AORUS X299 Gaming 9 Motherboard Overview
Taking a first look at the board we pretty much have an all black board with black, silver, and gunmetal accents. This board does not really have any crazy designs or colors as all of the RGB LEDs on the board will give you that extra bling, more on that later. As you can see there is pretty much no empty space on this board, it is packed with components, connectors, slots, and more. For those wondering this is an ATX motherboard with official dimensions of 30.5cm x 24.4cm.
When you pick the board up you will notice it is quite heavy. This is because it has an large metal base plate that takes up most of the rear of the board. This gives the board better support and on top of that helps with cooling.
Moving back to the main side of the board let’s start with the CPU socket. This is of course the LGA2066 socket, which supports Intel’s new Core X Series processors. The board has a true 8-phase all digital power design to condition the CPU. The power delivery components come from International Rectifier and include both 4th Generation digital PWM Controllers and industry-leading 3rd Generation PowIRstage controllers. You also have server level chokes, which have a new design and reduce heat and provide efficient power delivery to the CPU VRM area.
On each side of the CPU socket you will find four DDR4 slots giving you a total of eight. This slot support DDR4 XMP up to 4400 MHz and beyond as well as having broad compatibility with over 1000+ DDR4 kits validated. Each DDR4 slot is metal shielded and there are rows of RGB LEDs in between each slot.
At the top of the board above the heatsink that sits on the power delivery components you’ll find dual 8-pin EPS power connectors. While only one is required for normal operation you’ll likely want to use both if you are doing any major overclocking on 10+ core Intel X series CPUs. To the left of these connectors you’ll find a 4-pin fan header and to the right is a RGBW header, 4-pin CPU OPT fan header, and 4-pin CPU fan header. This board makes use of RGBW headers so you have supports for RGB, RGBW, or RGB/UV strips. We will talk more about the RGB features of this board on the next page. The 4-pin fan headers up top are PWM / voltage mode hybrid headers.
Moving to the far edge of the board you have another 4-pin fan header, which is a 3A high-output header. Next to it you have a temperature probe connection, 24-pin ATX power connection, another 4-pin fan header which is PWM / voltage mode hybrid, a USB 3.0 header, and a USB 3.1 Type-C internal header. This is to be used with new cases that have USB-C front panel ports.
Moving down the board we find all of the SATA connections, which are at a typical 90-degree angle. There are a total of eight SATA 6GB/s connectors which are powered by the X299 PCH. These ports support RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10 modes.
The PCH heatsink has a clear overlay section that has the AORUS logo on it. The overlay is swappable so you can put you own logo here if you want. This section will light up with RGB LEDs as well. Right below the PCB heatsink is a M.2 slot, which has a large heatsink on it. The heatsink is designed so it looks like it is part of the PCH heatsink, I really like this implementation. This slot supports M.2 SSDs up to 80mm. This slot does however share all of its bandwidth with four SATA ports on the board (ports 5-8) so that is something you are going to want to keep in mind. Right above the M.2 slot and next to the SATA ports is the ThunderBolt 3 GPIO header (5-pin).
At the bottom of the board you are going to find the rest of your headers and buttons. From left to right you have your HD audio header, thermal probe header, LED demo header, RGBW header, digital RGB LED header (don’t mistake this for the Thunderbolt 3 header), TPM header, ECO button, OC button, reset button, power button, two USB 2.0 headers, two 4-pin fan headers (1x PWM / voltage hybrid, 1x pump header), POST code display, USB 3.0 header, VROC header, BIOS reset button, and front panel headers. It seems that Gigabyte has everything covered as far as buttons go, the most important being a BIOS reset button and a power button.
As far as expansion slots go you have a total of five PCI-Express 3.0 slots. Each slot includes metal shielding. The slot configuration is a bit odd, but is as follows from top to bottom: x16/CPU, x4/CPU, x16/CPU, x4/PCH, x8/CPU. So if you are going to be doing a dual-GPU setup you are going to want to install your cards in slots 1 and 3. Also if you are using a 16-lane CPU slot 2 (x4/PCH) becomes unavailable. When using a 40-lane CPU the second x16 slot only operates at x8 speed and when you are using a 16-lane CPU both x16 slots operate at x8.
To the left of the expansion slots is all of the audio components, which are covered with a dust shield that will also light up. Gigabyte has always excelled with audio on boards in this category and this board is no exception. You have a Realtek ALC1220 audio processor and ESS SABRE reference DAC along with quality components like the TI Burr-Brown OPA1622 and LME49720, Savitech SV3S1018A, and audiophile grade capacitors from WIMA and Nichicon. For more information on the audio on this board check out this link. All of this great audio hardware is backed up by Creative’s Sound BlasterX 720°, which is Creative’s top-of-the-line audio engines that adds many different gaming-centric features.
Sitting below and above the top expansion slot you’ll find two more M.2 slots. The top one supports M.2 SSDs up to 80 mm, whereas the bottom one supports M.2 SSDs up to 110 mm. Both of these have large and heavy heatsinks on them, probably the best M.2 heatsinks that I’ve come with a motherboard so far.
Finally we move on to the rear I/O and the first thing you notice is that the I/O shield is built onto the motherboard. We’ve seen this from other motherboard vendors and we like this implementation quite alot, especially since the I/O shield features RGB LEDs and needs to be plugged into a header on the board. As far as connections on the rear I/O you have a combination PS/2 port, two USB 3.0 DAC-UP ports, two normal USB 3.0 ports (one that supports USB BIOS flashback – white), a USB 3.1 type-C port, four USB 3.1 Type-A ports, Killer Ethernet, Intel Ethernet, WiFi antenna connections, and 7.1 audio gold-plated connectors with S/PDIF optical.