The art of ( high-end) subtlety
We paired ASUS’ HEDT ROG Strix X299-E Gaming motherboard with Intel’s latest Core i7-7800X Skylake-X CPU to see how they fare in this Lab Exam.
With Intel’s new Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors now out and about, the corresponding X299 chipset followed soon after. The new chipset signaled the arrival of a new generation of HEDT (High-End Desktop) motherboards, and soon after, Intel’s AiB partners released their own variants of X299 motherboards onto the market.
Out of all the motherboard brands that have gone on the production offensive, ASUS is the one brand that is at the forefront of this new enthusiastgrade motherboard. Not so much for its innovative designs, mind you, but more because of the sheer number of X299-ready motherboards that the brand has to offer.
In this Lab Exam, we’ll be taking a deeper look at the ROG Strix X299-E Gaming, one of ASUS’ more gamingcentric, enthusiast-level motherboards, and see if it is worthy of consideration.
A motherboard for the gamers
Originally announced at COMPUTEX 2017, the ROG Strix X299-E Gaming is one of many high-performance motherboards that the company has in store for the informed consumers and PC hobbyists.
In total, ASUS announced seven motherboards at a special workshop during the week-long ICT trade show, ranging from the Prime series, all the way down to the ROG Rampage VI series X299 motherboards.
By comparison, the ROG Strix X299-E of the lot, so PC gaming enthusiasts should take note if they don’t want to spend a large chunk of their budget on the motherboard. It should also be pointed out that the reason the board is considerably less costly than ASUS’ other X299 boards is because the board doesn’t come with as many features as its that peppers the other boards. In a sense, it’s an LGA 2066 ATX motherboard (the majority are E-ATX) with just the most bare essentials.
That being said, the ROG Strix X299-E features, plus one or two extra added aesthetics to go with it. As an LGA 2066 ATX board, the ROG Strix X299-E Gaming is able to support both of Intel’s new Core X family of CPUs, meaning that it accepts processors from either the Skylake-X or Kaby Lake-X lineup. Besides the new CPU slot, there are the standard eight DDR4 DIMM slots that support up to 128GB of RAM, with a maximum frequency of 4,133MHz.
Move down to the PCIe 3.0 slots, and you’ll see that, like the majority of boards that picked up on the trend last year, they’ve been reinforced with bits of metal to prevent the slots from sagging or slowly ripped out from the board due to the weight of the external graphics component. But just to be clear about the latter point: the chances of that actually happening to a motherboard is highly unlikely, unless of course, you’re the kind of gamer who is constantly carrying your PC to LAN parties (these days, it’d be easier to get yourself a gaming notebook), or you’ve forgotten to tighten up the screws on the card’s bracket.
Storage-wise, the motherboard has a total of eight SATA 6 ports installed, but above all else, it also has two M.2 PCIe SSD is a bit cumbersome: in order to access it, you’ll need to physically unscrew the cooler shroud that’s located on the bottom-right corner the motherboard. Underneath the same cooler shroud, however, is a thermal pad that will actually sit snuggly on top of your M.2 module, which can help to dissipate heat generated by the storage module (thumbs up to ASUS for that). The second module is easily accessible, next to port, this one forces you to stand your M.2 module upright on the board.
By comparison, the ROG Strix X299-E Gaming is the more affordable model of the lot, so PC gaming enthusiasts should take note if they don’t want to spend a large chunk of their budget on the motherboard.
As the ROG Strix X299-E Gaming is also Intel Optane Memory ready, these M.2 ports are also capable of supporting the new Optane Memory module. To that end, we also managed to test out the new 32GB Optane Memory, but more on that later.
Sadly, the motherboard is lacking in the rear I/O department, sporting only two USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, a pair of USB Type-C and Type-A ports, a LAN port, and the SPDIF output that is powered by ASUS’ SupremeFX audio technology. On the plus side, the motherboard does come with its own Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 module, giving you the option of keeping your PC wireless (or at least, one less wire to worry about).
Before you ask: yes, not even the ROG Strix X299-E Gaming was spared from ASUS’ Aura Sync RGB LEDs, and the company has gone one step further by embedding a holographic logo of its name that changes colors, right in the middle of the motherboard. Putting the board through its paces We used the following components as part of this Lab Exam: • Intel Core i7-7800X (Skylake-X) • Apacer Blade 16GB (2x 8GB) DDR4-3000 • Palit GameRock GeForce GTX 1080 • Corsair RM1000W PSU • Corsair H75 AiO Cooler (with High
Performance Cooling Fans) • Plextor M6S 128GB SSD • Windows 10 Professional As mentioned earlier, we also tested the 32GB Optane Memory. To benchmark it, however, we were required to use a special Intel Optane Memory-ready storage, which we’ve listed below: • Seagate BarraCuda Pro 6.5TB HDD • Intel Optane Memory 32GB Our benchmarking programs consisted of the following: • PCMark 8 (Home and
Creative Accelerated) • PCMark 10 • Cinebench R15 For the Intel Optane Memory benchmark, we additionally ran the PCMark 8 Storage test, both with the memory module enabled and disabled, as well as CrystalDiskMark 5
The 6-core, 12-thread, Core i7-7800X processor featured in this Lab Exam was courtesy of ASUS. Needless to say, we managed to overclock the CPU way pass its default Turbo Boost clock speed of 4.0GHz, up to 4.8GHz with a steady voltage stream of 1.35v.
Once overclocked, however, the CPU and motherboard pulled far ahead, with the Home Accelerated tests pulling in 5,202 points, and the Creative Accelerated tests scoring 8,855 points.
The same story could be seen on PCMark 10, where both the CPU and motherboard brought in a score of less than 5,000 points at its default clock speed, and 6,700 points once we cranked up the frequency to 4.8GHz. On the Cinebench R15 benchmark, the maximum score that we managed to obtain (after overclocking) from the program’s multicore test was 1,537 points, and 207 points from its single-core test.
As mentioned, we tested the Intel Optane Memory’s performance in two formats: disabled and enabled. When disabled, the scores on the PCMark 8 Home and Creative Accelerated were relatively similar to when we ran the test on our primary storage device. With Optane Memory enabled, it was the Creative Accelerated test that showed a 7,000 points to 7,700 points in an instant. But the test that showed the Optane Memory’s prowess was the Storage test. With the memory module enabled, its bandwidth performance actually jumped from 14.1MB/s to a near 450MB/s.
This motherboard has two M.2 ports, and one of them is hidden underneath this heatsink.
The second M.2 port is next to the 24-pin power port, but you’ll have to install the storage module upright.
To kill two birds with one stone, we also tested the 32GB Optane Memory with this motherboard.
Behold, the CPU we used: the Intel Core i7-7800X.
The board comes with an 8+4-pin power phase, for that extra voltage when overclocking.
Sadly, the ROG Strix X299-E Gaming doesn’t have as many ports in its rear I/O than we would’ve liked.
After overclocking the CPU, Cinebench R15 showed a marked improvement in its performance.
The PCMark 10 score after overclocking the CPU to 4.8GHz.
The PCMark 10 score before overclocking the CPU.