ASRock X299 Taichi XE Motherboard Review, The Taichi Reborn
ASRock X299 Taichi XE2018
ASRock X299 Taichi XE Motherboard- Close Up
As stated earlier, the Taichi theme that ASRock is going with for the last couple of years is a very unique design. The motherboard looks absolutely fantastic in terms of design and builds quality. The motherboard comes styled in a silver and black color scheme which doesn't fail to impress.
ASRock's X299 Taichi XE is a solid board on the first inspection. The design and layout have been vastly improved by ASRock from the first iteration of Taichi. There are not many visual aspects to the board but in terms of performance, you'll see a major upgrade.
Being a standard ATX form factor motherboard, it can be noted that there are a lot of features crammed into this board. The color scheme isn't all bling and that's a good thing, rather than focusing on cosmetics, ASRock paid focus to what needed more attention and they got a lot right on this motherboard.
The motherboard comes in at a $300 US price and has a ton of features to talk about so let's get started.
The board uses the LGA 2066 socket to support Intel Core-X series processors. The socket is compatible with both Intel Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors. You can note that while the total pin count has increased, the socket dimensions remain largely similar to the previous LGA 2011 socket. The socket has a protective cover out of the box which can easily be removed when installing the processor.
The motherboard packs a 13 phase Digi Power phase design to power the CPU. The motherboard is outfitted with ASRock's DR.MOS design that features the latest SPS (Smart Power Stage) technology. It’s optimized for monitoring current and temperature of each phase, thus delivering smoother and neater power to the CPU with enhanced performance and OC capability.
The 8 Layer PCB comes with 4 sets of 2-ounce copper inner layers, providing stable signal traces and power shapes and delivering lower temperature and higher energy efficiency for overclocking. Other quality features include Premium 65A power chokes, Nichicon 12,000 black capacitors, and a high-density glass fabric PCB. The power design allows for up to 720A and 1300W support.
The CPU is supplied power through dual 8 pin power connectors. This will feed the CPU with up to 300 Watts of power. Most Intel CPU’s will be shipping with TDP’s of 140W but that changes when users overclock, that changes the power limit based on applied voltages and clock speeds. This was a much-needed change that was highlighted on the initial X299 motherboards that had stability and power issues when it came to supporting the higher-end Core-X processors.
The VRMs are cooled by an updated XXL Aluminum Alloy heatsink. The heatsink is colored silver and is very beefy and has a metallic silver "X299" logo etched in the middle. The heatsink is fitted with heat pipe design that ensures effective heat dissipation from the MOSFETs. It is one of the biggest changes alongside the power system compared to the older X299 Taichi.
The motherboard has a total of eight DDR4 DIMM slots which can support up to 128 GB (Quad Channel) and 64 GB (Dual Channel) Non-ECC, un-buffered memory. These slots are rated to support XMP profiles up to 4400+ (O.C) MHz. Each slot is labeled, making it easier to install DIMMs in the proper orientation.
Expansion slots include four PCI-Express 3.0 x16, a single PCI-Express 3.0 x1, and triple M.2 slots. The board can support 4-Way multi-GPU (CrossfireX / SLI). The M.2 slots are rated to support NVMe PCI-e Gen3 x4 and Intel Optane series memory. Only a CPU that offers 44 lanes can deliver full x16 operation on two SLI or Crossfire configured discrete GPUs.
- If you install CPU with 44 lanes, PCIE1/PCIE2/PCIE3/PCIE5 will run at x16/x8/x16/x0 or x8/x8/x16/x8.
- If you install CPU with 28 lanes, PCIE1/PCIE2/PCIE3/PCIE5 will run at x16/x0/x8/x0 or x8/x0/x8/x8.
- If you install CPU with 16 lanes, PCIE1/PCIE2/PCIE3/PCIE5 will run at x16/x0/x0/x0 or x8/x0/x4/x0.
ASRock has featured their Steel Slot technology on the expansion slots. Not only do these slots offer a solid cover plate for high-end cards but it also prevents from any sort of signal interference. Such slots are ideal for the modern generation of graphics cards such as the MSI GTX 1080 Ti Lightning X which takes up three slots and puts a lot of weight on the PCIe slot.
The supported types for the M.2 socket are 22110, 2280, 2260, 2242 and 2230. M.2 slots offer up to 32 GB/s link speed compared to just 6 GB/s on SATA 3 bus. All M.2 slots can operate at full x4 (32 GB/s) speeds, provided that enough PCIe lanes are available. Otherwise, users will have the choice to select from PCIe and SATA 3 modes.
- If M2_1 is occupied by a SATA-type M.2 device, SATA3_1 will be disabled.
- If M2_2 is occupied by a SATA-type M.2 device, SATA3_0 will be disabled.
- If M2_3 is occupied by a SATA-type M.2 device, SATA3_7 will be disabled.
The X299 PCH is housed beneath a metallic heatsink with ASRock logo and label embedded on it. There are some key features of this heatsink when it comes to design. It is reminiscent of a mech gear and blends in nicely with the PCB theme. The PCH heatsink also emits RGB LED which can be controlled manually through ASRock's RGB LED software.
Storage options include 10 SATA III ports rated to operate at 6 GB/s. These can support 10 different storage devices at a single time.
Following is a list of all internal connectors on the motherboard:
- 1 x Virtual RAID On CPU Header
- 1 x TPM Header
- 1 x Power LED and Speaker Header
- 2 x RGB LED Headers
- 1 x CPU Fan Connector (4-pin)
- 1 x CPU Optional/Water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
- 2 x Chassis Fan Connectors (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
- 1 x Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
- 1 x 24 pin ATX Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector)
- 2 x 8 pin 12V Power Connectors (Hi-Density Power Connector)
- 1 x Front Panel Audio Connector (15μ Gold Audio Connector)
- 1 x Thunderbolt AIC Connector (5-pin)
- 2 x USB 2.0 Headers (Support 4 USB 2.0 ports) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Headers (Support 4 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports) (ASMedia ASM1074 Hub) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x Dr. Debug with LED
In terms of audio, the ASRock X299 Taichi is equipped with the latest Purity Sound 4 system that comes with the Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec offering 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection. Features of the Purity Sound 4 include Nichicon Fine Gold Series Audio Caps, 120dB SNR DAC with Differential Amplifier, TI NE5532 Premium Headset Amplifier for Front Panel Audio Connector (Supports up to 600 Ohm headsets), Pure Power-In, Direct Drive Technology, PCB Isolate Shielding , Impedance Sensing on Front Out port, Individual PCB Layers for R/L Audio Channel, Gold Audio Jacks and 15μ Gold Audio Connector.
One thing you will note is that the X299 Tiachi had a plastic cover over the audio PCB for aesthetics but that is gone along with the I/O cover. ASRock went with a purposeful heatsink rather than aim for looks on this motherboard and it clearly shows from the design.
The motherboard comes with a single USB 3.0 front panel header, dual USB 2.0 front panel headers and an RGB LED strip header. One interesting feature about this motherboard is that the CMOS battery isn't located in the center of the board but rather right below the PCH heatsink.
The I/O on the motherboard includes the following ports:
- 2 x Antenna Ports
- 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard Port
- 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
- 2 x USB 2.0 Ports (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A Port (10 Gb/s) (ASMedia ASM3142) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C Port (10 Gb/s) (ASMedia ASM3142) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Ports (Supports ESD Protection)
- 2 x RJ-45 LAN Ports with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
- 1 x BIOS Flashback Button
- 1 x Clear CMOS Button
- HD Audio Jacks: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone (Gold Audio Jacks)