Final Words & Conclusion
Final words & conclusion
Recent BIOS updates have shifted the performance of our 10-core processor here and there a bit. It also seems that power consumption (non tweaked) overall seems a bit more friendly. Tweaked however, temps quickly run out of control. At 289 Euros I think that ASUS has a nice offering though. with the more refined BIOS release X299 slowly but steadily has gotten better. ASUS didn't go over the top with RGB LEDs for TUF either. At defaults you'll get subtle rainbow colors, not too much but just right. And from there onward you can configure RGB the way you prefer it to be. We do miss an AC WIFI implementation, in this segment that really should be a default. Overall the Mark 1 offers much of what the X299 chipset can push, but that is a fairly feature-rich mobo. You do need to like all that plastic shielding though.
We tested with the current August public BIOS, this firmware shows the temps for the 10-core 7900X to be at 70~80 Degrees C under full load conditions. As stated, performance has shifted here and there a bit, but overall the system feels way more fine-tuned than what we have seen with early X299 releases. Performance for the 10-core proc is as expected and falls within baseline. Your power consumption will remain on the high side though.
A note on VRM heat - during overclocking I pointed my thermal camera at it and the chokes certainly light up, but they always will of course. Power cables however did not show heat levels that worried me. Tweaking wise I have re-defined my clock limit to 4500 MHz on all 10 cores (7900X). For that, a more mild 1.25v is enough. Now that will still consume a lot of power and really requires good cooling, But it is a stable enough option. Long term though, I would advise dropping to a 4300 MHz all-core tweak with default voltages, if you want to tweak at all.
With the system at idle with a GeForce GTX 1080 installed / 16 GB memory / SSD and the X299 motherboard, I hovered at roughly 95 Watts in IDLE. That was a little higher compared to other X299 boards. I have no idea why though. When we stressed the processor in a 100% run we reach roughly 270 Watts with this ten core part (that was a Prime 1024M stress test though). When we game we hover at 320 Watts with the GeForce GTX 1080, but obviously that factor is dependent on the type of graphics card and even game you use of course and, sure - keep in mind, most games certainly do not utilize the ten CPU cores.
We quickly have to discuss PCI-Express lanes, as honestly here is Intel just goofing up. Here is the breakdown:
- Kaby Lake-X quad core gets 16 PCI-Express Lanes 3.0
- Skylake-X six and eight core procs get 28 PCI-Express Lanes 3.0
- Skylake-X ten core procs get 44 PCI-Express Lanes 3.0
Ever since Haswell-E was released along came DDR4 memory. With Skylake-X DDR4 may be clocked a notch faster at 2,677 MHz. Honestly, if you pick up some nice 2,133 MHz DIMMs, at quad-channel they'll offer more than plentiful bandwidth. A 3,200 MHz kit, for example, is far more expensive and does offer better bandwidth but the performance increases in real-world usage will be hard to notice. Unless you transcode videos over the processor a lot. DDR4 mostly was released for lower voltages and higher frequencies. 2,133 MHz CL 14 or CL 15 memory in combo with quad-channel will already get you to 50~60 GB/sec. While impressive to observe, for gaming you will not notice huge performance improvements with high memory bandwidth, but with content creation and video transcoding this kind of bandwidth certainly does make a difference. As always, my advice would be to go with lower clocked DDR4 memory with decent timings, but get more of it. Don't go for 8 GB, get four DIMMs and in total a minimum of 16 GB.
The bottom line
The TUF X299 Mark 1 is a pretty nice motherboard. You do need to like the rather outdated shielded looks though. But ASUS did it right with other aesthetics. They didn't go too extreme with the RGB hype and overall, with the latest BIOS, we feel that X299 has now finally reached a stage where it is a stable platform. Depending on your choice of processor, the power consumption and heat levels can be high. But please do realize, that's not a motherboard issue. The TUF X299 Mark 1 is among the faster boards we have tested. I have not compared it to other X299 motherboards due to the latest BIOSes making a bigger difference. X299 / Skylake-X was rushed, and that didn't do its launch any good, period. The motherboard is lovely and feature rich enough, has a proper nice design and feel to it, combined with proper components. Features wise this kit offers many SATA 6 Gbps ports, two Gigabit Ethernet jacks and the 7.1 channel HD audio. We do miss AC WIFI and heck, perhaps even 5 Gbit Ethernet anno 2017 would have been really nice. Many core Intel Core i9 processors and their effects aside, we do feel that the TUF Mark 1 is a more affordable answer that can manage the entire Kaby Lake-X and Skylake-X range of procs really well. The motherboard as such is approved by us, what you guys think and feel about the procs I'll leave to your own merit and opinion.
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