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ASRock X299E-ITX/ac Skylake-X Motherboard Review

How We Test

Additional cores create additional thermal and power loads that can push other hardware to its limits, yet the parts we’re hoping to push to the limit are all on the motherboards. Intel’s 10-core, 20-thread Core i9-7900X CPU is a great product for stressing the voltage regulators of various X299 motherboards, particularly under our full-AVX-load overclocking stability test.

Test Hardware

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Though the firm already sold dual-channel kits up to DDR4-3200, G.Skill produced a new quad-channel SO-DIMM kit specifically to address the enhanced capabilities of ASRock’s X299E-ITX/ac. Rated at DDR4-3800, its F4-3800C18Q-32GRS will compete directly against the company's DDR4-3866 long DIMMs that have long been used to evaluate ATX boards.

SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
Graphics DriverGeForce 382.53

The tremendous heat produced by the Core i9-7900X required us to use nothing less than our award-winning Fractal Design Celsius S24 liquid cooling system sample. Getting its fans to blow sufficiently over each motherboard’s voltage regulator required additional design consideration: Of our leftover case review samples, Cooler Master’s HAF-XB had the best layout.

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Concerned about our attempts to overclock using its tiny voltage regulator heat sink, ASRock sent along a BP-WBMASRX299EI monoblock from Bitspower. Using it would invalidate our thermal comparisons, so we reserved this RGB-lit part for an additional bonus test that will be discussed in our overclocking comparison. Because our Fractal Design Celsius S24’s pump is integrated into its CPU block, ASRock added the BP-LXAIO240-RGB Leviathan Xtreme All In One 240.

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The Leviathan Xtreme 240 includes a two-way RGB splitter, but the monoblock did not, thus our choices were to light the monoblock from the motherboard, or the monoblock and one fan, or both fans but not the monoblock. The Leviathan Xtreme 240 also includes power adapters and an RGB controller of its own, but using it along with the motherboard's controller would have caused the LED groups to operate out of sync with each other. Rather than attempt to set a matching static color between the water block and fans using two different controllers, I chose to leave the fans unlit.

Comparison Products

The X299E-ITX/ac is compared to the two most similarly-configured boards from the controller standpoint, the X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC from MSI and ASRock's X299 Taichi. All models provide a range of overclock settings that exceeds the capabilities of our hardware, so this should be a solid test!

Benchmark Settings

Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
PCMark 8Version 2.7.613Home, Creative, Work, Storage, Applications (Adobe & Microsoft)
3DMark 13Version 4.47.597.0Skydiver, Firestrike, Firestrike Extreme Default Presets
SiSoftware SandraVersion 2016.03.22.21CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth
DiskSPD4k Random Read, 4k Random Write128k Sequential Read, 128k Sequential Write
Cinebench R15Build RC83328DEMOOpenGL Benchmark
CompuBenchVersion 1.5.8Face Detection, Optical Flow, Ocean Surface, Ray Tracing
Application Tests and Settings
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.9.9Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19 GB 4k mkv to x265 mp4
BlenderVersion 2.68aBMW 27 CPU Render Benchmark, BMW 27 GPU Render Benchmark
7-ZipVersion 16.02THG-Workload (7.6 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=9"
Adobe After Effects CCRelease 2015.3.0, Version 13.8.0.144PCMark driven routine
Adobe Photoshop CCRelease 2015.5.0. 20160603.r.88 x64PCMark driven routine (light and heavy)
Adobe InDesign CCRelease 2015.4, Build 11.4.0.90 x64PCMark driven routine
Adobe IllustratorRelease 2015.3.0, Version 20.0.0 (64-bit)PCMark driven routine
Game Tests and Settings
Ashes of SingularityVersion 1.31.21360High Preset - 1920x1080, Mid Shadow Quality, 1x MSAACrazy Preset - 1920x1090, High Shadow Quality, 2x MSAA
F1 20152015 Season, Abu Dhabi Track, RainMedium Preset, No AFxUltra High Preset, 16x AF
Metro Last Light ReduxVersion 3.00 x64High Quality, 1920x1080, High Tesselation, 16x AFVery High Quality, 1920x1080, Very High Tesselation, 16x AF
The Talos PrincipleVersion 267252Medium Preset, High Quality, High Tesselation, 4x AFUltra Preset, VeryHigh Quality, VeryHigh Tesselation, 16x AF

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  • therogerwilco
    400$ is way too expensive
    Reply
  • John Philips
    This is why I am giving up itx...$$$
    Reply
  • MichaelElfial
    Well guys, if you want to save space you have to accept the 20-30% premium even for much popular chipsets. They kept the price inside this limits and deserve a good word for that. I myself just moved to Coffee-lake and I would not consider this board for the moment, but who knows ...
    Reply
  • Leaps-from-Shadows
    An excellent board! Definitely my top choice for X299 if I go that route with my next build, just for the challenge. Might do 8700K with Asus Maximus X Formula though. We'll see.
    Reply
  • JonDol
    20428533 said:
    400$ is way too expensive

    Please remember that this is a HEDT MB so it can't come cheap.

    AsRock has the nicest mITX portfolio which not only covers almost all the new chipsets but also ticks all the feature boxes !

    All the other mITX MB lack one (or even more) of these features: TB 3.0 (on Intel platforms ofc), Bluetooth, WiFi, ALC 1220 sound (for the Z270 chipset for example AsRock's mITX Gaming/ac was the only one, all the other MBs were using the 'older' 1150 or even older than that), HDMI 2.0 (where applicable) etc.

    I personally bought the Z270 one after Thomas' review and although it was the most expensive mITX it also was a no brainer buy !

    You (and others) said it's expensive because you have only thought price without thinking value. These mITX boards do excellent living room passively cooled machines far cheaper and more flexible than any of the shelf network streamer I know. Think about using an ATX or even a micro ATX behemoth instead (and yet you won't find many passively cooled cases for that sizes).

    Reply
  • Lutfij
    If anything this is new form of bragging rights for ASRock since the X299 platform aids those with bigger ambitions and cramming so much onto a small real estate is in itself a marvel to behold. Bravo, ASRock for pulling this off though if only their other itx boards for the mainstream platform were this praiseworthy...:'(
    Reply