Based on Intel’s X299 chipset, these new motherboards are meant to bridge the gap between standard desktop motherboards and higher-end Xeon offerings. All three of these new workstation boards offer support for Intel's Core-X series processors, eight DIMM slots that support up to 128GB of DDR4-4133MHz (OC), and multi-GPU graphics card configurations featuring SafeSlot reinforced PCI-E slot technology that prevents damage from moving a system with heavy graphics cards.
The leader of the pack is Asus’ top-shelf WS X299 Sage workstation motherboard, which features seven full-sized PCI-E slots that are connected to the CPU via a PLX switch so you can run quad-x16 setups with at least x8 width simultaneously. This board features the larger CEB form factor with is compatible with most E-ATX chassis.
The WS X299 Pro / SE and the WS X299 Pro are both standard ATX motherboards. Although both are equipped with fewer PCI-E slots than the WS X299 Sage, these boards still support up to three-way SLI and Crossfire graphics card configurations. The main difference between the Pro and Pro / SE is the latter’s remote management capabilities.
Common features among these new workstation motherboards include dual M.2 slots that work with both standard SSDs and Intel Optane Memory as well as at least one U.2 connector for datacenter-grade drives. Both M.2 slots are equipped with heatsinks to help dissipate heat to prevent thermal throttling under heavy load. These new WS X299 offerings also feature USB 3.1 Gen2 ports in Type-A, Type-C, upgraded Crystal Sound 3 audio, and dual Intel networking chips with failover support.
Additionally, all three motherboards are equipped with headers for both standard RGB strips and addressable LED lighting. Catering to water cooling aficionados, two of the six onboard fan headers feature support for water pumps and all-in-one coolers.
Asus listed availability as “November 2017.” We reached out to the company for information on pricing.
|WS X299 Sage||WS X299 Pro / SE||WS X299 Pro|
|Memory||8 x DDR4 up to 4133 (OC)|
|Multi-GPU||4 x SLI, CrossFireX||3 x SLI, CrossFireX|
|PCIe||7 x 16||4 x 16 / 1 x 4|
|Storage||2 x M.22 x U.28 x SATA||2 x M.21 x U.26 x SATA|
|Ethernet||Intel I210-ATIntel I219-LM||Intel I210-AT|
|Audio||Crystal Sound 3|
|USB 3.1 Gen 2||1 Front1 Type-C1 Type-A|
|Aura RGB Headers||1 strip1 address|