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ASUS X99-A Review

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ASUS X99-A Testing:

Testing ASUS' Entry level X99-A motherboard will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and NVIDIA drivers for the NVIDIA GTX 770. In the past we had locked the clock speed on the processor to eliminate any easily controlled variables due to processor speed. However, there is a difference in how each manufacturer handles the CPU default and boost speeds, creating opportunity for one board to deliver a higher level of performance. This variable is a point of difference between boards. The majority of users will run the stock settings, making this point a valid concern, so we are changing up the test methods to capture this difference.

Testing Setup: Intel Socket 2011 V-3

 

Testing Setup: Intel Socket 2011

 

Comparison Motherboard:

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

 

There are more than a few ways to get the most from your CPU using ASUS X99-A or, for that matter, any of ASUS X99 boards due to how well the hardware and software features are integrated from the top to the bottom of the product stack. You have the ability to manually tweak and tune in the well thought out UEFI BIOS, if you feel you want to row your own boat as an enthusiast. Or you can go full auto and let ASUS 5-way optimization tool do all the work for you for a true one touch overclock, if the BIOS is a bit intimidating.

The best of all, is that you can go from one end to the other and mix and match to get your final results. ASUS provides the tools for you as long as you understand where the tools will take you. Due to the complexities of managing the maximum CPU core clock speed, the strength of the memory controller, and the cache ratio, it is a tremendous balancing act to get to the highest clock speed possible with your installed CPU and memory. Last, but certainly not least, is the ability to use the auto-overclocking tools in the BIOS, in either the EZ or Advanced sections of the BIOS. It's all pretty cool when you sit back and watch it all work.

Manually tuning the parameters to get my Core i7 5960X to 4.6GHz was a bit more difficult than the steps I used while overclocking the X99 Deluxe. I had to move my target down a bit to reach my final clock speed of 4.54GHz. To start, I set XMP profile for the Corsair Vengeance memory and adjusted the clock multiplier to reach a good solid 4.5GHz using 1.30 volts to the core and 1.26 to the cache ring by using the 125MHz gear ratio and tweaking it up a bit.

From there, I pushed the bclk up until the system crashed and tuned the voltage a little higher to finally reach 129.7MHz using the 35 clock multiplier for the CPU and 29 multiplier on the cache ring. Even though the X99-A is equipped with ASUS Exclusive OC Socket, I was not able to push the cache ring much higher without failing in my stability testing. At this point, the memory was running a stable 2850MHz. For benchmarking, 4.6GHz on the core, 4300MHz on the Cache ring and 3000MHz on the memory was fun, but not fully stable. Even so, core is king, or so they say, but it's always fun to get a little extra something for nothing.

Clocking on the ASUS X99-A proved to be both easy and challenging all at the same time after cutting my overclocking teeth on the X99 Deluxe. When you look at ASUS auto rules for voltage and memory training, you can do some wonderful things just leaving everything on auto and just pushing the multiplier and memory multipliers up and using the auto tuned setting to tweak from. Using the 5-way optimization tool the board found its own maximum clock speed of 4500MHz, which is pretty respectable and fully stable. Overall, there were no real issues when overclocking the board, much the same experience I had with the Deluxe, save the slightly lower core and cache clock speeds.

 

 

 

 

Maximum Core Clock Speed:

Each CPU has been tested for stability at the listed overclocked speeds. These clock speeds will represent the level of performance shown by the overclocked scores in the testing.

 

 

Benchmarks:

  • Scientific & Data:
  1. PCMark 8
  2. SiSoft Sandra 2014
  3. Cinebench R15
  4. X.264 5.1
  5. AIDA64 3.00
  6. CrystalDiskMark
  7. ATTO 2.47
  8. SATA Express Testing
  9. iPerf
  10. Rightmark Audio Analyzer
  • Gaming:
  1. 3DMark
  2. Batman: Arkham Origins
  3. Metro: Last Light



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