Intel “Core-X” Core i7-7900X, Core i7-7820X, Core i7-7800X, Core i7-7740X, Core i5-7640X HEDT CPU Review on ASRock X299 Taichi Motherboard

Introduction

Over the years, Intel has undoubtedly taken control of the entire PC desktop market. They offer specialized platforms to both mainstream and enthusiasts consumers. Earlier this year, Intel released their 200-series platform for mainstream consumers and it turned out to be a modest jump in terms of performance and features, something that we have come to expect from Intel during the recent years.

While mainstream desktop buyers got their platform cycle refresh earlier this year, enthusiasts are receiving the update in the second quarter. In 2014, Intel released X99 and it was a big leap in term of features compared to X79. It was the first platform to feature support for DDR4 memory, some thing that mainstream consumers would get a whole year later. It was also the first platform that pushed the core count on Intel processors from 6 to 10. While expensive, the competitors had no answer to Intel’s enthusiast platform which gave Intel another market to take control over.

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Come 2017, three years after the launch of X99, Intel is offering another grand enthusiast platform. This time, it’s known as X299 and we can expect the same sort of updates that we saw from X79 to X99. Intel is offering processors with lots of cores, lots of PCIe lanes, lots of storage capabilities and very high clock speeds but there’s one issue as someone or something has definitely risen up.

In 2017, after a troublesome 6 years and lots of delays in the process, Intel’s only competitor in the PC desktop market has woken up. AMD is back and they have a new core known as Zen which has put them back in the competition with performance on par with Intel CPUs. The performance gap that was increasing slowly but gradually between Intel and AMD processors has worn out and AMD can now tackle Intel at multiple playing fields.

AMD devised a pretty nice strategy to take on Intel. They first tackled the mainstream processors with their Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 processors, offering high core count processors on a fresh new platform and offering great multi-tasking performance at brilliant prices. Take for comparison a Ryzen 7 1700 with 8 cores, 16 threads for $329 versus the Core i7-7700K with 4 cores and 8 threads for $349. And the performance of that AMD processor is actually closer to an 8 core X99 part while featuring a much lower PC assembly cost. The difference is there and Intel is really taking the heat from AMD chips this time around.

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Problem number two for Intel is that AMD isn’t just stopping at mainstream platforms, they are for the first time entering the enthusiast HEDT segment. Their new lineup is called Ryzen Threadripper and features up to 16 cores. Now let me tell you something about the Intel X299 platform and the Core-X family. The Intel Core-X family includes several processors based on two different Uarch’s. There’s Kaby Lake-X based on 14nm Kaby Lake and Skylake-X based on 14nm Skylake. The former is more of a budget aimed series while the latter is where the HE (High-End) part of the HEDT brand lies.

I had talks with many manufacturers working close to Intel about the Core-X family and X299 platform. Till the time the first rumors of AMD’s HEDT platform arrived, there were no plans for Intel to produce a chip with a greater core count than 10. When the rumor mill finally started reporting that AMD had plans to prepare a HEDT processor lineup with up to 12-14 cores, we started receiving information that Intel had asked their engineers to produce or in-reality, modify server level Xeon chips into Skylake-X parts with higher core counts.

That happened much later in the X299 production roadmap, to be precise, it was just few weeks before launch and Intel knowing that AMD won’t stop at 12-14 cores, and that they can re-purpose more higher core Xeon variants into HEDT parts, Intel gave the go ahead to their engineers. What does this show? Intel finally facing the heat of competition and it might turn out to be good for us all. Competition prompts companies to release products that are better than their competitors at great value and both Intel and AMD would try to best one another at this game in the long term. AMD has confirmed to release Threadripper chips in Summer but they haven’t been released yet

Today, we will be testing out all of the currently released Intel Core-X series processors on ASRock’s X299 Taichi motherboard.

Intel X299 HEDT Chipset – The Top Brass of Intel’s 2017 HEDT Family

The Intel X299 HEDT chipset is powering the enthusiast platform this year’s launch. It’s easy to tell given the time frame these enthusiast platforms last that the chipset will run for at least 2-3 years before being replaced by a new one. Intel’s X299 chipset includes support for both Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors but some vendors have decided to restrict Kaby Lake-X support on their high-end X299 motherboards since it doesn’t make sense to go for a $499 US+ motherboard with chips that cost below $350 US.

There are also some various restrictions and features that are not available on Kaby Lake-X when compared to Skylake-X and those are detailed below.

Intel X299 PCH Features

Intel’s new X299 chipset will be the latest PCH to support the enthusiast processors. The X299 platform will be centered around the LGA 2066 socket which will be compatible with at least two generations of processors. In specs, the X299 chipset offers up to 24 PCIe Gen 3.0 lanes. The chip also offers up to quad channel memory with speeds up to DDR4-2667 MHz (native). Kaby Lake X series processors will only support dual channel RAM and will stick to the native speeds of 2667 MHz.

This difference is due to the IMC on the Kaby Lake-X chip architecture that only allows support for dual channel memory. Intel basically swapped the Kaby Lake die from the smaller mainstream chip to the larger enthusiast chip. This means that the underlying architecture remains the same.

Aside from that, Intel X299 has full support for CPU overclocking which is a bonus. While that’s a plus, independent testings performed prior to our review revealed that the chips don’t feature in chip soldering and use thermal paste as a layer that connects the die with the heatspreader. This may result in higher temperatures but we have to find that our in our own tests.

The Basin Falls PCH also offers maximum of 14 USB ports (10 USB 3.0 Max), 8 SATA 3.0, and Intel LAN (Jacksonville PHY) controllers. The chipset can also drive three M.2 drives with Intel RST tech. Additional features include Enhanced SPI, SPI, LPC, SMBus and HD audio which are integrated underneath its hood.

Intel X299 Chipset Features:

ChipsetIntel X79 “Patsburg”Intel X99 “Wellsburg”Intel X299 "Basin Falls" With KBL-XIntel X299 "Basin Falls" With SKL-X
SKU Focus SegmentEnthusiast DesktopEnthusiast DesktopEnthusiast DesktopEnthusiast Desktop
CPU SupportSandy Bridge-E /
Ivy Bridge-E
Haswell-E / Broadwell-EKaby Lake-XSkylake-X
CPU Core Options4, 66, 8, 1046, 8, 10, 12, 14,16, 18
Max Chipset PCI-E Lanes882424
Max CPU PCI-E LanesUp To 40Up To 40Up To 16Up To 44
Memory TypeDDR3DDR4DDR4DDR4
Memory DIMMsQuad Channel (8)Quad Channel (8)Dual Channel (4)Quad Channel (8)
OverclockingYesYesYesYes
Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 SupportYesYesYesYes
Intel Turbo Boost Max 3.0 SupportNoNoNoYes
Intel Optane TechnologyNoNoYesYes
Intel Rapid Storage TechnologyYesYesYesYes
Intel Rapid Storage Technology For PCIe Storage Drive SupportNoNoYesYes
RAID 0,1,5,10YesYesYesYes
Intel Smart Response TechnologyNoYesYesYes
Integrated LANYes1 GbEIntegrated MACIntegrated MAC
Total USB Ports (Max USB 3.0)N/A61010
Total USB Ports (Max USB 2.0)14141414
Max SATA 6 Gbps Ports6 (2 Rated at Full 6 Gbps)1088
TDP7.8W6.5W6.0W6.0W

Intel LGA 2066 Socket – Supports All Intel Core-X Series Processors

On the socket front, Intel has finally replaced the older LGA 2011 with LGA 2066. The LGA 2011 saw several revisions as it was first featured on the X79 platform and slightly redesigned for X99 in the form of LGA 2011-v3. Enthusiasts running older HEDT Intel platforms cannot use a older processor on the new platform and would have to purchase a new one to allow compatibility.

The latest LGA 2066 socket features 2066 pins which support both Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X CPUs but doesn’t allow compatibility with Intel Xeon processors. The Intel Xeon class processors that are part of the Skylake-SP family will be featured on the much different LGA 3647 socket which is huge compared to LGA 2066.

Cooler Compatibility With LGA 2066 Socket

Since the change in number of pins is smaller, the socket remains as the same dimensions as the LGA 2011 and LGA 2011-v3 socket. This means that users can equip their older retention brackets from LGA 2011 socket coolers on the LGA 2066 socket with ease. The process remains largely the same.

On the cooler front, while Intel hasn’t historically offered any cooling solution on their HEDT CPUs, they do provide their own boxed solutions for users that are interested at a price ranging between $85-$100 US. The said cooler is Intel’s TS13X which is a liquid cooling solution and termed as a high performance thermal solution for enthusiasts. The cooler features a 120mm radiator fitted with a 120mm fan that operates at up to 2200 RPM. It’s a nice option but there are plenty more similar or better priced solutions in the market that are compatible with LGA 2066.

As detailed earlier, the initial launch would include the Kaby Lake-X and Skylake-X processors. The Kaby Lake-X lineup features two models and are priced below $350 US. The Skylake-X family comes with up to 10 cores (initially) and priced up to $1000 US. Lastly, we have the XCC (Extreme Core Count) models which will ship with up to 18 cores priced up to $2000 US but launching during Q3 2017.

Intel is segmenting their ‘Core-X’ series family in three parts. These include the following:

There are some technologies that will be featured on Skylake-X processors but not on Kaby Lake-X series. These technologies are worth mentioning as they lead to better performance and efficient CPU functioning. Upgrades such as the new Mesh architecture interconnect and Turbo Boost MAX 3.0 have already been detailed, more details on them can be found in the links below:

Intel Core X Series Processor Family Specifications:

CPU Namei9-7980XEi9-7960Xi9-7940Xi9-7920Xi9-7900Xi7-7820Xi7-7800Xi7-7740Xi5-7640X
CPU Process14nm+14nm+14nm+14nm+14nm+14nm+14nm+14nm+14nm+
ArchitectureSKL-XSKL-XSKL-XSKL-XSKL-XSKL-XSKL-XKBL-XKBL-X
Cores/Threads18/3616/3214/2812/2410/208/166/124/84/4
Base Clock2.6 GHz2.8 GHz3.1 GHz2.9 GHz3.3 GHz3.6 GHz3.5 GHz4.3 GHz4.0 GHz
(Turbo Boost 2.0)4.2 GHz4.2 GHz4.3 GHz4.3 GHz4.3 GHz4.3 GHz4.0 GHz4.5 GHz4.2 GHz
(Turbo Boost Max 3.0)4.4 GHz4.4 GHz4.4 GHz4.4 GHz4.5 GHz4.5 GHzN/AN/AN/A
L3 CacheTBATBATBA16.5 MB13.75 MB11 MB8.25 MB6 MB6 MB
L2 Cache18 MB16 MB14 MB12 MB10 MB8 MB6 MB4 MB4 MB
Memory Quad DDR4Quad DDR4Quad DDR4Quad DDR4Quad DDR4Quad DDR4Quad DDR4Dual DDR4Dual DDR4
PCIe Lanes444444444428281616
Socket TypeLGA 2066LGA 2066LGA 2066LGA 2066LGA 2066LGA 2066LGA 2066LGA 2066LGA 2066
TDP165W165W165W140W140W140W140W112W112W
Price$1999 US$1699 US$1399 US$1189 US$999 US$599 US$389 US$349$242

Intel Kaby Lake-X CPU Models (Up To 4 Cores, $389)

The Intel Core i7-7740X: Intel’s New Mainstream Quad-Core with 4 Cores / 8 Threads

Priced at $349 (you are paying $87.25 per core) and featuring the brand new KabyLake-X architecture, the Core i7-7740X is going to be Intel’s newest mainstream quad core offering. That said, the plus points of this particular processor might not appeal to everyone. For one, you are paying a significantly higher price per core and for not a lot of benefits. Secondly, this processor supports only dual channel DDR4-2666 and only 16 PCIe lanes. TDP has however been reduced to 112W, so power conscious buyers will like to go for this.

The Intel Core i5-7640X: Intel’s New Budget King with 4 Cores / 4 Threads

Priced at $242 (you are paying $60.5 per core) and featuring the brand new Kabylake-X architecture, the Core i5-7740X features just 4 Cores without Hyper Threading enabled. It features a 4.0 GHz base clock that can boost up to 4.2 GHz. 4MB of L2 cache is complimented by 6 MB of L3 cache. The processor supports Dual Channel DDR4-2666 and 16 PCIe lanes on the LGA-2066 socket. TDP is reduced to 112 Watts like its hyperthreaded brother. Unlike its hyperthreaded brother however, this processor actually offers a decent value proposition and should sell like hot cakes in the mid-end segment.

Intel Skylake-X CPU Models (Up to 10 Cores, $1000)

The Intel Core i9-7900X: Intel’s High End Enthusiast Class Flagship with 10 Cores /20 Threads

Priced at $999 (you are paying $99.9 per core) and featuring the Skylake-X architecture, the Core-i9 7900X is the first processor that is priced below the $1000 mark. This means that it will be one of the few broad-spectrum processors offered by this lineup. It features a base clock of 3.3 GHz as well as a Turbo Boost Max 3.0 of 4.5 GHz. It also supports conventional Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 4.3 GHz. 10 MB of L2 cache is complimented by 13.75 MB of L3 cache and features quad channel DDR4-2666 memory. It is the last processor of this lineup to feature 44 PCIe lanes. The TDP remains 140W.

The Intel Core i7-7820X: Intel’s High End Gaming Powerhouse with 8 Cores / 16 Threads

Priced at $599 (you are paying $74.875 per core) and featuring the Skylake-X architecture, the Core i7-7820X is a processor that is all set for mainstream success. Priced at the mainstream high end price of $599, this particular CPU will take on the Ryzen high end lineup which also features 8 cores and 16 threads. It has a base clock of 3.6 GHz and a Turbo Boost Max 3.0 of 4.5 GHz. This is a higher boost clock than what Ryzen can currently achieve. It can also conventionally boost up to 4.3 GHz (using Turbo Boost 2.0). It will feature only 28 PCIe lanes as well as 140W TDP.

The Intel Core i7-7800X: Intel’s Mainstream King with 6 Cores / 12 Threads

Priced at $389 (you are paying $64.83 per core) and featuring the Skylake-X architecture, the Core i7-7800X is something that is within the reach of the usual mainstream market. Consumers who would have previously gone for a Core i7 processor with only 4 cores and 8 threads can now enjoy the benefits of a 6 core – 12 threaded processor courtesy of competition from AMD’s Ryzen. It can Turbo Boost (2.0) up to 4.0 GHz and features a base clock of 3.5 GHz. 6 MB of L2 cache is complimented by 8.25 MB of L3 cache and is the last processor to support 28 PCIe lanes in this lineup. TDP remains locked at 140W.

Intel Skylake-X Extreme Core Count CPU Models (Up to 18 Cores, $2000)

The Core i9-7980XE: Intel’s Unbeatable Flagship ‘Skylake-X’ Processor with 18 Cores / 36 Threads

Priced at $1999 MSRP (you are paying $111.11 per core) and featuring the Skylake-X architecture, this beast of a processor will be the ideal go-to processor for content creators that want the maximum throughput in terms of rendering performance. This is a processor that will almost certainly be overkill for gaming (unless you are running some sort of CaaS enterprise).

It has 18 cores and 36 threads and features Intel’s new Turbo Boost Max 3.0 technology which can boost up to 4.5 GHz (the base clock is unknown at this point). The CPU features an L2 Cache of 18 MB (1 MB per core) as well as an L3 cache of 24.75 MB. Quad channel DDR4 up to 2666 MHz is. The processor has a TDP of just 165W and is housed on the LGA 2066 socket like the rest of the lineup.

The Core i9-7960X: Intel’s 16 Cores / 32 Threads Offering That Will Take On AMD’s ThreadRipper Platform

Priced at $1699 and featuring the Skylake-X architecture, the Core i9-7960X has the exact same core count as AMD’s highest end Threadripper CPU (thought to be called the Threadripper 1998X) and that’s not a coincidence. Intel has put this particular CPU to take on the Threadripper platform in all its glory (and core count) and features the Turbo Max 3.0 technology just like its bigger brother. It will feature an L2 Cache of 16 MB (1MB per core) as well as an L3 cache of 22MB. Memory support is the same for all Skylake-X processors and remains quad channel DDR4-2666. The wattage is also locked at 165W. At the moment, the base clock of this variant is unknown.

The Intel Core i9-7940X: Intel’s 14 Cores / 28s Thread Processor For Serious Content Creators

Priced at $1399 (you are paying $106.18 per core) and featuring the Skylake-X architecture, the Core i9-7940X is one of the higher end offerings of this lineup and aimed dead center at content creators. Since no gamer is going to need more than 8 cores (and even that is debatable!) this entire lineup is targeted at the content creation industry which needs to do compute intensive tasks. The Core i9-7940X features a Turbo Max 3.0 Boost of 4.5 GHz (with unknown base clock). It features 14 MB of L2 cache as well as 19.25 MB of L3 cache. All other specs including quad channel DDR4 and TDP remain the same.

The Intel Core i9-7920X: Intel’s 12 Cores / 24s Threads Processor for Content Creators

Priced at $1189 (you are paying $99.083 per core) ) and featuring the Skylake-X architecture, the Core i9-7920X is one of the more value oriented offerings for VR and content creators. Priced at a relatively affordable level and still offering almost 3 times the core count of what you would usually get from a mainstream Core series (till the last generation), this particular processor is going to be a fan favorite. It features a Turbo Boost Max 3.0 of 4.5 GHz (same as its elder siblings) and an unknown base clock. 12 MB of L2 cache is complimented by 16.5 MB of L3 cache. It features 44 PCIe lanes as well as quad channel DDR4-2666. The TDP is lowered to 140W.

The ASRock X299 Taichi motherboard is a very high-end, enthusiast grade motherboard and costs $289 US which makes it a very affordable option for HEDT builders. The motherboard comes with all the latest tech wizardry you can expect of. We will be talking more about these ahead and as for the specifications list, you can check them out in the table below:

ASRock X299 Taichi Motherboard Specifications:

CPU- Supports Intel Core™ X-Series Processor Family for the LGA 2066 Socket
- Digi Power design
- 13 Power Phase design
- Supports Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0
- Supports ASRock Hyper BCLK Engine III
Chipset- Intel X299
Memory- Quad Channel DDR4 Memory Technology
- 8 x DDR4 DIMM Slots
- Supports DDR4 4400+(OC)* / 4266(OC) / 4133(OC) / 4000(OC) / 3866(OC) / 3800(OC) / 3733(OC) / 3600(OC) / 3200(OC) / 2933(OC) / 2800(OC) / 2666 / 2400 / 2133 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
- Supports non-ECC RDIMM (Registered DIMM)
- Max. capacity of system memory: 128GB**
- Supports Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) 2.0
- 15μ Gold Contact in DIMM Slots
BIOS- 2 x 128Mb AMI UEFI Legal BIOS with multilingual GUI support (1 x Main BIOS and 1 x Backup BIOS)
- Supports Secure Backup UEFI Technology
- ACPI 6.1 Compliant wake up events
- SMBIOS 3.0 Support
- CPU, DRAM, VPPM, VTTM, PCH 1.0V, VCCMPHY, VCCIO, VCCST, VCCSA, VCCSFR, VCCPLL, CLK VDD Voltage Multi-adjustment
Graphics- n/a
Audio- 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec)
- Premium Blu-ray Audio support
- Supports Surge Protection
- Supports Purity Sound 4
- 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
- 15μ Gold Audio Connector
- Supports DTS Connect
LAN- Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
- 1 x Giga PHY Intel I219V, 1 x GigaLAN Intel I211AT
- Supports Wake-On-LAN
- Supports Lightning/ESD Protection
- Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
- Supports PXE
Wireless LAN- Intel 802.11ac WiFi Module (Free Bundle)
- Supports IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
- Supports Dual-Band (2.4/5 GHz)
- Supports high speed wireless connections up to 433Mbps
- Supports Bluetooth 4.2 / 3.0 + High speed class II
Slots
- 4 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 Slots*
- 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 Slot
- Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™, 3-Way CrossFireX™ and CrossFireX™**
- Supports NVIDIA Quad SLI, 3-Way SLI and SLI
- 1 x Vertical M.2 Socket (Key E) with the bundled WiFi-802.11ac module (on the rear I/O)
- 15μ Gold Contact in VGA PCIe Slot (PCIE1 and PCIE3)
Storage- 8 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s Connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, Intel® Rapid Storage Technology 15 and Intel Smart Response Technology), NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug*
- 2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s Connectors by ASMedia ASM1061, support NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug
- 1 x Ultra M.2 Socket (M2_2), supports M Key type 2230/2242/2260/2280/22110 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s)**
- 2 x Ultra M.2 Sockets (M2_1 and M2_3), support M Key type 2230/2242/2260/2280 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s)**
Connector- 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)
- 1 x 8 pin 12V Power Connector (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 3.0 Headers (Support 4 USB 3.0 ports) (ASMedia ASM1074 Hub) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x Dr. Debug with LED
Rear Panel I/O- 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 Type-A Port (10 Gb/s) (ASMedia ASM3142) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C Port (10 Gb/s) (ASMedia ASM3142) (Supports ESD Protection)*
- 4 x USB 3.0 Ports (Supports ESD Protection)
- 2 x RJ-45 LAN Ports with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
- 1 x BIOS Flashback Switch
- 1 x Clear CMOS Switch
- HD Audio Jacks: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone (Gold Audio Jacks)
Software and UEFISoftware
- ASRock A-Tuning
- ASRock RGB LED
- ASRock APP Charger
- ASRock XFast LAN*
UEFI
- ASRock EZ Mode
- ASRock Full HD UEFI
- ASRock My Favorites in UEFI
- ASRock Instant Flash
- ASRock Internet Flash
- ASRock Crashless BIOS
- ASRock UEFI System Browser
- ASRock UEFI Tech Service
- ASRock Easy RAID Installer
Support CD- Drivers, Utilities, AntiVirus Software (Trial Version), Google Chrome Browser and Toolbar
Accessories
- Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
- 4 x SATA Data Cables
- 1 x ASRock SLI_HB_Bridge_2S Card
- 1 x ASRock 3-Way SLI-2S1S Bridge Card
- 2 x ASRock WiFi 2.4/5 GHz Antennas
- 3 x Screws for Ultra M.2 Sockets
Hardware Monitor- Temperature Sensing: CPU, CPU Optional/Water Pump, Chassis, Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fans
- Fan Tachometer: CPU, CPU Optional/Water Pump, Chassis, Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fans
- Quiet Fan (Auto adjust chassis fan speed by CPU temperature): CPU, CPU Optional/Water Pump, Chassis, Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fans
- Fan Multi-Speed Control: CPU, CPU Optional/Water Pump, Chassis, Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fans
- Voltage monitoring: +12V, +5V, +3.3V, CPU Vcore, DRAM, PCH 1.0V, VCCIO, VCCSA, VCCSFR
Form Factor- ATX Form Factor: 12.0-in x 9.6-in, 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm
- 8 Layer PCB
- 2oz Copper PCB
Unique Feature
ASRock USB 3.1
- ASRock USB 3.1 Type-A Port (10 Gb/s)
- ASRock USB 3.1 Type-C Port (10 Gb/s)
ASRock Super Alloy
- XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsink
- Premium 65A Power Choke
- Dr. MOS
- Nichicon 12K Black Caps (100% Japan made high quality conductive polymer capacitors)
- I/O Armor
- Matte Black PCB
- High Density Glass Fabric PCB
ASRock 802.11ac WiFi
ASRock Steel Slots
ASRock Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
ASRock Ultra USB Power
ASRock Full Spike Protection (for all USB, Audio, LAN Ports)
ASRock Live Update & APP Shop

ASRock X299 Taichi Motherboard Features:

ASRock X299 Taichi Motherboard Product Gallery:

The ASRock X299 Taichi motherboard comes inside a hefty, rectangular shaped package. This package is very heavy compared to some normal motherboards but it shows that ASRock has packed a lot of goodies aside from the board inside the box.

The Front has various marketing material. The board name is listed boldly on the front along with the company title “ASRock”. There are other marketing logos that include Intel X299 Inside, Intel Core-X series, NVIDIA SLI, AMD Crossfire, RGB LED and Intel Optane Memory support. The whole box has a mechanical gear theme that reflects the symbol of Taichi.

The back of the box contains all the marketing details along with product specifications. Most of the marketing tags have already been detailed by us in the “Features” section above. As can be seen, this board is loaded in features.

Don’t let the lower cost get the better of you as this motherboard packs some insane amount of features. Some important highlights include Dual Intel LAN, 13 Phase Power and DR.MOS, Hyper BCLK ENGINE II, Triple Ultra M.2 and RGB LED.

The motherboard is housed in a separate compartment within the box. You can note that the Anti static shielding is covering the motherboard to protect it from electrical and static shocks during shipping.

Out of the box, the motherboard has a very unique design and layout. The motherboard sticks to the ATX form factor regardless of all the features and additions that ASRock has made to their high end X299 product. The motherboard comes with a lot of goodies that we are going to talk about but first, let’s take a look at the accessories that are included inside the package.

There’s a good list of accessories included in the ASRock X299 Taichi package. These range from physical to software support disks.

First up, we have the Quick Installation guide, support CD and a ASRock X299 Taichi branded post card. There’s a separate manual for English and other languages included in the package.

Other accessories include four SATA data cables, a ASRock High-Bandwidth SLI bridge for 2-Way SLI support, a non-HB SLI bridge for 3-Way SLI support, 2 ASRock  WiFi 2.4/5 GHz Antennas and a small packet that includes three screws for each M.2 slot.

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 build quality. The motherboard comes styled in a silver and black color scheme which doesn’t fails to impress.

It’s a very expensive motherboard and so far, it doesn’t comprise on the package and its looks so we are hopeful it delivers a great impression in terms of performance too. The board comes in the standard ATX form factor and there are a lots 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 box which can easily be removed when installing the processor.

The motherboard packs a 13 Power phase design to power the socket. 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 a single 8 pin power connector. This will feed the CPU with up to 150 Watts of power. Most Intel CPU’s will be shipping with TDP’s of 140W but that changes when users overclock, that changes power limit based on applied voltages and clock speeds. So we will see if that single 8 pin connector is enough to support the high-end Core-X series processors.

The VRMs are covered by a single, dense aluminum alloy heatsink . The heatsink is colored black and is very beefy but there are reports that some manufacturers have not tested the heatsinks during the qualification process, resulting in higher VRM temperatures. We will test this in the power and thermal tests, if the VRM is able to provide stable operation under load scenarios. The heatsink is featuring a black color scheme and has a metallic silver “X299” logo etched in the middle.

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. Unlike other motherboard manufacturers, ASUS is sticking with the normal DIMM design and not implementing steel shielding or RGB LEDs which may seem like a down side.

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.

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 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.

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 eight SATA III ports rated to operate at 6 GB/s. These can support 8 different storage devices at a single time. There is also a single U.2 port. The motherboard supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 configurations but to enable that, you have to buy a separate RAID key from Intel and supported only on Core i9 series processors that can address up to 20 bootable drives.

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.

The motherboard comes with dual USB 3.0 front panel headers, dual USB 2.0 front panel headers, a RGB LED strip header and a single Debug LED that’s placed right below the CMOS battery port.

ASRock has also included a Rear Panel I/O cover that reads the “Intel Gigabit Ethernet” like all other ASRock boards do. There’s no cooling mechanism involved with the cover as it’s just for visuals and mostly hollow from the inside. But it does add to the overall looks of the product and that’s it’s main purpose over here.

The I/O on the motherboard includes dual antennas ports for Wi-Fi (wireless + bluetooth) connect, 1 PS/2 port, 1 SPDIF out port, two USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.1 Type-A port, 1 USB 3.1 Type-C port, four USB 3.0 ports, 2 RJ-45 LAN ports with LED, 1 BIOS Flashback switch, 1 clear CMOS switch and a 7.1 channel HD audio jack. All USB ports come with ESD protection out of box.

ASRock X299 Taichi Motherboard Picture Gallery:

Since this is a full Intel Core-X CPU lineup review, we used all the latest Intel processors in this range which have been launched. These include the Core i5-7640X, Core i7-7740X, Core i7-7800X, Core i7-7820X and the Core i9-7900X.

Intel did not contact us or provided NDA for testing of their Core-X series processors. Our review is based purely on fact and precision. The full test setup configuration can be seen in the provided list below:

Asrock X299 Taichi Test Setup:

ProcessorIntel Core i9-7900X
Intel Core i7-7820X
Intel Core i7-7800X
Intel Core i7-7740X
Intel Core i5-7640X
Intel Core i7-6950X
Intel Core i7-6900K
Intel Core i7-6800K
Intel Core i7-7700K
Intel Core i5-7600K
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X
MotherboardASRock X299 Taichi
Gigabyte GA-X99-UD7
Gigabyte AORUS Z270X-Gaming 8
ASRock X370 Killer SLI/AC
Power SupplyCorsair RM 750X Gold Plus
Solid State DriveSamsung SSD 960 EVO M.2 (512 GB)
Hard DiskSeagate Barracuda 1 TB 7200.12
MemoryG.SKILL Trident Z RGB Series 32 GB (4 x 8GB) CL16 3600 MHz
CaseCorsair Graphite Series 780T Full Tower
Video CardsASUS GeForce GTX 1080 Ti STRIX OC
Cooling SolutionsCorsair H115i GTX
Deepcool Captain 120 EX
Cryorig R1 Ultimate
OSWindows 10 64-bit

I would like to thank G.Skill for providing the Trident Z RGB memory, ASUS for providing the GTX 1080 TI STRIX OC and PRIME X299 Deluxe Motherboard and DeepCool for providing the Captain 120EX for this review. Out of all the coolers we listed, only the Corsair H115i which I personally bought was the most adequate at overclocked loads so I resorted to using it for the entire test procedure.

3DMark Time Spy CPU Performance

3DMark Firestrike is the widely popular video card benchmark test for Windows that is designed to measure your PC’s gaming performance. While the overall benchmark is great, the utility also provides a good indication of the CPU performance.

3DMark Firestrike CPU Performance

3DMark Firestrike is the widely popular video card benchmark test for Windows that is designed to measure your PC’s gaming performance. While the overall benchmark is great, the utility also provides a good indication of the CPU performance.

Blender

Blender is the free and open source 3D creation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation.

Cinebench R15

CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Iron Man 3, Oblivion, Life of Pi or Prometheus and many more.

Cinebench R11.5

Cinebench is based on Maxon’s Cinema 4D. It is used to compare graphics as well as processor performance. We are using the CPU performance numbers for our comparison.

HandBrake

HandBrake is a tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs.

PCMark 10

PCMark 10 is a complete PC benchmarking solution for Windows 10. It includes several tests that combine individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed for the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 10 offers complete Windows PC performance testing for home and business use.

POV-Ray

The POV-Ray package includes detailed instructions on using the ray-tracer and creating scenes. Many stunning scenes are included with POV-Ray so you can start creating images immediately when you get the package.

SuperPI

Super PI is used by many overclockers to test the performance and stability of their computers. In the overclocking community, the standard program provides a benchmark for enthusiasts to compare “world record” pi calculation times and demonstrate their overclocking abilities. The program can also be used to test the stability of a certain overclock speed.

WinRar

WinRAR is a powerful archive manager. It can backup your data and reduce the size of email attachments, decompress RAR, ZIP and other files downloaded from Internet and create new archives in RAR and ZIP file format.

X264 HD Encode Benchmark

This benchmark measures the encoding performance of the processor. It offers a standardized benchmark as the clip as well as the encoder used is uniform.

Intel Core-X Single Core Clock-To-Clock Performance Results:

I also tested the various chips of the same tier at adjusted clock speeds to note down any IPC improvements. It looks like that Core-X maintains the same IPC as Skylake and Kaby Lake main stream processors with only minor improvements that come from more stabilized clocks. The clock speeds used are listed as:

ASRock X299 Taichi – Ashes of The Singularity

Stardock’s Ashes of the Singularity RTS title is a new take on the historic genre. The game incorporates several things that many pc gamers have been curious about and anxious to try for themselves such as Explicit Multi-Adapter Support and full Asynchronous Compute under DirectX 12 API. We tested the game at 1440P with 4x MSAA on Crazy Settings under DirectX 12.

ASRock X299 Taichi – Battlefield 1

Battlefield 1 is the kind of game that doesn’t need any real introduction. The latest installment of the Battlefield series is as beautiful as anyone would expect and comes right out of the gate with full DX11 and DX12. EA and DICE did a fantastic job with their AAA WW1 shooter this time by implementing some key gaming technologies. We tested the game at 1440P using Ultra settings and DirectX 11 API.

ASRock X299 Taichi – DOOM

In 2016, Id finally released Doom. My testing wouldn’t be complete without including this title. It’s a hell fest featuring fast paced FPS action and tons of demons to kill. The latest title is based on both Vulkan and OpenGL APIs that take advantage of the latest multi-core and multi-GPU upgrades.

ASRock X299 Taichi – GTA V

GTA V is one handsomely optimized title for the PC audience. It’s scalable across various PC configurations and delivers an impressive frame rate. Rockstar did an amazing job with the PC build of GTA V and it comes with a large array of settings that can be configured by PC gamers. We tested the title at 1440P with everything set to Ultra and 4x MSAA.

ASRock X299 Taichi – Mass Effect Andromeda

Being a huge fan of the Mass Effect series, I was highly anticipating the arrival of Andromeda to store shelves. Now that it’s here, I put the fastest gaming card to the test. Using Frostbite, the latest Mass Effect title looks incredibly gorgeous and the open world settings on the different planets immerses you a lot.

ASRock X299 Taichi – Rise of the Tomb Raider

The latest Rise of the Tomb Raider title  gets lots of graphical enhancements added by Crystal Dynamics and Nixxes, including hardware tessellation, increased anisotropic filtering, additional dynamic foliage, increased LOD, additional PureHair strands, sun soft shadows, and improved bokeh DOF. We tested the game at 1440P under DirectX 12 API.

ASRock X299 Taichi – Sid Meir’s Civilization VI

Civilization VI is the pinnacle of the series. It’s featured huge, sweeping changes, and nothing was left out. Everything has found a purpose, they all work together in tandem but also have a reason to stand alone. It uses a more fleshed out engine that now supports DirectX 12 capabilities. We tested the game with every setting maxed out (4x MSAA, 4096×4096 shadow textures) at 1440P in DirectX 12.

ASRock X299 Taichi – Watch Dogs 2

Watch Dogs 2 once again takes us on a hacking tour, but this time in the city of San Francisco. Using a very evolved version of the OPUS engine the developers should have a better grasp on things this go around than they did with Watch Dogs. The new engine incorporates several NVIDIA Gameworks technologies and is seen as one of the most graphics intensive titles to launch this year. We tested the game on a mix of Ultra and high settings at 1440P (Temporal Filtering Disabled).

When it comes to power consumption, there are a few things we should take note of. First of all, Intel has focused over efficiency for several years but as we have seen, they are starting to loose rapidly at this front. The Intel Core-X processors are based on the new 14nm processors and we know this that Intel generally has a better fabrication process compared to their rivals. AMD is also using a 14nm process from Global Foundries on their Ryzen, Ryzen Threadripper and EPYC chips.

All Intel Core-X “Skylake-X” chips are rated at 140W while the Core-X “Kaby Lake-X” chips are rated at 112W. While one can conclude that the Skylake-X chips have higher TDPs due to their HEDT aim, the Kaby Lake-X chips have the same die structure as the mainstream parts with only a 100 MHz clock increment. Yet this results in a TDP increase from 91W to 112W which is a big difference and something to worry about. Intel states that the higher TDP not only compensates for higher stock frequencies, but should also provide stable overclocking performance. The latter was true in our testing but we saw higher figures when we ran overclocking. Regardless, you can see the entire system power consumption numbers in the chart below:

 

The Core-X series processors don’t only consume higher power, they also release huge amounts of heat. It’s well know that Intel is using a TIM based solution between the IHS and die rather than a proper soldered solution like AMD uses on Ryzen. Intel used proper soldered designs on their last generation HEDT processors but they have done away with it. This will lead to improper dissipation of heat resulting in higher temperatures. I had to use the highest end liquid cooling solution for proper testing. Even a triple fan Cryorig R1 Ultimate air cooler wasn’t able to cool these beasts down so I had to put the Corsair H115i over these bad boys. Results can be seen below:

Intel Core i5-7640X Processor

The Intel Core i5-7640X might seem like a weird option for the Core-X family but after testing it, I think it was a right choice to add this processor to the HEDT platform. The reasons are plenty and for starters, it’s perfect for those who want to get the features of X299 platform at a lower cost. It’s the cheapest HEDT processor at just $242 which is the same price as the mainstream Core i5 part.

The additions are that the Core i5-7640X has faster clock speeds than the mainstream parts, clocks better when overclocked and we hit a surprising 5.1 GHz with just 1.28V on a Corsair H115i liquid cooling solution. It offers great gaming and application performance for a quad core chip and ideal for those who are aiming the huge upgrade path of the X299 platform. In terms of temperatures and power consumption, this chip performed well compared to others but was slightly higher due to its 112W TDP.

The Intel Core i5-7640X seems to be the perfect value option for those who want to take advantage of the plentiful features that the X299 platform has to offer.

Intel Core i7-7740X Processor

The Intel Core i7-7740X is another Kaby Lake architecture based processor which is almost identical to the Core i7-7700K. It costs $339 US which for starters is a tad bit lower compared to the desktop mainstream part. Like the 7640X, it has higher frequencies out of box, overclocks great and is very stable.

The processor also has the same reason to be in the lineup as the other Kaby Lake-X part which is to offer something a bit faster than a simple quad core to users who plan on taking advantage of the features that X299 has to offer. The quad core design with hyperthreading allows for increased performance and I achieved a good 4.9 GHz on my chip. I was expecting a bit more from the CPU but I would take the clock I got as it was with a measly voltage push of 1.26V, lower than what was required on the Core i5.

It shows that Kaby Lake-X may look like the least interesting parts of the HEDT family but offer some great incentives and upgrade paths to value users who are planning to build setups based around the X299 platform.

Intel Core i7-7800X Processor

The Intel Core i7-7800X falls in the Skylake-X family and is the least expensive part, retailing at just $383 US. For the said price, you get 6 cores and 12 threads. Now, technically, this part should be compared against the Ryzen 5 1600X which has 6 cores and 12 threads too but the price difference is big. At $249 US, the Ryzen 5 1600X is the better value while the Ryzen 7 1700 with 8 cores and 16 threads ships for $329 US. The faster Ryzen 7 1700X is just $20 US more expensive which makes it a more viable option, specially considering the platform cost which is higher on X299 compared to X370.

If we compare performance, the Core i7-7800X is definitely faster than Ryzen 5 1600X and Ryzen 7 1800X. When it comes to application performance, the Core i7-7800X is largely comparable to the Ryzen 7 1700X which shows that both processors are neck to neck. The Ryzen 7 1700X has a higher core count advantage but performance still ends up faster on the 7800X which is a good feat. All is not great however, power consumption is really high on the Skylake-X platform and temperatures soar past 60C in nominal loads which is worrisome. Overall, the Core i7-7800X is a very decent option in the lineup and is the winner of the bang for buck award.

Intel Core i7-7820X Processor

In response to AMD’s 8 core options, Intel has the Core i7-7820X. This is their latest and most cheapest 8 core processor to date which is faster than the Core i7-6900K and AMD’s Ryzen 7 offerings with 8 cores. The chip is a good deal for just $100 US more than the Ryzen 7 1800X, offering good gaming and application performance. Intel’s last 8 core chip was $999 US while 7820X is retailing for $589 US. The Ryzen 7 1800X launched at $499 US and disrupted the whole market segment with such competitive prices.

While a good deal, Intel still believes that people will see the performance advantage of their Core-X processors over rivaling chips and pay the extra price rather than going for chips that focus more on the value proposition. But Intel should know that Ryzen series isn’t only competitively priced but they also offer competitive performance.

In this way, the Core i7-7820X is a great improvement by Intel over its predecessor, the 6900K, offering faster performance, great features at almost half the price.

Intel Core i9-7900X Processor

Lastly, we have the Core i9-7900X. This is Intel’s fastest chip available as of right now and it’s a huge update over last year’s Broadwell-E. Compared to the Core i7-6950X, this 10 core and 20 thread cpu is almost $700 US cheaper than its predecessor. And it doesn’t lack in terms of performance at all. The performance results show that the 7900X is the fastest processor to date for $999 US that will be eventually succeeded by the Core i9-7920X in August and Core i9-7980XE in October. There’s no issue in terms of performance, you get the fastest for paying the most but there are some issues in terms of power consumption.

Almost 500 Watts at stock and a whooping 550W+ when overclocked is what this chip demands. That’s only while testing it with a GTX 1080 Ti STRIX OC. A dual SLI setup put the load consumption north of 650W. I was planning to do Tri-Sli with this chip but that seems like a no go unless I update my power supply. Temperatures are also very bad on the 7900X with the chip crossing 80C when loaded on stock speeds and over 95C when loaded on overclocked speeds. It seems like the board VRMs were at war at most times as there was visible throttling after overclocking.

This was the first chip I booted on the motherboard and neither my Cryo rig R1 Ultimate nor the Deepcool Captain 120 EX was able to keep up on overclocked speeds. Discovering that Skylake-X chips will be hotter than previous generation offerings, I decided to use the Corsair H115i across the entire processor lineup which resulted in stable temperatures.

Now coming to the value proposition, you are paying $999 US and getting the fastest processor available right now. Great? Not at all. The $1000 US price would have been awesome if there was no competition and that has arrived in a fierce way. AMD has announced pricing of their Ryzen Threadripper prices with the 1920X 12 core retailing for $799 US and the 1950X 16 core model for $999 US. These are 16 cores for a grand whereas Intel is asking the same price for a 10 core model while their 12 core model will be priced even higher at $1200 US. We can only expect Intel to have a lead with their architecture in single and some multi-tasking workloads otherwise AMD will have marked a home run with Threadripper.

Summing it up, the Core i9-7900X is the fastest chip to buy with great performance and more value over its predecessor but is plagued with power and temperatures issues plus the imminent threat of AMD’s Threadripper HEDT CPUs.

ASRock X299 Taichi

I was surprised with the performance on the ASRock X299 Taichi. Not only is it better than ASUS’s PRIME X299 Deluxe motherboard, but it also costs $200 US lesser. The credit for this goes to ASRock as they managed to produce a very solid, rounded up board which performs well in terms of BIOS optimization and various hardware solutions that produce better results. The higher VRM count does effect the overclocking performance by boosting clock speeds ahead of those that were achieved on ASUS’s product. The processors ran slightly better and more stable under overclocks. It’s apparent that ASUS lacked towards the BIOS front giving others a lead in this department on the X299 platform.

When it comes to expansion slots, the motherboard can support up to two discrete cards in full x16 mode. I tested a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti configuration on my sample board and it ran fine. I had plans to go ahead for 3-Way SLI but was a bit worried that the PSU on the test rig wouldn’t be able to with stand the load power consumption. That brings us to the next part of this review, the VRMS.

The board has an 13 phase VRM design that is supplied power through a single 8 pin connector. It may seem fine at first but this delivers 150W of power while the CPUs themselves are rated with a TDP of 140W. It ran slightly cooler than ASUS’s PRIME but were still nearing the 100C limit which is very concerning. Also, it’s worth noting that the BIOS while better than ASUS isn’t fully prepped at the moment and more updates are on the way to fix some sluggish performance issues when it comes to PCIe NVMe and Skylake-X CPU support.

Aside from the issues, the ASRock X299 Taichi is possibly one of the affordable HEDT options which has all that you need to build yourself a fast mega tasking monster PC. At $289 US, things cannot get any better for the Taichi in terms of hardware but BIOS and software support definitely needs future revisions for better platform optimization.

What does all of this mean for Intel?

The whole scenario within the desktop CPU market is a huge wake up call for Intel. While they have produced a new generation of HEDT processors, the did so in a rush and it may backfire really hard. In Intel’s defense, I could say that Ryzen was rushed too but after months of updates, the value and performance proposition has massively increased compared to Intel. Intel on the other hand is trying really hard to compete in the mainstream segment and now trouble looms in their HEDT segment too.

The announcement of Ryzen Threadripper and EPYC has really shook Intel’s client desktop and server segments. The company has been at the helm of these segments and their sluggishness resulted in this day. For years, Intel focused at efficiency rather than IPC improvements for their cores and look at how that has hit them back. Their processors are consuming more power, run hot. Their modern day core is comparable to Zen in terms of IPC which runs efficiently and cooler while the processors based on Zen are cheaper and perform great. This depression can be seen in Intel’s latest slides which they issued in response to EPYC and that’s just a sad coming from some one as big as Intel.

In short, the Core-X series isn’t that bad of a lineup. Intel just needed to give it and most importantly, their partners some time to polish it up. Unfortunately, knowing that they wouldn’t most likely be able to sell as much processors or keep the halo product tag to themselves if they had launched the HEDT family after Threadripper, Intel messed up what could have been a great processor family. The pricing structure which could have been great is also a mess as Intel is pricing their halo i9-7980XE product at a mind boggling $2000 US. With just 2 core advantage over the 16 core 1950X which costs $999 US, it just shows that Intel is believing in themselves and not what the customer wants.

It’s by no means the end of X299, just like Ryzen, we can expect Intel and their partners to fix up most of the issues. We can expect refined variants of the X299 boards available in the coming quarters but for those who have already got their products, the former is their key to survival. In short, I would like to say this as an ending note that users who are planning to buy X299 and Core X series processors should wait for the platform to mature a bit more and obviously wait for Ryzen Threadripper as an alternative to Intel’s HEDT offering. Those who cannot wait would see multitudes of performance at the cost of more power consumption, higher temperatures and higher prices.

Source: ASRock X299 Taichi Official Page

9.6

More costly doesn't necessarily means better performance and that's where ASRock gets their product right. At $299 US, the X299 Taichi is a very powerful motherboard with a working BIOS that delivers best support on Intel Core-X chips and features all the connectivity and I/O options you would expect from a HEDT motherboard.

Performance9.0
Value9.5
Design & Aesthetics10
Features10
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