With the official release nearly upon us, Intel’s Broadwell-E CPUs have started popping up everywhere. First, we had all of the various motherboard vendors announce support for the new Broadwell-E CPUs for their X99 motherboards. Next, Intel even leaked the chips on their driver website, confirming the rumoured specifications. Now, we finally get retail listing for the chips from NCIX along with pricing.
The pricing is pretty exorbitant right now with the low-end i7-6800K coming in at $629.99. All fo the other CPUs are much more expensive with the i7-6850K at $889.99 and i7-6900K at $1495.99. That’s the same price as the rumoured $1500 for the i7-6950X which is listed for an exorbitant $2349.98. Of course, these are likely only placeholder prices till the real launch so we can expect the real prices to be quite a bit lower if past history is anything to go by.
Broadwell-E is expected to bring the 10 core i7 6950X along with Broadwell improvements to Intel’s HEDT. With a relatively simple updated, X99 motherboards with LGA 2011-3 will work with the new chips. While these prices are unrealistic, in my mind, intel may plan to squeeze consumers as much as they can. Intel recently cut 12,000 staff and if they can find a way to make more money, they’ll take it.
Last week, we saw the first sign of support for Intel’s upcoming Broadwell-E CPUs. MSI was the first out of the gate with their announcement of new BIOS revisions to support Intel’s new line of Extreme CPUs followed by ASRock. Today, ASUS has announced their own support for Broadwell-E with new BIOS releases for their X99 series of motherboards. With 3 motherboard vendors offering support, Intel much be releasing their chips soon.
For most of the lineup, the new 3004 BIOS will be the one adding support. Interestingly, the Rampage IV and Rampage IV/U3.1 will have to rely on the 3007 BETA BIOS. I don’t know about you, but a beta BIOS doesn’t sound all that safe. In order to upgrade their firmware, users can either use the built-in EZ Flash 2 utility from within the BIOS or the USB BIOS Flashback/ROG Connect button from outside the system.
As we know, Broadwell-E will include the massive i7-6950X with 10 cores and 20 threads with 25MB of L3. The monster of a chip will also come with an equally massive price tag to match. The rest of the lineup will consist of the Core i7-6900K, i7-6850K and i7-6800K with the usual 6 and 8 core offerings. With Zen rumoured to peak at 8 cores for the consumer market, the 6950X may reign supreme for quite a while.
Even as the process nodes continue to decrease year after year, it seems like clock speeds only keep going up. When Intel launched Devil’s Canyon and Skylake, those chips basically had the highest stock frequencies ever shipped by them. An upcoming CPU though may soon top all previous record holders with the highest stock frequency ever. At 5.1Ghz, the reported Xeon E5-2602 V4 will surpass all Intel chips and even AMD’s 9590 which is limited to 5Ghz.
Based off 14nm Broadwell-EP, the 2602 V4 is a surprise given Broadwell hasn’t clocked that well. On the other hand, the 14nm process has been pretty good to overclockers. Being a Xeon, you can sure that the 5.1Ghz speed will be guaranteed and be able to run 24/7. Given the high clock speed, it’s no surprise that the TDP is a whopping 165W. The 2602 V4 is also a quad-core chip with Hyper-Threading, understandable since finding enough cores that can all clock that high. This is backed by 10MB of L3 cache with quad channel DDR4 on LGA 2011-3.
Unfortunately for consumers, the chip is expected to a limited run and only for release to specific enterprise customers. It will likely be used for highly single-threaded workloads that require the high core clocks. Hopefully, there may be some way for consumers to get the chips but given the strict binning, cost is likely astronomical and supply severely limited.
Following right on the heels of the first consumer octa-core i7-5960X CPU, 2016 is the year that we may finally see a deca-core CPU from Intel. Called the i7-6950X, the new chip will be the flagship for Intel’s HEDT Broadwell-E platform. According to a new report though, the price is going way up this time, set for an exorbitant $1500 USD. Compared to previous HEDT flagships, this will be quite a jump.
Broadwell-E will be replacing Intel’s current HEDT platform, Haswell-E, which debuted the i7-5960X octa-core. Broadwell-E also marks the move from Intel’s current 22nm process to the new 14nm process Skylake started using. Broadwell-E will continue to use the same X99 Wellsburg platform as well but introduce BCLK overclocking in addition to the current multiplier based overclocking.
At 10 cores and 20 threads, the 6950X marks a jump of $500 or 50% over the previous asking price of the top chip from Intel. The octa-core 6900K will maintain the $1000 USD pricing set by its predecessor. Even when Intel made the jump from 6 core to 8 cores, they kept the price at $1000. This time, the extra cores and 14nm must either be costing Intel a lot more, or they’ve caught on that enthusiasts are willing to pay any price for top of the line chips.
With new CPU sockets, the cooler and thermal interfaces will have to adapt. EK Water Blocks introduced the new Indigo Xtreme Engineered Thermal Interface for the latest 5th generation Intel Socket LGA-2011-3 series CPU as well as Supremacy EVO Elite CPU water block bundle.
EK-TIM Indigo Xtreme fits neatly between a CPU lid and water block or heat sink to keep CPUs cooler. Unlike greases, metallic thermal interface pads or liquid metal alloys, Indigo XS is a self-contained and sealed structure, deploying a Phase Change Metallic Alloy (PCMA) which reflows and fills surface asperities on the CPU lid and heat sink.
Indigo Xtreme achieves high thermal performance through the optimized deployment of molten, oxide-free PCMA, thereby yielding low contact resistance and low bulk resistance. The resultant interfacial layer is void-free and robust, with low thermal contact and bulk resistance.
The TIM uses a platform dependent applicator and thus only compatible with the socket and CPU specified.
Bulk thermal conductivity >20 W/mK
Fully sealed structure – no mess or migration
Most consistent performance – applies the correct amount of alloy every time
Fully compatible with copper and aluminum surfaces
Easy clean up – just peel to remove
Made in USA by Enerdyne Solutions for EKWB
EK-Supremacy Elite is the premium bundle contains the EK-Supremacy EVO Full Nickel CPU cooler and the best EK-TIM Indigo Xtreme. Convenient if you’re were planning to get both anyway. The EK-TIM Indigo Xtreme – Intel 2011-3 has an MSRP of 22.95€ and the EK-Supremacy EVO Elite – Intel 2011-3 bundle has an MSRP of 109.95€ and should be readily available now through the EK Webshop and partner reseller.
Thanks to EKWB for providing us with this information
Christmas time is almost here and as we wrap up warm over winter, we’re also wrapping up on a year of incredible products here at eTeknix HQ. We’ve had hundred of reviews this year, but no doubt many of you are eagerly writing your letters to Santa, or at least dropping hints to your parents, partner or friends for what you want for Christmas. Of course, there’s no doubt a fair few of you who are eager to treat themselves to something cool this Christmas. We’ve scratched our heads and had a really good think about what some of our favourite bits of technology are from this last year, and if you’ve still got some money left after the manic Black Friday sales, perhaps some of these products will be perfect for you.
While I admit that I couldn’t fit all of our favourites onto this list, its certainly a killer list of great products and they’ve all won awards from us here at eTeknix for one reason or another. If you’re after a headset, a chassis, a new keyboard, graphics card, or other cool gadget, you’ll find something that’s right for you in our guide.
Astro A38 Wireless Gaming Headset
The Astro A38 headset really stood out for me, not only is it one of the more stylish looking headsets I’ve ever reviewed, but the sound quality is nothing short of incredible. They’re a little expensive, but you certainly get what you pay for and Astro have yet to create a product that was anything less than stunning. They’re a perfect gift for yourself or someone else and ideal for those who love to listen to music and play games on the go, and the wireless technology and NFC pairing makes them very user friendly.
A great PC deserves a great chassis and the H440 is certainly one of my all-time favourites. It’s not the biggest, and it may not even be the best chassis ever, that much is subjective, but it’s certainly got a lot of great features. From the PSU shroud that helps keep cable management looking neat and tidy, to the comprehensive set of dust filters, thick sound dampening material lined panels and the large side panel window; you’ll find a lot to love about this chassis.
Not all chassis’ are created equally, the Core V71 packs an incredible range of features that make it an ideal choice for high-end systems. The Thermaltake Core V71 looks great, but the real magic comes from its extreme flexibility. It has class leading radiator and fan mounting support and there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to build a stunning air-cooled system thanks to its array of 200mm pre-installed fans, or an incredible custom water cooling loop thanks to its modular interior. If you need extreme performance without spending crazy amounts of money, this chassis needs to be at the top of your list.
Treating yourself to a high-quality mechanical keyboard is a solid investment for anyone who uses their computer a lot. Mechanical keyboards are expensive, but their overall build quality and performance goes a long way to justifying the cost. The NovaTouch TKL isn’t your average mechanical and features something called Hybrid Capacitive Switches that offer a truly premium and luxurious typing experience. If you want to treat your fingers to a more enjoyable typing experience, try out this keyboard!
I have yet to use a Zowie mouse that wasn’t impressive and the FK1 is by far one of their best. While this mouse only offers minor revisions over its previous model, such as a slightly larger body and an improved sensor, it’s performance is second to none. It’s ambidextrous, has one of the best performing sensors available, great ergonomics and a stylish design. If you’re serious about your gaming and want something that offers eSports levels of performance, then you’ll love what the Zowie FK1 has to offer.
Mobile gaming is something that never really excited me, but Nvidia have really pulled out all the stops with their Shield Tablet. It’s powered by the incredibly powerful Tegra K1 graphics chip and it’s one of the fastest tablets on the market. It recently received an update that added the latest Android 5.0 operating system, as well as enabling Nvidia’s GRID cloud gaming service and all this comes on top of features like in-home game streaming, 4K video output, wireless controller support and a whole lot more. The Shield Tablet is easily one of the most versatile portable on the market.
Nvidia are on our list once again, first they dominate the mobile gaming market, now they’re showing their worth once again in the desktop GPU market. While we admit that the GeForce GTX 980 is an incredible graphics card, you’ll not be disappointed by their GTX 970 as it offers most of the performance of its bigger brother at a much more affordable price tag. This card is packed with the latest features, it looks fantastic and for gaming, it’s one of the best cards you can buy right now. If you want to welcome your computer into the world of high-end PC gaming, this is a great place to start.
Intel really set a new standard for PC performance this year with the launch of their consumer X99 chipsets. It’s not a cheap upgrade right now, but a new support for the latest high-end CPUs, DDR4 memory and a wave of new features make this motherboard perfect for the enthusiast and professional markets. The Asus Rampage motherboard series has long been a popular choice and the V Extreme is certainly one of the best available right now.
Extreme motherboards are one thing, but they’re a little out of the reach of your average consumer. The Gigabyte X97X Gaming 5 series of motherboards offers a lot of exciting features that make them a great choice for high-end gaming PCs, without the colossal price tags that you’ll find with enthusiast grade products. We loved this motherboard when we review it and while the black and red colour scheme is getting a little bit repetitive in the gaming market, it’s still a great looking board that is perfect for a wide range of systems.
A lot of the fame and glory goes to big gaming rigs with multiple graphics cards, loads of hard drives, water cooling and all that other crazy stuff, but this system turns all that on its head. The Brix may be small, but it packs enough power to be worthy of our Extreme Performance award! When space is limited, this little rig will fit on the back of your monitors VESA mount and it packs enough performance to get through a heavy workflow with ease. It’s a little expensive, but for a full-fledged PC that’s small enough to fit in a backpack, it’s a bargain!
If you’re looking to upgrade to an X99 equipped system, then it’s likely that you’ll also be investing in DDR4 memory, a new CPU and a whole host of other components, so why not take all the fuss out of the process and invest in one of the best systems we’ve reviewed this year, the PC Specialist Vortex 440. We loved this system, partly because it was packed full of high-end hardware, but also because it was incredible value for money. Despite what the high price tag may suggest, the Vortex 440 actually worked out cheaper to buy than it would to build it yourself; now that’s a deal we can get behind!
There’s a lot of SSD hard drives on the market right now and there are so many great ones that it’s now very easy to find one suitable for your system. The OCZ ARC 100 really stood out for us as it offers excellent performance, solid reliability, lots of features and it’s also competitively priced (per GB). Upgrading to an SSD is a great way to give your system a new lease of life, your system will boot faster and all of your games will benefit greatly from the speed boost. There is a cheaper 120GB model available, but the 240GB is the best balance of storage and value, making it a great choice for a boot drive.
A really great router is something a lot of people overlook, it can be daunting spending a lot of money on tech like this, but the rewards soon pay for themselves. With more and more devices becoming internet connected, it’s likely that you’re not reaching the full potential of your devices networking capabilities. If you’re wanting to stream movies around your house from a NAS, play games online, while browsing the web from smartphones, tablets, consoles and other devices, then you’re going to see huge benefits from a router that can handle the most demanding workloads without sacrificing performance. The Asus RT AC68U looks great and offers a simple way to improve your home network. It’s expensive, but you certainly get what you pay for.
DDR4 memory marks the first major update to RAM memory formats in desktop systems in years, but it comes with a steep price tag. However, should you choose to make the leap for your high-end X99 platform build, then you should really consider the Crucial 32GB 2133MHZ kit. If you’re not too bothered about the aesthetics, this memory really does impress in terms of performance and offers excellent value for money vs many of the other DDR4 products on the market.
During Intel’s X99 launch in early September one motherboard vendor was noticeably absent from the scene – ASRock. While we’re not sure as to the exact reason for ASRock’s delayed entry, they are now out in full force with an extensive top-to-bottom X99 product stack. Their range of products for Intel’s High-End Desktop (HEDT) platform span the usual three product segmentations: the OC, Fatal1ty and Extreme series. Whichever ASRock motherboard series consumers choose they will be greeted with a very high-end system due to the nature of Intel ‘s X99 chipset and Haswell-E processors. However, each series has been tailored for a specific type of user. The OC series, themed black and yellow, targets the performance junkie and enthusiastic overclocker with beefed up power phases and handy overclocking tools and buttons. The Fatal1ty series, themed black and red, targets gamers with improved quality audio hardware and Killer networking. The Extreme series, themed black and blue, is umbrella group within which today’s motherboard rests. The Extreme series doesn’t target any particular type of user: it is ASRock’s solid all-round motherboard. Consumers struggling to grapple with what that means in practice should equate the ASRock Extreme series to ASUS’s Channel series, Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable series and MSI’s Classic series. On the test bench today is ASRock’s X99 Extreme6 which sits above the X99 Extreme3, X99 Extreme4 and X99M Extreme4 but below the X99 Extreme6/ac, X99 WS and X99 Extreme11.
At first glance the X99 Extreme6 offers a very broad feature set that doesn’t stand out for anything specific, which is what you’d expect for the all-round Extreme series. ASRock provide no additional SATA III 6Gbps ports above the ten already integrated into the Intel X99 chipset, they’ve also decided to side-step the inclusion of a SATA Express port, instead opting for an enhanced “Ultra” M.2 port with 32 Gbps capabilities: 320% more than the default 10 Gbps M.2 port. Two areas where the X99 Extreme6 shines are in power componentry and networking. The ASRock Extreme6 features 12K rated capacitors, a 12 phase design and 60 amp rated power chokes, which are of a solid alloy design. On the networking side dual Gigabit LAN is provided by Intel and Qualcomm controllers with optional AC WiFi made available with the X99 Extreme6/ac for those users who desire it. Users who choose the non-AC model will be left with an unpopulated mini PCIe slot that is capable of supporting a wide variety of wireless networking combo cards.
Packaging and Accessories
The ASRock X99 Extreme6 is certified for up to 3-Way SLI so inside the box you will find 2 and 3-way SLI bridges. Other accessories include four SATA 6Gbps cables, two screws (one for securing mPCIe cards and the other for securing M.2 devices), a variety of documentation, a driver & utility DVD, ASRock case sticker and a SATA power adapter for using ASRock’s HDD Saver technology.
A Closer Look
The blue and black colour scheme ASRock use on their Exreme series is a refreshing break from the red and black repetition that is becoming so common. Once upon a time blue was the in-fashion colour scheme used by ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI, for those of you who can remember as far back as Z77. Now, MSI and ASRock are the only vendors equipping Blue.
Moving down to the bottom of the motherboard we find, from left to right, front panel audio, a TPM header, a Thunderbolt header, a COM port, a clear CMOS jumper, a BIOS switch, dual USB 2.0 headers, two system fan headers, a power button, a reset button and the front panel connectors.
Along the right side of the motherboard we find a USB 2.o port, 24 pin power connector, a pair of USB 3.0 headers and a fan header.
Down by the PCH heatsink there’s a block of 10 SATA III 6Gbps ports and a debug LED.
The CPU socket area reveals an impressive 12 phase VRM for enhanced overclocking potential.
The PCIe configuration supports three-way on 40 lane CPUs and two-way on the 28 lane i7 5820K. An “Ultra” M.2 port and mini PCIe slot are provided for extra connectivity options. Helpfully there’s also supplementary molex power and double slot spacing for multi-GPU configs.
ASRock implement the shielded Realtek ALC1150 audio codec onto an isolated PCB with advanced audio capacitors, this forms their Purity Sound 2 package.
At the top of the motherboard we see a nickel plated heatpipe adjoining the two CPU VRM heatsinks. An 8 pin EPS tucks in behind the primary VRM heatsink along with a pair of CPU fan headers, one 3 pin and another 4.
The rear I/O offers a nice balance of connectivity: dual LAN, six USB 3.0 ports, eSATA, two USB 2.0 ports, a keyboard/mouse combo, six audio ports (5 analogue, 1 optical) and a clear CMOS button.
On the under-side we find easily serviceable screws which ensure that the heatsinks can easily be removed for water cooling.
A trend that is observable with higher end “gaming” motherboards is that they tend to be geared primarily towards performance junkies, overclockers and all-round enthusiasts, rather than just pure gamers. Gaming motherboards based on Intel’s X99 chipset are a perfect example of this because the reality is that most gamers would get a better deal by opting for a Z97 motherboard and a Core i7 4790K. As a result a gaming X99 motherboard appeals to a specific type of gamer who has the need for a large amount of CPU horsepower and memory to assist with things like video editing, rendering and streaming. Today we have Gigabyte’s G1 Gaming WiFi motherboard which takes Gigabyte’s “gaming” feature-set of upgraded quality audio and Killer networking and pairs that up with the performance of the X99 platform and various tools for overclockers such as voltage read-off points and onboard buttons. There’s also a shed-load of connectivity such as dual-LAN, AC WiFi, SATA Express, M.2 and more USB ports than you can shake a stick at. In basic terms, the Gaming G1 WiFi is Gigabyte’s flagship motherboard for the X99 Gaming series, but the reality is that any Gigabyte X99 motherboard is going to be “high-end enough” for you to be contented.
Packaging and Accessories
The Gigabyte X99 Gaming G1 WiFi comes in a very large box so we should probably expect to find a ton of things inside.
Accessories galore! In the accessory package Gigabyte provide enough SLI bridges for 2, 3 and 4-way as well as a 2-way CrossFire bridge. There’s six braided SATA cables, a PCIe ribbon power adapter, a WiFi antenna, labelled rear I/O shield and all of the usual documentation and drivers.
A Closer Look
The X99 G1 Gaming WiFi has strikingly similar aesthetics to the X99 Gaming 5 we reviewed a few months ago. A rather over-sized chipset heatsink draws your attention to the red and black colour scheme of the board, which puts the green audio capacitors rather out of place. The main difference between this board and the so called “lower end” X99 models is that the heatsink array is more extensive and offers more heat pipes.
Along the right hand edge of the motherboard we find various buttons (Power, Reset, Clear CMOS, Direct to BIOS) and a couple of BIOS switches for selecting which BIOS you want to use. Voltage read-off points also exist if that’s your thing but we think these are only here because the X99 G1 Gaming WiFi uses a similar PCB to the Gigabyte X99 SOC Force. The included debug LED should come in handy, especially if you’re running multi-GPU configurations.
Near the chipset heatsink we find ten SATA ports, a SATA Express and a SATA power for providing additional power to the motherboard, useful, again, when running multi-GPU configurations.
At the top of the motherboard we can see the various interconnected heatpipes and heatsinks as well as the 8 pin EPS for CPU power. Note there’s no extra 4 pin here which might actually come in useful when overclocking the power-hungry 8 core i7 5960X.
Along the bottom of the board is an abundance of USB 2 and 3 headers, the front panel I/O, the audio I/O, and a system fan header.
The audio area has ground-layer isolation with red LED lighting that clearly shows the PCB separation. A Creative SoundCore 3D chip provides the primary audio codec and is teamed up with a Texas Instruments Operational Amplifier and audio-grade capacitors.
The rear I/O provides eight USB 3.0 ports (one of which is white as that’s the dedicated USB flashback port), two USB 2.0 ports (yellow) and a PS/2 combo. Dual Gigabit LAN is provided, one Intel and one Killer, depending on your preference, and the outputs for the WiFi antenna. The five analogue audio ports are jazzed up with some gold plating to improve contact with your headphones or speakers. The strip of buttons, from top to bottom, includes a CPU OC button, Fast Boot button and Clear CMOS button.
PCIe connectivity is the strength of the X99 platform and with dual spacing between each 16X lane you can easily run a quad-GPU configuration if you have use for it. Two M.2 ports provide support for integrated WiFi and an additional high-speed storage option.
The CPU socket is powered by an 8 phase VRM: perhaps proof that all motherboard vendors have now acknowledged that the quality of the VRM matters more than quantity of phases used?
From the bottom we can see some additional cooling/stabilisation is provided underneath the primary CPU VRM heatsink. All heatsinks are easily removable with phillips head screwdrivers for those who want to remove them to fit waterblocks.
A short while ago we took Gigabyte’s X99 Gaming 5 motherboard to our test bench for a review. As the name suggests that particular motherboard was targeted at Gamers with its feature set and styling. Today we have with us a motherboard targeted at a broader X99 user-base than Gamers. The Gigabyte X99 UD4 is Gigabyte’s most affordable X99 offering but still retains all of the high performance features of the X99 platform.
At a fundamental level this board is very similar to the X99 Gaming 5 except the styling uses a different colour scheme, the audio has fewer features and uses a different codec and the Gigabit LAN is now Intel instead of Killer. Overclocking capabilities and features are similar – both boards feature high quality 6 phase designs with International Rectifier PWM controls and there are no onboard buttons or any read-off points. Overclocking buttons and features are reserved for higher end SKUs like the X99 SOC-FORCE.
This board still boasts support for up to 8 DDR4 modules, 4-Way GPU configurations, up to 10 SATA III devices or 8 SATA III devices and a SATA Express device and there’s even dual M.2 ports for more storage and optional WiFi/Bluetooth combo cards. The Gigabyte X99 UD4 will undoubtedly be a popular motherboard for Gigabyte just like how their X79-UD5 model was in the last generation. Let’s now take a detailed look at this motherboard’s specifications:
Packaging and Accessories
The X99 UD4 comes in one of the smallest boxes I’ve seen for an X99 motherboard. The branding is Gigabyte’s mainstream “Ultra Durable” series, remember Gigabyte’s other two SKUs are the Gaming line and the Overclocking line.
Around the back we find a really in-depth motherboard analysis focusing on features, performance and the quality of the components used in this board’s construction.
Accessories are modest for an X99 platform board. As Nvidia SLI certification requires there’s a range of 2, 3 and 4 Way SLI bridges and also a 2-Way AMD CrossFire bridge. Remember AMD’s newest GPU SKUs do not require bridges anymore as the XDMA “bridge-less” feature was implemented. Four braided SATA cables, a rear I/O and a power adapter cable make up the rest of the accessories.
Moving onto the mundane inclusions and we find some basic documentation and a driver/utility disc.
Asus have just revealed their new Z10PE-D3 WS Dual CPU Workstation Motherboard, which comes equipped with the latest LGA 2011-3 Sockets and support for the new Intel Haswell-EP range of processors; including the Intel Xeon E5-2600/1600 V3 range.
As you can see from the pictures, the board is beautifully designed. It comes equipped with mostly black fittings, as well as some gold trim on the VRM coolers to add a little flair. There are eight memory slots in total, which are capable of supporting up to 512GB of DDR4-2133 and seven PCI 3.0 x16 slots, which can run in dual x16 or quad x8; more than enough for 4-way SLI or CrossFireX graphics configurations.
The Z10PE-D3 WS is equipped with the Intel C612 chipset, 8 x SATA 6Gb/s, 2 x SATA Express, 1 x M.2 and supports Raid 0/1/5/10 storage arrays. There are no doubt a whole lot more features that you would expect from a premium board such as this. There are no details on price or performance at this time, but we expect more details will follow in the coming weeks.
Thank you Chiphell for providing us with this information.
Every major motherboard brand has a particular flagship board that targets overclocking on Intel’s new HEDT X99 platform. Gigabyte have their X99 SOC-FORCE, ASUS have the Rampage V Extreme and ASRock have the X99 OC Formula. Today we are looking at MSI’s flagship OC board, the X99S XPOWER AC. Despite being an “overclocking” board the X99 XPOWER AC gets endowed with a lot more consumer-friendly features than you might expect. The AC in its name denotes the fact this board ships with an 802.11 AC WiFi module and antennae. MSI have also equipped their AudioBoost audio package, a shed-load of USB 3.0 connectivity, dual Intel Gigabit NICs and of course a stylish design. However, overclocking features make up the DNA of this board. MSI calls the overclocking features “OC Essentials” and they are mainly buttons, check points and LEDs. There are also less visible things like CPU overcurrent protection built into the board and even a USB flash drive for saving BIOS OC profiles.
Packaging and Accessories
The MSI X99S XPower AC has a huge box which isn’t surprising given its E-ATX form factor and rich accessory package.
Around the rear of the box we find a lot of information about the product but we’d like to point you to the official product page for a more comprehensive overview.
Let’s get stuck into what’s included with the MSI X99S XPOWER AC because trust me – there’s a lot! Up first we have utility DVDs and documentation.
Next we have a poster, some stickers, a door hanger and more documentation.
Next we find some OC features such as a modified backplate designed for LN2 pots and a delid die-guard for anyone brave enough to delid a Haswell-E CPU. Remember Haswell-E CPUs have the “lids” soldered onto the die so removing them is near impossible if you’re not highly experience. It isn’t like with Haswell & Z97 (or Ivy Bridge and Z87) where removing them is super-easy and all that’s required is a flat razor.
The accessories keep coming: MSI provide a USB flash drive with the drivers & utilities on (hallelujah!), a labelled rear I/O , V Checkpoint cables, front panel connectors and various SLI bridges.
MSI also provide 7 SATA cables, a molex to dual SATA adapter and a eSATA bracket if you want eSATA at the rear of your system.
To round off the accessories we find the WiFi antennae and MSI’s OC Fan Stand which allows you to mount a fan at the edge of the motherboard to blow air onto the CPU/DRAM area.
The Rampage line of ASUS motherboards are famed for their class-leading performance and prestigious reputation. With every new CPU on Intel’s High-End Desktop (HEDT) Platform we’ve seen new ASUS Rampage motherboards. The first Rampage arrived with LGA 775 and the X48 chipset, we saw the second iteration Rampage II come with socket LGA 1366, the X58 chipset and Bloomfield CPUs. The Rampage III arrived with the same socket and chipset but with the new 32nm Gulftown CPUs that introduced 6 cores for the first time. Intel continued the 32nm and 6 core trend when ASUS brought out the Rampage IV Extreme for X79 and Sandy Bridge-E CPUs. With Ivy Bridge-E ASUS refreshed the Rampage IV Extreme with a Black Edition variant that used the same socket and chipset as the original board it improved on. Now we’ve got Intel’s Haswell-E 8 cores and ASUS have brought the Rampage motherboard into its fifth iteration – and it’s more bada$$ than ever before.
The ASUS Rampage V Extreme is the complete package for the Intel LGA 2011-3 X99 platform. It supports all the bells and whistles….. and then ASUS added a gong and foghorn just for good measure. The R5E draws its inspiration from its predecessor and continues to target a broad user-base with features suitable for extreme overclockers, gamers, workstation users and elitist PC users. ASUS haven’t just settled for the X99 chipset, they decided to keep on adding more and keep on improving. Of note for this board is the ASUS OC Socket which adds extra pins to allow for additional voltage controls with Intel Haswell-E CPUs, ASUS claims better DRAM and CPU overclocking than on rival motherboards. We could go through all the new features of the ASUS Rampage V Extreme but there’s just so much, we refer you over to our ASUS X99 launch article which explains in-depth all the new features of the ASUS Rampage V Extreme and other ASUS X99 motherboards.
Packaging and Accessories
An ASUS Rampage V Extreme motherboard wouldn’t be complete without a lavish package. Straight away you notice just how big the Rampage V Extreme is, there must be a ton inside the box!
Normally we wouldn’t bother showing you all the different parts of a product’s packaging but with the R5E there’s an exception to be made, it comes beautifully presented and ASUS certainly know how to make their buyers feel special.
You get a tonne of accessories with the R5E so let’s work our way through them. Firstly, you get a variety of documentation, a driver utility DVD, a door hanger and some stickers for managing your internal components.
Next we find an alternate backplate for LN2 pot mounting, the rear I/O shield which is padded, a 2 way Crossfire bridge and 2/3/4 way SLI bridge.
ASUS include 10 SATA cables, a variety of temperature probes, Q-Connectors for the front panel connectors and a WiFi Antennae for the dual band 2.4/5GHz WiFi.
The final piece of the accessory pack is the OC panel, this allows you to easily overclock and tweak your motherboard.
ASUS also give you the option to mount it into a provided 5.25 inch bay and access it from the front of your case, a USB cable is also provided for interfacing between the OC panel and the system.
Intel’s new “Haswell-E” high-end desktop platform recently launched with the Core i7 5960X 8 core CPU leading the way – be sure to check our review of that right here. To accompany Intel’s new Haswell-E CPUs we have a brand new platform based on the X99 Express chipset and DDR4 memory. Today we are reviewing our first motherboard based on X99 Express and it is actually the same motherboard we used in our Core i7 5960X – the Gigabyte G1 Gaming 5 X99 motherboard. To put it through its paces we are using Intel’s flagship Core i7 5960X and a hefty 32GB of Crucial DDR4 2133MHz memory which is fresh off the Micron production line. Gigabyte’s newest X99 series of boards draw a lot of their inspiration from the recent Z97 releases: they use the same colour schemes, they offer similar audio and networking combos and they are orientated towards the same market segments, albeit at a higher premium. The Gigabyte X99 Gaming 5 has impressive specifications, largely due to the fact the X99 chipset offers so much. Gigabyte have opted for the “gamer” orientation with this board by equipping the usual Killer networking and high quality audio package, we also have the almost-cliché red & black colour scheme which has proved so popular.
Packaging and Accessories
The X99 Gaming 5 slots into the G1 Gaming series and is the entry level X99 Gaming board from Gigabyte.
Despite the “entry level” status the feature set is staggering: having a basic X99 based motherboard isn’t really possible. As the rear of the box exemplifies Gigabyte are targeting performance, audio, networking and looks with this board.
The accessory pack is one of the more basic ones we’ve seen for an X99 board but is still extensive. There are a couple of manuals, a driver & utility CD and some stickers.
For inside the system we find a rear I/O, 2-Way, 3-Way and 4-Way SLI bridges of different lengths, a CrossFire bridge, some PCIe power adapters and 6 braided SATA 6Gbps cables.
The Intel Core i7 5960X, codename Haswell-E, is probably 2014’s worst kept secret. As I am writing this review the full specifications, pricing and pictures of just about every X99 board in existence have already been made public and the NDA is still a few days off. Product launches like this make me wonder what purpose NDAs even serve when they appear to not be worth the paper they are written on. Anyway, politics aside, today we can present your our Intel Core i7 5960X review – at least pretend to be surprised! Intel’s High End Desktop Platform is about to get its first core upgrade since the transition from X48 to X58 when Intel made the leap from 4 to 6 cores, that occurred in 2010. Nearly 4 years later and Intel’s HEDT is making the shift from 6 cores to 8 cores with Haswell-E.
What’s special about Haswell-E apart from the increased core count? Well the X99 platform Haswell-E brings support for DDR4, SATA Express and M.2 (just like Z97 offers), up to 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes and of course 8 core CPUs. If you’re in the market for an upgrade this certainly isn’t going to be cheap, new memory, new storage drives, a new CPU, probably a new power supply…..but I digress. Let’s dive straight into the goodness of the Core i7 5960X. Today we are chucking it on a brand new test system, powered by Gigabyte’s X99 Gaming 5 X99 motherboard and 32GB of Crucial’s fresh-off-the-production line DDR4-2133.
Comparing Intel’s Core i7 5960X to the Core i7 4960X and Core i7 3960X shows some striking similarities. They obviously all share the LGA 2011 package but there are subtle differences. Notably the Core i7 5960X uses a different integrated heat spreader design to the other two.
Moving on over to the rear of the CPU and we actually see a steady decline in the number of built in components. The transition to each newer CPU decreases the number of transistors and other components but we also see an increase in the number of pins. You can see this by comparing the size of the green spacing on the 3960X to the 5960X.
Being a new CPU with a new memory controller this is not compatible with X79 despite still being a LGA 2011 package. Haswell-E takes the LGA 2011-3 package while Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge-E takes the LGA 2011 package. To prevent people putting the wrong CPUs in the wrong boards Intel has changed the locking points on the CPUs as you can see below.
Intel’s Core i7 5960X comes with a 3GHz base frequency and up to 3.5 GHz with turbo. There’s also native DDR4 support for 2133MHz memory but we are hearing 3000MHz and more is possible with a little bit of tweaking. The other notable thing is a beefy 20MB of shared L3 cache, the most we’ve ever seen on a consumer Intel processor.
Looking at the processor die we can see that it is very different to Haswell for two main reasons: there are 4 more cores and there are no integrated graphics. The new memory controller offers support for only DDR4, there’s no DDR4 and DDR3 combo support like some of our readers may remember on the AMD AM2+ platform.
Intel’s main audience for the Core i7 5XXX series are existing HEDT customers, whether they be X79 or X58. Comparing to X79 Haswell-E and the new X99 chipset brings more cache, more cores, more PCIe lanes, a higher TDP, a different socket, more SATA ports, Thunderbolt support and BCLK overclocking support from the chipset, a feature we also saw moving from Ivy Bridge to Haswell on the mainstream platform.
Like Intel’s previous Extreme Edition CPUs the Core i7 5960X has that $1000 price tag while the Core i7 5930K and 5820K come in for much cheaper. Unlike with Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge-E going for the 5930K no longer gives you all the performance of the 5960X for less money, the Core i7 5930K has two less cores. The Core i7 5820K also offers less PCIe lanes than the 5930K so each CPU has its own functional purpose: the model separation is better.
The run-up to the launch of Intel’s new X99 chipset has been very similar to that of Z97 in that nothing has been kept a secret. Everything about the new chipset, the new CPUs and the different motherboards vendors will produce has been exposed to the press in recent weeks. However, ASUS have been one of the vendors who have done a fairly good job at keeping a lid on things: leaks from the ASUS camp have been few and far between. Yet launch day is finally here so we can share all about the new ASUS X99 motherboards. We were invited to attend an ASUS X99 technical seminar in London where ASUS revealed their X99 line-up which consisted of four motherboards. These four motherboards will be the initial offerings from ASUS at launch but we may see other models launch a little later down the line. On show were three ASUS X99 motherboards that will be part of their Channel Series and a solitary motherboard from the Republic of Gamers series – the hotly anticipated Rampage V Extreme. Interestingly, the release of the ASUS Rampage V Extreme motherboard means we will probably not see an Extreme SKU on the Z97 chipset but that’s a story for later on, first let’s dive into each of the motherboards shown off by ASUS and then take a look at some of the new features ASUS are bringing to the market with their X99 motherboards.
As is always the case with ASUS motherboards of recent generations the “A” moniker denotes the entry level variant. It is possible that we may see better (and worse) motherboards released by ASUS in the future but generally speaking the A model is the baseline for what we should expect of ASUS X99. As you can see this baseline motherboard is still high-end – let’s face it there’s no way an X99 platform couldn’t be. The ASUS X99-A comes with the new ASUS OC Socket, support for up to 64GB of DDR4 memory and it adds the ASUS 5-Way optimisation technology that we saw introduced with Z97. We will discuss in more depth shortly what the ASUS OC Socket and 5-Way Optimisation entail, but there is a lot more to it than just marketing speak.
Next up in the channel series is the DELUXE model. This is the flagship ASUS motherboard for consumer-targeted connectivity. The noteworthy features include triple band 802.11 AC WiFi and Hyper M.2 which is a standard of M.2 that provides 32 Gbps instead of the usual 10 Gbps. ASUS have also added a unique fan accessory daughterboard which allows you to connect and control additional fans and you can control these with all the features of the latest ASUS Fan Xpert 3 utility, we’ll detail this more a bit later.
ASUS X99-E WS
The ASUS X99-E WS motherboard is the main Workstation board to launch and this quite obviously brings with it an overall feature-set and range of connectivity that is higher than the DELUXE model. As we’ve seen in the past this will be matched by the price, but the target market for this kind of product is prosumers and working professionals so the premium is assumed as justified. The headline feature of the X99-E WS is that it supports 4 Way SLI and CrossFire and has abundant connectivity including M.2, SATA Express and Thunderbolt 2. ASUS have also kitted out the power delivery with their highest end components such as 12K rated capacitors which enhances the stability and reliability of the platform: a crucial consideration for a workstation where time is money, avoiding downtime is vital.
ASUS Rampage V Extreme
The star of the show is still arguably the Rampage V Extreme, or as ASUS like to describe it: “the one to rule them all”. The Rampage V Extreme builds on the success of the Rampage IV Extreme as well as the modifications to it we saw with the Rampage IV Extreme Black Edition. Aside from the obvious upgrades to DDR4, X99 and Haswell-E CPUs there’s also upgrades to the audio, which is now the SupremeFX 2014 implementation, and we see the return of the OC Panel add-on to control overclocking and other hardware-level features. Many of the features to the ASUS R5E are actually inherited from the ASUS Z97 ROG boards such as the KeyBot, Sonic SoundStage and so on. For those who are interested in more details about the SupremeFX 2014 audio package ASUS tell us that it is roughly equivalent to the ASUS Xonar D1 sound card although it actually performs quite a bit better than the Xonar D1.
We have managed to get our hands on an exclusive picture of Gigabyte’s upcoming GA-X99-UD5 WiFi motherboard, pictured above. This motherboard will be part of Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable line for X99 meaning it has the black and orange colour scheme with some silver & grey accenting. Strangely the Gigabyte X99-UD5 WiFi is virtually identical to the flagship Ultra Durable motherboard the X99-UD7 WiFi. We’ve already had a look at that board and the similarities are striking. From further studying we have been able to confirm that there are a few noticeable differences between the two:
Gigabyte’s UD5 WiFi sports a FastBoot and OC button which the UD7 WiFi does not have
Gigabyte’s UD5 WiFi lacks a USB DAC port on the rear I/O which the UD7 WiFi has
Gigabyte’s UD5 WiFi loses a connecting heat pipe between the top heatsink and the PCH heatsink which the UD7 WiFi has
Those four things aside we can say that for all intents and purposes the two boards are more or less identical. This isn’t a bad thing because it means you can get a UD7-quality motherboard for the price of a UD5. However, it does pose a few problems for consumers when it comes to differentiating between the two.
Some of the features about Gigabyte’s X99-UD5 that can be seen from the board include:
4 Way SLI and CrossFire support, bandwidth will vary by CPUs as we know the Core i7 5820K has 28 PCIe lanes compared to the 40 PCIe lanes on the Core i7 5930K and 5960X
Dual M.2 connectors which appear to be stacked vertically
802.11 AC WiFI which is dual band and likely includes Bluetooth
10 SATA III ports of which four are shared with dual SATA Express ports
Gigabyte’s flagship overclocking board, the X99 SOC-Force, has already been revealed and looks like an absolute treat for overclockers and enthusiasts. What about for users who aren’t so focused on overclocking and want a more rounded feature set for overall use? For those types of users Gigabyte has their flagship X99 UD7 WiFi. It has just about everything an X99 user could want including a bucket load of overclocking features borrowed from the X99 SOC-Force. On the audio side Gigabyte have implemented their Amp-Up package which includes an isolated PCB and audio-grade electrolytic capacitors which is likely powered by Realtek’s ALC1150 codec – currently the best audio codec available to motherboard vendors. Gigabyte have opted for a WiFi implementation as the name of the product suggests and this is likely to be an 802.11 AC WiFi solution – probably Intel powered. Those things aside the board is very similar to the X99 G1 Gaming WiFi bar the fact this one opts for the black and orange Ultra Durable colour scheme. I also believe this board has Intel powered Network Interface Controllers whereas the G1 Gaming WiFi may have Killer NICs to tweak the features more towards the gaming audience.
An image of an upcoming ASUS X99 motherboard has been leaked into the public domain just ahead of the X99 platform launch that is speculated to be on August 29th. The image is of the ASUS X99 DELUXE which is the first time ASUS have released a white and black motherboard as a consumer product. For those who can remember back to Computex in June we did actually see the ASUS TUF Sabranco Z97 white and black motherboard but ASUS have still yet to release that particular board.
The ASUS X9 DELUXE is rumoured to have an 8 phase DIGI+ VRM design which powers the Haswell-E compatible LGA 2011-3 socket. Ten SATA III and two SATA Express make up the storage options for users. The ASUS X99 DELUXE includes a staggering five PCIe 3.0 X16 lanes and a single X4 lane meaning there’s bucket loads of multi expansion card options for users. Other nifty features include dual gigabit LAN, 7.1 channel HD audio, AC WiFi and the ASUS Crystal Sound 2 audio implementation.
Expect more details to be revealed at launch. The source is reporting that retail pricing will be around $350 USD.
Just yesterday ASRock’s beastly X99 OC Formula motherboard was unveiled and now it’s the turn of their Professional motherboard. The ASRock X99 Professional board is part of ASRock’s Fatal1ty series of motherboards designed for gamers. The funny thing is the ASRock X99 Professional is virtually identical to the X99 OC Formula board designed for overclockers. It has the same storage configuration of dual M.2 and 10 SATA III ports, it has the same PCI Express configuration of Quad SLI/CFX support, it has the same Purity Sound 2 implementation and it has the same Rear I/O configuration.
So what are the differences? Well, firstly it has the cliché red and black colour scheme that is becoming so mainstream for gaming boards. Secondly, it offers Killer E2200 networking instead of Intel Gigabit as the Killer E2200 is preferred by gamers. Thirdly, the rear two USB 2.0 ports are special “Fatal1ty” ports on the X99 Professional board meaning higher polling rates and lower latency for peripheral devices. However, those three things aside the boards are pretty much identical.
Expect pricing and availability details to arrive towards the end of this month.
We always knew Haswell-E wasn’t going to be cheap. If Intel’s six core i7 4960X was priced at $1000 on launch, then how much more would an eight core i7 5960X cost? According to the latest retail pricing that’s showed up at a Polish retailer it will actually be about the same – which has surprised me a lot. We can expect a price of €955.22, or 3996 Polish Zloty. At the same site we also saw the Core i7 4960X for 3957 Polish Zloty, which is €945, so the pricing of the Core i7 5960X looks to be virtually identical to its predecessor.
For those who want pricing in other currencies you have to consider that Poland has a VAT rate of 23%, pretty much identical to the UK’s 20% VAT rate. Therefore UK pricing should be around £760 (which is identical to what the Core i7 4960X currently sells for), while American pricing should be around $1000 when you adjust for VAT – most American states don’t pay sales tax. If you’re in an American state that does pay sales tax then expect to pay $1100-1200. There’s also going to be some variation based on reseller, distributor and retailer overheads but the general message is: expect pricing to be similar to the Core i7 4960X – $1000 MSRP.
Anandtech have managed to nab themselves some exclusive pictures of ASRock’s flagship X99 overclocking series motherboard. The first standout thing is the design: the black and yellow colour scheme is very brave but I think it works very well – it is great to see something that is not red and black! The headline overclocking feature is the 1300W capability of the CPU socket which we’ve already covered, that 1300W is provided by 12 phases so that’s 108.3 watts per phase. Anandtech’s Ian Cuttress claims that LN2 users have been known to push up to 700W with previous platforms, such as X79, so it is possible Haswell-E could get close to 1000W given the extra 2 cores – although we’ll have to wait and see what happens once the Core i7 5960X is launched.
Fancy power delivery features aside and the rest of the board is pretty standard X99. In other words, it has just about everything: 10 SATA 6Gbps ports, dual M.2 slots (no SATA Express), four PCIe 3.0 X16 slots, 10 USB 3.0 ports and dual Gigabit controllers. We can also see ASRock’s Purity Sound 2 implementation which probably includes Realtek’s ALC1150 codec. Interestingly there’s a half-heigh mini PCIe slot next to the sound which can probably be used for a WiFi/Bluetooth combo card although we aren’t sure if this is included as standard.
In terms of overclocking features there is a superhydrophobic conformal coating for moisture protection (useful for protecting against LN2-induced condensation), there’s also frequency change buttons, voltage check points, PCIE disable switches, LN2 mode swithc and a slow-mode switch. The Clear CMOS switch is on the rear I/O (as shown below). Expect pricing to be around the $400 mark, maybe more. Stay tuned for more X99 news as we edge closer to the launch!
EVGA may be a fairly small player when it comes to motherboards but they are never one to miss the launch of a high-end Intel platform, at the end of the day its enthusiasts that make up the bread and butter of EVGA’s customer-base. With X99 EVGA is planning the launch of a few motherboards such as a high-end Classified model, rumoured to cost around $400, and a FTW model. Catering to the small form factor market EVGA will also be releasing a micro-ATX X99 motherboard, pictured above.
The EVGA X99 Micro offers a 10 phase CPU VRM, four DDR4 slots, onboard power & reset buttons, a debug LED, six SATA III ports, three PCIe 3.0 X16 slots, a variety of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports as well as an mSATA port near the CMOS battery. The expected price point for the EVGA X99 Micro is rumoured to be $250 which isn’t bad considering how expensive DDR4 kits and Haswell-E CPUs will be. No doubt this board will be popular for LAN rigs built inside micro-ATX cases like the BitFenix Prodigy M and Corsair Carbide Air 240.
ASRock is preparing to go all out for extreme Haswell-E overclocking with their X99 OC Formula motherboard. According to an image they posted up on their Facebook page the OC Formula X99 motherboard will boast a 12 phase VRM that is capable of pumping 1300W through the CPU – if the CPU can survive that much. The VRM should boast high quality components such as ASRock’s Super Alloy package while the VRM controls and tuning will have been influenced by famous in-house overclock Nick Shih. Like all ASRock’s OC Series motherboards the yellow and black colour scheme is the order of the day while you can expect the entire board to be brimming with overclocking features.
ASRock will be using a variety of high quality power components including dual-stack MOSFETs (DSM), Multiple Filter Caps ( includes DIP solid caps, POSCAPs and MLCC) and Premium Alloy Chokes that offer 70% less current loss than iron powder chokes. ASRock have revealed many of their other X99 motherboards in the past few days, be sure to check those out below if you are interested:
The run-up to the launch of Intel’s X99 Haswell-E platform continues and this time it is more MSI motherboards on the menu for a bit of pre-NDA showing off. We’ve already seen the MSI X99S XPOWER AC and the MSI X99S Gaming 9 AC but now it is time for two more X99 boards from MSI. Up first and pictured above is the MSI X99S SLI Plus motherboard. Like the SLI Plus boards on the Z97 platform this board will be more wallet friendly than the XPower and high-end Gaming series boards. It features an 8 phase PWM power delivery system with MSI’s Military Class IV component set. 8 DDR4 slots give you adequate memory capabilities while 10 SATA III 6Gbps ports and a SATA express port give you bucket loads of storage option, there’s even an M.2 port on there. As the name suggests SLI and Crossfire are supported, the board is optimised for dual GPU operation in terms of its spacing. The all-black colour scheme is a nice break from the monotonous red & black we seem to see on just about every board.
Talking about monotonous red and black and MSI have actually done a good job to keep their red and black design looking fairly distinct from the likes of ASUS, ASRock and Gigabyte. Being a Gaming series board we find the usual combo of high quality ALC1150 based audio on an isolated PCB with a Killer E2200 NIC for the LAN. The Gaming 7 x99 board ditches the WiFi AC solution present on the gaming 9 which should help keep the cost down. That aside the X99S Gaming 7 is very similar to the X99S SLI Plus except with a few extra gaming features and the Gaming Series styling. Pricing and availability is still to be announced.
ASRock have unveiled their latest X99 creation which will provide support for upcoming Intel Haswell-E Extreme Edition processors and DDR4 memory. The X99X Killer motherboard is part of ASRock’s gaming-orientated Fatal1ty series of motherboards. Like most X99 motherboards it offers support for 8 DDR4 slots for a maximum of 128GB of RAM, three PCI Express X16 slots and a whopping 10 SATA III ports – meaning they are all 6 Gbps. ASRock are also using their Ultra M.2 port which basically makes use of a PCIe Gen 3 X4 slot that can offer up to 32 Gbps – much more than the normal 10 Gbps designated for M.2. Of course there are not any M.2 drives that can currently saturate beyond 10Gbps but in the future that may change.
Being a Gaming-focused motherboard the usual audio and networking package is a priority. ASRock have equipped dual Gigabit ports: one makes use of an Intel NIC (probably the I217V) and the other makes use of a Killer E2200 NIC. The audio is provided by ASRock’s 7.1 Channel Purity Sound 2 package with PCB separation, EMI shielding and high quality audio capacitors, the codec used is most likely to be ALC 1150 from Realtek. To top the gaming features off around the back ASRock provide two of its Fatal1ty USB ports which are intended to enhance the responsive of gaming peripherals like mice and keyboards. The X99X Killer should be made available when X99 and Haswell-E launch later this month.
Gigabyte’s overclocking motherboard series has been around for quite some time now, I still remember when they first launched the series with the X58 OC motherboard. The same styling lives on with Gigabyte’s newest overclocking motherboard the X99 SOC Force that has just been revealed. This motherboard brings with it the typical orange and black styling we associate with Gigabyte’s OC series, given the emphasis on overclocking potential it isn’t surprising Gigabyte have directed a lot of effort towards the VRM implementation and all the overclocking buttons.
The VRM utilises 8+2+2 phases for the CPU and memory, we don’t have specifics on the components that are used but we expect they are the highest-end ones Gigabyte have. Moving over to the overclocking area of the board and we find onboard buttons for controlling the CPU clocks and voltage as well as voltage read out points, debug LEDs, clear CMOS buttons and all that jazz. Gigabyte have also opted for dual BIOS chips to ensure you always have something to fall back on. Other features of the board include Gigabyte’s AMP-UP audio solution which uses improved capacitors and PCB isolation as well as Intel Gigabit networking.
Pricing and availability are still to be announced, expect more details as we near closer to Intel’s X99 launch which is rumoured to be near the end of this month.
Intel’s stock coolers may typically end up in most enthusiast’s bin, but for a lot of people they come in handy. Generally speaking they can deal with the CPU easily at stock, run quietly and are super-easy to install: if you want to get your system up and running quickly nothing quite beats them. With their new Haswell-E processors based on the LGA 2011-3 socket, the Core i7 5960X, 5930X and 5820K, Intel is shipping a new and improved stock cooler. The new stock cooler, TS13A, brings many improvements over the current LGA 2011 stock cooler, the RTS2011AC, these include:
A taller heatsink design, 75mm vs 63mm
An increased copper cooling area with added heat pipe
Heatsink fins that are now curved for more heat dissipation area
The new design allows for a greater TDP capacity which suggests to us that the Core i7 5960X is going to run hotter than its predecessor the Core i7 4960X. That’s not really surprising given that the Core i7 5960X will have an extra two cores to deal with, there will obviously be more heat and a greater density to that heat. Whether the increased heat output leads to higher temperatures will be another interesting thing to see – we already know that Haswell-E still uses fluxless solder after it was recently delidded so temperatures won’t be anywhere near as disastrous as what we see on the Haswell LGA 1150 processors. As you may all recall the transition from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge and from Ivy Bridge to Haswell on the mainstream platform all saw declining heat (aka TDPs) but increasing temperatures.