Intel Core i9-7900X And Core i7-7740X CPU Review: Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X Debut

X299 Chipset And The ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe

Arriving alongside Intel’s new Core X series processors is the X299 chipset. The X299 will be the foundation of all top-end motherboards for the platform. We’ve got a completely over-the-top, feature packed motherboard from ASUS on-hand featuring the X299, the Prime X299-Deluxe. But first, a quick overview on the chipset itself...
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Intel X299 Chipset Block Diagram

The X299 supports Socket R4 (LGA 2066), which is required for all of the new Core X processors that Intel has announced. The chipset is Intel Optane ready, supports up to 24 additional PCIe Gen 3.0 lanes, up to 10 USB 3.0 ports, and up to eight SATA 3.0 ports. The chipset can also drive up to three M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD devices and is compatible with Intel Ethernet I219 (Jacksonville PHY) controllers. VROC -Virtual RAID On Chipset -- is supported as well.

Like most other X299-based motherboards, the Prime X299-Deluxe leverages all of the chipset’s inherent features, but ASUS certainly took things to the extreme, put its own spin on this board, and crammed in everything but the kitchen sink.
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The ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe

The ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe has built-in AURA SYNC LED lighting, which can be extended with additional lighting strips, The board also has metal reinforcements on its expansion slots, and heavy-duty metal heat spreaders on the chipset and VRM. Additional shielding covers the back panel I/O and front-end of the PCB as well. The lower portion of the chipset heatsink is also removable, and provides additional cooling for solid state drives installed into the M.2 slots beneath.

As you’d expect in an enthusiast motherboard from this generation, the ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe features a mouse-friendly BIOS / UEFI that’s quick and easy to navigate and offers an extensive array of overclocking and performance-related options -- you can see it in action in the video embedded on the first page. The BIOS on this board sports everything from high resolution fonts to the latest version of ASUS’s hardware monitoring and fan control functionality. The ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe also features high-end capacitors and chokes throughout its design to improve long-term reliability and overall efficiency, and it is outfitted with an all-digital PWM as well, to further improve power efficiency and smooth delivery.

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CrossFire, SLI, VROC, Optane Memory, And Thunderbolt -- It's All Here

The ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe offers easy overclocking by way of its ASUS Pro Clock technology, but the UEFI is outfitted with all of the overclocker-friendly tools we’ve come to expect from ASUS for manual tweaking as well. The fan controls on the board are also very robust and ASUS has put in additional effort to ease configuration, by offering an array of auto-tuning options and presets that can be saved in individual profiles.

Other features of the ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe include USB 3.1 Gen 2 type-C and type-A ports for quick-charging and straightforward connectivity of the latest mobile devices, Intel i219V powered gigabit networking, on-board power and reset switches, a POST-code error reporter, CrossFire / SLI support, Intel Optane Memory Support, and support for Intel VROC –Virtual RAID On CPU – as well. VROC allows for M.2 RAID arrays to be bootable and directly attached to the CPU for peak performance. RAID 0 is supported for free with VROC, but there will be fees associated for RAID 1 and 5, which is a quizzical development.  RAID support via the chipset and the boards SATA ports is available as well.
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The ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe I/O With ThunderboltEX 3 Card

In addition to the aforementioned items, we should point out that the ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe offers 8-channel audio with a Realtek S1220A audio codec. ASUS wraps the audio up in its Crystal Sound 3 technology, which incorporates audio shielding, discrete power delivery, and features high-end Japanese capacitors. There’s also a very cool LiveDash OLED on the board, smack dab in the middle (just below the CPU socket) that can display things like CPU temperature, fan speeds, or error messages on an easy-to-read display.

Over and above what’s actually built into the board or available through the X299 chipset, ASUS throws in a wide array of accessories and integrated peripherals as well. There’s 802.11ag (WiGig), ThunderBolt EX3 available through an add-in card, and a fan extension hub with a discrete power connector, that can be mounted anywhere inside a chassis.

We found the layout of the ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe to be very good and also really like the overall aesthetic. Your tastes may vary, of course, but we think this is one heck of a good looking motherboard and it was a pleasure to use throughout testing. There is also plenty of I/O on the board, and it’s packing a ton of features.

One thing to note with ALL X299 motherboards, is that the PCI Express lane configurations and number of supported M.2 slots or integrated PCIe-based peripherals may change, depending on whether or not a Skylake-X or Kaby Lake-X processor is installed. Because this generation of Intel processors has such a varied array of PCI Express lane configurations, the total number of available lanes will depend on what processor is installed. If you plan to built a system around the X299, be sure that all of the features you plan to use will be supported with the processor that's on your shopping list.

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