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ASUS X99-A Review

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ASUS X99-A Conclusion:

After years of testing the low and high-ends of ASUS product stack, the one constant is the user experience from the bottom to the top of the product stack. The -A series boards are not the most feature rich boards that ASUS brings to the table. When taken out of context that could be looked at as a dig at the -A boards, but it is not. These boards are the foundation that is set, and each rung up the ladder you go, you gain feature set and additional capabilities until you reach the very top of the stack.

Of course there are a few branches along the way that lead to the ROG boards such as the Rampage series, the WS series, and TUF series boards. These branches all lead the user to a different feature set and path to explore whether you are looking at a build for the professional in the WS series, the gamer and enthusiast sectors get the ROG specific features, and the TUF series bring in the pinnacle of reliability for the long term. Then we are left with the mainstream boards that usually peak with the Deluxe series boards that come with all the bells and whistles and at times the whole kitchen sink.

The ASUS X99-A on its own is a board that can deliver performance on par with each of the boards in ASUS' product stack at stock speeds. The only real limit to your performance level will come down to the processor you choose to install in the socket, and even then, from board to board your experience would be the same across the stack in CPU related tasks. When you look at the overclocking potential of the X99-A, I found that it delivers within 100MHz of the X99 Deluxe. Pretty good when you get down to it.

Equipped with ASUS exclusive OC Socket, you still have the ability to maximize the cache ring ratio for that extra bit of performance. Not only can you tweak and tune manually in the BIOS, you get ASUS 5-Way optimization tool that maximizes both the energy consumption and processing power on top of the the fan operating parameters to deliver cooling when you need it and silence when you don't.

But wait, as the talking head in the Ginsu knife commercials says, there's more. You get EZ Mode overclocking in the BIOS that allows you to choose between operating parameters to know what you will be using the computer for. Will it be a gaming PC? Are you using liquid or air cooling? Do you want a mild or extreme overclock? Just answer a few questions and you get a safe and secure overclock based on your selections. If you want to overclock, the X99-A will do it thanks to ASUS Digi+ VRM all digital power system.

ASUS CrashFree UEFI BIOS, is hands down about the best UEFI BIOS I have used. It's smooth and fluid with no glitches that destroy the experience. You can start in the EZ or Advanced mode, although for most systems the EZ mode will let you do just about everything. If you choose to go deeper than you can.

ASUS includes a comprehensive value added suite of software that brings added functionality to the X99-A. AI Suite III is primed and ready as a one size fits all tool. From the front and center, 5-Way optimization tool using ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors, USB Boost 3.0 for added USB 3.0 performance, Turbo LAN data packet management over the Intel NIC, Turbo APP to manage system performance by application, EPU for Energy management settings, USB BIOS Flashback and more. ASUS Crystal Sound 2 Realtek ALC1150 based solution is almost as good as you can get with an on-board sound solution. It allows the end user to enjoy the sound with a solid solution so you can spend your cash on performance upgrades and not an add-in sound card.

Drive performance on this board is well covered with both SATA Express and M.2x4 support as well as your standard compliment of SATA 6Gbps ports. This gives you the ability to not only use standard SATA drives, but move up the level of drive performance you can take advantage of, should you choose to use them. Overall, there is not a whole lot I can say negative about this board. It's a solid addition to the product stack, and a great entry point if you are looking to move up to Intels Extreme series socket 2011-v3 platform. At $254, it not going to break the bank. For that price point, you get a good looking, quality board that delivers all that it you expect.


Pros:

  • Overclocking (OC Socket)
  • Affordable
  • ASUS Software Package
  • Digi+ VRM
  • UEFI BIOS
  • Crystal Sound 2
  • 5-Way Optimization
  • Quad GPU Support

 

Cons:

  • Slim Bundle


 

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