Three-Way X99 LGA 2011-v3 ATX Motherboard Shootout

How We Tested X99 Motherboards

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-5960X (Haswell-E): 3.0-3.5 GHz, 20 MB L3 Cache, LGA 2011-v3
CPU CoolerSwiftech Apogee GTX, MCP 655b, Triple-Fan Radiator Kit
RAMG.Skill F4-3000C15Q-16GRR (16 GB) DDR4-3000 Quad Channel Kit
GraphicsPowerColor LCS AXR9 290X 4GBD5-PPDHE: 1060 MHz GPU, 4 GB GDDR5-5400
Hard DriveSamsung 470 Series MZ-5PA256, 256 GB SSD
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerAntec HCP-1200: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Professional RTM x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 14.4
ChipsetIntel INF 9.4.2.1019

Swiftech’s ancient Apogee GTX keeps appearing in my “Big Socket” reviews, and for good reasons: it has monster capacity, and it’s built into my test bench.

This Prescott-era workhorse was updated six years ago with an LGA 1366 bracket, and today uses that same bracket with newer spring-loaded screws to fit both LGA 2011 and LGA 2011-v3 support mechanisms.

Rumored power-on troubles with C7s-enabled motherboards and certain power supplies finally hit home when I tried to pair our earlier SS-760KM unit with one of the boards in today’s test. Since my newer AX860i was already being used to test other parts, I hauled Antec’s HCP-1200 out of storage. Success!

PowerColor’s LCS AXR9 290X runs quietly on a second cooling loop.

This is a new platform, so memory and the CPU couldn’t be pulled from spare parts. G.Skill’s quad-channel F4-3000C15Q-16GRR DDR4-3000 kit was added with Intel’s Core i7-5960X to today’s parts list.

Benchmark Settings
3D Games
Battlefield 4Version 1.0.0.1, DirectX 11, 100-sec. Fraps "Tashgar"
Test Set 1: Medium Quality Preset, No AA, 4x AF, SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset,  4x MSAA, 16x AF, HBAO
Grid 2 Version 1.0.85.8679, Direct X 11, Built-in Benchmark
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x MSAA
Arma 3Version 1.08.113494, 30-Sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase"
Test Set 1: Standard Preset, No AA, Standard AF
Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x FSAA, Ultra AF
Far Cry 3 V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost"
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC, SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CCVersion 12.0.0.404: Create Video which includes 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously
Adobe Photoshop CCVersion 14.0 x64: Filter 15.7MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premiere Pro CCVersion 7.0.0 (342), 6.61GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 11.0.4.4 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format 
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.99: Video from Canon EOS 7D (1920x1080, 25FPS) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds
Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000Hz, 2-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version: 2.5.0.10677: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1kHz, 2-Channel, 16-Bit, 224Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Acrobat 11Version 11.0.0.379: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion: 2.68A, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual Studio 2010Version 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
File Compression
WinZipVersion 18.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 5.0: THG-Workload (1.3GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.30 alpha (64-bit): THG-Workload (1.3GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.5.0, Benchmark Only
3DMark ProfessionalVersion: 1.2.250.0 (64-bit), Fire Strike Benchmark
PCMark 8Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test
SiSoftware SandraVersion 2014.02.20.10, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia / Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks

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  • dgingeri
    "LGA 2111-v3"??

    Did something change?
  • west7
    In the 3D gaming page it should been i7-5760x not i7-4790 and fix the LGA 2111-v3 typo and why there in no SLI/crossfire test?!
  • Amdlova
    12 Phases Six Phases Eight Phases what!
  • Daniel Ladishew
    Can't wait for them to review some of the other manufacturer's products in the X99 category. The ASUS board especially.
  • chiefpiggy
    Noob question: would my socket 1150 i5 4670k work with one of these motherboards or do I need one of the Haswell-E processors?
  • sportfreak23
    1637560 said:
    Can't wait for them to review some of the other manufacturer's products in the X99 category. The ASUS board especially.


    +1
  • InvalidError
    312980 said:
    "LGA 2111-v3"?? Did something change?

    LGA 2011 uses DDR3 while LGA2011-3 uses DDR4 so the sockets are different to prevent people from putting the wrong CPU in the wrong motherboard.

    I think there were other changes but this is the big obvious one.
  • firefoxx04
    it should be mentioned (and maybe it was, just not on the first page) that you only get the 40 pci e lanes if you purchase the two higher tiered haswell-E chips. The lowest end model does not support 40 lanes, I think it supports 28.
  • dgingeri
    I was commenting on the typo of "2111" vs "2011".
  • vincevdc
    The MB grid on page one shows that the MSI X99S Gaming 7 mb has an Intel Z97 Express chipset. This is a typo...
  • Computer LVR
    @west 7 and Thomas Soderstrom it should be 5960x not 5760x
  • Crashman
    1335368 said:
    12 Phases Six Phases Eight Phases what!
    There aren't any lines to separate columns, only spaces. Editors can't fix that. Hopefully you'll be able to separate things visually using the spaces.

    1637560 said:
    Can't wait for them to review some of the other manufacturer's products in the X99 category. The ASUS board especially.
    Asus won't come back for this price range, but I expect they'll want to be in the higher-priced and lower-priced roundups.

    1476856 said:
    Noob question: would my socket 1150 i5 4670k work with one of these motherboards or do I need one of the Haswell-E processors?
    1150 is less than 2011. The socket is smaller, mostly because it has 2/5 as many lanes and 1/2 as many DRAM channels.

    211300 said:
    it should be mentioned (and maybe it was, just not on the first page) that you only get the 40 pci e lanes if you purchase the two higher tiered haswell-E chips. The lowest end model does not support 40 lanes, I think it supports 28.
    There was a whole paragraph on the first page dedicated to this limitation. Second one below the chipset diagram.
  • Gurg
    Question I have when looking at this is why don't manufacturers design a board that addresses what standard users need with a 5820. How about sufficient usb3s for mouse, keyboard, printer backup drive, bluetooth and maybe a couple extra. How about sata6 for four internal drives. How about just two 16/16/8 for crossfire/sli. Wouldn't this provide high performance gaming with a 5820 while keeping costs reasonable?
  • Azotsky
    LGA 2011-3 = LGA 2008
    I see what you did there Intel :P
  • Crashman
    1279836 said:
    Question I have when looking at this is why don't manufacturers design a board that addresses what standard users need with a 5820. How about sufficient usb3s for mouse, keyboard, printer backup drive, bluetooth and maybe a couple extra. How about sata6 for four internal drives. How about just two 16/16/8 for crossfire/sli. Wouldn't this provide high performance gaming with a 5820 while keeping costs reasonable?
    You mean a cheaper board? Because the ASRock board has the stuff you were looking for, if you ignore the Ultra M.2 slot, but you have to pay more.

    It has the features you need because your keyboard and mouse are USB 2.0, not "USB3".
  • Eyeshield
    MSI definitely improved so much and should be an elite brand!
  • Crass Spektakel
    Gigabyte fixed BULLSHIT.

    The Firmware-Downgrade-Bug is present since P55 boards and I saw it on EVERY generation, be it 50, 60, 70, 80 or 90 series boards. Not necesserilly on every version of the chipset, e.g. I saw it on a P65 but not on a G61 chipset. But if you have the bug then rest assured they will NEVER fix it.

    The P65 was especially nasty, it downgraded the bios even when actually nothing went wrong and all BIOS settings were "default". EG I once pressed Reset and voila, back to F3. Also happens if I disconnect from power, even if the system is actually already shut down. Only way to avoid this is to power down the system safely by the OS. But then you have to switch the system on at least every couple of days or it will downgrade to F3 immediatly after power on.

    Gigabyte? No thanks.

    (writing this from my old P35 gigabyte system, my last gigabyte in private use)
  • Crashman
    1467218 said:
    Gigabyte fixed BULLSHIT. The Firmware-Downgrade-Bug is present since P55 boards and I saw it on EVERY generation, be it 50, 60, 70, 80 or 90 series boards. Not necesserilly on every version of the chipset, e.g. I saw it on a P65 but not on a G61 chipset. But if you have the bug then rest assured they will NEVER fix it. The P65 was especially nasty, it downgraded the bios even when actually nothing went wrong and all BIOS settings were "default". EG I once pressed Reset and voila, back to F3. Also happens if I disconnect from power, even if the system is actually already shut down. Only way to avoid this is to power down the system safely by the OS. But then you have to switch the system on at least every couple of days or it will downgrade to F3 immediatly after power on. Gigabyte? No thanks. (writing this from my old P35 gigabyte system, my last gigabyte in private use)
    Gigabyte occasionally released a firmware update that modified the detection scheme so that BIOS downgrade is less likely to happen on past products. As you've indicated, they haven't fixed every board and the fix doesn't work for every configuration.

    Gigabyte also has true dual-BIOS motherboards at the high-end, where the forced downgrade can be disabled. You've probably just missed that little tidbit if you think all Gigabyte boards are like this one.

    This is the worst board Gigabyte has sent in a long time, and the first one that I've had to recommend against buying. It's been a few years since I've had a Gigabyte board fail after continuous forced-downgrades.
  • akula2
    I'm interested in Asrock X99 WS and Asus X99-E WS. But I don't find the latter in the market yet. Anyone knows when will it arrive? Thanks
  • dgingeri
    8708 said:
    Gigabyte occasionally released a firmware update that modified the detection scheme so that BIOS downgrade is less likely to happen on past products. As you've indicated, they haven't fixed every board and the fix doesn't work for every configuration. Gigabyte also has true dual-BIOS motherboards at the high-end, where the forced downgrade can be disabled. You've probably just missed that little tidbit if you think all Gigabyte boards are like this one. This is the worst board Gigabyte has sent in a long time, and the first one that I've had to recommend against buying. It's been a few years since I've had a Gigabyte board fail after continuous forced-downgrades. Gigabyte obviously doesn't like that we told you any of this. But to not tell you would be to lie. Its PR are nice people, but I can't lie for them, so it looks like they'll probably pack up their toys and go home.


    Gigabyte PR people might be nice people, but there's only so much one can do about pumping up poor hardware design.

    I've had four Gigabyte motherboards, and I've had hardware compatibility issues with them all. I've had bios issues with three, where I've needed a new bios to support a new generation of processors, but the new version doesn't work well. The latest one was my x79-UP4 board, where it didn't like my EVGA GTX 680 with the F2 bios, and the F4 bios caused the screen saver and power saver features to never turn on, and it took their support nearly two weeks to get me a program that would allow back dating the bios to the F3, which finally worked. The audio plugs never detected when speakers were plugged in, so I couldn't use the on-board audio. Finally, after 9 months of annoyances, it stopped giving power to the USB ports and the PCIe x1 slots, so I lost access to pretty much everything. It was a slow, horrible death for a bad motherboard. I'm not buying a Gigabyte product again.

    They don't need PR. They need to get their heads on straight and engineer their boards better, and test better. Testing is a basic necessity for any technology design. I am a systems admin for three test labs for enterprise level hardware and software. I have seen how many bugs we find and exterminate through our testing, and I have seen how it has affected the quality of our products as management decided to reduce the complexity of our testing. Above all, I have seen how it has affected our sales. Gigabyte has never been very good at their testing. If they want to compete, they need to get off their high horse and confront the criticisms for what they are: a chance to change. If they're pulling their products from being reviewed on this site because of these criticisms, then they have shown their attitude, and nobody should be buying from them anyway.

    The response from APC on the power strip teardown shows how a successful company reacts to criticism. Gigabyte's reaction will show if they're up to the task of staying in business.
  • g00ey
    Well I've had a lot of issues with MSI motherboard. I have RMA:ed all motherboards I've ever bought from them and I've heard a lot of stories from people with MSI laptops. I wonder where we are with MSI today, my expectations are not very high though.
  • lp231
    It's pointless to create a new thread for every x99 board that comes out, so I'll post this here
    Asus x99 Pro
  • Eric Schwartz
    My Asrock X99 Extreme 4 board is truly an amazing board. Overclocking, features and stability are rock solid!
  • Gurg
    Initially bought an Asrock but had a bent CPU pin. RMAd for the Gigabyte which after a bios update has worked great.