Originally Posted by CuriouslySane
Great analysis. I ordered a UD5 earlier today which has a nearly identical I/O configuration to the Gaming 7 and came to the same conclusion about the Tech Report review. Sadly, it took parsing through those paragraphs of their review (repeatedly!) to make any kind of sense out of the manual. It really shouldn't be this hard!
Tell me about it! I have studied those Z97 motherboard manuals and ASUS are really bad, whilst the others fair better. None of them are really plain, simple and obvious for what's going on. Why so many typos? Did you see the diagram the Russian? review managed to coax from Gigabyte regarding one of the Z170 boards? It was a butchered Z97 diagram, complete with DMI 2.0, a single SATA Express sharing bandwidth with something else and all sorts. It was worse than useless because it's just adding to more confusion. As a consumer, we want to make informed decisions, and it's damned hard to do that when we have to try and trace the freakin' circuit board from some iffy online photos!
I kind of wish the M2D and M2H had their limitations switched. It makes sense given their locations, but I need 6-8 SATA connections for now, so if I buy an NVMe M.2 SSD, it's going to end up sandwiched between a pair of graphics cards. Ventilation's better by the CPU, but I can't get there until I downsize the number of drives to 4 max. I guess a PCI slot drive like the Intel 750 or something like the Asus Hyper adapter might end up being a better choice on this board. (Anyone know if the Hyper M.2 adapter works in a non-Asus board?)
That'd be quite a nice idea, but I guess for that to be possible they have to put in a bunch of PCIe lane switches, and the distance between the two M.2 connectors and the fact there's a whacking great PCIe GFx socket in the way may cause some headaches for the design teams - hence why it wasn't done, oh yeah and cost!
It'd be interesting to find out if the ASUS adaptor works. I wouldn't be surprised to find a StarTech variant sometime in the near future, they have a lot of little adaptors and such like.
I'm also a bit confused by the footnote in the manual (referencing slot M2D) that says "The PCIe x4 SSD runs at x2 speed.". What's up with that? Does that only pertain to an x4 drive connected with a SATA Express connector? Their product page pretty clearly casts it as an x4 slot with 32 Gb/s bandwidth, so that's the only interpretation I can think of that makes sense.
I see the foot note staring right back at me there! If you look carefully (with a bit of zoom) you'll see the note refers only to a RAID for a card in M2D and using SATA Express with a drive in SATA_01. In other words, you should be able to RAID using both M2D and M2H with x4 PCIe SSDs and
use SATAExpress_0 but M2D will only tun in x2 mode for that. I probably made no sense, and have done what those reviews have done, bamboozle! Anyhoo, It's just a relevance to PCIe SSDs in both M.2 slots using RAID whilst trying to use SATAExpress as well. But who's gonna do that, right?
I considered X99 (in response to Bojamijams above), but my impression is that a number of things with system architecture are evolving or unknown right now (# of CPU cores, NVMe, DX12, VR, HBM, Optane) which makes me less confident in a high-end build. Z170 isn't ideal either, but I feel better about building mid-range now even with some compromises and hopefully seeing things converge into a platform with fewer tradeoffs in another few years. I'm coming from P55, so a Z170 board and a 6600K are going to be a real treat regardless. Waffled between the UD5, MSI Gaming M5 and Asus Pro Gaming, but decided the UD5's compromises were the best of the lot...
Well, my current rig is an E6750 with 4GB RAM and a shoddy 8500GT 512MB Silent, so going to a 6700K with 32GB RAM and a R290/R390 and a couple of SSDs will be otherworldly different. I don't upgrade my rig very often! I like it to last.
I can see myself using 6+ SATA ports, and that M2H allowing for a PCIe SSD for use as a scratch disk or boot drive could make things rather interesting. I'll only be running 1 GPU. I do fancy trying to heat sink on the PCIe SSD just to stop it throttling...I don't really want another noisy fan!