Intel has introduced their new high-end Haswell-E CPUs, click here for our extensive review. The new high-end processors make use of a new socket, Socket 2011 v3, and have to be paired with a new chipset, Intel X99. More than enough reason for several Taiwanese manufacturers to introduce one or more boards with this chipset. We tested 15 of these sent to us from ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI.
In our Haswell review we have already explained the most important features of the new X99 chipset. Compared to the previous high end chipset, the X79, there have been quite a lot of improvements. The amount of serial ATA 600 ports has increased to no less than 10, and the chipsets supports USB 3.0 natively up to six ports, as well as eight USB 2.0 ports. This means that for the basic needs on a board no third party controllers are needed, which in turns means that no PCI-Express lanes are used for this functionality. There is no shortage of PCI-Express lanes on the new platform, as the Haswell-E processors offer 40X (28X on the 5820K) PCI-Express lanes, the chipset itself offers another 8x PCI-Express 2.0.
Just like with the Z97 motherboards that were released earlier this year most manufacturers have focused on the sound quality of the on board controller. We also can see that on the higher end models modern SSD interfaces like SATA Express and M.2 are becoming more common. Click here for our article about the new PCI-Express based SSD interfaces on Z97 boards. Another trend carried on from the Z97 generation is that the large brands clearly identify what group the motherboard is aimed at. They introduce specifcally designed for gamers, overclockers and "general" users. The question does remain how the manufacturers have done their internal projections and forecast, as we find the Haswell-E platform most suitable for (semi-) professionals in media create applications and because of the pricing a lot less suitable as a gaming platform.
The table below shows the boards we have tested. Pricing can be found in the table below this review.
|ASRock X99 Extreme4||ATX|
|ASRock X99 WS||ATX|
|ASRock Z99M Killer||Micro ATX|
|ASUS X99 Deluxe||ATX|
|ASUS Rampage V Extreme||ATX|
|Gigabyte X99-UD5 WiFi||ATX|
|Gigabyte X99-UD7 WiFi||ATX|
|Gigabyte X99-Gaming 5||ATX|
|Gigabyte X99-Gaming G1 WiFi||ATX|
|Gigabyte X99-SOC Force||ATX|
|MSI X99S SLI Plus||ATX|
|MSI X99S Gaming 9 AC||ATX|
|MSI X99S Xpower||ATX|
In this review we do not go into detail about every board as we have done before, but focus on the most important features of teh chipset as we encounter them on the boards in this test. At the end of the review as usual you will find the different benchmarks and tests we always run.