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ASUS X99 Sabertooth Motherboard Review

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Manual Overclocking Results

Manual Overclocking Results


Let's preface things by stating with absolute certainty that if you are a novice to overclocking Intel's socket 2011-v3 is probably not the best place to start. It may not be nearly as difficult as the 'good old days' of overclocking when increasing clock speeds involved a ton of guesswork but these larger CPUs with physically more cores, and more finicky unCore can, and will suck all the fun out of overclocking if you are not careful. They will crash,l hard lock and generally act up if you let them. Put concisely, expect a certain amount of frustration as these systems do not have an 'easy mode' when it comes to manual overclocking. Conversely, fine-tuning a monster combination like the Sabertooth X99, 5930K and DDR4-3000 RAM is extremely rewarding. Not only will you get near instantaneous feedback, the end results are simply grin inducing.

Now with all that said ASUS are fully aware of the inherent limitations of socket 2011-v3 systems and have spent an inordinate amount of time and effort making things as easy as possible. For most consumers the Auto Tune BIOS overclocking will result in more than enough performance and spending the extra time in the BIOS may not even be worth your while. This is not because the BIOS is terrible -the opposite in fact is true-, rather it is simply a case of the built in overclocking tuner being so good.

If you do however venture into the wonderful and rewarding world of manual overclocking, ASUS and their Sabertooth X99 motherboard are not only willing to be your wingman, but are ready to be your teacher as well. For extreme novices, the built-in default overclocking configurations will net you excellent results and show you the basics. Once you have a handle on how things work on these enthusiast grade systems you can then dig in with near abandon. Every feature you need and want is listed in the BIOS in a fairly straightforward and intuitive manner. This combined with basic help blurbs that show up on the right side of the screen for each and every setting will make things as close to 'easy mode' as you are going to find this side of certain socket 1150 systems.

Your system will still crash, your overclocks will still fail but this motherboard will bounce back instantly from your mistakes without even corrupting the BIOS. If by some amazing twist of chance you do manage to mess things up so badly that the BIOS becomes corrupted the Sabertooth will still take it in stride and ask you to revert from USB backup via the USB FlashBack feature (just remember to name the unzipped BIOS file "X99ST.cap" on the fat16/32 flash drive). This will be very reassuring if you are a novice, as you will know that you are free to experiment and that nearly any problem can be solved within seconds. That to us is what a good overclocking board is all about: freedom to experiment, and freedom from fear of failure.

Overall we were more than pleased with the advanced BIOS and while its default layout is good, what will save you a lot of time is creating a favorite page that is filled with the necessary settings. Depending on what part of the system you plan on overclocking a customized favorites page will save you a lot of effort in the long run. In fact this favorites page - once populated - is what pushes the TUF over the edge into greatness territory.

TUF5_sm.jpg
TUF3_sm.jpg


Unfortunately what yanks it back just as quickly is the fact that this board did not like our G.Skill Ripjaws4 1.35V DDR4 RAM. In fact, even using the MemOK! button resulted in a 0053 error, even with only one stick installed. The only way to get the kit to work was to first install 1.2V memory, manually tell the system to push 1.35V, save the settings, power the system down, remove the sticks and replace them with the Ripjaws4.

Considering this particular set of DDR4 RAM is quite popular, this was not a great introduction to ASUS’ TUF board. However, we have run into this problem before with other boards and the fact is this is a short term problem due to a slightly immature BIOS. In a few months, and few BIOS revisions, this problem will be sorted out and most consumers will never run into it.

TUF6_sm.jpg

Also on the positive side, the TUF Detective feature of this motherboard makes diagnosing issues very simple. You will not only be greeted with a seemingly obscure Q-Code - like you would be with onboard LED debug panel - you are also given a short explanation. ASUS should go the extra mile and make the explanations more detailed and include possible steps to correct the given error. This too will probably be added as time goes by since TUF Detective is still in its infancy. In the meantime the ability to force a hard-locked system to shut down, monitor voltages in real time, and even figure out what an error code is makes this feature worth its weight in saved tears of rage.

There is one more fact worth pointing out about this motherboard and socket 2011-v3 systems in general. Usually boosting unCore above 3900MHz requires a lot of experience and getting above 4000MHz requires not only a lot of effort but sometimes even physical modding. Thanks to its OC socket this is not the case with the TUF Sabertooth X99. An unCore of 4200 may not sound all that impressive, but it in conjunction with a 4500Mhz overclock was impressive and our 5930K is not what we would classify as a good overclocker either. We are positive that these results are thanks to the OC Socket.

The OC Socket really does make a difference but as with everything else overclocking related, it will come with a cost: if you can afford not only expensive DDR4 ram, an expensive X99 motherboard, and an expensive 5930K processor you had better be able to afford expensive cooling as well. Air is eminently doable but water does make things easier.

proof_man_oc.jpg

While this board is certainly no GIGABYTE X99-SOC Champion it is still very capable and its abilities will likely be hindered by your CPU rather than any limitation of the board itself. In the end we hit a final overclock of 4500MHz with an unCore set to 4200MHz and even boosted our RAM to DDR4-3200 levels.

Once again the BIOS did make things very straightforward on the RAM overclocking side of things and it was simply a case of trial and error to dial things in and find the best working combination. While these results are decent we are positive that it was our particular 5390K that held things back. Thanks to our very good cooling, it was not a temperature wall per se that we ran into, as we could have used even more powerful fans if the need arose. Rather, going beyond this combination required so much additional voltage that we simply would not consider it a safe long term overclock.
 
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AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks


In the System Benchmarks section we will show a number benchmark comparisons of the 5930K and Sabertooth X99 using the stock speed (turbo enabled), 5-way Optimization (4.4Ghz), and our manual overclock(4.5Ghz). This will illustrate how much performance can be gained by the various overclocking options this board has to offer.

For reference the CPU speeds, memory speeds, memory timings, and uncore speeds used for these tests are as follows:

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/results.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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SuperPI Benchmark


<i>SuperPi calculates the number of digits of PI in a pure 2D benchmark. For the purposes of this review, calculation to 32 million places will be used. RAM speed, RAM timings, CPU speed, L2 cache, and Operating System tweaks all effect the speed of the calculation, and this has been one of the most popular benchmarks among enthusiasts for several years.
SuperPi was originally written by Yasumasa Kanada in 1995 and was updated later by snq to support millisecond timing, cheat protection and checksum. The version used in these benchmarks, 1.5 is the official version supported by hwbot.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/pi.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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CINEBENCH R11.5


<i>CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation.

In this system benchmark section we will use the x64 Main Processor Performance (CPU) test scenario. The Main Processor Performance (CPU) test scenario uses all of the system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene (from the viral "No Keyframes" animation by AixSponza). This scene makes use of various algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects which in turn contain more than 300,000 polygons in total, and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights, shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. The result is displayed in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/cine.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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Sandra Processor Arithmetic & Processor Multi-Media Benchmarks


<i>SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. The software suite provides most of the information (including undocumented) users like to know about hardware, software, and other devices whether hardware or software. The name “Sandra” is a (girl) name of Greek origin that means "defender", "helper of mankind".

The software version used for these tests is SiSoftware Sandra 2013 SP3. In the 2013 version of Sandra, SiSoft has updated operating system support, added support for Haswell CPUs, as well as added some new benchmarks to the testing suite. The benchmark used below is the Processor Arithmetic benchmark which shows how the processor handles arithmetic and floating point instructions. This test illustrates an important area of a computer’s speed.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/sis.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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PCMark 8 Benchmark


<i>Developed in partnership with Benchmark Development Program members Acer, AMD, Condusiv Technologies, Dell, HGST, HP, Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Samsung, SanDisk, Seagate and Western Digital, PCMark 8 is the latest version in FutureMark’s popular series of PC benchmarking tools. Improving on previous releases, PCMark 8 includes new tests using popular applications from Adobe and Microsoft.

The test used in below is the PCMark 8 Home benchmark. This testing suite includes workloads that reflect common tasks for a typical home user such as for web browsing, writing, gaming, photo editing, and video chat. The results are combined to give a PCMark 8 Home score for the system.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/pcm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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AIDA64 Benchmark


<i>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.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/a_mem.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/a_lat.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
3D and Gaming Benchmarks

3D and Gaming Benchmarks


In the 3D and Gaming Benchmarks section we will show a number benchmark comparisons of the 5930K and Sabertooth X99 using the stock speed (turbo enabled), highest stable software overclock of 4.4Ghz and our manual overclock. This will illustrate how much performance can be gained by the various overclocking options this board has to offer.

For reference the CPU speeds, memory speeds, memory timings, and uncore speeds used for these tests are as follows:

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/results.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

3DMark Fire Strike Benchmark


<i>The latest version of 3DMark from FutureMark includes everything you need to benchmark everything from smartphones and tablets, to notebooks and home PCs, to the latest high-end, multi-GPU gaming desktops. And it's not just for Windows. With 3DMark you can compare your scores with Android and iOS devices too. It's the most powerful and flexible 3DMark we've ever created.

The test we are using in this review is Fire Strike with Extreme settings which is a DirectX 11 benchmark designed for high-performance gaming PCs. Fire Strike features real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/3dm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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Sleeping Dogs Gaming Benchmark


<i>Sleeping Dogs is an open world action-adventure video game developed by United Front Games in conjunction with Square Enix London Studios and published by Square Enix, released on August 2012. Sleeping Dogs has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.


The settings used in the testing below are the Extreme display settings and a resolution of 1920x1200. World density is set to extreme, high-res textures are enabled, and shadow resolution, shadow filtering, screen space ambient occlusion, and quality motion blur are all set to high.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/sd.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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Metro: Last Light Gaming Benchmark


<i>Metro: Last Light is a DX11 first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver released in May 2013. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play. Scene D6 was used and an average of four runs was taken.

The settings used in the testing below are Very High for quality and a resolution of 1920x1200. DirectX 11 is used, texture filtering is set to AF 16X, motion blur is normal, SSA and advanced physX turned on and tessellation is set to high.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/met.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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BioShock Infinite Gaming Benchmark


<i>BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games, and published by 2K Games released in March 2013. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.

The settings used in the testing below are UltraDX11 for quality and a resolution of 1920x1200.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/bio.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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Tomb Raider Gaming Benchmark


<i> Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game. Published by Square Enix released in March 2013. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.


The settings used in the testing below are Ultimate default settings for quality, VSync disabled and a resolution of 1920x1200.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/tr.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Conclusion

Conclusion


The ASUS TUF Sabertooth X99 is both an excellent introduction to socket 2011-v3 for novices and a wonderful board for more seasoned enthusiasts. Very few motherboards are able to pull of this duality as the needs of novices are drastically different than those of enthusiasts. Not only is it every bit at as robust and reliable as the TUF series is known for, it is as feature rich a board as you can find in <i>any</i> price bracket. Even features you may not even have heard of are included and it is this combination of durability, warranty, ease of use, and even future proofing that allows the TUF Sabertooth X99 to stand head and shoulders above the competition. This motherboard literally offers the best value you are likely to find in a class that is not exactly known for its frugality.

The key selling feature of <I>any</i> TUF series motherboard is its combination of military and server grade components with above average monitoring abilities. In this regard the Sabertooth X99 is everything anyone could hope for as all the physical components are top notch and well beyond what most consumers - even enthusiasts - will ever be able to stress to their breaking point. The perfect example of this over-engineering is the inclusion of the CPU Gadget and dust caps. The former of which does an awesome job in insuring you won't accidentally ruin your new Sabertooth X99 by bending the sockets pins, an issue that most don’t even know exists until it is too late. We doubt anyone will actually use their motherboard in dusty enough conditions to necessitate the latter accessory, but the inclusion of dust caps for anearly all the various internal and external ports, including four of the eight DDR4 RAM ports, simply underscores ASUS' attention to detail that was carried throughout every portion of this board’s design process.

Backstopping the physical abilities of the Sabertooth is a software suite and BIOS which are both class leading. ASUS have always made automatic overclocking a priority and as with nearly every one of their motherboards we have recently looked at the Sabertooth X99's implementation is sure to please. For novices the AI Suite III may be lacking compared to other products in ASUS’ lineup, but with overclocking literally a mouse click away in the BIOS, this board’s way of doing things is nothing to quibble over. In addition, the extensive BIOS options ensure no matter what your level of experience that everything from the mundane (setting Boot order) to the exotic (overclocking) is covered in manner that affords consumers an experience that is user-friendly, highly intuitive, <I>and</i> still filled with advanced features.

When it comes to included features the sky is nearly the limit here and runs the gamut from built in USB 3.1 support, to the OC-Socket, to support for exotic SFF-8639 based storage options like the Intel 750 series. In fact the sheer number of included features ASUS has crammed into the ATX form-factor has resulted in a few minor issues that obviously couldn’t be helped without creating other problems, not including those innovative features at all, or necessitating the use of a larger E-ATX form-factor. For example the included Hyper Kit that provides SFF-8643 compatibility may indeed impede the installation of a second GPU, but its inclusion is still better than what most motherboards offer, which <i>no</i> compatibly whatsoever.

Even with such a minor hiccup taken into account the TUF Sabertooth X99 easily justifies not only its asking price, but makes a damn good argument for why saving $50 and not going the X99 Deluxe route makes a hell of a lot of sense. Equally important, it makes just as great an argument for spending the extra $40 over what an ASUS X99 PRO would set you back. Quite honestly if you want a board that is as tough as it is fully featured, yet does both without costing you a veritable fortune, consumers need look no further than this new Sabertooth. It is a motherboard that is sure to quickly gain a following of knowledgeable enthusiasts.


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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/DGV.gif" border="0" alt="" /> <img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/SABERTOOTH_X99/di.png" border="0" alt="" /> </div>
 
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