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ASUS X99 Deluxe LGA2011-v3 Motherboard Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Despite being on the market for going on 3 years now the X79 LGA2011 platform was still a powerhouse in most respects, but it was starting to feel a little antiquated when compared directly to the newer Z97 LGA1150 platform and its next generation capabilities. With only two native SATA 6GB/s ports, no native USB 3.0, and not a hint of M.2 or SATA Express support, the flagship platform wasn't looking so grand anymore. Enter the brand new X99 LGA2011-v3 platform led by the monster Core i7-5960X and two wallet-friendly K parts. Not only does the X99 chipset have all the features of its mainstream cousin, but it has more of them, much more!

The ASUS X99 Deluxe motherboard that we are reviewing today is by far the most feature-rich model in the company's LGA2011-v3 lineup. It might sound cliché but this is definitely one of those Swiss Army Knife models that makes you question how they shoehorned so much functionality into one motherboard. With a retail price of about $400USD/$420CAD, the X99-Deluxe is very high-end motherboard that caters to the “I want it all” crowd, and as you will see it really does not disappoint.

With five physical PCI-E x16 slots, 3-way CrossFire and 3-way SLI capabilities, one PCI-E x4 slot, two M.2 x4 connectors, two SATA Express ports, eight SATA 6Gb/s port (plus the four on the SATAe ports), ten USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0/3.0 headers, two Intel-powered Gigabit LAN ports, Thunderbolt 2.0 header, a dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi module with Bluetooth v4.0, a fan extension card with an included thermal probe, Realtek's latest ten-channel HD audio controller with DTS Connect, diagnostic LEDs, a bunch of onboard buttons and switches, and…well, you get the idea.

DDR4 memory wise - which is a cornerstone of this new platform - the Deluxe can handle up to 64GB of RAM and been certified for memory speeds up to DDR4-3200. As you will see in our overclocking section, that frequency is very much within reach if you have a capable memory kit. When it comes to overclocking the processor, there are a number of excellent automatic overclocking options to choose from, and ASUS have even developed a proprietary OC Socket that supposedly improves Haswell-E overclocking and voltage regulation too.

Now features and specs are great, but they are kind of pointless if the motherboard is unstable, overclocks poorly, and has a wonky software package. Therefore, we are here to find out if ASUS have managed to deliver a truly complete high-end package with the X99-Deluxe.

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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Specifications & Features

Specifications & Features



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Before we get up-close and personal with the new X99 Deluxe through pictures, testing, and analysis, let’s take a look at this motherboard's specifications as per ASUS's website.



As mentioned in the introduction, this motherboard has quite a few noteworthy features, and we will be examining some of them in-depth in the coming pages, especially the excellent automatic overclocking functionality and a close look at the audio and storage sub-systems.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
The X99 Platform; Enthusiasts Rejoice

The X99 Platform; Enthusiasts Rejoice


One of the main critiques leveled at Intel’s X79 was its similarity to the old-as-the-hills X58. As a matter of fact, from a specifications standpoint, that’s exactly what it was: an X58 chipset with a new coat of paint in the form of PCI-E 3.0 support. Since it didn’t feature current technologies like native USB 3.0 and only had two SATA 6Gbps ports, motherboards required third party controllers to attain those functions, and support wasn’t the greatest especially for key features like RAID and high speed USB throughput. That caused a serious problem for a so-called enthusiast platform when Intel’s own Z87 incorporated those elements into boards that often cost hundreds less than their X79 cousins.

X99 changes this equation in a big way towards compatibility that many thought should have been incorporated into X79 in the first place. Nonetheless, we are now (finally!) going to see native support for USB 3.0, SATA Express, and Thunderbolt 2 on Intel’s enthusiast motherboards.

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Starting with the most obvious thing first: X99 chipsets will still use the LGA2011 socket but it has been updated for Haswell-E compatibility. This not only means new microcode but also support for the processors’ fine grain power distribution needs and higher current capability. In short, older LGA2011 boards will not be forwards compatible with these new processors, nor will this so-called LGA2011-v3 socket be backwards compatible with Ivy Bridge-E CPUs.

The X99 platform is of course headlined by the Haswell-E CPU which provides up to 40 PCI-E 3.0 lanes (the i7-5820K will only come with 28 lanes enabled) which can be distributed via up to three integrated slots. This means a x16 / x16 / x8 setup is possible as is a 5x8 setup via third party controllers should motherboard vendors decide to go that route. The processor also houses the quad channel DDR4 memory controller.

As with all Intel platforms, the PCH is where all the I/O fun happens and it is connected to the processor via a x4 DMI interface providing up to 4GB/s of aggregate upstream / downstream bandwidth. In this case the X99 supports up to 14 USB ports spread across six USB 3.0 and 8 USB 2.0 along with ten native SATA 6Gbps ports. Through the use of Intel’s refreshed architecture these can be paired with additional PCIe 2.0 lanes for SATA Express or 4x M.2 compatibility without needing to resort to a so-called “FlexIO” interface. Naturally, those lanes can also be used for additional controllers as well which typically provide Bluetooth, secondary LAN and WiFi features.

Past the obvious continuity of an integrated Intel LAN, all of the SATA 6Gbps ports are backstopped by Intel’s RST 13.1 infrastructure should a motherboard vendor choose to include it (most will be). Extreme Tuning Utility compatibility is also a requirement here whereas on Z97 it’s considered an optional feature.

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Since this is considered Intel’s high end platform, motherboard manufacturers are pulling out all the stops when it comes to board design. Take the ASUS X99-Deluxe for example; it features a laundry list of must-have features for enthusiasts. It has 3-way SLI / Crossfire, two SATA Express ports, an add-in Thunderbolt II card, a x4 M.2 storage slot, a high end sound solution with Nichicon Muse caps, integrated AC wireless support and the list goes on.

X99 boards are supposed to be the best around and the Deluxe’s $399 price reflects exactly that. However, when the cost of DDR4 memory is also factored into the equation, upgrading to Haswell-E may be rewarding but it won’t be an inexpensive proposition.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Packaging & Accessories

Packaging & Accessories



Now that we have gone over the X99-Deluxe's features and specifications, it is time to examine the new packaging and then crack open the box to take a look at the numerous bundled accessories. Let's check it out:

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This motherboard's packaging definitely shares its design with that of the ASUS Z97-A, which is obviously not a surprise since they are both Intel 9-series motherboards. The front of the box is adorned with the usual array of logos, and comes with a side flap and a window revealing the motherboard in all its glory. The back of the box is plain by comparison, listing the specifications and highlighting a few of this product's unique features.

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Once you remove the outside packaging, you are greeted with an inner box that contains two separate sections, the top half holds the motherboard in an anti-static bag and the bottom half contains the accessories, software and documentation, as you will see below.


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As you would hope from a high-end motherboard, the Deluxe has an undeniably impressive accessories bundle. For starters, ASUS have included a user guide, installation guide, exclusive features booklet, drivers/utilities DVD, and a cool sticker.


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The accessories bundle comes with eight SATA 6Gb/s cables, two Q-Connectors, a 3-way SLI connector, and the stainless steel ASUS Q-Shield rear I/O cover that features corrosion-resistant coating.


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The Fan Extension Card allows you to add three extra fans, and each can independently controlled from within the BIOS or the Ai Suite utility. There are also headers for three thermals probes, with one thermistor cable included.


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The M.2 bracket is used to physically support any M.2 solid state drive that you might install in the vertical M.2 x4 slot next to the memory slots. The HYPER M.2 x4 expansion card is an awesome bundled accessory that allows you to install a second M.2 SSD in any of the PCI-E slots. For overall system performance - especially if you're running multiple graphics cards - you don't want to install this card when using a CPU that only has 28 PCI-Express lanes, like the Core i7-5820K.


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This antenna works in conjunction with the ASUS Wi-Fi GO! module that supports dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth v4.0. This is a 3T3R antenna which means that it has 3 transmitter (T) and 3 receiver (R) antennas, and thus should have excellent wireless signal sensitivity and transmission range.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the X99 Deluxe

A Closer Look at the X99 Deluxe



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As we mentioned in the intro, the X99-Deluxe really is one of the more futuristic-looking motherboards that we have ever come across, mostly due to the sleek white plastic shround, accompanying white trim piece on the MOSFET/PCH heatsinks, and cool lighting effects. It looks great, and it might give owners an incentive to seek out some of the many white components (case, fans, memory kits, power supplies, etc) that are available nowadays.

Although the CPU socket area is a little claustrophobic - which we will address below - the rest of motherboard is beautifully laid out. Even the quirky bits like the vertically oriented M.2 slot are great solutions to an ancient problem, ie: lack of free PCB space. Despite being packed to the hilt with features, ports and slots, the X99-Deluxe is based on the ATX form factor (30.5 cm x 24.4 cm / 12.0-in x 9.6-in), so there shouldn't be any issues when it comes to installing it into most standard cases.


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The centerpiece of this area is obviously the new LGA2011-3 CPU socket. This third revision of the LGA2011 socket was needed to support the Haswell-E processors. However, what you are seeing here is not a standard LGA2011-3 socket. Instead this is a custom socket designed and implemented exclusively by ASUS. Dubbed the "OC Socket", it features 6 additional pins that supposedly help bypass the FIVR (Fully Integrated Voltage Regulator) that is found in every Haswell processor and as a result offers superior CPU and DDR4 overclocking. It is difficult to actually these test claims, but we shall see once we compare this motherboard to some X99 models from other manufacturers.

Since it is caught between the memory slots and the various heatsinks, the CPU socket area is a little more cramped than we are used to seeing. Having said that, we don't envision any compatibility problems with any of the air or liquid CPU coolers on the market right now. Also, since the MOSFET and the "northbridge" heatsinks are fairly low profile, clearance is not an issue there either. Though you will have to check out our Installation section for more information.

This Deluxe model comes with a digital 8-phase CPU power design, Dr.MOS IOR 3550M MOSFETs, unique 60A Ferrite Chokes, and 5K-hour solid capacitors, all of which are part of the latest DIGI+ power design. Now we really don't mind that this $400 motherboard has an 8-phase CPU VRM, since the number of phases doesn't mean much as long as the individual components are rated for the job, but we do wish ASUS went with 10K-hour capacitors. The VRM components should be nothing but the best at this price point.


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Once we remove the white plastic shroud and expose the bare motherboard, we get a slightly better look at the secondary MOSFET heatsink...which doesn't actually have MOSFETs under it, just controllers related to the rear I/O panel outputs.


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Due to the quad-channel memory architecture of this flagship platform, this motherboard features eight DDR4 memory slots, which are fed by a 4-phase power design. ASUS have validated the Deluxe for memory frequencies up to DDR4-3200 and up to 64GB of system memory. ASUS have also implemented enhanced DRAM overcurrent protection (OCP) and short circuit damage prevention, so you will be able to push those pricey new DDR4 modules as hard as you want without worrying that the memory slots will let you down.

The MemOk! button initiates a memory compatibility tuning process if there are memory issues preventing a system from booting up. Like on all ASUS motherboards, this model features the handy Q-DIMM memory slots, which prevent any clearance issues that can arise between conventional memory clips and the back of any nearby expansion card. As always, the 24-pin ATX power connector is in its usual spot.


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One of the main benefits of this motherboard is that it supports the M.2 NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor) interface in all of its PCI-E 3.0 x4 glory - since it's getting that bandwidth straight from the processor instead of the X99 chipset - which means a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 32Gbps (4GB/s). This Deluxe model features a "standing" vertical M.2 connector as well as the unique Hyper M.2 x4 PCI-E adapter. When you combine these two M.2 slot with the two SATA Express, it's clear that is a motherboard that was designed with a focus on high speed storage.

These two solitary looking SATA 6Gb/s ports are supplied by the X99 chipset, and they are located way up high simply because ASUS couldn't shoehorn them between the other SATA ports and the required mounting hole.


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This little heatsink - that is located in the old school northbridge position - is really more of an aesthetic touch, since there is not much under it aside from the four ASMedia ASM1480 PCI-E switches that split the processor's PCI-E lanes for the five mechanical PCI-E x16 slots.


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As you would expect, the new white PCH cooler features a design that closely matches the white shroud that adorns the left side of the motherboard. It's your standard low profile heatsink with shallow airflow channels, but it does feature a dedicated heatpipe that runs to the small heatsink located in the middle of the board. The X99 chipset itself was covered with a good amount of thermal material, and as you will see in our Temperatures section this chipset run very cool. Under the aforementioned PCH cooler, you will find an ASMedia ASM106SE controller that is responsible for the secondary SATA Express port. There are a few of the little ASM1467 redrivers under there too, they help minimize signal degradation and improve signal performance for the high speed storages interfaces.

The upper SATA Express is supplied by the X99 chipset, while the bottom one is courtesy of the aforementioned ASMedia controller. The four black and two grey SATA ports are all supplied by the Intel chipset, as are the two other SATA 6Gb/s ports that we examined previously As a result, they all support RAID 0/1/5/10 and Intel Rapid Storage Technology.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the X99 Deluxe pt.2

A Closer Look at the X99 Deluxe pt.2



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The lower half of this motherboard is replete with switches, buttons, and headers of every possible type and function. Starting to the bottom left, there are the two internal USB 3.0 headers, followed by two USB 2.0 headers, and the front panel header which works in conjunction with the supplied two user-friendly Q-Panel connectors. Right above the front panel header - but below the ThunderBolt header - are CPU overvoltage jumper and the DirectKey connector. The four switches serve a few functions, such as selecting between the two TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) stages, enabling/disabling EPU (Energy Processing Unit), engaging your memory kit's XMP profile, or just selecting between 2-way or 3-way CrossFire/SLI.

On the next image - again starting from left to right - is front panel audio header, the power button, reset button, Q-Code LED display, Clear CMOS button, and TPM (Trusted Platform Module) header.


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The X99 Deluxe features five mechanical PCI-E x16 slots, and it makes full use of the enhanced PCI-Express capabilities of the Haswell-E processors. When you combine the 40 PCI-E lanes of the Core i7-5960X or i7-5930K with some clever ASMedia PCI-E switches, the possibilities are impressive. Obviously, in a simple dual graphics card configuration, you will get full speed x16/x16 PCI-E 3.0 transfer rates. When three graphics cards are installed, the first and second card will run at x16 2.0, while the thirds operates at x8 2.0 (x16/x16/x8). Now although this motherboard "only" supports up to 3-way SLI and 3-way CrossFireX it is capable of running at x8/x8/x16/x8 and x8/x8/x8/x8/x8. That is five PCI-E slots running at PCI-E 2.0 x8, pretty darn impressive. The lone PCI-E 2.0 x4 slot - courtesy of the ASMedia ASM1187e PCI-E 2.0 switch - features an open-ended design permitting the use of expansion cards that feature longer x8 or x16 PCI-E interfaces.

As we have seen on many recent ASUS motherboard, this model features a socketed BIOS chip, which is a worthwhile addition since ASUS can simply ship you a new BIOS chip for easy replacement should an update go terribly wrong.


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At the heart of the Deluxe's onboard audio solution is the familiar Realtek ALC1150, which is the company's most modern and capable ten-channel HD audio CODEC. Next to the bank of Nichicon solid polymer capacitors is where you will find a Texas Instruments R4580 headphone amplifier, which has enough to grunt to power 300 ohm cans. Although not pictured here, the white shroud that we removed to take these pictures actually has a piece of foil that is serves as an electromagnetic interference (EMI) shield covering the Realtek CODEC. Likewise, the PCB isolation line surrounds the audio section of the PCB and protects it from the rest of the system. 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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The large Nuvoton NCT6791D chip monitors several important parameters such as power supply voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures, and as such it plays a key role in the functionality of the Ai Suite III utility. The two ASMedia ASM1074's are four-way USB 3.0 hub controllers connected directly to the X99 PCH, while the ASM1042AE is a host controller that adds two USB 3.0 ports to the rear panel. As you will see below, the I211-AT is one of two high-quality Intel GbE LAN controllers.


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Needless to say the X99 Deluxe's impressive connectivity extends to its rear I/O panel. Starting from left to right, we have the USB BIOS Flashback button, a widely compatible Intel I218V-powered Gigabit LAN port, a standard Intel I211-AT-powered Gigabyte LAN port, ten USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, the Wi-Fi GO! module with its three antenna connections, and the six audio jacks which include an S/PDIF output. These rear I/O ports feature enhanced ESD protection in the form of ASUS ESD Guards, so you don't have to worry about blowing them...not that it would really matter since there's redundancy for each kind.

The aforementioned ASUS Wi-Fi GO! module is a dual-band 2.4/5GHz part that supports the 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standards, as well as Bluetooth v4.0. It is capable of Wi-Fi transfer speeds of up to 1300Mb/s with the right 802.11ac router. As described in the accessories section, it comes with a very capable 3T3R antenna should have excellent wireless signal sensitivity and transmission range. We haven't yet made the leap to the 802.11ac standard, but our 802.11n connection was rock-solid at 600Mb/s.


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Although it's not problematic in the least, this motherboard has one of the busiest backside's that we've seen in quite a while. As you might be able to see, there are over two dozen ICs to be found, from a ASMedia ASM1440 PCI-E switch to a Richland RT9059 voltage regulator, and various diodes and other discrete semiconductors.

The rear-mounted CPU VRM components are protected and cooled by their own backplate, which is always a nice touch on a motherboard that will likely see occasions of very high CPU power draw. All the heatsinks and the shroud are attached with metal screws, which is what we expect from a high-end motherboard like this one.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
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Location
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Hardware Installation

Hardware Installation



In the Hardware Installation section we examine how major components fit on the motherboard, and whether there are any serious issues that may affect installation and general functionality. Specifically, we are interested in determining whether there is adequate clearance in all critical areas.

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When installed in the East-West or North-South orientation, our Prolimatech Mega Shadow had no issues physically clearing the "northbridge" or MOSFET heatsinks. Despite the fact that the CPU socket area is a little cramped, we don't foresee any obstacles with even the largest of coolers, but those who need to insulate the motherboard for LN2 use might have some work cut out for them.


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In the traditional North-South orientation, we surprisingly did not have any show stopping clearance issues when it came to the memory modules. Our cooler's fan clips did make contact with the nearest memory module, but it did not prevent installation or removal of the RAM. Those using a heatsink that is wider than 122mm or memory modules that are taller than 40mm will want to be careful, assuming a similar fan clip setup.

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Although there isn't a huge gap between the back of the graphics card and the memory slots, it really doesn't matter with the clip-less Q-DIMM memory slots that ASUS uses on most of their models. The 24-pin ATX power connector and the 8-pin CPU power connector are both ideally placed, so that makes assembling and disassembling the system just a tad easier.


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The M.2 bracket for the vertical M.2 slot is easy to install with two metal screws, and it really doesn't interfere with any other part of the installation process. It might look weird, but it is an ingenious solution for increasing the number of M.2 devices that can fit on a motherboard.


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This board will hold two or three dual-slot graphics cards without issue. The cards overhang the motherboard, but the edge-mounted SATA connectors and various headers are still easily accessible. As on all motherboard, if you install a dual-slot expansion card in the bottom PCI-E x16 slot it will block the headers at the very bottom of the motherboards and make access to the various buttons difficult if not impossible.


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The six right-angle SATA ports are obviously accessible no matter how many graphics cards are installed, as are the two SATA Express port (and their four SATA ports).


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Nothing too complicated here, you just need to push and screw the antenna leads into their respective Wi-Fi ports.

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Like on all LGA2011 motherboards past and present, this model comes with its own CPU backplate, so there is really nothing to worry about back there.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Montreal
BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown



As you would expect, a new generation of motherboards brings forth a new UEFI bios. Although fundamentally similar to past versions, this new bios has been aesthetically revamped, reorganized, and bolstered with a bunch of new user-friendly features. Furthermore, and perhaps most impressively, this is a very smooth and responsive UEFI BIOS, noticeably better than anything we've experienced in the past. It's not necessarily lightning fast, since there are some deliberate/intentional transition delays when switching between the various sections, but none of the lag and stuttering that we've put up with in most other UEFI BIOS. The UEFI BIOS is divided across two distinct modes. The EZ Mode is simplified and features a mouse-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) for basic tasks, while the Advanced Mode has all the settings, options, and features that you could ever want. From within the EZ Mode you can switch to the Advanced Mode by pressing F7, and vice-versa to get back to the EZ Mode.

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The EZ Mode makes pretty good use of the graphical user interface (GUI) and was designed to be used with a mouse. It obviously does not have all the functionality of the Advanced mode, but it is not meant to. It simply gives novice users an easy way to visualize and alter some of the most common settings. The Q-Fan Tuning feature can be found in both BIOS modes, but fundamentally it gives you full manual or preset-based control over the systems fans. The EZ Tuning Wizard is particularly interesting since it brings overclocking to an even simpler level. Basically, the wizard asks you how you generally use your system, what kind of CPU cooler you have installed, and based on your answer it comes up with an appropriate tuning level for your respective system. It worked perfect during our short time toying with it, and the fact that it never actually mentions "overclocking" should help alleviate some of the fears less knowledgeable users might associate with the word.

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The My Favorites tab is a fairly new addition to the bios. As you might have surmised, it allows you to have all your most useful or most used settings in one place, so you no longer have to search through the whole bios to find what you need time and time again.

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The next tab in the BIOS is the Main section, which displays the standard storage devices and some basic system information. This System Information section lists some rudimentary specification info, including the BIOS date & version, the type of processor and the amount of memory installed. You can also set the system language, and an administrator and/or individual User password.

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Next up is the Ai Tweaker section, which is where all the fun happens. Once the manual option is selected in the Ai Overclock Tuner setting, the BIOS opens up to reveal all of the essential system clock control options: CPU multiplier with an all-core and per-core option, BLCK frequency, CPU strap, memory frequency, memory timing options, and all the voltage options.

The OC Tuner feature allows novice users to automatically overclock their systems without having to mess around with clocks speeds, multipliers, and voltages. The are two options in this feature, a multiplier-only tuning mode or a multiplier and BCLK tuning mode. You can read more about this automatic overclocking feature in our Overclocking Results section.

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As its name suggests, the DRAM Timing Control section is where you will find all the memory-related settings. Within this section you can select and change all the memory settings, and each memory channel has its own section, from which you can alter the primary and secondary timings. It has just about every memory modifier that an enthusiast or overclocker would need to fine-tune their modules. There's really an overabundance of options and it is quite impressive.

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The DIGI+ Power Control section has a whole slew of advanced power regulation settings for the CPU cores, CPU VTT and VCCSA (system agent/memory controller), and DRAM channels. This motherboard is setup well enough so that you should never actually have to tweak any of these settings though, unless you are really pushing the limits with phase-change or LN2 cooling. The exception to this is obviously Load-Line Calibration (LLC), which is a worthwhile feature that eliminates droopage on the CPU vCORE, and which we will take a closer look at in our Voltage Regulation section.

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The Internal CPU Power Management section is where you can enable or disable all the CPU-specific features like SpeedStep and Turbo Mode, as well as setting the Turbo limits. ASUS have really bolstered this section with an overwhelming array of CPU power tuning settings.

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Occupying the middle to bottom section of the Ai Tweaker are the prodigious voltage options. As you would expect, all the key system voltages are present and accounted for, as far as bunch of other voltage options that we have frankly never even seen before. For some of the key voltages like the CPU Core voltage and the CPU Cache voltage, ASUS have allowed four separate entry modes. The Auto and Manual modes are self-evident, the Offset Mode allows you to specify how much higher (or lower) the voltage should be in reference to stock level, so something like +0.10V or +0.15V. The Adaptive Mode allows you to set both a base voltage and higher Turbo Mode voltage that is enabled under heavy system loads. This helps minimize the amount of voltage running through an overclocked processor when it's not under load.

Usually we would now say that we wish there were more drop-down menus in this section. Although you can manually type in whatever you want, but that is not particularly useful when you don't know or don’t remember what the default voltages are. Thankfully, like on the Z97 models, ASUS have thought about this, and they have included real-time voltage readouts next to all the key system voltages.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
BIOS Rundown pt.2

BIOS Rundown pt.2



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The Advanced tab is where you can enable or disable all the CPU-specific features like the Thermal Monitor, Hyper-Threading, Virtualization, Enhanced SpeedStep, Turbo Mode, C-States, etc.

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The Advanced Tab is also where you can enable/disable or just find all the various settings and options for all the onboard devices like the audio, LAN, USB 3.0, SATA ports, etc.

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The Monitor section is dedicated to the monitoring of the various voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds. This whole section is really quite impressive, it has all the essential temperature and voltage readouts, as well as truly excellent and comprehensive fan control functionality named Q-Fan Tuning.

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The Boot tab is essentially where you set storage device priority, select the boot drive, enable/disable the full screen logo, and ton of other boot settings that can help with the installation or troubleshooting of various OS installations.

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ASUS EZ Flash 2 is a built-in utility that greatly simplifies the BIOS updating process. You can easily update your BIOS from a ROM file located on your hard drive(s) or USB flash drive(s). It's quick, painless, and it takes the worry out of BIOS flashing.

The ASUS Overclocking Profile feature gives users the option to save and switch between BIOS profiles, for example an everyday profile and a benchmarking profile. Not only is this infinitely quicker than manually inserting every setting, but the profiles can be saved and shared among other X99 Deluxe owners.

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Before you save your settings and exit the BIOS, there is a handy window that lists the changes you made during this session. It's a well thought out and implemented idea. The new General Help pop-up that you can find in the top-right corner is very handy for those who can't remember all the new function key tasks.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Included Software

Included Software


Ai Suite III

The foremost utility in ASUS' vast software suite is the aptly named Ai Suite III. Whereas ASUS used to have a handful of standalone apps for different functions, many were consolidated under the Ai Suite moniker back in 2011. This system management utility is the hub from which you can monitor system clock speeds, voltages, temperatures, and fan rotation but more importantly it allows users to do both automatic and manual overclocking from within Windows. Although it's basic UI has been established for a while, ASUS constantly adds to the capabilities to this utility, so let's check it out.

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The 5-Way Optimization tab is where you will find the 5-Way Optimization automatic overclocking feature. You will also see very simplified information relating to the other five tabs, such as the Energy Processing Unit (EPU) power saving or performance profiles, Fan Xpert 3 fan speed optimization status, DIGI+ VRM optimization, awesome new Turbo App functionality, and some display-only information regarding TurboV Processing Unit (TPU).

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In the top-right corner of the Ai Suite utility is a downwards arrow that activates a dropdown screen when clicked. Here you will be features like Ai Charger+ and USB 3.0 Boost. When enabled, Ai Charger+ allows up to 3X faster charging of devices connected to USB ports, while enabling USB 3.0 implements the UAS Protocol (UASP) USB protocol that greatly enhances speeds while also lowering CPU utilization. The EZ Update tool allows users to update their motherboard's BIOS either directly from the internet or from a downloaded file. Ai Charger+ allows users to supercharge their USB ports, and enable up to 3 times faster charging of mobile devices.

System Information just contains a bunch of basic system information regarding your CPU, motherboard or RAM. You can also find you can find your serial number, BIOS version, etc. BIOS Flashback allows you to copy the content of BIOS1 to BIOS2, as well as force the use of BIOS1 or BIOS2.

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At the bottom is a static strip that displays live information on CPU and DRAM frequency, real-time voltage and temperatures measurements, as well as CPU and case fans speeds. You can also set safe thresholds for voltages, temperatures and fan speeds as well as setting alerts to warn you of any serious fluctuations. It is essentially a replacement for the Probe II utility.

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Clicking on the 5-Way Optimization button reveals the coolest part of the whole Dual Intelligent Processors 5 utility. There is a certain level of fan optimization functionality in this section, but what's really interesting is the automatic overclocking feature. You will have the option of 2 different overclocking levels and 2 different ways of achieving that overclock, depending on whether you have an unlocked processor or not. We don't want to reveal too much here, so go check out the Overclocking Results section to see how well this auto-overclocking feature worked.

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The TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) tab is where you can manually adjust the BCLK frequency or CPU strap (100/125/166/250MHz). You will also be able to change the CPU multiplier, either per core or as a group. There are also an impressive eight adjustable system voltages. You can adjust all these settings on-the-fly without having to reboot the system, except for the CPU strap since it does cause such a dramatic increase in all system frequencies.


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The EPU (Energy Processing Unit) tab is you will be able to fine-tune the various selection of power saving or performance profiles. This is a versatile feature for those who truly care about maximizing energy savings.


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The DIGI+ Power Control tab is where you will find the power options for the CPU, System Agent/Memory Controller, and RAM. There are adjustable settings for load-line calibration, current capability, voltage frequency, and phase control. There are different power controls for each memory channel since they are independently powered.

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The Fan Xpert 3 tab is, as you might expect, where you can fully manage and optimize your CPU and system fans. While there are now a series of four fan presets (Silent/Standard/Turbo/Full Speed), you can also manually adjust the full fan speed curve to your preferences, or simply use the fully automated Fan Tuning feature.

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The Turbo App section allows you set custom system configurations for any applications that you want. For example, if you know that your processor can withstand a higher clock speed in a lightly threaded application, you can see this utility to automatically adjust your system overclock every time you open that app, as well as tweak network priority and audio settings.
 
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