Mini-ITX motherboards have been extremely popular over the past couple of years. So much so that many case manufacturers have created special cases just for the form factor that have become some of their best sellers. Typically Mini-ITX motherboards have been reserved for mainstream systems, recently we saw many impressive Z97 Mini-ITX motherboards. But what about Intel’s HEDT (High-End Desktop) platform? Because of the size of the CPU package the thought of having an X99 motherboard in the Mini-ITX form factor was unheard of, until ASRock released the X99E-ITX/ac. They were able to fit the LGA2011v3 socket onto a Mini-ITX form factor and still have room for quite a lot of other features. The only real downfall of this motherboard is that you are limited to dual-channel memory and you have to use ASRock’s included proprietary CPU cooler, which we will get into a bit later in the review. But this board packs in ASRock’s OC socket, a SATA Express port, Ultra M.2 slot, Wireless 802.11ac + Bluetooth, USB 3.1, ASRock’s Super Alloy design and much more! Let’s see what this tiny, yet powerful motherboard is all about!
Gigabyte has three very distinct motherboard lines in their X99 lineup and offer quite a lot of motherboards compared to most brands. They have their G1 Gaming Series, Overclocking Series, and Ultra Durable series. While the specific motherboards in each category are targeted at a certain type of user, many of their features cross into each category. For example the G1 Gaming series motherboards overclock quite well. Since the X99 chipset has been out for a little while now we are seeing a second wave of motherboards from manufacturers. The X99-Gaming 5P from Gigabyte is one such motherboard and is the replacement for the soon to be retired X99-Gaming 5. Gigabyte has actually added new features to this motherboard to make it even better. Let’s jump in!
It is not often we see limited edition motherboards, maybe one or two a year maybe. So when ASUS said they were sending me a limited edition motherboard I was quite excited. The color white in the PC enthusiast scene has become extremely popular over the past couple of years. PC case manufacturers have really adopted it with a wide variety of all white cases, there are white power supplies, even a few all-white graphics cards, but a white motherboard is something very hard to come by. ASUS is changing all of that with their Sabertooth Z97 Mark S Limited Edition Motherboard. This motherboard is part of ASUS’s TUF (The Ultimate Force) line of motherboards so it has the TUF Thermal Armor and TUF Fortifier. ASUS has changed the colors of these to arctic (white) camo to give the motherboard a truly unique look. On top of that they have actually built the motherboard on a completely white PCB. Not only is this truly unique it really makes the motherboard look amazing. Being an ASUS motherboard that is part of the TUF series it has quite a lot of features as well, let’s take a look!
When it comes to X99 motherboards we have taken a look at boards from ASUS, MSI, ASRock and EVGA. The company not on that list is Gigabyte and today we are getting our first look at one of their X99 motherboards. The X99-UD4 is set to be a more affordable motherboard in their X99 stack and is not really aimed towards gamers or overclockers, but offers a great set of features any user will appreciate. The board is part of the companies Ultra Durable line and features an all digital power design, 4-way graphics support, dual M.2 slot, SATA Express support, Intel Gigabit LAN, and the companies AMP-UP audio solution. Did I mention the board lights up too? Let’s get the board on the test bench and see if Gigabyte has a winner on their hands.
ASUS has a pretty complete line of X99 motherboards. There are a total of 8 motherboards currently in their X99 lineup and they range from sub-$300 boards to the super high-end of almost $500! With so many different boards it might be confusing, but today we will be taking a look at ASUS’s most entry-level X99 motherboard. This motherboard will get you on to the X99 platform for under $300. The motherboard we are talking about is the X99-A and while it is ASUS’s entry-level X99 motherboard it has many great features you just won’t find on other motherboards out there. The board features ASUS’s patent pending OC socket, ASUS’s Dual Intelligent Processors 5, ASUS’s Crystal Sound 2 audio solution, a 32Gb/s M.2 x4 slot, and much more. Will this be the motherboard for your X99 build? Read on as we find out!
Gigabyte’s Z97 motherboard line has been out for a while now, but they have recently introduced “Black Edition’s” to their Ultra Durable Z97 line. These motherboards include the Z97X-UD5H-Bk and Z97X-UD3H-BK. So what does the “Black Edition” mean? Gigabyte Black Edition motherboards have been tested for an extra 168 hours (7 days) to ensure premium quality. During the 168 hour test, each motherboard needs to pass rigorous, full system validation testing for 1 full week. GIGABYTE has built a custom testing facility at their Taiwan (Nanping) factory. A Certificate of Validation is included with every board, issued by the GIGABYTE factory and signed by the manufacturing VP & GM to indicate that each board has passed their highest test standards. The really shows Gigabyte’s commitment to quality and ensures your Black Edition motherboard will last. Today we are taking a look at the Z97X-UD3H-BK that features 3-way CrossFire or 2-way SLI, SATA Express support, Intel Gigabit Ethernet, M.2 support and much more. Let’s jump in!
Intel’s Haswell-E or X99 platform is of course their high-end desktop platform and is made for extreme setups. Well the X99 motherboard we are taking a look at today definitely fits that description. Today we are checking out our first X99 workstation motherboard and it comes from ASRock. It is the ASRock X99 WS and it has all of the features you would want in a high-end motherboard like 4-way SLI and CrossFireX support, a powerful 12 phase power design, server-grade LAN chip support, support for ECC memory, 10 SATA ports, an Ultra M.2 slot and of course ASRock’s Super Alloy design. You can build a pretty insane system with this motherboard, let’s take a look and see how it holds up to our tests.
MSI has distinguished themselves as having three major motherboard lines. The Classic Series which focuses on the mainstream, the Gaming Series which is geared towards gamers and the Overclocking Series which is made for overclockers and enthusiasts. We are very familiar with the Overclocking Series here at ThinkComputers as we reviewed the MSI Z97 MPower motherboard not that long ago. Today we will be looking at the X99 version of that motherboard the X99S MPower, which sits as the entry-level motherboard in MSI’s X99 Overclocking Series. This motherboard features overclocking specific features like going through MSI’s OC Certification process, MSI’s OC Engine, voltage check points, and of course MSI’s Military Class 4 components. On top of that you have great features like an Ultra M.2 slot with speeds up to 32 GB/s, DDR4 support, MSI’s Audio Boost chip and so much more.
I have always been a fan of Micro-ATX motherboards. They give you many of the same great features you find in ATX motherboards in a smaller form factor that is great for building a LAN rig. In the case of the Intel X99 chipset we have seen a couple of companies release Micro-ATX motherboards and EVGA is one such company. While having a Micro-ATX X99 motherboard does not take advantage of the extra PCI-Express lanes the platform offers you can easily run dual graphics (x16/x16) or 3-way graphics (x8/x8/x8) with the three included PCI-Express slots on this motherboard. On top of that you are going to get the higher CPU core count that the new Haswell-E processors have an DDR4 memory support. The EVGA X99 Micro also packs in six SATA 6GB/s ports, a 6 phase digital VRM, six USB 3.0 ports (4 rear / 2 header) and Intel Gigabit Ethernet. If you are looking to build an extreme LAN rig this could be the perfect motherboard for you. Read on as we check it out!
When you first look at this motherboard you think to yourself is this really a Gigabyte Gaming Motherboard? Yes, Gigabyte has ditched the neon green and black design and has opted to change their gaming line to a red and black design, which is common for gaming motherboards these days. Don’t let the color change fool you this motherboard is packed with features. First and foremost for gamers this motherboard is capable of 4-way multiple graphics card configuration thanks to the PLX PEX8747 chip, it has Killer E2200 networking platform for no-lag gaming, and AMP-UP audio technology for the best game sound. If that is not enough you also have SATA Express, gold-plated display and audio ports, and Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable design so you know this board is built with quality components. Let’s jump in!
Jul 30, 2015 0