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Asus Unveils Four Enthusiast X99 Boards With RGB Lighting

Asus unveiled four new X99 motherboards decked out with numerous enthusiast oriented features, including RGB lighting.

Asus clearly put a considerable amount of time into decorating these motherboards with a wide array of lights. All of the boards come with Asus’s Aura feature, which is essentially on-board RGB LED lights and a software utility to customize the lighting patterns and color to your liking. All of these boards, except the X99-E, also have an onboard header that will allow you to connect an RGB LED light strip if you wish to have additional customizable lighting.

To ensure that these motherboards can take the weight of high-end graphics cards, Asus reinforced the primary PCI-E x16 slots with steel and additional solder on the pin connections. Asus calls ports treated with this steel reinforcement “SafeSlots.” Users should note, however, that unlike some competing motherboards that may have steel applied to all of the PCI-E slots, Asus turns only select ports into a SafeSlot. Asus made four of the PCI-E ports on its X99 Deluxe II board into SafeSlots, but the other boards announced today have just one SafeSlot each.

These motherboards also feature what appears to be relatively high-end audio hardware, but we cannot be sure of the quality or performance of the onboard audio at this time. Asus didn’t list what the actual audio codecs in use are--just the software audio features. The ROG Strix X99 Gaming board comes with Asus’s SupremeFX audio technology, whereas the other three are limited to the Crystal Sound 3 feature set.

Examining the motherboards more closely, you can see that all they all use several high-end capacitors connected to the audio codec. The audio subsystem on each board is also segmented from the rest of the motherboard to reduce EMI. All of the boards, except for the lower-end x99-E, also have a metal cover placed over the codec to further limit EMI.

For novice overclockers, these motherboards use Asus’s 5-Way Optimization feature that can auto calibrate the PC’s cooling system and fans, as well as overclock the CPU.

Naturally, as high-end X99 motherboards, these boards support a dizzying array of ports and slots that will let you connect massive amounts of storage and several peripherals. Talking over the various changes in connectivity would be cumbersome due to the sheer number of ports on these boards, so instead we simply placed this information in the chart below.

One key difference between the X99-E and the other boards, however, is that the X99-E is the only board announced today from Asus that doesn’t support a U.2 slot.

If you find that there aren’t enough onboard USB ports for your liking, Asus will include its ThunderboldEX 3 add-on card with all of these motherboards. This add-on card has three ports, with one a USB 3.0 Type-A connection and at least one USB 3.1 Type-C. The third port is smaller than a USB Type-A connector, but Asus did not state clearly what it is, and we cannot identify it from the picture with sufficient certainty either.

These new motherboards will be available starting May 11.

X99-EX99-A IIX99-Deluxe IIROG Strix X99 Gaming
Memory8 x DDR4 Up To 3200 MHz8 x DDR4 Up To 3333 MHz8 x DDR4 Up To 3333 MHz8 x DDR4 Up To 3333 MHz
PCI-E 3.0 x16 Slots3343
SafeSlot(s)1141
Multi-GPU Support3-Way Sli/CrossFireX3-Way Sli/CrossFireX3-Way Sli/CrossFireX3-Way Sli/CrossFireX
Gigabit Ethernet1 x Intel1 x Intel2 x Intel1 x Intel
WirelessNoneNone3x3 802.11acBluetooth 4.02x2 802.11acBluetooth 4.0
Storage1 x M.21 x SATA Express10 x SATA-III1 x M.21 x U.21 x SATA Express10 x SATA-III1 x M.22 x U.21 x SATA Express10 x SATA-III1 x M.21 x U.21 x SATA Express10 x SATA-III
USB 3.11 x Type-C1 x Type-A1 x Type-C3 x Type-A1 x Type-C1 x Type-A1 x Type-C
Audio SoftwareCrystal Sound 3Crystal Sound 3Crystal Sound 3SupremeFX
Aura LightingOnboardOnboard + Strip HeaderOnboard + Strip HeaderOnboard + Strip Header
Price$219$249$419$339

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Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.