ASUS X99-A Reviewccokeman -
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ASUS X99-A Introduction:
Intel delivered its Haswell-E architecture back at the end of August 2014. To do so, it did not ride the coat tails of Ivybridge-E and use the long in the tooth X79 socket 2011 platform. Instead, it brought forward a new chipset and socket name, 2011-v3. That meant you could not slap the latest Extreme edition 8-core chip into the aging platform. Besides, the socket is a whole new animal. Couple in the fact that Intel was no longer in the motherboard business, it meant that ASUS among other partners had to do the board legwork and deliver a premium product for the masses. In doing so, ASUS brings its whole arsenal into play from solid engineering to a flawless implementation of its UEFI BIOS and software package. Both of which it did when I looked at the X99 Deluxe. The feature set is long and distinguished when you look at it. Starting out with the 5-way optimization, 5x protection, 8+4 phase Digi+ VRM circuit, EPU, TPU, M.2 (x4) and SATA Express support, T-Topology for the DRAM slots, USB BIOS Flashback, and just so much more.
Putting all these features and more in a board, which retails currently for just over $250 for an Extreme-ready motherboard. ASUS has brought value to the extreme end of the Intel spectrum. The question is, will the past repeat itself and prove out that the owner experience is really the same when you compare boards within the same product stack? Let's dig in and see if the X99-A can truly deliver on all fronts. My guess is, it will.
ASUS X99-A Closer Look:
With the new X99 channel boards, ASUS brings a whole new color scheme and look to the boards, as well as the packaging. On the front panel, you get a stylized image of the X99-A as well as a few of the main features that the board is equipped with or supports. Including, of course, ASUS 5-Way optimization tool. The back panel of the box is loaded with a breakdown of the board's feature set, along with some of the unique ASUS features, including the OC Socket, 5-Way optimization tool, WiFi go, Turbo LAN, and more. Flipping the lid up on the top of the box gives you, the potential customer, a look at the board. Under the motherboard, you get a rather modest accessory bundle.
The engineering that goes into ASUS boards provides a common experience from the top to the bottom of the product stack, for the most part. The hardware side of the bundle consists of four SATA 6Gb/s data cables, two with 90 degree ends, an SLI bridge connection, a stainless steel Q-Shield and Q-Connectors, to make front panel wiring easier to hook up. You also get the installation guide / manual, a driver disk, and an ASUS sticker. Not bad when you look at the feature set on the board, since it gives the user a running start.
Having worked with the upper end of the channel stack in the deluxe X99 Deluxe, I'm curious to see how well the X99-A compares, from not only a performance perspective, but how well it overclocks by comparison. It should prove to be an interesting comparison.