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To couple things up for the new 9th Gen HEDT Core X Series, good old X99 motherboards have been ditched for the newer and stronger X299 boards. Coupled with the new LGA 2066 socket, they are called Basin Falls. These beauties take a few steps over the X99, out of which the LGA 2066 is top of the line.
But are there any other reasons to move on to the X299 motherboards? Given that Haswell-E and Broadwell-E are dated now, the X299 supports Skylake-X (Core i7-78xx & i9-79xx) as well as Kaby Lake-X (Core i7-77xx & i5-76xx) processors. There is support for the faster Optane Memory of Intel, you get 10 USB 3.0 ports (four more than X99) and an additional 24x PCI-E 3.0 lanes (as compared to 8x on the X99).
However, we hardly use multi GPU setups, which is why it makes us ponder over the true advantage of having so many additional PCI-E lanes. Also, you can mount two less SATA 6GB/s: only eight instead of ten. But given the price cuts on the SSD and evident future trend, SATA technology is bound to be pushed.
Finding The Best X299 Gaming Motherboards For Every Budget
From among a horde of models for the new chipset, we have picked up three top products, namely the ASRock X299E-ITX/ac, ASUS PRIME X299-A, and GIGABYTE X299 AORUS Gaming 7. Respectively, they are our top picks for high end, budget and overall best performing X299 motherboards for gaming purposes. Whether you are looking to get a true to the core high-end desktop rig, or the best X299 gaming motherboard, we have siphoned out the brands and models that matter.
Best High-End X299 Motherboard
MSI X299 Gaming PRO Carbon AC
Apart from being the go-to high-end choice from MSI, the Gaming Pro Carbon AC is also juiced with the massive overclocking potential of the XPower Gaming line. In terms of capacity, we are talking dual PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots and a U.2 slot, USB 3.1 and Type-C driver, and all standards you’d expect.
What can you ask from a high-end gaming motherboard that is truly adding value to it? Basically, most of the boards here have advantages due to the X299 chipset and everything it brings with it. But the overall picture painted by the MSI X299 Gaming PRO Carbon AC is that of a hardcore gaming ready overclockable beast.
Not only that, but the X299 motherboard also has a Game Boost knob that lets you choose between different profiles for overclocking. It carries the standard 8x DDR4 DIMM slots but ups the game by giving them stainless steel covering. Similar treatment was also there for the audio jacks that are gold plated and the M.2 slots that have been given good looking covers.
Moving on, there is an Intel 8265 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module known for being a high-end optimized performance. As it is an ATX motherboard, it packs a lot of expansion potential forward and backward. You get a mix of slots but that doesn’t mean everything will fit no matter what you buy. For instance, despite nine ports covering 10Gbps 5Gbps USB connections, 3x M.2 slots, 1x U.2 slot, and plentiful PCIe slots, you will have to manage the sizes.
An example is the SATA ports at the bottom of the Game Boost knob that could both cause size limitations when doing 3-way SLI configurations. You can overcome that by putting to use the U.2 slot. 3-way SLI can be achieved from three of the x16 slots namely first, third and fourth.
Last but not least, MSI has focused on the look of the board even in the name of the product. You get a carbon fiber finish, that is accentuated with linings. For some of us, the dark shade was a bit too dark. But isn’t that great itself?
Best Mini-ITX Alternative:
Not everyone wants a large-sized desktop PC. And since the MSI board above is ATX, here’s a mini-ITX X299 motherboard. ASRock X299E-ITX AC is here because it is able to support almost the same features as its larger counterparts – with a few physical limitations. With SO-DIMMs you continue getting quad channel memory, using VROC you can RAID all three SSDs without bottleneck problems, and finally overclock the newer processors without VRM throttling given that you have worked up the airflow that way. There is one major downside though, it doesn’t have any 16 lane CPUs supported. Which means Kaby Lake X CPUs are out of question.
Best Overall X299 Motherboard
GIGABYTE X299 AORUS Gaming 7
An overall high-end product needs to cover a variety of areas and aesthetics is one of them. Gigabyte forces its way there with impressive digital RGB support. But there’s more, a lot more. In order to fully justify the high price, the AORUS Gaming 7 packs the best VRM so far, making it most effective against heat.
There also is a Pro version of the Gaming 7, and in all honesty, it does a few things better than this one. However, for our overall best category, we have to pick a product that covers more areas too and that includes pricing as well. That being said, Gaming 7 is much more cost-effective than even the X299 AORUS Gaming 9.
The VRM, despite not being as good as that of the Gaming 7 PRO, is abundantly better than other similarly priced motherboards. You get top quality inductors to reduce heat production, there also is a heat pipe and two heatsinks with one at the back. There also are dedicated overclocking features like activated XMP and since it carries the same BIOS and VRM as the Gaming 9, we see the same overclock potential.
Even port solutions do not disappoint; it supports 8x DIMM and DDR4 memory and is XMP Ready. With a large number of choices here and 2x PCIe x16 slots, 1x PCIe x16 slot and 2x PCIe x16 slots running at 16x, 8x, and 4x respectively. There also are matching M.2 slots as well as multiple USB 3.1 options. Also matching the MSI X299 motherboard above, it has 3-way SLI. 4-way SLI is still missing.
One issue that multi GPU users will stumble upon, however, is that if you are using a 16 lane CPU you will not be able to make a 2-way SLI setup. The reason is how PCIe lanes have been maintained by the company, but as a result, SLI based multi GPU activity will be limited. There is 8x and 4x AMD CrossFire support though.
Other than that, we came to just one redundancy element in the MSI motherboard though. You might end up with at least four of the eight SATA ports not working if you mount your M.2 SATA in the slot with the heatsink. In order to avoid that and be able to use all the ports, you will need to first install your drive into the top port.
The TUF series of components are aimed at the budget gamers, because why shouldn’t you be able to game on a budget right? The ASUS TUF X299 Mark 2 is not the best LGA2066 socket board on the market, but it is certainly not the worst either. With one of quad-channel memory, 2x M.2 SSD Slots for some ultra-fast transfer speeds and game loading times, RGB accented lighting on the right side for some RGB action. You also have multi-GPU support with NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire.
Best Budget X299 Motherboard
ASUS PRIME X299-A
Don’t believe you have the stupendous budget required for true HEDT? How about we settle for this amazing piece of computer hardware by ASUS that costs a fortuneless?! You will have to cut down on demands, but the end product is completely worth the money and equally worth the show.
ASUS offers not one but three motherboards in the same line: the Prime X299-A, ROG Strix X299-E Gaming, and Prime X299-Deluxe. Out of these, the X299-A is not only the most affordable but also matching in quality with its expensive counterparts. Look at it this way, a substantial boost over what this motherboard offer is only possible with a substantial increase in spending.
If you are not doing that, spending a little more than this one isn’t going to change much in the performance. What you should settle for is the similar feature set of X200-A an even the slight storage performance dips against the X299-E Gaming. The power consumption is comparatively low, making it more suitable for economical solutions.
But keep in mind that this is an overclockable motherboard. And when you draw more through the DDR and VCORE, it will end up consuming the same as the other two ASUS products in question.
Moving on to the ports offered, the story is the same: lesser choice so that the price stays down. Therefore, you get 8 x DDR4 DIMM (6+ core) and 4 x DDR4 DIMM (4 core), and at least three PCIe 3.0 x16 expansion slots for each of the 44 lane CPU, 28 lane CPU, and 16 lane CPU. Obviously, there also are slots for x4 and x1 PCIe 3.0 ports too.
In short, there is full support for all the standard feature sets whether you are talking about expansion or connectivity. The catch, however, is that the motherboard will also be Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) ready, although there is basic 3600MHz OC maximum capacity, which is lower than others.
Still not sold? You haven’t taken a good long look maybe? The motherboard looks quite impressive with the new stylish design that tries to make an impact by drawing away from the standard dark toned innards of your gaming PC. The colors are a fresh white and silver that will make the PC case interiors much more thematic than the neutral tons of usual (read: dark) tones of motherboards.
ALTERNATIVE BUDGET PICK
The only other ASRock product making it to our list was a Mini-ITX beast above. This one, however, builds a repute on value. The new X299 Taichi does wonders balancing between features, performance, and price. So it isn’t as affordable as ASUS Prime X299-A but makes up with Intersil’s strong VRM, a powerful heatsink, three M.2, dual LAN, and a still affordable price tag for an X299 motherboard that hosts LGA 2066 and promises to put yours in line with HEDT computers.