Things are about to get interesting at the high end of the CPU market but thats something we’ll talk about another day. In the mean time, motherboard manufacturers are gearing up for that launch with new revisions of their X99 products and one of the first to market is ASUS. We’ve been playing with one of their new boards over the past few days and so now it is time for our ASUS X99 Deluxe II review!
ASUS X99 Deluxe II Review – Packaging and Bundle
The X99 Deluxe 2 arrives in a fairy large box which gives us a nice clear view of the board along with listing many of the key features. Inside we get a massive amount of bundled items which include the usual drive cables, documentation, software discs and so on. Things get a little more advanced with the inclusion of Wi-Fi antenna, tool for easy CPU installation, fan controller, high quality back panel shield and DisplayPort cable. Why do we need that…?
… it can be connected to the Thunderbolt 3 PCIe card that ASUS bundle with the X99 Deluxe 2. The card features support for USB 3.1 type-C devices and charging up to 36w. And as if that wasn’t enough there is a M.2 PCIe card which offers support for drives up to 110mm and provides 32Gbits/s performance.
ASUS X99 Deluxe II Review – The ASUS X99 Deluxe 2 Motherboard
The X99 Deluxe 2 is an ATX board (12×9.6 inch) and ASUS use a black PCB, adding some style with white/grey hardware and the use of LEDs in areas such as the PCIe slot clips and heatsinks. This lighting can be set to various effects (inc breathing, music react, etc) and colours depending on our needs.
The board supports CPUs such as the high end i7-5960x and upcoming Broadwell-E models and as far as memory support goes, 8 dimms split over 4 channels. A maximum of 128GB of DDR4 can be installed and speeds in excess of 3333MHz are available as is support for XMP.
What makes this board stand out? That starts with the CPU socket which is Socket 2011-3 however ASUS have added in extra pins which enhance Overclocking/voltage/memory performance while retaining full compatibility with all CPUs for that socket. This is improved further by the 8+4pin design and ability to tweak the cache bus voltage for enhanced overclocking (cache bus links CPU, DDR4, system agent and shared L3 cache).
The board also has all the features we would expect from a high end product such as one click optimisation/profiles, digital power control, LN2/water cooling support, temperature sensor support, strengthened PCIe slots and advanced SLI/Crossfire support. That allows us to configure the slots to our requirements and the onboard LEDs illuminate to show us which to install the cards in. Then there is surge protection and higher static tolerance on the LAN sockets, overvoltage protection, overcurrent protection and extra little touches like the status/debug LEDs.
Looking around the board and starting at the bottom left corner we find a PCIe slot layout which runs from PCIe 3.0 16x though 1x, 16x, 8x, 8x, 8x. This is also the location for the onboard power and reset buttons as well as the enhanced audio hardware. The ASUS solution includes power pre-regulator, shielding, de-pop circuit, amp, separate layers for left/right and premium Japan-made audio capacitors.
Moving along to the bottom right we have a plethora of drive connectors which include eight SATA 3, U.2 (NVMe), SATA Express and above them, beside the memory slots, a M.2 slot which mounts our drive vertically (with bundled bracket).
Round at the back panel we start with a BIOS flashback button before finding dual Intel GB LAN ( I218V and I211-AT ). Beneath those are four USB 3.0 ports, next up is a stack of USB 2.0 connectors before we find four USB 3.1 ports with one type-C. Our three Wi-Fi antenna sockets are next and support speeds up to 1300Mbps (ac) with the optical and gold plated 3.5mm audio connectors finishing things off (ALC1150 7.1 with 112dB SNR). Finally, that bundled Wi-Fi card also supports Bluetooth 4.0.
ASUS X99 Deluxe II Review – BIOS and Software
ASUS use their advanced UEFI bios on the X99 Deluxe 2 and split it into two modes. EZ and Advanced. In the first we get all the key features in one screen, allowing us to quickly and easily configure the board to our needs. Fore more hands on users we can move to advanced mode and really take control of the system. Added to this are various user friendly features such as the ability to Secure Erase drives, update the BIOS from the net, etc.
As far as software goes, most of our time is spent in AISuite. This tool allows us to monitor, maintain and tweak our board as required. ASUS also provide a little app for quick profile switching, LED control software, a panel to add macro functionality to any keyboard, decent audio panel and LAN software which allows us to optimise our connection.
ASUS X99 Deluxe II Review – Performance
I7-5960X, ASUS X99 Deluxe II, 4x8GB DDR4-2800(Corsair)
i7-6700K, Z170, 2x8GB DDR4-2666 (Corsair)
i7-5960X, X99, 4x8GB DDR4-2800 (Corsair)
FX-9590, 990FX, 4x8Gb DDR3-2133 (Corsair)
GTX 980 Ti OC
Corsair H100 Series Cooler
Corsair AX1500i PSU
Samsung 850 Pro SSD (SATA Testing)
Samsung 950 (M.2 Testing)
OCZ Revodrive 350 (PCIe Testing)
And Samsung T3 SSD (USB Testing)
ASUS X99 Deluxe II Review – Conclusion
The X99 Deluxe II is one of those products where we receive it and upon unboxing are hit with two feelings. One… this is pretty damn cool. Look at the amount of features! And two… where do you even start as a reviewer! Seriously though, its a nice position to be in.
As far as build quality of the X99 Deluxe II goes, we have no complaints. Quality components are used across the PCB and ASUS have gone the extra mile in so many areas to enhance this board over many others, from the high quality PCIe slots and audio enhancements to revised CPU socket. Add to that they have also had customer experience very much in mind with various tools and connectors that are designed to make installation easy.
In terms of design, all good. Slot layout is ideal, plenty of fan connectors, a huge amount of back panel connectors and more drive options than most users would ever need. It is clear to see from the design that ASUS were determined to fit in everything they could. Some manufacturers would have been satisfied with providing M.2 by PCIe card (Which is included here) but ASUS manage to also include a native connector and design a vertical attachment to accommodate it.
Looking to performance, again great. Across the suite of tests the X99 Deluxe II managed to squeeze extra performance from our components. This of course helps it to further enhance performance over the Z170 mainstream platform. Really though, the board is designed to shine most with Intels upcoming CPUs and we can’t wait to see what ASUS do with them.