The introduction of X99 raised the bar a bit higher on what we think of as enthusiast class and what we can demand from our systems. Having massive amounts of raw CPU power sounds great, and will attract many to the X99 platform; however, the features X99 offers may be more important than just having multi-core hyper-threading and big cache.
Some of the features will go unnoticed and unused by the nonprofessional but others will be fully utilized by the hardcore gamer. Take DDR4 for example, both the gamer and the professional can benefit from speeds up to 3200+MHz and a 128GB capacity available to an X99 system, yet only one of them will even consider using the ECC support. It still isn’t a wasted feature; think of it as it as not one that is utilized at that moment by that person but it can be if needs change over time. Versatility is what X99 WS brings to the table. Gamers, Overclockers and Professionals alike can take full advantage of what they need to be the best at their craft and the ability to adapt if needed.
Even though the WS is lacking the exotic golds, greens, yellows or even oranges, the X99 WS is not plain. ASRock laid on just enough blue on top of all black to make the X99 WS an attraction board, saving the ostentatious themes for others. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the more ornate styles, but sometimes you require something a bit simpler. I for one am very pleased ASRock focused more on features than color theme, mainly the 6 PCIe slots, M.2 and a very functional UEFI interface. I was able to navigate, locate and execute everything I attempted to do without searching all over or finding out it either wasn’t offered or didn’t work correctly. Compared to other UEFI’s I have used, ASRock’s approach may appear to some as minimalistic when it comes to overall advanced options. In this case it makes more sense because it is first and foremost a workstation board. Albeit, it is one that is suitable for other uses, but being able to tweak every aspect to the finest of degrees isn’t what you will find here.
Getting the board running was fairly simple using the UEFI driver tool to go to ASRock’s website and place the drivers on the drive where Windows 7 resided. I didn’t have to guess which drive was for me or not. It also notified me of a BIOS update once all of the applications were installed. ASRock made overclocking easy as well by offering two simple methods; one in A-tuning tool and the other within the UEFI. Both were simple clicks of a button and both ran very stable.
Along with the features listed already, the ability to run full fledged Xeon processors will no doubt be a draw to professionals of all types. No need to rely on a “server” boards that will break the bank. If you are looking for a solid workstation or gaming rig that can support a large amount of GPUs, top of the line CPUs and maximum capacity of memory, the ASRock X99 should be seriously considered. With a price tag of just $325 ($303 After MIR), a full $200 less than the other X99 workstation boards out, it makes it easy to see why we gave the ASRock X99 WS PureOverclock’s Editor’s Choice Award.