Date: Tuesday , February 12, 2019
ASUS is one of the most well known and influential motherboard manufacturers on the planet today. The company was founded in the 1980’s and has been a leader in the DIY PC industry ever since. ASUS has a diverse range of products which include monitors, tablets, video cards and more.
ASUS typically gets more publicity for its ROG brand. However, ASUS does also have its Prime series which offers many of the same features, but the board lacks the gaming aesthetics found on the ROG line. The target market is obviously different. The Prime name indicates something that’s special compared to the average motherboard but not necessarily aimed at gamers. In fact, ASUS points out on its product page that the motherboard is designed for content creators and professionals.
To me, this is one of those offerings that fits in the prosumer market in between a gaming PC and a Xeon based workstation. It isn’t exactly a gaming part, but it isn’t like buying a workstation motherboard from Supermicro either. I think this is a product that’s probably best suited to someone who makes money using their PC, but also someone who probably plays PC games as a hobby. Actually, to be perfectly honest this is the type of motherboard that would suit me as I fit that demographic quite well.
The ASUS PRIME X299 DELUXE II is based on Intel’s X299 Express chipset. This chipset has been around for quite a while now but motherboards like ASUS’ PRIME X299 DELUXE II are refreshed versions with updated VRMs and features designed to make use of Intel’s more recent LGA 2066 processor such as Intel’s i9 9980XE.
Additional features have been added to entice existing X299 users to upgrade or to bring new customers into the fold by offering features such as 5GbE networking, updated wireless controllers etc. This motherboard is designed for high end systems, whether they are built with workstation or gaming in mind. In a sense, its almost like an ROG board that’s grown up and traded the sports car for a sedan. Not a boring sedan, but something still cool. The PRIME X299 DELUXE II supports all the current and standard technologies one would expect to find on any HEDT motherboard. This includes PCIe 3.0, SATA 6Gb/s, M.2, NVMe, USB 3.1, Optane memory support, Thunderbolt 3, 5GbE networking and so on.
I never reviewed the original PRIME X299 DELUXE. However, there are a few changes from the old board. One change from the original PRIME X299 Deluxe is the lack of support for Intel’s Core i7 7740X. The specifications are clear that a 6-core CPU is required to use this motherboard. Anyone using that CPU will not find an upgrade path here.
The VRM design has also been completely changed and is similar to what we’ve seen on ASUS’ newer Z390 motherboards. Again, ASUS is using a VRM design that lacks phase doublers. It lists a 12+2 power stage on its website, but this design utilizes the ASP1405 controller which is known to support only 8 phases. Again, ASUS is doubling the number of inductors and International Rectifier 3555 PowIRstages. This is part of its "Twin phase" design. ASUS believes that transient response under heavy loads is worth the trade off of having less than ideal ripple characteristics with high current CPU’s. We’ve talked about this in other reviews and indeed, many of this generation’s motherboards have caught flak for the design from a variety of sources including myself.
However, I am not an electrical engineer, so I’ll defer to ASUS here. That said, time will truly tell if this design is really better or not. At the end of the day all that matters is whether or not the CPU can achieve the same overclocks and that the motherboard can do it with reasonable efficiency and cost. To date, this is the third motherboard I’ve reviewed with a "Twin-phase" design that lacks traditional phase doublers to create additional asynchronous power phases. So far, I haven’t had any trouble with these motherboards. The MOSFETs have run reasonably cool and the overclocks we achieved didn’t give us cause for concern.
Main Specifications Overview:
Detailed Specifications Overview:
The packaging for the ASUS PRIME X299 DELUXE II is standard for ASUS’ non-ROG offerings. The motherboard comes in a box that’s not quite the same as the regular basic boards but isn’t quite the newer style ROG box. It most accurately resembles the older ROG boxes with the inside carry handles.
The motherboard comes in an anti-static bag and cardboard protector. It arrived intact with the following items and accessories in the box: User's manual, 1x Vertical M.2 bracket set, 6x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s), 1x M.2 Screw Package, 1x Supporting DVD, 1x ASUS 2T2R dual band Wi-Fi moving antennas (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compliant), 1x Fan Extension Card II (6 x 4-pin Chassis Fan connectors, 3 x RGB headers, 3x 2-pin Thermal sensor header), 1x Fan Extension Card II power cable, 1x Fan Extension Card II NODE connector cable, 1x Fan Extension Card II screw package, 1x DisplayPort cable, 1x SLI HB BRIDGE(2-WAY-M), 1x Q-Connector, 1x Extension cable for Addressable LED, 3x Thermistor cable(s), and 1x CPU Fan Holder.
ASUS’ PRIME X299 DELUXE II has a very solid layout. The M.2 slots aren’t placed directly under the primary GPU slot. The motherboard’s white and black aesthetic is a nice departure from ASUS’ gaming focused offerings and is in keeping with its more professional oriented options. Overall, there isn’t anything to complain about as the motherboard’s layout is both logical and relatively clean despite the laundry list of integrated features.
The motherboard sports ASUS’ fan extension header. There are six fan headers, two of which are for water cooling. This includes a water pump+ and an AIO pump header. There are also onboard power, reset and clear CMOS buttons on the PCB. These are located near the bottom most PCIe slot, which is a location that might bother some people. There are generally two or three places these end up, all of which have pros and cons depending on the chassis your using. There are also 6 temperature zones and a header for one external thermal sensor. While not part of the motherboard exactly, it does come with the Fan Extension II card which has an additional 6x4 pin fan headers, 3x RGB headers, and two additional thermal sensor cable connectors.
There are two RGB strip headers as well for anyone who wants to make use of that feature. As is the case with many if not most X299 motherboards, the ASUS PRIME X299 DELUXE II supports Intel’s vROC technology. An implementation which Is technically fantastic, but controversial due to the licensing model. Another unique aspect of the design is the 2" LiveDash feature. This is a tiny LCD screen which displays almost anything you want. It defaults to CPU information, but it can show logs, animated images, temperatures, etc. It can actually be quite entertaining if your case can show it off.
The CPU socket is exactly what you’d expect. It’s flanked by high quality capacitors and a large MOSFET cooler. The MOSFET cooler has an embedded heat pipe. The heat sinks are machined aluminum and feature a simple finish. The MOSFET coolers are secured with screws and a back plate. The fins are ultra-thin and designed to provide maximum surface area for the space provided. There are dual 8-pin CPU power connectors which are placed as nicely as possible to avoid being overly difficult to reach in some cases.
There are four 288-pin DDR4 memory slots which utilize single sided locking tabs for memory retention. The slots are color coded to denote proper dual or quad-channel memory mode operation. There are also markings on the PCB which denote which DIMM slots are assigned to a given channel. ASUS has an optimized trace layout they call it’s third generation T-Topology.
In the past ASUS has touted this feature as allowing for equidistant trace paths making all the memory slots more or less equal. That’s not the claim here. The product page shows a map of which slots should have first priority to allow for the highest clocks. Speaking of which, the PRIME X299 DELUXE II supports RAM speeds upwards of DDR4 4266MHz at the time of this writing. Granted, that’s all that’s been QVL’ed at this point so its certainly possible to achieve higher speeds.
The chipset is cooled by a passive heat sink. It has an aluminum finish with embedded RGB LED lighting. There is some plastic cladding which connects to the LiveDash LCD screen. In front of the chipset you’ll find 8x SATA 6Gb/s ports and behind and to the left of the chipset you’ll find the M.2 slots. These support 22110 type devices. One slot supports both PCIe and SATA devices while the one to the left of the chipset, only supports PCIe / NVMe devices. The chipset cooler seems well made and is generally attractive. Due to how little the PCH does these days, it doesn’t really get all that hot and overclocking doesn’t do anything to it to speak of, so the cooling is more than adequate.
The expansion slot area is configured perfectly for a dual-slot multi-GPU setup. There are no slots in between the primary and secondary PCI-Express slots which would end up covered up by most graphics cards. The CMOS battery is often under the primary PEG slot, or the M.2 slot is. Neither is true here. The CMOS battery is found under the secondary PCI-Express slot behind the second M.2 slot. The PRIME X299 DELUXE II supports the following PCIe lane configurations: x16/x0, x16/x16, and x16/x16/x8. There are also two PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. Each of the PCI-Express x16 form factor slots features steel reinforcement brackets which prevent the PCB from warping during insertion and helps prevent damage from sheering effects from having a large graphics card installed.
You will also find several ports, headers and onboard controls on the bottom edge of the expansion slot area next to the third PCI-Express x16 slot. I am not really a fan of the placement of the onboard controls, but it’s only really a problem in extreme cases where 3 graphics cards are used, or the chassis is very tight, and two cards are in use. I generally feel that the best place to have these controls is near the 24-pin ATX power connector, but this is situational.
The M.2 covers are brushed aluminum and do not feature captive screws. The covers are aligned and secured by screws on both ends which is somewhat unusual, but this makes for a better setup as it doesn’t have the chance of rattling if you secure it. Once you remove the covers, there are markings which denote what combination of devices can be used with the slots being populated. This includes SATA devices as there are some shared PCIe lanes between the M.2 slots and the SATA ports.
ASUS has once again chosen to use an integrated I/O shield for its PRIME X299 DELUXE II> This one is silver in color and has a texture to it. I haven’t seen this before, but it makes for a cleaning looking back plane. On the back panel you will find the following ports. 2x RJ-45 ports, 2x USB 2.0 ports, 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, 4x Gen 2 USB 3.1 ports, (2x Type-C, 2x Type-A), 2x DisplayPort ports, 2x wireless antenna ports, 1x optical output and 5x mini-stereo jacks. I would like to have seen gold-plated ports with color coded plastic on top of that, but audio isn’t the focus of this board’s design or target market.