ASRock X299 Gaming i9 Review 7

ASRock X299 Gaming i9 Review

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Introduction

ASRock Logo

There is no question that Intel's latest X299 platform is built for HEDT use, yet not every such board has all the high-end features you'd expect out of a HEDT product. Today's motherboard, the ASRock X299 Gaming i9, however, is most definitely equipped with a huge whack of high-end features and abilities, including AQUANTIA 10G LAN so you can get your downloads faster than ever before.

This is our third 2017 HEDT motherboard review. The first was a pre-release product, the second a retail product, and this third one, the ASRock X299 Gaming i9, is also a retail version, and now that some time has passed since the platform's launch, it has seen a BIOS update or two as well and should, as such, be ready to rock your socks off while you either play your games or get your work done, or whatever else you want to do - this board is ready. HEDT boards aren't for everyone you might think, but this is a board that dares to challenge that idea. It's not often you see both gaming and professional use all tied into one.

Starting with the AQUANTIA 10G LAN controller, you can add in dual Intel LAN controllers, support for Tri-SLI, a 13-phase digital VRM design with 65A power chokes capable of pushing 1300W, Sound Blaster Cinema 3 audio support, and a 600-ohm capable headphone amp and triplet of 32 Gb/s M.2 ports. This thing just OOZES high-end all around, and for all you RGB LED haters out there, has a very minimalist approach to its LED implementation to soothe your senses.



Specifications

Specifications
CPU Support:Supports Intel Core X-Series Processor Family for the LGA 2066 Socket
Power Design: CPU Power: 13 phase
Memory Power: 2 phase
Chipset:Intel X299
Integrated Graphics:N/A
Memory:8x DIMM, Support Quad Channel DDR4-4133 (OC)+
BIOS:AMI UEFI BIOS
Expansion Slots: 4x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (connectivity varies based on CPU)
1x PCIe 3.0 x1 slot
Storage: 8x SATA 6 Gb/s port (Intel X299)
2x SATA 6 Gb/s port (ASMedia ASM1061)
3x M.2 port (PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA 6 Gb/s)
Networking:1x Intel I219-V, 1x Intel I211, AQUANTIA 10 Gigabit LAN
Rear Ports: 1x Clear CMOS button
1x BIOS FLSAHBACK+ button
1x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse combo port
2x USB 2.0 Type-A ports
4x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports
3x LAN (RJ45) ports
2x WiFi antennas
1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port
1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port
5x Audio jacks
1x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector
Audio:Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec
Fan Headers:5x 4-pin
Form Factor:ATX Form Factor: 12.0-in x 9.6-in, 30.5 cm x 24.3 cm
Exclusive Features:
  • ASRock USB 3.1 Gen2
  • ASRock USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A Port (10 Gb/s)
  • ASRock USB 3.1 Gen2 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
  • AQUANTIA® 10G LAN
  • 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

Packaging and Contents


I've expressed my feelings about this product packaging before, in another review. The board's name needs to be more prominent than anything else. However, the way everything is put into the box is pretty great.


Inside the outer wrapper is another black box, which has the accessories and the board inside beneath them. As always, the board is nicely wrapped in foam.


You get just the right accessories included in the box. Here's what I found:
  • Quick installation guide, manual, support DVD, and other papers
  • 1x Rear I/O cover
  • 4x SATA 6Gb/s cables
  • 1x SLI HB bridge
  • 1x 3-Way SLI bridge
  • 2x WiFi antenna

Board Layout


I was in complete shock when I pulled the ASRock X299 Gaming i9 out of its anti-static bag. This board does not have the red and black theme you'd expect due to it's wrappings. If anything, the box truly doesn't do this board any justice. There is stuff all over the place, both front and rear.


The CPU socket area, however, is refreshingly open and clear of surface-mounted components. You get a triplet of M.2 sockets, all of which are rated for "Ultra" 32 Gb/s speeds.


The eight DIMM slots that flank either side of the CPU socket are ready for 4400 MHz when you've got the right CPU installed. Of course, the KabyLake-X CPUs are the ones to get you there.


All four full-size PCIe x16 slots are wrapped in metal, while a single PCie x1 slot gives you a total of five expansion slots you can put to use (again, depending on which CPU you have installed). You get ten SATA 6 Gb/s ports, two of which are added via an external controller.


The ASRock X299 Gaming i9's lower edge carries a Clear CMOS pin header, some buttons, and a POST display, along with 5050 LED plugs, USB headers, and fans ports.


The rear backplate offers full audio plugs, including optical, USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1, a BIOS flashback button, Clear CMOS button, combo-PS/2 port, WiFi antenna plugs, and a trio of LAN ports.


Two of those LAN ports are powered by the now-standard Intel I211AT and I219-V pairing.


The third port, easily noticed by its red plug, is for the 10G AQUANTIA AQC107 controller. That chip is hidden under the heatsink pictured above.
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