All of this got me thinking. Another option that might exist is X390 on AMD if the OP is waiting.
If it exists, it might be a better value than the X299 from Intel. The Ryzen 1700 and 1700X are basically the best value 8 core CPUs you can get for anything multi-threaded right now.
It's a good bet that if it exists, the X390 boards might offer more multi-threaded performance per dollar, although Intel will have AMD beat at single threaded performance.
Originally Posted by boed
Thanks - for these really detailed and helpful reviews. I think I might be able to wait until late July before I build my next system - I need more storage space and it has to be on a raid as I have over 100TB so I really have to build a new system as I don't want pieces of storage.
Any downside to getting x299 boards? I think the processors will be less energy efficient but will they build similar extended boards with good sound onboard? (I won't have any space for a sound card) and I use it at times for gaming.
The power consumption will be higher, but you are getting more cores.
A Skylake equal to the 5820k should not be too much more expensive than a 7700k (probably comparable to the 4790K vs 5820k situation we had with Haswell), perhaps even price competitive with Z270 now that Ryzen's 1700X is forcing some serious price competition in that price range.
For 400 USD (Asrock Z270 Supercarrier is 380 USD on Newegg as of April 2017), you can get some of the top X99 boards, so it stands to reason that you can get some top end X299 boards at that price range when Skylake E arrives.
All flagship motherboards will have decent audio solutions. Maybe not as good as discrete always, but in general they should be good.
- Asus has on its Rampage V Edition 10 included a 5.25" drive bay, but the audio was limited by poor quality drivers (issues with Windows 10 Anniversary).
- MSI's X99A Godlike and X99A Godlike Carbon had an ESS ES9018K2M DAC paired with a TPA6120A2 amplifier powering the 1/4" jack, which is one of the top tier DACs and was isolated. I think the components are the same as the Asus board, only on the motherboard. That's more or less as good as a discrete board at this point.
- I'm not as familiar with Gigabyte's HEDT offerings (they re-vamped for the X99 Designaire for Broadwell E), but on Z270X Gaming 9 they offered a a very impressive DAC from TI PCM1794, with a Cirrus Logic CN8416 (I think it may be similar to this https://www.cirrus.com/products/cs8416/ ), paired with 3 removable Op Amps - 2x Japanese Radio Company JRC2114D, 1x TI OPA2134. I suspect 2 go to the headphone amp. You could probably change those Op Amps if you wanted to. Powering it is a Creative custom chip.
- I have not seen anything as unique from Asrock, but I suspect they will have something out for X299. Even their Supercarrier had just a ALC1220 without too much else. It may be that they are not pushing forward on audio innovation as much as the others are.
Basically though the Asus, MSI, and Gigabyte have components you'd expect on a discrete card. I'd say the Gigabyte is probably the best solution for Gaming due to the Creative solution, but it's a debate what the best DAC is for music.http://www.head-fi.org/t/642653/is-sabre-es9018-the-best-dac-chip-right-now
I personally like the ESS over the TI DAC for music, but it is subjective.
The other question is how good the drivers are. Asus with the 5.25" bay seems to be having issues here.
Beyond that the next step up is a discrete USB DAC. They actually use the same DAC, but the implementation has been done differently. Implementation matters as much as the chip - when you buy a DAC from the audiomakers, you are really buying their implementation and their accumulated expertise (there's a huge mark-up on parts in the audiophile world and very often it is not justified).
Originally Posted by Blameless
I've had some mixed experiences with ASRock, but I would recommend them.
Support has been pretty solid for most of my ASRock boards.
I'd be surprised if it was relevant outside of subambient OCs.
For mainstream Intel platforms, I stopped looking at VRMs unless there was something that obviously seemed wrong...anything with even the vaguest pretension to being an overclocking board has completely overkill power delivery for LGA-1151 CPUs.
There have been underwhelming VRMs on flagship boards before. Most recently the X370 XPower on AMD caused quite a stir when it cost 300 USD and had a 6+4 Nikos configuration. Granted Ryzen probably won't be a problem at overclocks, even at 4.1 GHz with Linpak (about as powerful as it gets), but for a flagship it's underwhelming when a $200 board has a better VRM (12 + 4 TI NextFET on Asrock X370 Taichi, which is actually better than the Z270 Supercarrier).
For a comparison, the Z170 XPower used a 10 + 4 IR3555M design. I think it was actually a 10 + 4 + 2 + 1 design for the (2 + 1 VCCSA and VCCIO, but I don't pay much attention to those, as it doesn't matter for those). It also cost 300 USD, which is why this is a controversy and had a lot more features. It had Voltage Checkpoints and more SATA ports. The Z270 XPower basically continues this VRM. I actually wish someone made a board with IR3555M - I think that the superior switching speeds on Ryzen could be useful. Hmm ... I think the Biostar X370 GT7 might have IR3555M.
HEDT I always pay attention to a bit more. They have double the current draw clock for clock (well 2.5x now with the 10 core HEDT chips), but only half the VRM area due to quad channel RAM. So 4-5x as much power per mm^2 of board space. Granted modern VRM are quite efficient and proved up to the job with X99, but it's still something to keep an eye on. Naturally you won't clock as high with a 6-10 core as much as a 4 core, so there is that to factor in.
We are not expecting much surprise from X299. Just a HEDT version of Z270:https://benchlife.info/intel-x299-platform-might-launch-at-computex-04092017/
Might be a bit sooner than on the slide now, but otherwise I don't see anything remarkable. Benchlife is pretty reliable - they were the ones who broke news of Intel's Purley platform.
Originally Posted by Prophet4NO1
Except on Ryzen, where the Asrock board is probably the best board to get.
Agreed. The X370 Taichi and X370 Fata1ty are probably the best X370 VRM boards, at least from a hardware point of view. We'll need to wait for the BIOS to stabilize to judge.
Other than that, I can recommend Asrock. The only other thing I should point out is that they don't always honor the Mail In Rebates. For now, if buying, assume that the price was before the rebate.Edited by CrazyElf - 4/14/17 at 7:20pm