ASUS X99 Pro Review
Published: 9th June 2015 | Source: ASUS | Price: £259 @ OCUK |
Sometimes if you take a different path you can end up where you were meant to be, but enjoy some different scenery along the way. With the X99 Pro we did our usual battery of tests and pushing the overclock as far as we could. We were massively impressed with the ease with which it dealt with the XMP overclocking which is why it formed the basis for our take on this latest ASUS motherboard.
Memory overclocking is infinitely easier than it used to be in the old days. The days before XMP when you had to manually fettle everything, when your memory was tied to your CPU speed and timings where vitally important. Overclocking back then was an exercise in frustration, and whilst the XMP has enabled many of us to push our memory further, freed from the constraints of also requiring an excellent CPU, it isn't always as easy as the brochures would have us believe. Even with our current CPU, which is a stormer, we've seen occasions when the DDR4 didn't want to play as much, but we know that the ASUS OC Socket is so good it's almost magical in its ability to utilise the capabilities of your RAM. Not only was the memory stupidly easy to set up you can also run silly low cache volts, 1.2v is a common number for 3000Mhz and a lot of XMP profiles will set this, we managed to get 3300MHz running with XMP and manually set the cache to just 1.05v! Before you shout golden sample CPU BOTH of our 5960X's ran the 1.05v Cache with 3300MHz XMP and a stock CPU. With 3300MHz running with a 4.5GHz CPU it did need a smidgen more running 1.125v. If you've spent any time with X99 then you'll know these are crazy low volts and a testament to how good the Asus OC socket is.
As soon as we saw that we knew it had to be the focus of our review, and the results backed up that idea. All of the CPU results are so tightly packed that a single percentage difference - or indeed changing which result we used to sort by - could massively rearrange the graphs. Yet if you paid close attention to the numbers it was clear that the X99 Pro has plenty of junk in the trunk. It's not all just big theoretical numbers either, as the PC Mark results bore out the particularly fantastic capabilities of the Pro. Clearing that and onto the 3D tests and the X99 Pro shone even brighter, topping the gaming chart and running the 3D Mark extremely close. It provided the best Fire Strike Extreme result of any X99 motherboard, even the insanely overclocked ones.
Clearly the performance and ease of use is no problem. Away from the raw numbers the finer details of the Pro stand up to scrutiny too. It has every ounce of the latest hardware, from SATA Express through M.2 and beyond, with only the ultra-modern USB 3.1 missing on this version but there is a 3.1 variant available from stores now. That aside it's a wealth of leading edge hardware wrapped up in a sparkling white outfit, it outperforms more expensive products from the other brands and is easily worthy of our OC3D Gold Award.