It's kind of surprising that even in 2016, 10Gbps Ethernet is uncommon in the home. Over the past decade, every component in our PC has gotten faster: CPUs, GPUs, storage, USB, and even memory. But Ethernet? The vast majority of us are still rocking 1Gbps connections - a little disappointing when even a modest SATA-based SSD is spec'd at almost five times faster.
There have been a few companies to come out with 10Gbps-equipped motherboards over the past couple of years, but they are still far and few between. We're bound to reach a point when 10Gbps becomes more common for us regular folk (rather than the data center) though, and ASUS is anxious to help get us there with a new board dubbed X99-E-10G WS. The board's name doesn't leave much to the imagination and speaks to a no-nonsense approach to performance and features.
As a "WS" board, ASUS has designed this one to cater to the needs of workstation users, which is obviously the right segment to target with features like this. While end-users could take advantage of the increased Ethernet speeds, there's more than just a motherboard that's part of the cost-of-entry, such a 10 Gigabit-E enabled network that the board will connect to, of course.
10Gbps speeds are delivered with through Intel's X550-AT2 chipset, which the company shows priced at about $80. The WS series features high-quality all over the board (no pun), from the component level selection of the board to the capabilities offered. While Thunderbolt is not present here, the board supports USB 3.1 and Type-C, as well as 32Gbps M.2 and U.2 slots for SSD storage. For graphics and PCIe storage, the sky's the limit, thanks to 4x x16 slots being made available.
A not-so-obvious feature that's worth pointing out is that this board can handle both Intel's Core i7 processors or its Xeon 2011-v3 processors. If you opt for the latter, you'll be able to take advantage of ECC memory, and up to 128GB of it.
This is about as high-end as a motherboard could get, and catered at an audience that demands top-end performance as well as high-quality components that will ensure constant stability. The price of the board reflects that, at a quoted $650. That's high (there's no denying that), but the standard X99-E WS board retails for $500, so we now know what kind of premium 10G can add to a motherboard.