Asus ROG Strix X299-E Gaming
If spending £400 on the Prime X299 Deluxe tips you over your budget then Asus’ might be your next best choice, coming in at £400 inc VAT. The cash saving has come from fairly predictable cuts in the accessory box, but thankfully, it still sports many of the Deluxe’s same on-board features.
It’s the only other board on test to include Wi-Fi, although it’s only 802.11ac and not the new 802.11ad standard of the Deluxe. However, unlike the Gigabyte board, you get an M.2 heatsink, which cut our Samsung SSD’s running temperature from 67°C to 50°C. You also get a dedicated M.2 fan header should you need additional cooling, plus mounts for a 3D printable 40mm fan holder.
Every board on test includes two M.2 slots, although Asus has made all three of its boards sport one that’s vertically mounted next to the DIMM slots. The ROG Strix X299-E Gaming has one more SATA 6Gbps port than the Deluxe too, and it lacks the Deluxe’s U.2 port, although that’s arguably not a huge sacrifice. Asus has also cut back some of the overclocking and testing tools; there’s no reset or clear-CMOS buttons, which is a shame given the price tag.
While there’s no fan hub as found on the Deluxe, the ROG Strix X299-E Gaming still makes for a potent water-cooling board, with seven fan headers, including one that can output up to 36W for 3-pin powered pumps, which can all be controlled via the EFI or Fan Xpert 4 software. There’s a separate header for the all-in-one liquid cooler pumps too.
Meanwhile, the on-board audio is roughly the same as the other boards on test, and performs similarly, although Asus’ 8-channel ROG SupremeFX S1220A sports dual op-amps, Nichicon audio capacitors and improved shielding. There’s a ROG-branded audio software front end too, in the form of Sonic Studio III, which provides equalisers and effects, plus the ability to send different sound streams to different devices.
Lighting is flashier than on the Deluxe too, but still restrained. The lighting centrepiece is a mirrored ROG logo with RGB lighting, plus a set of individually controlled RGB LEDs on the I/O shroud. There are two 12V 4-pin RGB headers, plus a 5V header for a wide range of LED strip support options. You get USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C ports as well, plus a USB 3.1 header, although there are only six other Type-A ports on the rear I/O panel.
Meanwhile, the EFI is up to Asus’ usual high standards, although while it was clearer and more modern-looking that of the Gigabyte X299 Aorus Gaming 3, Gigabyte has massively improved its fan control section, and now pips Asus in this area. Thankfully, the ROG Strix X299-E Gaming was easy to overclock both in the Windows-based AI Suite software and EFI, with no stability issues or overly high power consumption.
We managed to get our chip to 4.6GHz at 1.24V, which matches the other best boards on test, raising the RealBench system score from 233,957 to 259,100. Also, while the Strix’s benchmark figures were similar to the rest of the field, it had the edge in Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation.
If £300 is your limit, the ROG Strix X299-E Gaming looks great, has loads of useful features and a tonne of handy software. The Gigabyte X299 Aorus Gaming 3 is £20 cheaper and performs similarly, while offering even better fan control options and a little more aesthetic pizzazz, but the ROG Strix X299-E Gaming has a better EFI and more elegant software, plus an M.2 SSD heatsink. The ROG Strix X299-E’s expansive feature set just gives it the edge, but they’re both great boards – the choice is ultimately down to your priorities and personal taste.
The lighting centrepiece is a mirrored ROG logo with RGB lighting