ASUS has released a new motherboard based on the LGA 2011-v3 platform as a little brother to the recently reviewed X99 Deluxe II. This newest board is the X99-A II. While the specification and feature lists aren’t as long as the Deluxe II, like its big brother the X99-A II features extensive RGB LED control, a VRM which is more than adequate, and much more. Grab a drink, pull up a seat, and we’ll get going!
Specifications and Features
ASUS didn’t load the kitchen sink into the X99-A II like they did with the X99 Deluxe II. However there isn’t a shortage of things to find here by any means. There’s Realtek ALC1150 audio with a great SNR, USB 3.1 Gen 2, M.2, U.2, Gigabit LAN, all PWM fan headers, onboard power/reset/diagnostics functionality, RGB lighting, and even more. Check out the table for all the specifications, I’m just hitting the high points here.
All specifications in the table below are provided by ASUS.
|ASUS X99-A II Specs|
|CPU||Intel® Socket 2011-v3 Core™ i7 Processors
Supports Intel® 14 nm CPU
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 3.0
* Refer to www.asus.com for CPU support list
|Memory||8 x DIMM, Max. 128GB, DDR4 3333(O.C.)/3300(O.C.)/3200(O.C.)/3000(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Quad Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
** Refer to www.asus.com for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
* Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.
|Expansion Slots||40-Lane CPU-
3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or x16/x16, x8/x16/x8) *1
3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16, x16/x8, x8/x8/x8) *2
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode) *3
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1 (x1 mode) *3
|Multi-GPU Support||Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports NVIDIA® 3-Way SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™ Technology
|Storage||New Intel® Core™ i7 X-Series Processors :
1 x M.2 x4 Socket 3, with M Key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (Support PCIE SSD only)*4
1 x U.2 port, support PCIe 3.0 x4 NVM Express storage*4
Intel® X99 chipset :
1 x SATA Express port, Compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
8 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s)*5,
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Recovery Technology*6
|LAN||Intel® I218V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)|
|Audio||Realtek® ALC1150 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC featuring Crystal Sound 3
– Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
– High quality 112 dB SNR stereo playback output (Line-out at rear) and 104 dB SNR stereo playback input (Line-in)
– High-fidelity audio OP AMP(s)
|USB||Intel® X99 chipset :
5 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (1 at back panel, blue, 4 at mid-board)
Intel® X99 chipset :
8 x USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) (4 at back panel, black, 4 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.1 controller :
2 x USB 3.1/3.0/2.0 port(s) (at back panel, teal blue, Type-A + Type-C)
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
3 x USB 3.0/2.0 port(s) (at back panel)
|Back I/O Ports||1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
2 x USB 3.1 ()Type-A + Type-C
4 x USB 3.0
4 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
5 x Audio jack(s)
|Internal I/O Ports||1 x U.2 port
1 x AAFP connector
1 x RGB Header(s)
2 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 3.0 port(s)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x SATA Express connector: , Compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M Key design, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (Support PCIE SSD only)
8 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin)
2 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (2 x 4 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x Thunderbolt header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x EZ XMP switch
1 x 5-pin EXT_FAN(Extension Fan) connector
1 x DRCT header(s)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
1 x CPU OV
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
1 x Water Pump header (4-pin)
1 x 14-1 pin TPM connector
1 x COM port header
|OS Support||Windows® 10 , 64bit
Windows® 8.1 86×64
Windows® 8 86×64
Windows® 7 86×64
|Form Factor||ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )
|Note||1* PCIe x16_1 and PCIe x16_4 slots share the same bandwidth. PCIe x16_4 slot support up to x8 mode.
2* When using a 28-lane CPU, the PCIe x16_3 slot support up to x8 mode.
3* The PCIe x16_2 shares bandwidth with USB 3.1 and PCIe x1_2 slot. By default, the PCIe x16_2 slot automatically runs at x1 mode.
4* M.2 shares bandwidth with U.2, only one device can be activated at a time.
5* Due to chipset behavior, The SATA6G_78, SATA6G_910 ports (black) do not support IRST including RAID configuration.
6* These functions will work depending on the CPU installed.
First on the list is overclocking. ASUS has included their 5-Way Optimization on this motherboard. This includes a CPU performance boost, energy efficiency from the EPU which allows automatic disabling of add-on IC’s, a cool and quiet system via advanced fan controls through both the motherboard and the optional fan extension card, fully digital power delivery components for stable power, and the latest Intel Turbo functionality to give per-core frequency tuning.
All of the ASUS Q-Features are included here as well. These include the Q-DIMM which utilizes only one memory clip, the Q-Slot which has an over-sized PCIe release, the Q-Connector so you can easily connect/disconnect the front panel connections, the Q-Shield which is a padded I/O shield, Q-LED to easily diagnose issues preventing booting, and Q-Code to diagnose POST status messages.
There is RGB lighting across the whole motherboard. Exact locations are underneath the audio section cover, at the upper edge of the chipset heatsink, and in each PCIe retention clip. At the bottom edge of the board, seen later, there is an RGB header where a standard RGB LED strip can be plugged in and controlled with the rest of the LEDs.
The next table lists the high-level feature set of the X99-A II. All images and descriptions provided by ASUS.
First impression? Simple and clean. The front of the retail box shows a picture of the X99-A II itself, sports an overall black/silver/white scheme, and keeps clutter to a minimum. The rear of the box though, has loads of details.
Packaged underneath the motherboard, we find the accessories! Included here are the user manual, driver CD, Q-Shield (padded I/O shield), 4x SATA III cables, an SLI bridge, CPU Installation tool, Q-Connector (easy front panel connector), and an RGB LED strip cable.
The ASUS X99-A II
About all I can say here again is… clean. The white/black/silver color scheme is build-agnostic and the RGB LEDs will allow it to match literally anything this motherboard is built in. The heatsinks are large, enough so you can feel the weight when the board is picked up, and the shroud over the I/O boxes keep things nice and tidy!
Taking a quick peek at the back of the motherboard, we find the two main PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (slot one and four) are soldered to x16. The other two are soldered to x8 (slot three and six). All heatsinks and shrouds are screwed down, not clipped, as expected on a board of this caliber. We see there is an additional cooling and support plate (yes, it does have a thermal pad as seen later) on the back of the VRM heatsink as well.
A Closer Look
More detail of the PCIe slots, with the transparent retention clips and shielded main slot, can be seen here. Spacing is good for SLI, with the two-card configuration leaving some breathing room.
Looking at the top edge of the X99-A II, we find three PWM fan connections to use a dual fan AIO with a pump or dual fan heatsink on the CPU, without a fan splitter, along with two CPU power connections, one 8-pin and one 4-pin. I’ll go in to detail about the power connectors in the VRM discussion. We also see the eight DDR4 DIMM slots. These are all single clip slots. You also get a great look at the VRM heatsink as it is mounted here as well. Finally, there’s an LED beside the 8-pin power connector to remind you if you haven’t plugged it in.
Turning the board slightly we find the 24-pin ATX power connection, a front panel USB 3.0 connector, two SATA III ports, and a PWM system fan header. Another angle of the DDR4 DIMMs are shown here, this one from the side, better showing the singular clip used. One notable piece we don’t see on all boards here is the MemOK! button, which allows quick and easy diagnosis of memory causing boot problems. Behind the 24-pin power connector are four LEDs to assist in diagnosing boot issues. These LEDs represent the CPU, DRAM, VGA, and BOOT in the POST process where, if an error is found, the corresponding LED will illuminate.
Moving down the right hand side of the X99-A II we find the rest of the storage connectivity options. A total of eight SATA III ports are found in this section, a pair of which double as a SATA Express connection. For current SSDs we find the M.2 slot and second U.2 connection in addition to all the SATA connections. For further connectivity there are also front panel connections, a Thunderbolt header, the second USB 3.0 front panel connection, two USB 2.0 front panel connections, the Fan Extension header, and a PWM fan header all in this corner of the motherboard.
There are a few overclocking features in the lower right corner of the board as well. First is the CPU_OV jumper which, as expected, allows higher CPU voltages. There is also an EZ XMP switch which, as the name suggests, allows enhanced DIMM speed and performance. There’s also a temperature sensor connection between the M.2 slot and Fan Extension header, it is a small two-pin connector. The Clear RTC jumper is located in this corner, which is a newfangled way to say Clear CMOS.
And now for the last, but not least, section we’ll look to the lower left area of the X99 Deluxe II. There are a load of miscellaneous connections here including the front audio connection, SPDIF_OUT header, TPM header, and the RGB LED header. We find a power and reset switch, Q-Code display for diagnosing POST codes, and a CMOS clear button here as well. A closer look at the PCIe slots, with the transparent retention clips and shielding, can be seen here as well.
Taking a gander back at the rear connectivity, we find a well populated rear I/O section. For universal serial bus device, we have a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A, a USB 3.1 Type-C, four USB 3.0, and four USB 2.0/1.1 ports. In case you still need it, there is a PS/2 connection for a legacy keyboard/mouse. For network connectivity there is a Gigabit Ethernet port. To get a bit of sound out of the board there are five 3.5mm audio jacks and an S/PDIF output. Last, but not least, is the CMOS Clear button.
Stripping the X99-A II
Looking at the VRM we see eight dedicated phases for the CPU alone, with one MOSFET and one choke per phase. I’ll go in to detail about the MOSFETs later, but the chokes have cooling ridges on top. I don’t see any markings on the chokes, nor does ASUS give a current/power rating on them. Even so, this VRM is plenty to push you well past the limits of ambient cooling. We see two CPU power connectors, one 8-pin and one 4-pin, of which only the 8-pin is required. If you’re pushing the limits of the CPU then I recommend using both connectors to ensure stable power delivery.
In the pictures below we get a look at a few of the power delivery components on this motherboard. The Digi+ ASP1257 handles CPU VRM control, we know this is a fully digital PWM controller. Each of the eight phases for the CPU has an International Rectifier 3556 MOSFET. Of course we won’t use the whole range, but the MOSFET can output voltage from 0.25V up to 5.5V at a current of up to 50A. More than enough for our uses! The power going to the DIMMs is controlled by a pair of Digi+ ASP1250 which are, as before, fully digital PWM controllers.
ASUS put a significant amount of metal on the X99-A II for heatsinks. Notice there are only two contact points, the VRM and the chipset, but we still see a third heatsink. I’m honestly not sure what the point of it is as there is no heatpipe or contact area for it. Heat soaking all of this mass will take quite a long time, even at high workloads. There is also a plastic cover for the I/O section of the motherboard, helping aesthetics in a windowed case.
For the audio section, a set of Nichicon capacitors paired with a Realtek ALC1150 achieve a SNR of 112 dB for the rear line out and of 104 dB for the recording line in. The separation of the audio section from the rest of the board and high-quality components all go toward achieving these high SNR’s. While not as good as big brother X99 Deluxe II, the audio section here is still plenty good sound quality for all but the highest level of audio enthusiasts.
The Gigabit Ethernet on the X99-A II is handled by the Intel i218 chipset.
Below are some thumbnails, click for a bigger view, of the other miscellaneous integrated circuit chips on the X99-A II.
UEFI BIOS and Overclocking Software
The two pictures in this first of three slideshows show the EZ Mode BIOS screen and Main BIOS screen. EZ Mode allows the user to set XMP RAM configurations, choose the boot priority, change the CPU fan curve, and it shows some general system information as well. Pressing F7 takes you out of, or back in to, EZ Mode. Landing in Advanced Mode the first screen we see is “Main” which shows system info and allows setting date/time.
Here we also go through the AI Tweaker section which includes, but isn’t limited to, the DRAM Timing Control, External DIGI+ Power Control, and Tweaker’s Paradise BIOS screens. Here is where the magic will happen for overclockers and users chasing the ultimate stability. I’m not sure if there is anything you can’t control from this section of the BIOS. The options are extensive and almost daunting, even for advanced users.
Next up is the Advanced section. Here we find all the general system controls to enable/disable almost any system feature, selectively disable USB ports, and much more. Basically, if you need to find a setting on a motherboard component which isn’t the CPU or RAM, check here. This is also the section in which you control the RGB lighting on the motherboard.
To wrap up the BIOS tour we’ll go through the Monitor, Boot, Tool, and Exit sections. As expected, the Monitor section allows you to view system temperatures, system voltages, and fan speeds. This section also contains all the Q-Fan controls which dictate the function of each fan/pump header on the motherboard; it conveniently allows you to select voltage or PWM control. The Boot section allows users to set the boot order, enable/disable boot devices, and configure boot methods (UEFI, Legacy, etc). The Tool section has the functionality to flash the BIOS (there is a nice network flash option), secure erase an SSD, and view detailed SPD/graphics information. Lastly, the Exit section. This screen is very self explanatory.
The bundled software with the X99-A II is AISuite III, ASUS’ long running software. This software will basically control/monitor your whole system and more. I’ve included a screenshot of the overclocking portion of the software below, but it is seriously in-depth these days so I didn’t try to capture everything. As seen, the overclocking controls within AISuite allow changing speed for the BCLK, CPU Multi, CPU Cache Multi. A few other notable features are the fan control and BIOS flashing from this software.
Below is the ASUS AURA software which is used to control all the RGB LED functions from within the operating system. Basically anything and everything you could imagine doing with LED’s is available here. This software is incredibly straightforward and easy to use, I like it.
Test Setup, Benchmarks, and Overclocking
Listed below is the test system used for benchmarking.
|CPU||Intel 6800K @ Stock (for the motherboard – 3.4 GHz), 4.5 GHz for Overclocking|
|Cooler||CoolerMaster Glacer 240L|
|Motherboard||ASUS X99-A II|
|RAM||4×4GB DDR4 GSKILL RipJaws4 @ 3000MHz 15-15-15-35 2T 1.35v|
|Graphics Card||EVGA GTX 750Ti FTW|
|Solid State Drive||Samsung 850 Pro 256GB|
|Power Supply||EVGA SuperNova G2 850W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 x64|
We’ll perform our usual set of benchmarks which tests rendering, memory performance, and single/multi-threaded CPU performance. For 2D benchmarks we’ll use SuperPi 1M and 32M, wPrime, and Intel XTU. For rendering it’s Cinebench R11.5 and R15. Memory performance is checked against AIDA64. For encoding, we use x265 (HWBOT Version) and PoV Ray. A more real-world test is included in 7zip. Stock testing is performed with the BIOS as you get it out of the box, which will vary from motherboard to motherboard. When overclocking, a CPU speed of 4.5 GHz will be used for testing purposes. Memory speed is unchanged.
Memory Bandwidth and Throughput Benchmark – AIDA64
CPU Rendering Benchmarks – Cinebench R11.5 and R15
Single Threaded CPU Benchmarks – Super Pi 1M and 32M
Multi-Threaded CPU Benchmarks – WPrime 32M and 1024M, x265 (HWBOT Version), PoV Ray R3.73, 7Zip, and Intel XTU
Overall, the results seemed to be in line with the expected performance of a top-tier motherboard.
Pushing the Limits
Like the X99 Deluxe II, the X99-A II hit 4,645 MHz on the CPU. It seems to be fairly stable at this level, running Cinebench R15 without issue, but I can’t quite get past this mark with an ASUS X99 board. Booting 4,667 MHz happened, but I couldn’t complete R15 at this speed.
As with the X99 Deluxe II, the only con for the X99-A II is the slight lack of top-end overclocking in the PTL section from what I’ve seen before. The board is built for the limits, but something is still eluding me while toeing the line with these ASUS boards.
There’s no shortage of positives for this board though. The features are extensive; loads of USB connectivity, RGB lighting, plentiful heatsinks for cooling, lots of storage options, and more. Performance in both the stock 3.4 GHz and overclocked 4.5 GHz testing was at or higher than expected. As always the ASUS BIOS was easy to navigate, boasted extensive options, and was incredibly responsive to keyboard/mouse input. The board’s color scheme is build agnostic, yet still very attractive.
The MSRP is competitive as well. Coming in at $229.99 it isn’t the lowest for comparable feature sets, but it is definitely in line with what’s expected. Currently the X99-A II is only available through third parties at Newegg and Amazon, but never fear because B&H has stock! This board gets the Overclockers Approved stamp.
Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means.