X99 Chipset Overview
With the X79 chipset roughly 3 years old, it was only a matter of time before Intel decided to make a change or upgrade. If you have followed Intel’s upgrade path we all know they have always had a sneaky way of changing their sockets. While the X99 chipset still uses 2011 pins, the 2011-3 socket is actually slightly different so those with previous generation processors won’t be able to use the X99 chipset motherboard.
As we mentioned, we have three new major processor releases here that have been developed for the desktop segment. We have the i7-5820K, i7-5930K and the new king of desktop chips, the i7-5960k. To make it a true workstation, select Xeon chips will also work in the X99 platform. As of now, we know the E5-1600/2600 v3 Xeon family will work in socket 2011-V3 up to 160w. That means the monster 145w, 18 core, 36 thread, 45MB cache E5-2699 v3 Xeon should also fall into the list of compatible parts when it is released sometime in Q4 ’14. If that is a bit higher-end than you are willing to consider, there is a complete range of E5-2600 V3 chips, from E5-2640 quad core up to 10, 12, 14, and even a 16 core powerhouse with a variety of TDPs to match your needs.
For the mainstream users, the i7-5930K seems to fit the bill for the greater performance to value with this current chipset.
At first glance, the first obvious update from its X79 platform is the DDR4 memory support over DDR3. DDR 4 memory is designed to run at higher native speeds while maintaining lower voltages for better energy efficiency. DDR4 also includes faster read and write speeds. While 2133MHz native isn’t really abnormal with today’s memory standards, the lower voltage and higher speeds means more headroom for overclocking junkies like ourselves.
Going back to the major changes with the X99 chipset, we find native USB 3.0 ports and also more SATA3 6Gb/s ports available compared to the X79 chipset. Also, don’t forget that we now have SATA Express along with M.2 SATA support which we didn’t have previously.
The X99 chipset, when paired with the 5930K (which we will be using for testing today), will have full support of the 40 PCIe Gen 3 lanes available. This is one of the favorable reasons why some of us are running these extreme processors and motherboards. While most will suffice with 2 way crossfire or SLI configurations, those that are looking for additional lanes for 3 or more graphics cards configurations will consider the X99 chipset the only way to go. With more PCIe lanes available also means more bandwidth. However, Intel did something a little different with its processor layout; if you plan on using the 5820K processor which supports up to 28 lanes over the 40 lanes like the 5930K, you may be limited to running only 2 way SLI due to its configuration.
While the graphics card is only one item that can take advantage of the PCIe lanes available, other options can also make use of the available lanes such as PCIe SATA Drives or available lanes for the M.2 SATA Drives. Since we are on this topic, X99 also brings an increase of internal and external storage options with up to 14 total USB ports (6 USB3, 8 USB2), 10 SATA 6Gbps, M.2 and eSATA. Unlike the X79 chipset where we still saw SATA2 3G ports, the X99 has opted in favor of all SATA ports being 6Gbps. For additional security and selective usage, all of the SATA and USB ports can be individually enabled or disabled. This gives users greater control of what they want turned on and off, which is always a plus in our book.
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s continue forward and take a look at the the Gigabyte X99-UD4 more in depth.