ASUS: Prime, TUF and ROG
There is plenty of ASUS in this test with six different models. The Prime X299-A is the cheapest board of this brand with an average price of 267 pounds / 300 euros; compared with the slightly more expensive ASRock X299 Taichi it takes a step back in multiple regards. For example, the Prime has two SATA-connectors less, only a single network connector and a less extensive power supply.
The basis of that power supply is pretty much the same for every ASUS X299-board, with eight phases for the CPU, but the used secondary components do differ quite a bit when you go higher in the line-up. The X299-A performs very well in the CPU-benchmarks, but this is because ASUS does not keep to the Intel turbo-specifications which means the CPU has a standard overclock.
For 13 pounds / 15 euros more you can purchase the TUF X299 Mark 1, part of the The Ultimate Force-series. As is typical for this series (at least, since recently) a lot of components are under hoods and the back is equipped with a backplate. The chipset heatsink doubles as a cooler for an M.2-SSD. This is seen on other X299-boards as well, but in this case we also find a small fan in order to offer active cooling. We are not a fan of this, because small fans often produce a lot of noise for very little air movement. The Mark 1 does not only differ from the Prime in terms of aesthetics, but it also has a different approach when it comes to the features. We count at least nine fan headers – ideal if you want to cool a high-end system – and a graphics card holder is included which allows you to securely place it. Worth mentioning is that this board also has a five year warranty, whereas this is usually three years.
With an average price of 329 pounds / 370 euros, the Strix X299-E Gaming is slightly more expensive once again. You receive, among other things, 867 Mbit/s 802.11ac-WiFi and of course rgb-lighting – after all, it is a gaming motherboard. However, the second network connector of the TUF-board is absent here and there are also less fan headers – although with a total of seven you should still have enough. Also worth mentioning is the, in our eyes, strange choice to leave out DTS Connect, the technology that allows surround sound to be sent via S/PDIF. Especially gamers will want to use this, and on other ASUS X299-boards we do find this feature. After asking ASUS about this, they told us that they see it as an entry-level feature: if you purchase a more expensive board you will probably connect an amplifier using hdmi, which allows for uncompressed multi-channel audio in higher quality, which means DTS Connect should no longer be needed. In our opinion the absence of useful features on luxurious products is still a rather interesting strategy.
The most expensive model in the regular series is the Prime X299-Deluxe, which is one of the most expensive boards in this test with an average price of 418 pounds / 470 euros. This board basically combines every thinkable feature into a single product. The list with possibilities is nearly endless: 802.11ac-WiFi with Bluetooth, two times gigabit Ethernet and five times USB 3.1 (including one front header). This board also has on-board buttons for turning the system on and resetting the BIOS. All this effort results in an extremely well performing motherboard.
We tested two models from the Republic of Gamers series. The Rampage VI Apex is entirely focused on overclockers which for example means it has less SATA-connectors, network connectors and even memory slots than we usually find in this price segment. However, the quality of the power supply and specific overclocking features are top-notch. We already covered this board extensively in a separate review.
We also released an extensive review of the Rampage VI Extreme. ASUS goes all-out with this very expensive motherboard and every feature you could think of is there – even the features that you may or may not need. Unique is the support for addressable RGB, ledstrips that can show a different colour for each individual led.