Over the past two years the line between HEDT and mainstream consumer platforms has grown smaller and smaller. This change is in large part due to the enormous success of AMD's Ryzen family of processors. As consumer CPU core counts go up, the market for HEDT shrinks. In light of this changing market, Intel has opted to offer their refreshed Core-X series processors with a huge price cut over the previous generation. This is a huge win for the community, putting the Intel Extreme processors back in reach of many consumers who couldn't justify the nearly US$2,000 price tag top offerings previously commanded.
Even with more competitive pricing, there is still more choice than ever for power users looking for entry-level workstation systems. Today, I am happy to showcase the new ASRock X299 Taichi CLX. The X299 chipset is by no means new platform, originally launched in the second quarter of 2017. It is rare for Intel to stick with a platform for so long, but despite being long in the tooth, X299 still has a lot to offer. With higher boost clocks than last-generation Threadripper and a lower price point over the upcoming Threadripper 3 processors, Intel has placed themselves in a nice sweet spot for the high-end CPU market.
As for the ASRock X299 Taichi, it holds to the Taichi theme, but with a significant update to the implementation. The new look is modernized and features an even more premium build quality and feature set—from the integrated rear I/O shield to the 2.5 Gb/s LAN, or intricate cog and gear motif. The ASRock X299 Taichi features WiFi 6 support, offering the best wireless connectivity available. For power delivery, the ASRock X299 Taichi relies on a 13 phase VRM design using top of the shelf Intersil ISL99227B power stages to handle even the top spec Extreme Edition processors.
A great new style on a tried and true platform, the X299 Taichi has a lot going for it, but is the performance able to match the hype?
|CPU Support:||Intel Cascade Lake-X, Skylake X, and Skylake X refresh series processors|
|Power Design:|| CPU Power: 13 phase |
Memory Power: 2 phase
|Memory:||8x DIMM, Support Quad Channel DDR4-4200+(OC) MHz|
|BIOS:||Dual AMI UEFI BIOS|
|Expansion Slots:|| 4x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (Bandwidth dependent on CPU)|
1x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots
|Storage:|| 10x SATA 6 Gb/s port |
3x M.2 port (SATA3/PCIe 3.0 x4)
|Networking:||1x Intel I211AT Gigabit LAN|
1x Realtek RTL8125AG 2.5G LAN
1x Intel 802.11ax (WiFi 6)
|Rear Ports:||2x Antenna ports|
1x Clear CMOS Button
1x Optical SPDIF out port
2x LAN (RJ45) port
1x USB 3.2 (Gen2x2) Type-C port
4x USB 3.2 (Gen1) ports
6x USB 2.0 ports
5x 3.5 mm Audio jacks
|Audio:||1x Realtek ALC1220 Codec|
|Fan Headers:||7x 4-pin|
|Form Factor:||ATX Form Factor: 12.0 in x 9.6 in, 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm|
Packaging and Contents
The front of the ASRock X299 Taichi box is split, with the left side hosting a brushed gray background and the right side featuring the trademark Taichi cogs and gears. "X299 Taichi CLX" is in the bottom left, with brand badging below it along the bottom-left edge. "ASRock" is in the top-left corner. The front of the box opens up to show a window with the board visible beneath, and some of the stand out features on the flap.
The back of the box checks all the boxes I look for: a top-down shot of the board, several panels detailing prominent features, a diagram outlining the rear I/O, and the specifications list. The box design is well executed, and matches the board well.
Opening the box, the board sits in a cardboard tray encased in high-density foam. The accessories sit in their own box underneath the board. No anti-static bag for the ASRock X299 Taichi, a feature I do not miss. ASRock continues the tradition of zip-tying the board to a foam surround for shipping, which holds it in place very securely.
The accessories are pretty standard. Notably absent is any kind of rear I/O shield because the shield is integrated into the board. Additionally, ASRock has included a Torx screwdriver for the M.2 heatsink.
The full list of accessories includes:
- Manual and support DVD
- Post card and software setup guide
- 4x SATA 6 Gb/s cables
- 1x SLI HB bridge L
- 3x M.2 mounting screws
- TR8 driver
- WiFi antenna
ASRock has made a big effort to modernize their aesthetic over the past year. This started with the introduction of the Phantom Gaming family of products and has been carried over into the Taichi line. While the cog and gear theme is still readily present, the implementation is vastly different, and in my opinion much nicer.
While the PCB is a matte black, not much of it is visible. A large heatsink covers the entire bottom half of the board and features a very intricate cog and gear motif over the chipset. The rear I/O shield also features reflective gears. Attention to detail with regards to hardware design and build quality is something ASRock has long excelled at, and it shows with the X299 Taichi.
The CPU socket is open enough to accommodate most coolers. ASRock has continued the trend from their recent X570 Phantom Gaming ITX of casting the rear I/O shield as part of the VRM heatsink. No longer just for show, the I/O shield adds quite a bit of mass and surface area for extra cooling capacity.
There are three M.2 slots on the ASRock X299 Taichi; one above and one below the first PCIe x16 slot, as well as another between the third and fourth PCIe x16 slots. The first two slots share one huge heatsink with the chipset, while the third slot has a separate heatsink so that a drive can be installed without removing the graphics card.
The ASRock X299 Taichi offers four PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, all encased in steel armor, as well as one PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots. The board has a total of ten SATA 6 Gb/s ports, and all are angled 90 degrees from the board.
The ASRock X299 Taichi has a decent rear I/O offering that includes Clear CMOS, as well as an optical S/PDIF out port. However, I would have expected more USB options on a productivity oriented board. The Type-C port is a USB 3.2 Gen2x2 and supports up to 20 Gb/s of bandwidth, but a couple more USB 3.2 ports would have taken the Taichi CLX rear I/O from decent to excellent.
- 2x Antenna ports
- Clear CMOS button
- 4x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports
- 2x USB 2.0 ports
- USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C port
- 2x RJ-45 LAN port
- Optical SPDIF out port
- 5x 3.5 mm audio jacks
Networking on the ASRock X299 Taichi is handled by an Intel I211AT as well as a Realtek RTL8125AG for 2.5 Gb/s LAN. WiFi 6 is provided by an Intel 802.11ax module.
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