X99 Motherboard Final Thoughts
An X99-based system with a Core i7-5960 processor will munch through computationally intensive multi-threaded tasks like video transcoding with amazing speed, but the CPU’s lower overall core speed means that for programs with 4 or fewer threads– i.e. most of what even an enthusiast will run– it’s actually slower than a Core i7-4790K, which costs about a third as much.
For an enthusiast or gamer, the real advantage of an X99 system is all those extra PCI-E lanes. The paltry 16 lanes provided by a LGA1150 CPU is just enough for a pair of GPUs, leaving only the eight slower PCI-E lanes provided by the X97 chipset for everything else. In contrast, an LGA2011-v3 CPU has 28 or 40 lanes, making it ideal for triple-GPU systems and running high bandwidth peripherals like SATA Express and m.2 SSDs, while still having lanes left over for extra USB 3.0 ports and additional PCI-E cards.
The ASUS X99-DELUXE motherboard I reviewed recently is an excellent choice if you can use its high-end features and have $400 to spend on a motherboard. But the X99-A costs $150 less, and offers the same performance and overclocking abilities while giving up only the following features:
- No built-in WiFi
- Only supports one m.2 SSD instead of two
- No extra ASMEDIA SATA Express controller
- No extra gigabit Ethernet port
While all of these extras are nice, I personally wouldn’t use any of them in my personal system, so why pay the extra money?
For most gamers and enthusiasts, I still think an X97 system with a high-end LGA1150 CPU like the Core i7-4790K represents a better value than any X99 system. However, if you need or just really want an 8-core Intel CPU on your desktop, I think the ASUS X99-A represents the best value for the money.
In the last section I’ll present my conclusion based on the testing and features of this motherboard.