EVGA X299 Micro Motherboard Review

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With thanks going to EVGA, I have the X299 Micro  motherboard on the test bench today. This is one of the few mATX X299 motherboards available currently. According to EVGA this board will support all Core i9, even the big dog, 18 core/36 thread i9 7980XE. All I can test with currently is the Core i9 7900X so let’s dive in and see how the X299 Micro holds up.

Specifications and Features

The EVGA X299 Micro supports all currently available Kaby Lake-X and yet to be released Skylake-X LGA 2066 CPUs on their current BIOS release. Being a Micro motherboard there’s limited space available and the EVGA X299 Micro is limited to four DDR4 ram slots. It still accommodates quad channel functionality up to 3600 MHz+ for the Skylake-X CPUs and dual channel up to 4133 MHz+ for the Kaby Lake-X with a maximum capacity of 64 GB.

Built around the Intel X299 Express Chipset the X299 Micro supports up to 44 PCIe Gen3 lanes, depending on your CPU of choice (see details below). The team at EVGA has managed to squeeze in three full-size PCIe Gen3 X16 slots and space for an M.2 drive on its limited mATX real estate.

There’s also no shortage of storage with six SATA3 ports, a U.2 connector and M.2 slot with RAID support. The EVGA X299 Micro also supports up to 14 USB ports from Gen 2.0 to 3.1 A/C between the back panel and mid-board connectors.

All specifications in the table below are provided by EVGA.

EVGA X299 Micro Specifications
CPU Intel Socket 2066 Processor
Chipset Intel X299
Memory Supports Quad Channel DDR4 up to 4000MHz+ Skylake-X, and Dual Channel 4133 MHz+ Kaby Lake-X (OC). Supports up to 64 GB of DDR4 memory.
Expansion Slots 3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
– Support x16/ x16/ x8 mode with the 44-lane CPU.
– Support x16/ x8/ x4/ , x8/ x8/ x8/ modes with the 28-lane CPU.
– Support x8/ x8/ x0, x8/ x4/ x4  modes with the 16-lane CPU.
Multi-GPU Support

Nvidia SLI

AMD Crossfire X

Storage

Intel X299 PCH Controller 6x SATA 3/6G (600 MB/s) data transfer rate – Support for RAID0, RAID1, RAID5, and RAID10 – Supports hot plug

1x M.2 Key-M 80 mm slot PCI-E/NVMe & SATA Supports Intel Optane

1x U.2 slot

LAN

1x Intel i219v Gigabit (10/100/1000) Ethernet

1x M.2 Key-E slot includes Intel 8260NGW 802.11AC/BT4.1

Audio Realtek Audio (ALC1150) Supports 8-channel (7.1) audio with Optical S/PDIF Out
USB

USB 2.0 Ports: 4x from Intel X299 PCH – 4x internal via 2 FP headers Supports transfer speeds up to 480 Mbps with full backwards compatibility

USB 3.0 Ports: 8x from Intel X299 PCH – 6x external, 2x internal via 1 FP headers supports transfer speeds up to 5 Gbps with full backwards compatibility

USB 3.1 Ports: 2x from Intel X299 PCH – 2x external, 1x Type-C, 1x Type-A Supports transfer speeds up to 10 Gbps with full backwards compatibility *Type-C will require a Type-A adapter for backwards compatibility

OS Support Supports Windows 10 64-bit only
Form Factor mATX form-factor of 9.6 inches x 9.6 inches (243.8×243.8mm)

Moving on to the features, EVGA has used a higher gold content in the CPU socket for improved conductivity and lower impedance.

The included M.2 Key-E Wifi/Bluetooth card is a nice addition, making it possible to set up anywhere in the home and have internet connectivitiy.

They’ve also included some convenient features that I really go for: Onboard power and reset buttons, make working outside of a case a breeze, and the clear CMOS button located on the rear I/O panel is a “must have” for all motherboards. It really beats crawling around on your knees trying to find a jumper somewhere on the board. I also appreciate the onboard LED diagnostic readout, so handy to diagnose “non boot” situations and also doubles as a real time temperature readout when running in Windows.

The EVGA X299 Micro comes with a rear I/O cover which requires installation if you want to use it. The included machine screws really don’t suit the plastic shroud and were very difficult to fasten securely. A more aggressive screw would have been more appropriate.

The next table lists the high-level feature set of the EVGA X299 Micro. All images and descriptions provided by EVGA.

EVGA X299 Micro Features

Intel X299 Express Chipset

Supports up to 36 CPU threads (18 core/18 HT)

Supports DDR4 up to 3600 MHz+ Skylake-X and 4133 MHz + Kaby Lake-X

First Intel Extreme series with Gen-3 PCI-E from PCH

Intel Optane Ready

Be fully prepared when Intel unleashes its latest storage solutions using its groundbreaking 3D XPoint architecture.

Built in U.2

Next generation storage interface supports up to 32 Gb/s of bandwidth.

M.2 WiFi

Includes an M.2 Key-E WiFi/Bluetooth controller and vertical mounting adapter.

USB 3.1 (Type-A/Type-C)

Connect the latest peripherals and devices at speeds of up to 10 Gb/s, with user-friendly Type C connectors.

 

High Gold Content for CPU Socket

Higher volume of precious metal (150% Gold) used in the sockets generally improves the conductivity and produces a cleaner signal due to less resistance/impedance.

Onboard Power, Reset, and CMOS Buttons

The power, reset, and CMOS reset buttons are built into the X299 Micro, so you don’t have to worry about wiring the board to a case when testing or benching in an open-air environment.

Retail Packaging and Accessories

The packaging is pretty straight forward with large visible naming on the front, easy to see on a retail shelf. The back of the box has the key specifications and features listed, making it easy to tell if the X299 Micro will suit your needs. The outer sleeve of the packaging slides off to reveal a plain black box containing the accessories and motherboard. As you can see in the slide, the motherboard was very well packed. I don’t recall ever having a board wrapped in foam inside the anti-static bag, it definitely decreases the odds of shipping damage.

Along with the usual accessories like a manual and install disc, we have the rear I/O shield and a couple of SATA cables. EVGA has also included a WiFi Card and adapter, a thermal pad for your M.2 drive and the I/O cover I mentioned earlier. They also included some antennae for WiFi.

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The EVGA X299 Micro

Removing the X299 Micro from the packaging, the first thing you’ll notice are the warnings. The CPU cover has a small booklet attached to it explaining how to install the CPU and remove the protective cover properly. Next to that, both sets of RAM slots have instructions for installing quad or dual channel RAM depending on your CPU. Both heatsinks have a protective film to prevent damage as well which need to be removed before using the board for the first time. Overall the X299 Micro is well laid out for your hardware. There are six PWM fan headers for cooling spread around a black PCB with gray accents.

Not much to see on the back of the motherboard. The large LGA 2066 backplate takes up a lot of real estate here. Below and to the left is the serial number sticker which has to be intact for any RMA. You’ll also notice the three full-length PCIe Gen3 slots all of which are X16 electrical.

X299 Micro – Front

X299 Micro – Back

A Closer Look

Being a mATX form factor, the X299 Micro doesn’t have a lot of room to work with but EVGA has done well here. The three X16 PCIe slots are spaced well enough for a dual graphics setup, three would be tight and require some water blocks for cooling due to the PCIe slot spacing. Between slots one and two we find the M.2 slot which supports PCIe or SATA based storage and Intel’s new Optane Memory.

X299 Micro PCIe area

The top left corner of the X299 Micro is a bit sparse. Aside from the rear I/O connectors there’s a fan header and the LED RGB connector. One thing that caught my eye immediately was the CMOS battery. Typically, this area is home to the eight-pin ATX connector, you will see it’s located directly above the VRM heatsink instead. Moving around the top right corner there are two CPU fan headers which, like all the others, are rated for 1A. There is no “dedicated” pump header with a higher rating which we have been seeing a lot of lately. Next up are the power and reset buttons next to the LED diagnostic display. Between the display and 24 pin ATX power connection is the replaceable BIOS chip.

X299 Micro Upper Left

X299 Micro Upper Right

From left to right along the bottom of the board we see the front panel audio header is first in line. Next is something I haven’t seen in a long time, an onboard speaker for beep codes.  A couple more PWM fan headers, two USB 2.0 headers, a USB 3.0 header and the front panel header for external power and reset buttons. Moving up around the corner we find the U.2 and six SATA3 connectors.

X299 Micro Lower Left

X299 Micro Lower Right

The EVGA X299 micro has everything you’ll need on the rear I/O panel: Six USB 3.0 and two USB 3.1 – one type “A” and one type “C”. There’s the clear CMOS button, audio output and the slot for the included WiFi M.2 card.

X299 Micro Rear I/O

Stripping the EVGA X299 Micro

The heart of the EVGA X299 Micro is the 12-phase power delivery. The IR 35201 eight-phase PWM controller routes power through doublers located on the back of the motherboard to the IR 3556M 50A combined driver/MOSFETs for improved efficiency and improved overclocking capabilities.

X299 Micro VRM

 

IR 35201 Eight Phase Controller

IR 3556M 50A Driver/MOSFET

As you can see in this picture of the underside of the heatsinks, both the VRM and PCH heatsink are making good contact. They did an adequate job at keeping things cool.

X299 Micro Heatsinks

The audio section is driven by the Realtek ALC1150 and supports 8-channel (7.1) audio with Optical S/PDIF Out from the rear audio ports.

X299 Micro Audio

Evga has equipped the X299 Micro with the Intel i219-V Gigabit Ethernet and also included an Intel 8260NGW WiFi/Bluetooth M.2 card. I found the installation pretty straightforward but a bit clumsy. I also feel it’s best if you install the card before the bracket as the card was difficult to install afterward. The included antennae and wire leads were another adventure. The leads attach to the top of the card and the threaded end is fed through the rear I/O shield. Once through the shield they are secured with the supplied nut and washer leaving the threads exposed to attach the antennae. I searched the user manual, both printed and online, for any guidance with this installation and came up empty handed. Eventually, I figured it out but a bit of guidance would have been appreciated.

Intel i219-V LAN

Intel 8260NGW 802.11AC/BT4.1

WiFi Card and Bracket

Below are some thumbnails, click for a bigger view, of the other miscellaneous integrated circuit chips on the X299 Micro.

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UEFI BIOS and Overclocking Software

The EVGA GUI BIOS is set up a bit differently making it unique in its own way. Everything I needed was easy to find and I liked the top bar that you notice in every BIOS shot below. It displayed main voltages, temperatures, and hardware configuration. The shots directly below show the CPU and memory setting pages. Certainly enough to keep you busy.

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On to the next shots, we have the Advanced section of the BIOS which covers CPU configuration for power, cores, and hyperthreading. It also includes the onboard devices, SATA, and USB settings as well as the hardware monitoring section. The BOOT section is pretty straightforward for selecting your BOOT order and CSM configuration. At the end, we have the Save & Exit section which also holds your overclock profiles.

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Normally I would include some slides from the bundled software here but there really isn’t anything to show. EVGA has their ELEET software available for this motherboard but there was a bit of a snag — I went through the process of signing up to EVGA so I could download the ELEET software, once done I tried to run it and get the message that this platform isn’t supported. With luck they’ll get it working soon. I would also like to point out the lack of Asmedia USB drivers either on disc or available for download from the X299 Micro support site. I was just a bit surprised by the lack of support but the Windows drivers do work. If you want the Asmedia drivers you’ll need to download them from the Asmedia site.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I just received word from EVGA that the newest release of their ELEET software is now available for download and does support the X299 series.

Test Setup, Benchmarks, and Overclocking

Listed below is the test system used for benchmarking.

X299 Systems
CPU Intel i9 7900x Intel i9 7900x Intel i9 7900x
Cooler -EK-XLC Predator 360 -EK-XLC Predator 360 -Custom Loop
Motherboard  EVGA X299 Micro -MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK ASUS Prime X299 Deluxe
RAM -G.Skill Trident Z 4×8 GB @ 3600 CL 16 -G.Skill Trident Z 4×8 GB @ 3600 CL 16 -G.Skill Trident Z 4×8 GB DDR4 3600 MHz CL 16
Graphics Card -EVGA GTX 980Ti K|NGP|N Edition -EVGA GTX 980Ti K|NGP|N Edition EVGA GTX 1080 FTW2
Solid State Drive -256GB Samsung 950 Pro NVMe -256GB Samsung 950 Pro NVMe -Patriot Hellfire
Power Supply -SuperFlower Leadex 1K Platinum -SuperFlower Leadex 1K Platinum -Seasonic Platinum 1 kW
Operating System -Windows 10 x64 -Windows 10 x64 -Windows 10 x64

We’ll perform our usual set of benchmarks which test 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 the AIDA64 test suite. For encoding, we use x265 (HWBOT Version) and PoV Ray. A more real-world test is included in 7zip. Testing is performed with the CPU at 4GHz to eliminate any inherent differences in stock BIOS options. Memory speed is 3600 MHz unless otherwise specified.

Memory Bandwidth and Throughput Benchmark – AIDA64

AIDA64 Cache & Memory Benchmark

AIDA64- Cache and Memory Benchmark

Motherboard Read Write Copy Latency
 EVGA X299 Micro 91654 84089 71847 66.2
-MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK 95174 94727 81472 70.7
 ASUS Prime X299 Deluxe 90501 88143 73927 74.6

AIDA64- CPU Benchmark Tests

Motherboard Queen PhotoWorxx Zlib AES Hash
 EVGA X299 Micro 108985 39616 901.0 45534  11456
-MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK 108924 42516 900.2 45464  11840
 ASUS Prime X299 Deluxe 108615 45787 903.4 45434  12023

AIDA64- CPU Benchmark Tests

AIDA64- FPU Benchmark tests

Motherboard VP8 Julia Mandel SinJulia
 EVGA X299 Micro 8558 83716 44709 12048
-MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK 8071 83611 44638 12025
 ASUS Prime X299 Deluxe 8378 75093 40073 12124

AIDA64- FPU Benchmark tests

CPU Rendering/Encoding Benchmarks – Cinebench R11.5 and R15, PoV Ray R3.73, HWBot X265 and 7Zip

Motherboard Cinebench R11.5 Cinebench R15 POVRay X265 7-Zip
 EVGA X299 Micro 23.59 2180 4502.03 69.75  54917
-MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK 23.86 2207 4502.34 71.61 58101
 ASUS Prime X299 Deluxe 23.63 2185 4519.72 70.54  57603

Cinebench R11.5

Cinebench R15

POVRay

HWBot X265

7-Zip

Cinebench R11.5 and R15, PoV Ray R3.73, HWBot X265 and 7Zip

Legacy CPU Benchmarks – Super Pi 1M, 32M, Wprime 32M,1024M and Intel XTU

Motherboard SuperPi 1M SuperPi 32M WPrime 32M WPrime 1024M Intel XTU
 EVGA X299 Micro 9.079 505.916 2.813 64.727  2219
-MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK 9.157 472.129 2.767 64.289 2128
 ASUS Prime X299 Deluxe 9.129 472.129 2.767 64.289  NA

SuperPi 1M

SuperPi 32M

WPrime 32M and 1024M

Intel XTU

Super Pi 1M, 32M, Wprime 32M,1024M and Intel XTU

Overall, the results seemed to be in line with the expected performance of a top-tier motherboard. I did find the memory bandwidth lacking a bit in the AIDA benchmark but the latency was far better than the the other two boards. You’ll also notice 7-Zip took a bit of a hit as well as SuperPi 32M both of which are quite memory sensitive. Aside from that, the X299 Micro made a strong showing in the rest of the benchmarks and scored nearly 100 points over the MSI X299 in Intel XTU.

Pushing the Limits

Like most other boards I’ve reviewed, the EVGA X299 Micro hit 4.7 GHz on the 10 core/20 thread CORE i9 7900x. I was able to benchmark it and run Cinebench R15 but the thermals were at their limit hitting 100°C on some of the cores.

4.7 GHz Overclock Results

Conclusion

Overall, the EVGA x299 Micro is a capable motherboard. I did find it ran a bit warm and as such, I would suggest running a CPU like the CORE i9 7900x at stock with turbo. At stock it ran at 4.3 GHz with a couple cores touching 4.5GHz, and while stress testing with AIDA64 and Prime95 the cores were pushing the temps into the low 80°C range. This was on an open bench with a 360 EK Predator AIO, no doubt confined in a small mATX case it would hit higher temperatures.

Overclocking it was quite easy, not too much fussing in BIOS to get the desired CPU speed. Being a bencher at heart I would have liked to have seen better RAM tuning capabilities. I found it a real challenge to improve the bandwidth with the options available. I was using the first release BIOS which was the only one available at the time of testing, so performance may improve with future releases. Realistically, this will mean very little to most users as memory doesn’t affect most daily tasks to a high degree.

EVGA has a MSRP of $269.99 on the X299 Micro which is quite reasonable considering it could hold its own with the MSI and ASUS motherboards priced at $399.99 and $489.99, respectively. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles and overall the motherboard is quite plain but it gets in there and gets the job done. For that, I have no issue giving it the Overclockers stamp of approval.

ocapproved

Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means.

Shawn Jennings – Johan45

 

 

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Discussion
  1. Boards with half of the DIMM slots like this one tend to have better memory OC capabilities than ones with the standard number, how did the EVGA fare in this regard?