Eighten X299-motherboards later we can at least conclude that we have not come across a single motherboard that is truly bad. What this means is that you can build a properly working and high performing system based on every tested board. Considering the price of this platform this is something that you can expect as buyer. Having said that, there are certainly boards that stand out in a positive way with an exceptionally good price-performance ratio or very extensive possibilities.
As is often the case, MSI succeeds in delivering a lot of functionality for a pleasantly low price.In that first category we find the MSI X299 SLI Plus in a postive way, even in comparison with its direct competitors such as the Gigabyte X299 UD4 and the ASRock Killer SLI/ac. As is often the case, MSI succeeds in delivering a lot of functionality for a pleasantly low price. As long as your main goal is not extreme overclocking, the SLI Plus is an excellent board in nearly every regard which does not cost much. This is why it receives a Great Value Award.
A segment higher we do not really find any board that offers everything that we wish for, but in the segment of around 267 pounds / 300 euros ASRock and ASUS do manage to distinguish themselves with the Taichi and TUF Mark 1 respectively. With ASUS you have to contend with less USB 3.0-connectors, a slightly worse power supply, no WiFi or dual BIOS; with ASRock the internal header for USB 3.1 is missing, the boot time is slightly slower and you have less fan headers. We have a light preference for the TUF Mark 1 because of its many fan headers, onboard buttons and the USB 3.1 header, but it is a photo finish, which is why we send both boards home with an Excellent Choice award. At the moment there is a new version available of the Taichi - the XE-version - with better VRM-cooling and an extra CPU power connector. This XE-version is identical in every other regard.
If we also take the finish and lighting into account, the end result is convincingly in favour of the Gigabyte Aorus X299 Gaming 7In the high-end segment the choice is mainly between the ASRock Fatal1ty X299 Professional Gaming i9, ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe and the Gigabyte Aorus X299 Gaming 7. The last two are very comparable, even in terms of price, but at the end of the day Gigabyte clearly has a more attractive product. We point at the better power supply, the extra USB 3.1-performance, dual BIOS, an extra fan header, extra SATA-connector and M.2-slot. ASUS on the other hand has a U.2-connector and DTS Connect, but if we also take the finish and lighting of the Gigabyte board into account, the end result is convincingly in favour of the Aorus X299 Gaming 7, which receives an Excellent Choice award. The ASUS does receive an honourable mention. ASRock stays behind in some regards, such as the amount of fan headers, the WiFi-quality and USB 3.1, but we do want to at least mention the Fatal1ty X299 Professional Gaming i9 because of its excellent power supply.
For overclockers there is the choice between the MSI X299 XPower Gaming and the ASUS ROG Rampage VI Apex. We are inclined to prefer the Rampage VI Apex; in terms of specific overclocking features ASUS take a step further and the possibilities that are usually only in the way for overclockers are left out. This limits the multi-employability of the Apex, but it does make it the board that is best suited for this specific audience. Essential things such as the power supply and problem diagnosis are excellent on both models. If overclocking is very important to you or simply fun to do, but if you also want to be able to use your system as a workstation or gaming-pc, the MSI XPower comes into play. MSI offers double the amount of memory slots, more SATA-connectors and dual-Ethernet, which makes the X299 XPower Gaming AC more suitable for other purposes than overclocking. The free Corsair water cooler that you receive when you purchase this board and represents a value of about 107 pounds / 120 euros also makes it a very attractive deal. The MSI XPower Gaming receives an Excellent Choice award, while the Apex receives an Ultimate Product award.
We think that the ASUS ROG Rampage VI Extreme is the true X299-flagship: all of the features that you could wish for are on it and in terms of connectivity and overclocking possibilities you will absolutely not be short of anything.This brings us to the absolute top segment. When comparing the Gigabyte Aorus X299 Gaming 9 with the Gaming 7 it does not differ all that much, which means that the additional price is not justified in our opinion. We think that the ASUS ROG Rampage VI Extreme is the true X299-flagship: all of the features that you could wish for are on it - even features that you might not even want - and in terms of connectivity and overclocking possibilities you will absolutely not be short of anything. And all implementations, whether it be audio, network or USB 3.1, are of the highest level. Of course we do have some tips for the next iteration: DTS Connect would have been a nice completion of the featureset. And how well the 802.11ad-WiFi might be meant, since Intel pretty much killed it recently the benefit of it seems limited now. In any case, these are a minor detail and a recent development respectively - not nearly enough to be unable to conclude that the Rampage VI Extreme deserves an Ultimate Product award.