Benchmarks & Conclusion
Now that manufacturers have had a little time to nail down their firmware, we decided to give the preceding samples a retest. Here’s how the new Prime X299-Deluxe and X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC firmware settings compare to ASRock’s X299 Taichi:
Unfortunately, the new results were too close to former results to shed any real light on their disparate performance and thermal results. Overclocking and power readings also changed slightly, but not by enough to invalidate our previous findings. A quick look under Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility revealed a likely culprit:
Even with the updated firmware, the Prime X299-Deluxe maintains the Core i9-7900X’s rated 140W TDP under heavy loads. Meanwhile, the MSI motherboard maintains the CPU’s rated performance level by disregarding its 140W TDP. The X299 Taichi appears to take the middle path, but will it also have middling application performance and power consumption?
Synthetic benchmarks are excellent for locating performance problems, but 3DMark and PCMark probably aren’t the best options for viewing CPU performance stratification. For that, we need to jump down to SiSoftware Sandra
Sandra Arithmetic shows the Prime X299-Deluxe hanging in with the X299 Taichi and X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC, regardless of its lower clock under the heavier stress of Prime95. Conversely, its Multimedia results are a good reflection of the clock differences we saw when running Prime95.
Even the Cryptography test of Sandra can’t create the stress level of Prime95, its largest differences merely a reflection of the X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC’s better memory bandwidth. The only solid evidence of the power-per-performance tradeoff thus far has been in Sandra Multimedia.
The three X299 motherboards trade blows through our first three game tests, with the X299 Gaming Pro Carbon really only standing out for its large loss in Talos. That only occurs when the game is paired with the board’s included Nahimic Audio software, however, and the gains available by disabling the software are clearly visible when comparing the solid bars to the faded bars in its original review chart.
Less encoding time is more performance in timed applications, yet the differences in the way the three boards manage the CPU has produced performance that’s anything but normalized. The best we can hope for is that the averages of each motherboard for each chart might fall within a few percent of the other motherboards.
Power, Heat & Efficiency
The X299 Taichi falls between the two previously-tested X299 motherboards in power consumption, as indicated within Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility. It’s closer to the Asus sample, though the heat measured at its voltage regulator is noticeably higher than either competitor.
The most aggressively clocked sample and worst consumer of energy, the X299 Gaming Pro Carbon is roughly 5-6% faster than ASRock and Asus samples in our mixed applications.
A small overall performance lead for the MSI sample came with a huge increase in power consumption, placing it last in efficiency. ASRock falls in the middle again, while being closer to Asus motherboard.
The X299 Taichi appears to be the most advanced overclocker in the mix, taking small wins in CPU, DRAM, and BCLK frequency. Unfortunately, the higher DRAM O/C appears to be due to more-conservative timings, as the bandwidth of its higher data rate still trails both Asus and MSI.
Performance per dollar charts have little to do with features per dollar, and all three competitors have slightly different feature sets. Only the X299 Taichi and Prime X299-Deluxe have dual Gigabit Ethernet, for example.
On the other hand, the X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC from MSI hits the middle of the networking comparison with a super fast 867 Mb/s 802.11ac controller. Maybe the controller upgrade is worth as much as a second Gigabit Ethernet controller, maybe it isn’t: Your personal needs should define your perspective. The Prime X299-Deluxe goes over-the-top with a high-priced 802.11ad solution with up to five times the bandwidth of MSI’s, but the board costs over $100 more. The X299 Taichi, with its old-fashioned 433 Mb/s solution and dual Gigabit Ethernet, is actually cheaper than either of these rivals.
In spite of its lower cost, the X299 Taichi adds a third M.2 slot, and its slot is driven by the CPU. While it's a superior connection on boards that have 28 or 44 lanes, dedicating those four lanes to a storage interface knocks the SLI capability out of 16-lane Kaby Lake-X configurations. That seems a little harsh since the least-expensive X299 motherboards and processors will likely appeal to a certain segment of gamers, but the non-shared storage bandwidth will likely appeal to anyone who doesn’t choose a Core i7-7740X or lesser LGA 2066 CPU.
Despite a comparatively low price, the X299 Taichi appears to be value-optimized for mid-tier LGA 2066 processors. Lacking any overwhelming reason not to choose it over the more expensive X299 Gaming Pro Carbon for our own high-end CPU, it would be easier for us to recommend that anyone vacillating between the top Kaby Lake-X and bottom Skylake-X buy the better processor using the money they saved with this motherboard. That certainly sounds like a value win!
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