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Supermicro C7X99-OCE ATX Motherboard Review

Can Supermicro deliver its legendary server-component reliability with the overclocking features we’ve grown to love? We gauge the company’s progress in its third generation of enthusiast-oriented motherboards.

Final Analysis

Still famous for its server boards and heavy-duty cases, Supermicro’s consumer motherboards trail the competition when it comes to ease of overclocking. Targeting enthusiasts makes this an important factor, though it certainly won’t be as noteworthy to anyone who doesn't spend time tuning their hardware (or prefers a challenge overcoming performance obstacles).

We’re still using all nine boards to rate comparative value, which means that high-end contenders look somewhat worse than we might expect, while low-end boards fare better. To make this comparison more relevant, we need only look at the C7X99-OCE’s less than 1% value deficit compared to the Asus X99 Pro.

The C7X99-OCE supports four-way SLI, though good luck finding a single-slot card that'll let you use the third and fourth PCIe slots. On the other hand, Asus' X99 Pro supports three-way SLI, though adding an M.2 card breaks that. And the C7X99-OCE doesn’t even support M.2. Asus only wins this face-off if you need M.2 and don’t need three-way SLI. For most users, it’s a three-way SLI tie.

There’s always the trouble of processors with 28 lanes of third-gen PCIe. Right now, that includes the Core i7-5820K. Supermicro and Asus both lock the first slot into x16 mode, limiting how the remaining 12 lanes can be spread and limiting both boards to two-way SLI. Asus allows the remaining four PCIe 3.0 lanes to be used for its M.2 slot, but that only matters to storage enthusiasts buying PCIe-based M.2 drives. It’s a small win for Asus.

Both motherboards have two network controllers, but Asus’ second controller is a more costly wireless version. That would make the Asus motherboard worth more, except that some power users prefer two GbE wired connections.

Overall value considerations imply that value is in the eye of the beholder, yet Asus already lost the battle of features for your dollar to ASRock's better-equipped X99 Extreme6/ac. And both of those boards lost the SLI fight to MSI’s quad-SLI-spaced and properly-switched X99S MPower. That only leaves overclocking (which Asus again wins), additional components like USB 3.0 controllers (which all three competitors have) and the implementation of integrated features like USB 2.0 (where the C7X99-OCE doesn’t even have an internal header for the company’s own OC Front Panel device).

Still, we know there’s a market for this specific board, and it’s not just for fans of Supermicro’s legendary stability and/or service. I once spoke to a builder who asked, “why do we need all these extra ports and headers?” He added, “I want a clean board without all that stuff”. For them, there’s Supermicro’s C7X99-OCE.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.