ASUS did not rely on the old models of motherboards for the recently introduced Broadwell-E processors, releasing five new products LGA2011-3 socket and chipset X99. One of the first models of Strix X99 Gaming ROG line, we have already tested. The Taiwanese company also unveiled Rampage V Edition 10 and three models of the Signature line: X99-Deluxe II, X99-E and X99-A II. All three recent motherboards have already arrived in our test lab, but we will start with a review ASUS X99-A II.
On X99-A II equipment and the price of the ASUS is located just between the entry-level model X99-E and one for X99-Deluxe II enthusiasts. Motherboard X99-A II offers a number of advanced features, you will get not only the slots and M.2 u.2, and eight SATA 6 Gb / s interface and SATA Express. Of course, not without the usual eight DDR4 DIMM modules.
ASUS has equipped the board with four PCIe x16 slots with mechanical third-generation, dual-slot PCIe 2.0 x1, eight ports USB 3.1 Gen1 and USB 2.0, as well as two USB 3.1 Gen2 interfaces. There is also a Gigabit LAN port, buyers will get a decent integrated sound. Not forgotten and integrated buttons.
Ever since the submission of the first X99 motherboards in the line of Signature ASUS has remained committed to the standard color scheme – black PCB with white radiators, as well as white input / output plug. All ports and interfaces are black or gray coloring. ASUS used the ATX format, so ASUS X99-A II is compatible with many buildings.
ASUS motherboard with the following accessories are enclosed:
ASUS traditionally put not only the I / O cover and user manual, and other accessories. In the case of X99-A II we have four cables SATA, bridge 2-way SLI, Q-Connector, CPU Install Tool and screw M.2 slot. But as the power cord is attached and RGB.
Chipset X99 is very similar to the old Z97-PCH, which is focused on Intel Socket LGA1150. But X99 chipset supports more “native» SATA 6 Gb / s, ie ten ports. You will also receive six “native” port USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen1). chipset offers eight PCIe 2.0 lanes to connect additional controllers. Interface DMI (Direct Media Interface) is based on the old protocol 2.0.
Old X99 PCH chipset on the number of PCI Express lanes can not compete with the new Z170, which offers 20 Gen3 lines. But do not forget that the processors Haswell-E (P) and Broadwell-E (P) supports up to 40 PCIe 3.0 lines of what could be called a sort of compensation, depending on the CPU model. For example, M.2 slot allocated four lines PCIe 3.0 with a theoretical bandwidth up to 32 Gbit / s, so that the CPU itself has sufficient resources not to depend on powerful chipset PCH Z170.
After removal of the passive radiator can be considered components of the power system. At the X99-A II uses the same power system as that of the previously tested Strix X99 Gaming. Each reactor is supplemented MOSFET. Extra power is supplied to the processor via the 8- and 4-pin socket, so power up to 528 watts theoretically available.
We got quite expectedly eight DDR4 DIMM memory slots, which allow you to set up to 128 GB of memory using eight 16-GB DIMM strips. ASUS support for the eight banks of memory frequency up to DDR4-3333, which also helps to squeeze out a higher level of performance. In the lower right corner of the photo you can see a button MemOK, allows you to set “safe” storage options, with which the system can boot.
As a PWM-controller used ASP1257, which supports eight power phases – just the right amount for the X99-A II.
Behind the circuit board, we found eight small chips. But in this case, not Phase Doubler, because PWM-controller enough opportunity to control the eight phases. IR3535M chips from International Rectifier work as Synchronous Buck Converter Driver, which should increase the efficiency even more.
The controller need not supply phases only the CPU, but also a memory. Two ASP1250 chip responsible for managing four-phase memory power. Each controller ASP1250 controls two phases.
On expansion slots motherboard too close to Strix X99 Gaming, except for two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots and mechanical PCIe 2.0 x16 we have three mechanical PCIe 3.0 x16. All three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots are connected directly to the CPU LGA2011-3, which allows the configuration of multi-GPU, which uses up to three graphics cards from NVIDIA or AMD. distribution lines depends on the CPU. The processor Core i7-5820K or Core i7-6800K we get x8 / x8 / x8. If the processor supports 40 lines, we get a distribution x8 / x16 / x8. With two graphics cards distribution is x16 / x8 (28 lines) and x16 / x16 (40 lines).
The advantage of this configuration lies in the fact that we have in all cases, four lines for M.2 PCIe 3.0 or U.2 drives. In the following table you can see the lines of distribution.
On the upper slot can be seen recently introduced feature Safe Slot, increases the mechanical strength of the slot. Mechanical PCIe 2.0 x16 slots using shared resources. Namely, the total connection with the controller USB 3.1 Gen2 and lower slot PCIe 2.0 x1.
We get a SATA Express interface, eight connectors SATA 6Gb / s, one port and M.2 u.2 – quite familiar configuration. All SATA ports are connected via the X99 PCH chipset in native mode, ports U.2 M.2 and work directly on the CPU.
But not all so simple: M.2 ports and U.2 can not be used at the same time – will have to choose one of the interfaces. Frankly, we do not fully understand why. In processors with 40 PCIe lanes with three graphics cards on M.2 and U.2 ports is just eight lines. To the left of two separate ports SATA 6Gb / s, you can see a vertical comb USB 3.1 Gen1.
We continue with the I / O panel.
Interfaces from left to right, top to bottom:
On the I / O panel as soon as you notice a large number of USB ports. In the motherboard X99-A II offers four ports USB 3.1 Gen1 and USB 2.0, as well as two more modern USB 3.1 Gen2, ASUS chose one Type A and Type C. There is also a BIOS Flashback button PS / 2 port, Gigabit LAN port five analog 3.5-mm audio connector, has a Toslink optical output.
Under the hood is installed EMR Controller Realtek ALC1150, supporting up to 8 + 2 channel audio. For frontal DAC declared level of 115 dB (A), for the remaining channels – 110 dB (A). The controller is complemented by eight audio capacitors designed to enhance sound quality. There is also a headphone amplifier with an impedance of 600 ohms.
In general, the components are comparable with Strix X99 Gaming, left EMI cover installed Controller Nuvoton NCT6791D-A, the chip Super I / O, providing monitoring voltage, temperature and fan speed. Another left soldered chip ASMedia ASM1074, Hub USB 3.1 Gen1, providing a four-port USB 3.1 Gen1 on the I / O panel.
Thanks to ASM1142 controller from ASMedia motherboard ASUS X99-A II provides two ports USB 3.1 Gen2. The I / O of the two ports are arranged with a bandwidth of up to 10 Gbit / s.
Port for connecting a wired LAN operates at speeds up to 1 Gbit / s from the controller Intel I218-V PHY, supports the functions of Wake-on-LAN and V-LAN.
Not without a built-in buttons, improving operator comfort with the motherboard. On the lower end of the PCB ASUS established the power button and reset, as well as the diagnostic display. Next you will notice a comb for a new Aura lighting system. With the help of the included cable you can connect the Aura LED-strip. If you like the light inside the case, the function will come in handy for sure. ASUS offers LED-strip 5050 RGB, the line 12 is permitted maximum load of up to 2 A.
You can also switch between two BIOS ROM. With the help of jumpers by default, you can go to the BIOS setup.
As Strix X99 Gaming, we liked the layout ASUS X99-A II. All housed in its place, to all the components can be easily reached. We used the compact water block Corsair Hydro h110i GT, which cools the Core i7-6950X effectively. Many thanks to RGB LED backlight Aura can be incorporated into different modes. Available modes Default, Auto, Static, Breathing, Strobing, Comet, Flash & Dash, Rainbow, CPU Temperature and Color Cycle. ASUS has placed LED Claire PCH, in large PCIe slot and rear.
On the motherboard are five 4-pin fan headers. All five terminals can be controlled, including the CPU fan, chassis fan, and two new connector H-AMP. You can connect to last very powerful fans. Also modes “Silent” and “Turbo” mode is available “Manual”, in which the user can put their own settings. If the fan connection terminals will be missed, comb through EXT_FAN can connect the option board that provides three 4-pin sockets.
ASUS X99-A II arrived in our editorial office with the BIOS version 0401. But on the ASUS website has a version 0601, we seamlessly stitched using the Instant Flash. After the initial BIOS version 0222 to version 0401 and 0601 the stability of the system has been improved.
ASUS is quite logical to use the same interface as that of the previously tested motherboards. On a black background we get turquoise and white letters. Let’s start from the top left corner. It displays the time and date. Next to UEFI, you can change the language. A new addition was the master of “EZ Tuning Wizard”, facilitating the task of overclocking for beginners. However, hardcore overclockers this feature to anything, they are likely to prefer to put all the settings manually. But nevertheless pleased that a novice user too, ASUS has taken care.
In the next box provides information on the model of the motherboard, the installed version of BIOS, CPU model, clock speed and memory capacity. To the right you can see the temperature of the CPU and motherboard. Also displays CPU voltage. Below, in the left field displays the installed memory modules information occupied slots, capacitance and frequency. You can also select a profile Extreme Memory Profiles (or XMP), if present. To the right displays the connected drives. Finally, the bottom field allows you to adjust the fan speed, the speed can be set individually using the “Manual Fan Tuning” feature.
In the right pane exhibited a basic mode of operation. By default, Normal mode is active. But it is possible to activate the mode “ASUS Optimal” and “Power Saving”. In the mode “ASUS Optimal” system increases the performance mode “Power Saving” she begins to work more efficiently. You can also easily change the boot order. You can switch to Advanced mode by clicking “Advanced Mode” or by pressing “F7”, it will be discussed below.
Advanced Mode mode is visually similar to the EZ Mode, but has a more traditional structure. The first tab “My Favorites” contains a set of the most commonly used BIOS functions that the user can change at their discretion. To add a function should click on “My Favorite (F3)” at the top or use the key “F3”. This will open a separate window where you can select the function.
On the main “Main” page provides basic information: BIOS version installed CPU model and memory specifications. Here you can change the menu language if required. Next there is a tab “Ai Tweaker”. It summarizes all the overclocking functions, implemented a large number of new features that will be sufficient and experienced overclockers. You can put the clock frequency of the CPU or memory, as well as individual voltage. Below is a description of what each function performs.
Numerous integrated components can be traditionally turn off at the next tab. Some of the information displayed in the monitor is constantly right field, but ASUS has added a separate tab “Monitor”, where possible, including, display the speed of the fans. You can also watch the temperature and voltage.
All settings that affect the boot process, are located on the “Boot” tab. If you are concerned about the boot image, you can disable it here. There is also a Boot Override option, which usually bring to the last page. ASUS has also added several utilities. Through the “ASUS EZ Flash 3 Utility” can update UEFI through a connected drive or directly through the Internet. All settings can be stored in UEFI eight profiles that you can save on a USB-stick or import via the function “ASUS Overclocking Profile”. Option “ASUS SPD Information” reads the SPD (Serial Presence Detect) to the DIMM. In paragraph “Exit”, you can save the settings or load the default settings. Before saving the UEFI settings displays a small window, which lists all the settings are affected. In addition, if you want to add notes, then you do not need a pen and paper – you can simply activate the “Quick Note”.
Easy new interface UEFI we estimate good. As we found in the management interface using the keyboard after a while begins to “slow down”. But after a reboot everything works fine. Otherwise, all setting works well. As for the stability of the complaints we have is not there.
Motherboard X99-A II is based on a proprietary socket OC, to which the first months after the submission of Haswell-E platform in August 2014 ASUS had exclusive rights. The UEFI available a variety of overclocking settings. For example, you can specify different VDIMM voltage memory channels A / B and C / D. The UEFI divider allows you to set the memory frequency up to DDR4-4000, available 65 delays. These are just a few examples of the rich range of overclocking options.
X99-A II allows you to set the base frequency from 80 MHz to 300 MHz in 0.1 MHz, although we prefer an interval of 0.01 MHz for finer adjustment. CPU voltage can be changed in three modes Override, Adaptive and Offset. It can be put directly in the Override mode and Adaptive 0.001 V to 1.920 V. In adaptive mode specifies a fixed value and the offset for the Turbo mode, ie under load. The mode Offset (offset) you can stand the tension in both directions from -0.999 V to 0.999 V. In all three modes pitch is 0.001 V. All other overclocking tools are given in the table.
We proceed to overclocking memory. We used four DIMM module capacity of 4GB – “G.Skill RipJaws4 DDR4-3000”. In the first test we will check the XMP functionality, and memory overclocking second hand, without using XMP.
Profile Extreme Memory Profile correctly recognizes, working with him was completely stable. The same applies to the values that we have made by hand, and we were able to put even lower latency. VDIMM voltage was 1.35 V.
ASUS motherboard with put-known set of AI Suite, which is supported by a large number of functions for Windows. With the new X99 motherboards included a third version of the package. A good example can be called “TurboApp”, which is part of a set of 5-Way Optimization. This feature allows for each application to set the CPU multiplier, sound configuration and the network priority. As a result, you can ensure that only the desired application and / or the game will run with increased CPU performance. It also supports feature Dual Intelligent Processors 5 with TPU and EPU.
Of course, AI Suite 3 package includes four other functions. TPU is responsible for clock speeds, updated Fan Xpert 3 provides adjustment of fan speed. Digi + function ensures stable operation of the power subsystem. Maximum efficiency provides the function “EPU”, in which there are four modes: automatic, efficient, economical and inactivity. In the bottom panel, you can at any time to view information about the CPU and memory frequencies, voltages, temperatures and fan speeds. If you click on the gear icon, then open the settings of individual categories.
The package ASUS AI Suite 3 has other useful features, including Ai Charger + for iPhone fast charging, iPad and iPod with the support of BC 1.1. With EZ Update ASUS provides update installed software and BIOS. Each time after the release of a new version of the BIOS, you can download it, and then through the USB BIOS Flashback feature to flash the new version using the USB-drive. In special cases, such as when a planned reboot of the system, AI Suite can remind the user of the event via Push Notice function. It is also possible to inform and other events, for example, exceeded the threshold voltage or temperature.
Function USB 3.1 Boost provides high-performance connected devices USB 3.0. Supported UASP mode (USB Attached SCSI Protocol). Devices connected to this port, are charged as quickly as possible. Depending on the configuration, the port can work even when the system is idle, sleep or off.
Today, the question is quite relevant PC power consumption, energy consumption and the difference between motherboards is far more common than the difference in performance. On the one hand, it can be associated with BIOS, Intel wherein power saving functions may be implemented or not completely correct. Or simply disabled by default. Or inactive integrated components when they are replaced by additional chips, or simply not used, is not turned on and continue to consume energy. The power supply circuit also contributes to the overall power consumption, since it can provide more energy than is required components. Yes, and efficiency (efficiency) power supply system is also very important. If the efficiency is low, the system consumes more energy from the power supply. We should not underestimate the role of management software, the entire power supply system must be balanced and coordinated in order to ensure an acceptable efficiency.
On the ASUS X99-A II provides additional controllers. Note LAN-controller, the controller USB 3.1 Gen2, Hub USB 3.1-Gen1 and audio processor, they all contribute to the overall system power consumption.
We measured the power consumption of the system in idle mode under Windows, as well as a full 2D-load Cinebench 11.5 and Prime95 (torture test, full load). The following is the power consumption for the entire system.
In the first test run, we left the default settings when the motherboard most of the integrated components are active. We used the graphics card Radeon R9 380. As we have noted above, all power-saving features included, we did not make any optimizations manually.
In idle mode, ASUS X99-A II consume less of all new X99 motherboard, although the difference is small. We got 62.1 watts for the system. Closely fit the motherboard ASUS X99-E with a level of 62.4 watts.
The same is observed under load Cinebench R15. The test motherboard with consumed 176.6 watts system. A competing model MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon consumed only 0.2 watts more.
Under full load Prime95, we got a bit big difference, motherboards X99-A II and X99-E have varied by 0.7 watts. The leaders were still X99-A II with power consumption 190.9 watts.
Since most people are all embedded controllers are not required, we conducted another test run, during which the components of the integrated LAN controller is only activated and sound chip. All additional controllers USB 3.0 and SATA we disconnected. The motherboard is still exhibited voltage levels automatically, but we have to manually set up all power-saving features. We continue to use the graphics card Radeon R9 380.
We turned off the controller USB 3.1 Gen2, ports USB 3.1 Gen1 and RGB LED, as well as the function of ASUS Multicore Enhancement. As a result, we were able to reduce power consumption in idle eight watts.
Under full load Prime95 savings after switching off functions of the above was already 21.3 watts. Excellent result!
Except for Strix X99 Gaming motherboard all showed the same voltage level. Processor ASUS X99-A II worked on the voltage under load 1,054. The voltage drop due to the shutdown Multicore Enhancement function.
As you can see the results of our tests, ASUS motherboards are working quite effectively, if you disable some features. In particular, it concerns the function Multicore Enhancement, as it not only leads to an increase in clock frequency, CPU voltage and – as a result we have an increase in energy consumption. Overall, ASUS X99-A II-disabled Multicore Enhancement function works very effectively for the platform, designed for enthusiasts.
If we evaluate the functions, motherboards X99-A II and Strix X99 Gaming are very similar, in which case you get a WLAN AC module and Bluetooth 4.1. Thus, the ASUS has created a common platform on which the company has released two different motherboards. This can hardly be called a disadvantage because Strix X99 Gaming refers to the line of ROG and is aimed at those users who are interested in exclusive ROG features. All other offers ASUS motherboard X99-A II, which is also equipped with eight DDR4 DIMM slots, maximum memory capacity up to 128GB. Due to the identical power subsystem and the multiple functions of acceleration you can well disperse LGA2011-3 processor and memory.
For graphics cards and other peripherals are three slots PCIe 3.0 x16, one mechanical PCIe 2.0 x16 slots and two PCIe 2.0 x1. If you require high graphics performance, you can install up to three graphics cards from NVIDIA or AMD. To connect the drives X99-A II in addition to SATA Express interface, and eight ports SATA 6Gb / s offers M.2 slot and U.2 port. But to share the last two interface will not work, which is quite strange – in processors with 40 PCIe lanes are enough free resources.
As for USB, ASUS has equipped the X99-A II is not only the eight-port USB 3.1 Gen1 and eight USB 2.0 (four internal and external), but also added a high-speed interface USB 3.1 Gen2, one Type A and Type C. For a network connection responds controller Intel I218-T, providing speeds of up to 1 Gbit / s in theory, there is also support features such as VLAN and Wake-on-LAN. As for audio, ASUS has installed Crystal Sound 3 subsystem based on the sound processor Realtek ALC1150, multiple audio capacitors and a headphone amplifier to 600 ohms.
Not without the integrated buttons to increase comfort of work with the motherboard. ASUS installed on X99-A II power button and reset, diagnostic display, MemOK button and even BIOS toggle switch. The latter allows you to choose one of two BIOS ROM. For Beauty ASUS has added a new Aura lighting system. Various effects, RGB LED mounted on the cooler PCH, larger PCIe slot and the rear of the motherboard. Also, ASUS has provided a connector for RGB LED-strip. There are numerous connectors for fans, including high current connector and the connector for connecting the SVO pump.
ASUS has equipped the X99-A II UEFI interface with the corresponding color, is functionally identical to the other BIOS of the motherboard ASUS, in general, he left a good impression. Is that after a long work with UEFI there is a slight delay. As power consumption results are good, especially if you turn off the Multicore Enhancement features. Among the updated motherboard on the X99 chipset tested model ASUS X99-A II was the most effective.
In the retail motherboard ASUS X99-A II can be purchased at a price of 258 euros, or by 23.1 thousand. Rubles. It is a reasonable price considering the features offered. Before contact, in fact, Strix X99 Gaming module without WLAN AC and Bluetooth 4.1, and also without ROG functions.
ASUS is well equipped motherboard X99-A II for Haswell-E and Broadwell-E, virtually no drawbacks processors. If you need high performance, you can use several settings can significantly reduce power consumption.