colours. The MOSFET lighting in particular is pretty neat since it can great a sort of rainbow effect as its multiple LEDs change each display a different color. Overall, the effect isn't huge, but it pretty nice.


Overall, thanks to the fantastic AURA utility and its endless selection of colours and effects you can create some very nice visuals that can add a bit of flair to your build. Check it out below:

<iframe width="700" height="394" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1YtlKnMWKXU?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​
 

MAC

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Location
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Feature Testing: Onboard Audio

Feature Testing: Onboard Audio


Since fewer and fewer consumers seem to be buying discrete sound cards, the quality of a motherboard's onboard audio is now more important than ever. As such, we figured that it was worthwhile to take a closer look at just how good the analog signal quality is coming out of the onboard SupremeFX audio subsystem that is implemented on the STRIX X299-E. As mentioned earlier, this model features the modern Realtek ALC1220A codec, two Texas Instruments op-amps, Nichicon Fine Gold audio capacitors, and a PCB-level isolation line.

Since isolated results don't really mean much, but we have also included some numbers from the plethora of motherboards that we have previously reviewed. All of the motherboards that we have included are feature onboard audio solutions that are built around the Realtek ALC1150 or ALC1220 codecs, but feature different op-amps, headphone amplifiers, filtering capacitors, secondary components and layouts.

We are going to do this using both quantitative and qualitative analysis, since sound quality isn't really something that can be adequately explained with only numbers. To do the quantitative portion, we have turned to RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA), which the standard application for this type of testing.

Since all modern motherboards support very high quality 24-bit, 192kHz audio playback we selected that as the sample mode option. Basically, what this test does is pipe the audio signal from the front-channel output to the line-in input via a 3.5mm male to 3.5mm male mini-plug cable, and then RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA) does the audio analysis. Obviously we disabled all software enhancements since they interfere with the pure technical performance that we are trying to benchmark.


The STRIX X299-E achieved some of the very best audio numbers that we have ever seen on a motherboard, falling just short of ASUS' own STRIX Z270I LGA1151 Mini-ITX model. This is only the third Intel-based motherboard that we've tested that has achieved an overall rating of "Excellent". As a result, and as you would expect, all the key categories like noise level, dynamic range, and stereo crosstalk feature excellent numbers.

As we have mentioned in the past, we aren't experts when it comes to sound quality, but at this high level we suspect that just about anyone should be satisfied. We listened to a variety of music and spoken word content using a mix of Grado SR225i and Koss PortaPro headphones, Westone UM1 IEMs, and Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speakers, and the playback was clean and loud. Frankly, we have no criticisms at all.
 
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MAC

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Joined
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Messages
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Location
Montreal
Feature Testing: M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4

Feature Testing: M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4


When compared to the previous LGA2011-v3 platform, LGA2066 has significantly improved the availability of high-speed storage interfaces. Not only does the new X299 PCH have an impressive 24 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, which is three times as much as the 8-lane X99 PCH, but it also features a faster link to the processor (8GT/s DMI3 vs. 5GT/s DMI2). The end result of this every X299 motherboard has at least two M.2 slots and they are all full-speed M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4 implementations.


While few SSDs exist that can reach the 3.5-3.6GB/s real-life limit of this interface, we settled on one that can crack the 2000MB/s barrier: the Samsung SSD 950 PRO 256GB. Despite now being usurped by the SSD 960 PRO, this high performance NVMe PCI-E SSD combines Samsung's powerful UBX controller with its industry-leading 3D V-NAND and is capable of sequential read speeds of up to 2,200MB/second and write speeds of up to 900MB/sec.

One of the ways that we will be evaluating the performance of a motherboard's M.2 interface is by verifying that is capable of matching or exceeding these listed transfer rates. The other is by checking to see whether it performs as well as when we install the SSD 950 PRO onto a ASUS Hyper M.2 x4 expansion card plugged directly into a PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot. The PCI-E lanes that the M.2 slot requires can come from either the processor or more usually the X299 PCH, and we are interested to see how well that lane splitting was implemented and whether it is causing any performance issues. Also, since there are two M.2 slots, we are interested in determining whether there is a performance difference between both of them.

M.2 Top vs M.2 Bottom vs PCI-E

As can see, the performance of the two M.2 slots on the STRIX X299-E was effectively identical. Not only that but they were both fractionally faster than the performance we observed with the PCI-E adapter, but obviously the difference is so small that it's well within benchmark variances.

While transfer rates are obviously an important metric, we figured that it was also worthwhile to take a peak at instructions per second (IOPS) to ensure that there wasn't any variance there either:

M.2 Top vs M.2 Bottom vs PCI-E

While the PCI-E slot takes the lead this time, the differences are essentially non-existent and well within the margin of error for this benchmark. As a result, we think that it is fair to say that the M.2 interfaces on the STRIX X299-E have been well implemented in so far as they all perform roughly identically.

However, it needs to be mentioned that we have observed lower overall M.2 performance on this new platform - so not exclusive so this ASUS model - than we have on previous LGA1151 and AM4 motherboards. There are a few new/different factors at play, like the fact that we are using the new Windows 10 Creators Update, we updated to the newest Samsung NVM Express Driver v2.2 (reverting back to 2.1 didn't help), and we also freshly formatted the drive, whereas we used to have it about 10% full. We have observed similar performance on X299 motherboards from ASUS, ASRock, and MSI, so it is not a manufacturer-specific issue.
 
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MAC

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Location
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Auto & Manual Overclocking Results

Auto & Manual Overclocking Results


Though it might feature a new socket, this LGA2066 platform is still fundamentally identical to the LGA2011 series that came before it when it comes to overclocking. Much like Broadwell-E, the new Skylake-X processors are still based on a 14nm process, so you can definitely still theoretically use up to 1.35V CPU core voltage pretty safely. However, that only applies to the i7-7800X and i7-7820X. When it comes to the i9-7900X you can't use that much voltage given the incredible amount of heat it outputs when overclocked and overvolted. Personally, even with an absolutely top-notch dual-fan air cooler or high-end dual-fan AIO we wouldn't recommend more than 1.25V, and even that much voltage will be problematic for most cooling solution. In order to avoid creating extra heat, we also recommend being conservative with the other system voltages, namely the cache/mesh voltage, the system agent voltage (VCCSA) and the I/O voltage (VCCIO). Ideally, you shouldn't need to apply more than 1.15V to the cache/mesh while still being able to reach a ~3200MHz frequency, while near default VCCSA and VCCIO values of 0.95V and 1.05V should allow you to reach memory speeds of up to DDR4-3733.

The rules for Kaby Lake-X are unsurprisingly similar to mainstream Kaby Lake. Our personal pointers are to increase the vCore up to around 1.35V if you're cooling can handle it, while increasing the VCCIO up to 1.20V, and the System Agent voltage up to 1.25V if you plan on increasing the cache or memory frequency. If you are trying to achieve the highest possible DDR4 memory speeds, increasing the VCCIO to 1.30V and vSA to 1.35V might be worth trying out. These last two are really only needed if you plan on seriously pushing the uncore/cache frequency or the memory frequency.

All of the LGA2066 processors are multiplier and BCLK unlocked, but unless you're trying to extract every last megahertz there's no reason to go crazy increasing the BCLK above 103-105Mhz since you can achieve similar results by just tweaking the various multipliers instead.

Lastly, we highly recommend that you avoid stress testing Skylake-X with the latest build of Prime 95. The simple fact of the matter is that due to its use of AVX its puts an entirely unrealistic load on the CPU, which causes both CPU and VRM temperatures to skyrocket until one or the other will start throttling. If you aim for Prime 95 stability/temperatures you will be robbing yourself of hundreds of megahertz of overclocking potential.


Auto Overclocking

Like many previous ASUS motherboards, the STRIX X299-E features two types of automatic overclocking. There is the TPU option that you can find in the UEFI BIOS and the 5-Way Optimization feature that is located in the Ai Suite III utility. The BIOS-based option relies on presets and it is quite simple since it only offers two choices, TPU I or TPU II. TPU I applies an overclocking preset that is designed for those with air cooling, while TPU II is a more aggressive option for those with liquid cooling.



Click on image to enlarge

In practice, TPU I clocked our i9-7900X to 4.5Ghz @ 1.211V for 1-4 thread workloads, and 4.3Ghz at 1.195V during more highly threaded workloads. The AVX-512 frequency was limited to 4.1GHz. Selecting the TPU II option provided a slight improvement, pushing our i9-7900X to 4.6Ghz at 1.211V during lightly threaded workloads, and 4.4Ghz at 1.234V in more thread-intensive applications. The AVX-512 frequency was similarly bumped up to 4.3GHz. Both settings set the cache/mesh to 2700MHz - up from 2400MHz - while the memory speed was bumped up to a respectable DDR4-3200 14-14-14. We were using a G.Skill DDR4-3200 14-14-14 memory kit so clearly the XMP preset was applied. This BIOS-based automatic overclocking option is very fast - just the time it takes to save & exit the BIOS - and as you can see it produces some pretty solid results given the limitations of the nuclear reactor known as the Core i9-7900X. Speaking of which, don't make the mistake of thinking that the above settings are conservative and easy to cool. In non-AVX but still fully loaded synthetic workloads, core temperatures still hovered in the 90-100°C range with either a Corsair Hydro H110i or Prolimatech Mega Shadow, both with fans at full speed. To put it simply, this 10-core chip is an absolute nightmare to cool.

When it came time to test the cool-running Core i7-7740X, we didn't want to waste our time with TPU I, so we went straight to TPU II which pushed our chip all the way up to 5.0GHz at 1.30V - no matter the workload - left the uncore/cache frequency untouched, and applied our memory kit's XMP profile. Can complain with any of that, an awesome performance boost in an instant.


As mentioned above, within the Ai Suite III utility there is the 5-Way Optimization automatic overclocking feature. While this feature also makes use of the TPU - which stands for TurboV Processing Unit - it is regarded as an intelligent approach to automatic overclocking because it does not rely on presets. Instead, it slowly increases your processor's clock speed and voltage, tests for stability, monitors fan speeds and temperatures, and repeats until it has found the sweet spot. Nowadays, you can even specify a clock speed to start from and even what maximum temperature you feel comfortable with.

With all of that said, let's see what 5-Way Optimization was capable of:




Click on image to enlarge

Since we are always aggressive when it comes to overclocking, we selected the TPU II and Extreme Tuning options applied to all cores. As you can see above, the results are exactly the same as when using the BIOS-based TPU II setting. Despite the fact that we selected the "all cores" option, our i9-7900X would nevertheless jump to 4.6GHz in lightly-threaded applications, perhaps due to the Turbo Boost Max 3.0 feature.

The i7-7740X overclock was ultimately also identical - after failing to stabilize the system at both 5.1Ghz and 5.2GHz levels - so forgive us for not wanting to needlessly re-run all of the benchmarks/stress tests.


Manual Overclocking




Click on image to enlarge

As we have come to expect from an ASUS ROG motherboard, our manual overclocking efforts were - thankfully - easy and uneventful. In the end, we were able to push the Core i9-7900X to 4.7GHz with our self-imposed 1.25Vcore limit. With an eye towards further managing temperatures, we also set a -1 AVX offset and a -2 AVX-512 offset, which limits the cores to 4.6GHz and 4.5GHz when those particular extensions are used. When it came time to overclock the cache/mesh and memory, we simply set the cache voltage to 1.15V, system agent voltage to 0.95V and the I/O voltage to 1.02V. This allowed us to increase the cache/mesh frequency from 2400MHz to 3200MHz - which provides a VERY nice performance boost - and we overclocked the memory from DDR4-3200 14-14-14 to DDR4-3733 16-16-16. We could have likely pushed the memory much higher, but since we are already tickling the 100GB/s memory read bandwidth mark, more is not really necessary.

Our dainty little Core i7-7740X proved its high frequency capabilities by hitting 5.2GHz with a relatively conservative 1.35V. The temperatures were still very manageable - somewhere in the low 70°C range - so 5.3 or 5.4GHz is certainly not outside the range of possibility for those willing to give it some additional voltage. The uncore/cache hit a wall at modest 4400MHz with 1.35VCCSA and 1.300VCCIO, but on the plus side we were able to push our memory kit all the way up to DDR4-4000, albeit with fairly loose timings.

Overall, overclocking on this motherboard was a problem-free experience. Even despite the monstrous power demands of our overclocked Core i9-7900X we never felt the need to baby the motherboard or give it any active cooling. We are now a full three months after launch day, so there's been ample UEFI updates and all the kinks appear to have been ironed out (Prime95 VRM load aside). Obviously, the automatic overclocking results speak for themselves, they are as high as you could possibly want on either of these processors...and even perhaps higher than you can reasonably cool in the case of the Skylake-X chip.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
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Messages
1,141
Location
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System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks


In the System and Gaming Benchmarks sections, we reveal the results from a number of benchmarks run with the Core i7-7740X and Core i9-7900X on STRIX X299-E Gaming motherboard. These tests were run at default clocks, with the best automatic overclock, and using our own manual overclock. This will illustrate how much performance can be achieved with this motherboard in stock and overclocked form. For a thorough comparison of the Core i7-7740K versus a number of different CPUs have a look at our "The Intel Kaby Lake-X i7-7740X Review" article.


SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP


When running the SuperPI 32MB benchmark, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. We are running one instance of SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP. This is therefore a single-thread workload.



wPRIME 2.10


wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum. This is a highly multi-threaded workload.



Cinebench R15


Cinebench R15 64-bit
Test1: CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


The latest benchmark from MAXON, Cinebench R15 makes use of all your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene using various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. This particular benchmarking can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The result is given in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.



WinRAR x64


WinRAR x64 5.40
Test: Built-in benchmark, processing 1000MB of data.
Comparison: Time to Finish

One of the most popular file archival and compression utilities, WinRAR's built-in benchmark is a great way of measuring a processor's compression and decompression performance. Since it is a memory bandwidth intensive workload it is also useful in evaluating the efficiency of a system's memory subsystem.





FAHBench


FAHBench 1.2.0
Test: OpenCL on CPU
Comparison: Generated Score

FAHBench is the official FAH benchmark that measures the compute performance of CPUs and GPUs. It can test both OpenCL and CUDA code, using either single or double precision, and implicit or explicit modeling. The single precision implicit model most closely relates to current folding performance.



Since Intel's OpenCL drivers don't yet support Skylake-X processors, we had to use AMD's APP SDK 3.0 tool, which had no such limitations.

HEVC Decode Benchmark v1.61


HEVC Decode Benchmark (Cobra) v1.61
Test: Frame rates at various resolution, focusing on the top quality 25Mbps bitrate results.
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

The HEVC Decode Benchmark measures a system's HEVC video decoding performance at various bitrates and resolutions. HEVC, also known as H.265, is the successor to the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding) standard and it is very computationally intensive if not hardware accelerated. This decode test is done entirely on the CPU.




LuxMark v3.1


Test: OpenCL CPU Mode benchmark of the LuxBall HDR scene.
Comparison: Generated Score

LuxMark is a OpenCL benchmarking tool that utilizes the LuxRender 3D rendering engine. Since it OpenCL based, this benchmark can be used to test OpenCL rendering performance on both CPUs and GPUs, and it can put a significant load on the system due to its highly parallelized code.



Once again, since Intel's OpenCL drivers don't yet support Skylake-X processors, we had to use AMD's APP SDK 3.0 tool, which had no such limitations.

PCMark 10


PCMark 10 is the latest iteration of Futuremark’s system benchmark franchise. It generates an overall score based upon system performance with all components being stressed in one way or another. The result is posted as a generalized score. In this case, we tested with both the standard Conventional benchmark and the Accelerated benchmark, which automatically chooses the optimal device on which to perform OpenCL acceleration.



AIDA64 Memory Benchmark

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a diagnostic and benchmarking software suite for home users that provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives.

The benchmarks used in this review are the memory bandwidth and latency benchmarks. Memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth. The code behind these benchmark methods are written in Assembly and they are extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x86/x64, x87, MMX, MMX+, 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, SSE4.1, AVX, and AVX2 instruction set extension.
The Memory Latency benchmark measures the typical delay when the CPU reads data from system memory. Memory latency time means the penalty measured from the issuing of the read command until the data arrives to the integer registers of the CPU.


 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,141
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks



Futuremark 3DMark (2013)


3DMark v1.1.0
Graphic Settings: Fire Strike Preset
Rendered Resolution: 1920x1080
Test: Specific Physics Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score


3DMark is the brand new cross-platform benchmark from the gurus over at Futuremark. Designed to test a full range of hardware from smartphones to high-end PCs, it includes three tests for DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 hardware, and allows users to compare 3DMark scores with other Windows, Android and iOS devices. Most important to us is the new Fire Strike preset, a DirectX 11 showcase that tests tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Like every new 3DMark version, this test is extremely GPU-bound, but it does contain a heavy physics test that can show off the potential of modern multi-core processors.




Futuremark 3DMark 11


3DMark 11 v1.0.5
Graphic Settings: Extreme Preset
Resolution: 1920x1080
Test: Specific Physics Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score


3DMark 11 is Futuremark's very latest benchmark, designed to tests all of the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. At the moment, it is lot more GPU-bound than past versions are now, but it does contain a terrific physics test which really taxes modern multi-core processors.




Futuremark 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage v1.1.2
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280x1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score

3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses DirectX 10 exclusively so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about this benchmark. Along with being a very capable graphics card testing application, it also has very heavily multi-threaded CPU tests, such Physics Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which makes it a good all-around gaming benchmark.




Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark


Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark
Resolution: 1920x1080
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Anisotropic Filtering: 8X
Graphic Settings: High

Comparison: Particle Performance Metric

Originally intended to demonstrate new processing effects added to Half Life 2: Episode 2 and future projects, the particle benchmark condenses what can be found throughout HL2:EP2 and combines it all into one small but deadly package. This test does not symbolize the performance scale for just Episode Two exclusively, but also for many other games and applications that utilize multi-core processing and particle effects. This benchmark might be a little old, but is still very highly-threaded and thus will keep scaling nicely as processors gain more and more threads. As you will see the benchmark does not score in FPS but rather in its own "Particle Performance Metric", which is useful for direct CPU comparisons.




X3: Terran Conflict


X3: Terran Conflict 1.2.0.0
Resolution: 1920x1080
Texture & Shader Quality: High
Antialiasing 4X
Anisotropic Mode: 8X
Glow Enabled

Game Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

X3: Terran Conflict (X3TC) is the culmination of the X-series of space trading and combat simulator computer games from German developer Egosoft. With its vast space worlds, intricately detailed ships, and excellent effects, it remains a great test of modern CPU performance. While the X3 Reality engine is single-threaded, it provides us with an interesting look at performance in an old school game environment.




Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Benchmark


Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward
Resolution: 1920x1080
Texture & Shader Quality: Maximum IQ
DirectX 11
Fullscreen

Game Benchmark
Comparison: Generated Score

Square Enix released this benchmarking tool to rate how your system will perform in Heavensward, the expansion to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. This official benchmark software uses actual maps and playable characters to benchmark gaming performance and assign a score to your PC.





Grand Theft Auto V


DirectX Version: DirectX 11
Resolution: 1920x1080
FXAA: On
MSAA: X4
NVIDIA TXAA: Off
Anisotropic Filtering: X16
All advanced graphics settings off.

In GTA V, we utilize the handy in-game benchmarking tool. We do ten full runs of the benchmark and average the results of pass 3 since they are the least erratic. We do additional runs if some of the results are clearly anomalous. The Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE) is ostensibly multi-threaded, but it definitely places the bulk of the CPU load on only one or two threads.





Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor


Resolution: 1920x1080
Graphical Quality: Custom
Mesh/Shadow/Texture Filtering/Vegetation Range: Ultra
Lighting/Texture Quality/Ambient Occlusion: High
Depth of Field/Order Independent Transparency/Tessellation: Enabled

With its high resolution textures and several other visual tweaks, Shadow of Mordor’s open world is also one of the most detailed around. This means it puts massive load on graphics cards and should help point towards which GPUs will excel at next generation titles. We do three full runs of the benchmark and average the results.


 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,141
Location
Montreal
Voltage Regulation / Power Consumption

Voltage Regulation

Although the X299-E Gaming is part of the ROG lineup, it is still a STRIX variant, so we aren't surprised that this model does not have any onboard voltage measurement points. It is still regrettable since that is our preferred method of accurately measuring the various system voltages. As a result, in this abbreviated overview, we utilized the AIDA64 System Stability Test to put a very substantial load on the system while also monitoring the stability of the all-important CPU Vcore line. This was achieved with a 60+ minute stress test, and in order to increase the strain on the motherboard's voltage regulation components we overclocked our Core i7-7700K to 4.6Ghz at 1.25V (in the BIOS).



For whatever reason, the Vcore is being reported as the CPU VID on this platform at the moment. We verified this in AIDA64, HWMonitor_x64, HWiNFO64, and Intel XTU. Nevertheless, as you can see the Vcore is absolutely straight as can be. We did not touch the Load-Line Calibration (LLC) settings, everything aside from the CPU multiplier and the Vcore were at default settings. It is quite possible that ASUS are simply enabling automatically whenever the CPU is overclocked. Either way, clearly the VRM had no issue supplying our power hungry Core i9-7900X.

Power Consumption

For this section, every energy saving feature was enabled in the BIOS and the Windows power plan was changed from High Performance to Balanced. For our idle test, we let the system idle for 15 minutes and measured the peak wattage through our UPM EM100 power meter. For our CPU load test, we ran Prime 95 In-place large FFTs on all available threads, measuring the peak wattage via the UPM EM100 power meter. For our overall system load test, we ran Prime 95 on all available threads while simultaneously loading the GPU with 3DMark Vantage - Test 6 Perlin Noise.


Since this is the first LGA2066 motherboard that we have reviewed we have nothing to directly compare these numbers with. However, they are well inline with our expectations given what we have been seeing elsewhere. The Skylake-X results might seem unbelievably high - even at default settings - but that is because the latest version of Prime95 supports AVX and it causes the i9-7900X's power demands to skyrocket. On the other side of the spectrum, the i7-7740X power consumption numbers were roughly equivalent to those of our i7-7700K on an ASUS Maximus IX Hero.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,141
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


Generally speaking, the first motherboard that we review when a new platform is launched can often be fraught with difficulties. Thankfully, since it has been a few months since the launch of this platform most if not all of the early kinks have been worked out. Because of this we can report that our extended time with the ASUS STRIX X299-E GAMING has been overwhelmingly positive.

Frankly, the only annoyance we encountered was that when pushing things too far when overclocking - be it core clock, cache frequency, or memory speeds - the motherboard wouldn't auto-recover. And since there is no Clear CMOS button on this motherboard we got intimately acquainted with the location of the old school Clear CMOS jumper. While ASUS has included a power-on button, at this price point there's no reason not to have a reset and Clear CMOS button too.

The second little niggle is that while RGB LED lighting is not everyone's cup of tea, if you're going to add it to a motherboard might as well do it as well as possible. Considering the fact that the Rampage VI Extreme looks like a rainbow explosion by comparison, we think that a little extra lighting should have been added to the X299-E. Something as simple as LEDs under the PCH heatsink or LEDs near the audio PCB isolation line would have balanced out the look, which right now is concentrated to the top-half of the motherboard. Frankly though, considering the fact that this model has three RGB LED headers, this is one area that users can fix themselves if they so choose.


When the LGA2066 platform was first unveiled by Intel it was immediately apparent that the fact that X299 motherboards have to support processors with three different amounts of PCI-E lanes - 44, 28, 16 - would cause a huge headache for motherboard manufacturers. How do you create a motherboard that doesn't lose half of its features when you install a 16-lane Kaby Lake-X processor. Some manufacturers have succeeded at this delicate balancing act, others not so much. Thankfully, ASUS has done it right. It doesn't matter if you install a 44-lane Core i9-7900X or a 16-lane Core i7-7740X, all three PCI-E x16 slots are going to remain functional in some way ranging from x16/x16/x8 to x8/x8/x1. The reason this is so impressive is that there's a few X299 motherboards that won't even allow x8/x8 when a Kaby Lake-X processor is installed, which makes them worse than any Z270 LGA1151 motherboard.

Aside from the aforementioned failure to auto-recover, overclocking on this motherboard was quite fun. We were particularly impressed with ASUS' inclusion of per-core voltage adjustments. Having said that, there are certain facts to consider when it comes to overclocking on this platform. These new Core i9 processors can be unprecedented little nuclear reactors when overclocked and overvolted. Specifically, running Prime 95 with AVX extensions can cause power demands to skyrocket to such an extent that the MOSFETs reach their thermal limit and start to throttle. This is an issue that affects every single X299 motherboard on the market right now since Intel didn't adequately warn motherboard manufacturers that Skylake-X could potentially draw enough power to sustain a small village in the dead of winter. Thankfully, the VRM on the STRIX X299-E can handle the load, it just gets a little too toasty in that one scenario. As a result, all motherboard manufacturers are going to have to start outfitting their HEDT motherboards with much better MOSFET heatsinks. Regarding this latter point, we are happy to report that ASUS have actually taken action and they have created a successor to the X299-E with upgraded VRM cooler and an optional but bundled fan, the X299-XE. Everything that we have said about the -E model applies to the -XE since they are otherwise identical.

Once you accept the heat output realities, overclocking Skylake-X gets a little less scary if you've got top-notch CPU cooling. When it comes to actual results, the automatic overclocking feature pushed our i9-7900X to between 4.4GHz and 4.6GHz depending on workload, bumped the cache frequency up by a healthy 300MHz, and it also managed to apply our memory kit's DDR4-3200 XMP profile. Our Core i7-7740X was automatically overclocked to 5.0GHz, and although there was no cache overclock, it did once again apply our memory kit's XMP profile. Both of these are excellent results, providing significant performance gains without unduly increasing power consumption. We aren't going to restate our manual overclocking results - you can check them out yourself - but we were satisfied in every respect.

Another great part of the STRIX X299-E is the onboard SupremeFX audio solution, which not only achieved the second best numbers that we have ever recorded (behind only the STRIX Z270I), but also has headphone amplifiers for both the front and rear outputs. The associated Sonic Radar and Sonic Studio utilities are also genuinely useful, but you do have to be willing to spend some time tinkering with the vast settings.

Frankly, the only thing that gives us pause when it comes to recommending the excellent STRIX X299-E is the existence of the STRIX X299-XE. While the newer model might for retail for about $20 more, it might be worth it if the upgraded VRM cooling really improves MOSFET temperatures. Is it worth the price premium? That's up to you, and it depends on what Core i9 processor you're planning to use and whether you're planning on overclocking. Overall though, the ASUS ROG STRIX X299-E brings a lot to the tablet, and we very much enjoyed our time with it.

 
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