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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 10 > ASUS X99-A

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24-10-2014


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Motherboard ASUS X99-A: review and testing

As we know, most today motherboards produced by various partners of Intel do not have an affordable cost. The fact that they fully realize the potential of the new Intel X99chipset and processors Intel Haswell-E. In addition, manufacturers are trying to equip their solutions with a greater number of benefits to look more favorable in comparison with competitors. This policy is quite logical, since the new processors also have a low price tag, and the more they remain the lot of enthusiasts. However, ASUS has decided to meet the users who do not have unlimited funds for the purchase of the system by announcing a relatively affordable model of ASUS X99-A to work in conjunction with the series of processors Intel Haswell-E.

Let's take a look at the capabilities of new product, in more details.

ASUS X99-A

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

X99-A (rev 1.0)

Chipset

Intel X99

CPU socket

Socket LGA2011-v3

CPUs supported

Intel Core i7 Extreme of family Intel Haswell-E

Memory frequency

2133 / 2400* / 2666* / 2800* / 3000* / 3200* MHz

(*OC)

Memory support

8 x DDR4 DIMM- slots with support of memory up to 64 GB

Expansion slots

3 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (CPU)

 

40 lines

28 lines

х16

х16+х16

х16+х16+х8

х16

х16+х8

x16+х8+х4

1 х PCI Express 2.0 x16 (in mode х4)

2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

Disk subsystem

Intel X99 Chipset supports:

1 х M.2 x4 PCIe 3.0 (M.2 2242, M.2 2260, M.2 2280, M.2 22110)

8 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 x SATA Express (compatible with 2 x SATA 6 Gb/s)

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10

LAN

1 x Intel WGI218V (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec Realtek ALC1150

8-channel sound

S/PDIF Out

Power connectors

1 х 24-pin ATX main power connector

1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power ATX12V

Fans

2 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

4 x system fan connector (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiators on the chipset

Aluminum radiators on elements of power subsystem

External I/O

1 х PS/2 (for mouse or keyboard connection)

1 x LAN (RJ45)

6 x USB 3.0

4 x USB 2.0

5 x audio jacks

1 х optical S/PDIF Out

1 x button «USB BIOS Flashback»

Internal I/O

2 x USB 3.0 each with support of two USB 3.0 (19-pin)

3 x USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0

8 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 x SATA Express

1 х M.2 x4 PCIe 3.0

1 х socket TPM

1 х socket COM

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 х button «MemOK!»

1 x button «Power»

1 x button «Reboot»

1 x switch «TPU»

1 x switch «EPU»

1 х switch «EZ XMP»

1 x diagnostic LED-indicator

1 х module TB_HEADER

1 х socket of thermal sensor

1 x S/PDIF Out

1 x socket DRCT

1 x CPU/DRAM Overvoltage

1 x switch for CMOS-memory cleaning

BIOS

AMI UEFI BIOS

128 Mb

PnP, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty description booklet

Disc with driver and utilities  

1 х set ASUS Q-Connectors

4 x SATA cables

1 x bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI

1 х interface panel plug

Form-factor, dimensions

ATX

305 х 244 mm

Producer website

ASUS

Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available at support page

Packaging and content

ASUS X99-A

Motherboard ASUS X99-A comes in the usual cardboard box decorated in dark colors of printing. The basic graphic elements are the image of the model and technology Dual Intelligent Processors 5 with 5-Way Optimization. Additionally, you can pay attention to the name of the manufacturer, support of technologies NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX, as well as the use of audio technology DTS Connect and DTS UltraPC II.

ASUS X99-A

The reverse side has an image of the product, as well as its brief specifications. Also here is a detailed description of the key features and advantages of the device:

  • Dual Intelligent Processors 5 with 5-Way Optimization - motherboard is equipped with two smart chips: energy processor (Energy Processing Unit - EPU) and TurboV-processor (TurboV Processing Unit - TPU). The fifth generation of the chips work with a digital power system DIGI+ VRM and technologies Fan Xpert 3 and TurboAPP, that lets you fine-optimization of the system depending on the current needs of the user.  
  • OS Socket - a proprietary feature of ASUS motherboards on chipset Intel X99. In contrast to the standard CPU socket Socket LGA2011-v3, ASUS OC Socket has a large number of contact legs. As we know, on the new processors Intel Haswell-E have more contact pad than the legs in the slot. ASUS has finalized the CPU socket for them. In combination with a proprietary UEFI BIOS it can provide more stable voltage on the CPU and memory under heavy load during acceleration and achieve better results.
  • TurboLAN - using the bundled software you can monitor the network activity of your PC in real time, as well as set each program the priority access to network resources.
  • TurboAPP - allows you to select the required level of performance for each individual application. Firmware ASUS AI Suite 3 allows you to customize not only performance, but also to choose your audio profile of each application, as well as configure the prioritization of network traffic.
  • Crystal Sound 2 - pre-installed audio codec Realtek ALC1150, which uses a special amplifier TI R4580I, offers the support of eight-channel sound. In order to avoid interference caused by electromagnetic interference, a special screening technology Audio Shielding is applied. To ensure maximum audio quality there are Japanese audio capacitors of company Nichicon. In addition, the left and right audio channels are formed on different layers of the PCB that accompanies minimize crosstalk. Also here is the support of the technologies DTS CONNECT Users and DTS Ultra PC II, as well as the presence of the port S/PDIF out on the interface panel.

ASUS X99-A

In the box with the ASUS X99-A we found a good set of accessories:

  • CD with drivers and utilities;
  • user's manual;
  • four SATA cables;
  • set ASUS Q-Connectors;
  • bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI;
  • the interface board plug.

Design and features  

ASUS X99-A

New product is made on black PCB. Its size is ATX (305 x 244 mm). In contrast to the models on the Intel Z97, where in the design was mainly used bronze and yellow shades, ASUS X99-A designers preferred the brighter elements in the radiator.

ASUS X99-A

As the circuitry includes a strip with yellow LED-backlit which should please cases with a transparent cover and modding enthusiasts.

Talking about the layout of components on-board, it is worth noting that all performed at the highest level, so no problem with this aspect of the use you will appear. Manufacturer tried to do everything necessary to improve the comfort of the building, namely: have equipped the DIMM-slots with latches on one side only and situated SATA ports parallel to the surface of the PCB.

ASUS X99-A

On the reverse side of the PCB catches the attention by a standard base plate of the socket, as well as the fact that the radiators are fixed using reliable screws. Special attention is given to some chips and electrical components that do not fit on the front side, and a small low profile heatsink, located directly under the elements of the power subsystem for more efficient cooling.

ASUS X99-A

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, S/PDIF out, COM and TPM ports, power and reboot buttons, diagnostic LED-indicator, socket DRCT (allows to connect the additional button to switch to BIOS and put it on front panel), one 4-pin socket for connection of case fan, as well as front panel leading-in socket. Also here are three leading-in sockets for USB activation: two USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is eight: four internal and four on the interface panel. As for USB 3.0 their number is ten: four and internal and six are external. All internal and one external port are implemented by the chipset, while five additional connectors on the interface panel work thanks to two controllers: ASMedia ASM1042AE and ASMedia ASM1074.

ASUS X99-A

Special attention is given to three small switches: «EZ_XMP», «TPU» and «EPU». The first is designed to activate the corresponding XMP-profile of RAM. The second has three positions: "Off.", "1" (automatic overclocking system by increasing the multiplier) and "2" (automatic overclocking by increasing the FSB frequency and CPU multiplier). The third tumbler has only two positions and is responsible for the activation of the power saving function (EPU).

ASUS X99-A

ASUS X99-A

ASUS X99-A

The capability of disk subsystem organization is performed by  socket M.2 х4 PCIe 3.0 with maximum carrying capacity 32 Gb/s (SSD-drives of format M.2 2242, 2260, 2280 и 22110 are supported), eight ports SATA 6 Gb/s, as well as one SATA Express which is compatible with two SATA 6 Gb/s. Here is the support of SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10. All connectors are operated due to wide capabilities of chipset Intel X99.

ASUS X99-A

ASUS X99-A is equipped with eight DIMM-slots for memory modules of standard DDR4, which for convenience are equipped with latches on one side only. RAM can handle a maximum of four-channel mode. To implement one of the multi-channel mode, the module must be installed according one of the following schemes.

ASUS X99-A

Modules operating at frequencies of 2133 MHz in the nominal mode and up to 3200 MHz overclocking are supported. The maximum amount of memory can be up to 64 GB, which is enough for any tasks.

Further note placed on the right side module for connection of external panel with USB 3.0 ports and a button «MemOK!», which allows you to automatically pick up the necessary parameters of the memory for the successful launch of the system.

ASUS X99-A

ASUS X99-A

Cooling system of the product consists of three aluminum radiators. The first provides heat removal out of Intel X99, while the others cover the elements of power subsystem. In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 35.9°C;
  • top radiator for cooling the elements of power subsystem – 42.1°C;
  • bottom radiator for cooling the elements of power subsystem – 31.9°C;

The results can be described as good, which gives hope for higher overclocking potential.

ASUS X99-A

ASUS X99-A

Processor power supply is performed via 8-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller ASP1257. All power components of CPU have high reliability level: solid capacitors and chokes with ferrite core are used. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.

ASUS X99-A

To extend motherboard functionality the user has six slots:

  1. PCI Express 3.0 x16 («PCIE_X16_1», x16 mode);
  2. PCI Express 2.0 x1 («PCIE_X1_1»);
  3. PCI Express 2.0 x16 («PCIE_X16_2», mode x1or x4);
  4. PCI Express 3.0 x16 («PCIE_X16_3», mode x16 or x8);
  5. PCI Express 2.0 x1 («PCIE_X1_2»);
  6. PCI Express 3.0 x16 («PCIE_X16_4», mode x8 or x4).

To install the graphics cards the user has 3 slotsPCI Express 3.0 x16, which are connected to the processor and share (depending on the model of installed CPU) 40 or 28 lines of standard PCI Express 3.0. Lines can be allocated according to one of the following schemes.

ASUS X99-A

In turn slots PCI Express 2.0 x16 and PCI Express 2.0 x1 can be used for other expansion cards.

Due to lack of available chipset lines, as well as the presence of a large number of controllers on the motherboard, there are a number of restrictions on the simultaneous use of ports and connectors:

  • one slot PCI Express 3.0 x16 (Scheme «PCIE_X16_4») shares the bandwidth with interface M.2 x4 PCIe 3.0, which means that their simultaneous operation is not possible.
  • expansion slot PCI Express 2.0 x16 (Scheme «PCIE_X16_2») shares the bandwidth with slot PCI Express 2.0 x1 (scheme «PCIE_X1_1») and two USB 3.0 ports on the interface panel (scheme «USB3_E56»). By default, both slots operate in mode x1, while USB 3.0 ports are active. If desired, you can disable ports USB 3.0, thus increasing the bandwidth of PCI Express 2.0 x16 to mode x4.

ASUS X99-A

Multi I/O capabilities are based on NUVOTON NCT6791D chip which controls the operation of the system fans, COM and PS/2 ports, as well as provides the monitors.

ASUS X99-A

ASUS X99-A

The operation of five USB 3.0 ports on the interface panel is implemented using the chip ASMedia ASM1042AE and controller ASMedia ASM1074.

ASUS X99-A

To support network connections there is GB LAN-controller Intel WGI218V. Network resource allocation and traffic prioritization can perform the utility TurboLAN.

ASUS X99-A

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound Realtek ALC1150 that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 sound systems and has several proprietary features (concept Crystal Sound 2). It presupposes the existence of the guard housing at the audio codec to minimize the influence of electromagnetic interference, as well as special audio amplifier TI R4580I and Japanese audio capacitors to improve the quality of the reproduced sound. The area of the PCB with the sound path is shielded by a protective strip. Moreover, the left and right audio channels are on separate layers of the PCB.

ASUS X99-A

Interface panel of model contains the following ports:  

  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 6 x USB 3.0;
  • 4 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 x PS / 2 (mouse or keyboard);
  • 1 x button «USB BIOS Flashback»;
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF out;
  • 5 x audio ports.

Interface panel has the presence of ten USB ports, button to update the firmware BIOS, as well as convenient connection of multi-channel speakers. Separately note the use of peripherals with interface PS/2, and the fact that you can make a COM port on the rear panel of the PC using the appropriate connector on the PCB surface.

ASUS X99-A

ASUS X99-A

The capabilities of organizing the cooling system inside the body at ASUS X99-A are very nice. There are six 4-pin fan connectors, two of which are used for the cooling system of CPU, while the other four are designed for system fans.

UEFI BIOS

Motherboard uses a modern pre-loader with UEFI basis. To provide the setting is possible using the mouse. It provides two usage scenarios.

ASUS X99-A

The first one is “EZ Mode”. All necessary settings are concentrated on one screen and overclocking is realized due to “EZ Tuning Wizard”.

ASUS X99-A

Or initial “Advanced Mode” where all setting should be manually performed.

ASUS X99-A

All overclocking settings can be found in “Ai Tweaker” section.

ASUS X99-A

Frequency multiplier allows to set module connection speed within 800-4000MHz.

ASUS X99-A

If necessary you can get the access to memory latency adjustments.

ASUS X99-A

To increase the stability during overclocking process you can use the setting of digital power subsystem DIGI+.

ASUS X99-A

Of course, here is a section where the voltage settings of key components are grouped.

Adjustments required to overclock and optimize the system:

Parameter

Menu name

Range

Pitch

System bus frequency

BCLK Frequency

80,0 – 300,0

0,1

 

CPU Strap

100, 125, 166, 250

 

RAM frequency

Memory Frequency

800 - 4000

 

RAM timings

DRAM Timing

CAS Latency, RAS to CAS, RAS PRE Time, RAS ACT Time, DRAM COMMAND Mode, RAS to RAS Delay, REF Cycle Time, Write Recovery Time, READ to PRE Time, FOUR ACT WIN Time, WRITE to READ Delay, Write Latency

 

 

Min. CPU Cache Ratio Limit

12 – MAX

1

 

Max CPU Cache Ratio Limit

12 – MAX

1

PWM controller frequency of the CPU power converter

Fixed CPU VRM Switching Frequency(KHz)

300 – 600

50

 

Fixed DRAM-AB Switching Frequency(KHz)

300 – 550

50

 

Fixed DRAM-CD Switching Frequency(KHz)

300 - 550

50

 

PCH I/O Voltage

1,20000 – 2,20000

0,00625

 

VCCIO CPU 1.05V Voltage

0,70000 – 1,80000

0,00625

 

VCCIO PCH 1.05V Voltage

0,70000 – 1,80000

0,00625

 

VTTDDR Voltage(CHA, CHB)

0,20000 – 1,00000

0,00625

 

VTTDDR Voltage(CHC, CHD)

0,20000 – 1,00000

0,00625

 

PLL Termination Voltage

0,200000 – 2,193804

0,006602

 

Long Duration Package Power Limit

1 – 4096

1

 

Package Power Time Window

1 - 127

1

 

Short Duration Package Power Limit

1 - 4096

1

 

CPU Integrated VR Current Limit

0,125 – 1023,875

0,125

 

CPU Core Voltage Override

0,001 – 1,920

 

0,001

 

CPU Cache Voltage Override

0,001 – 1,920

0,001

 

CPU System Agent Voltage Offset

-0,999 – +0,999

0,1

CPU input voltage

CPU Input Voltage

0,800 – 2,700

0,001

CPU Input Boot Voltage

0,800 – 2,700

0,010

RAM modules voltage

 

DRAM Voltage(CHA, CHB)

0,800 – 1,900

0,005

DRAM Voltage(CHC, CHD)

0,800 – 1,900

0,005

Chipset voltage

PCH Core Voltage

0,70000 – 1,80000

0,01250

ASUS X99-A

ASUS X99-A

“Monitor” section provides the access to information about CPU, VRM modules and chipset temperature,  rotation speed of installed fans as well as to check the voltage on CPU cores and power lines +12V, +5V and +3,3V. Additionally note the side panel that is displayed in all sections and has the key information about the parameters of CPU, RAM and lines +3.3V, +5V, +12V.  Also it is possible to make screenshots in BIOS mode. 


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