The ASRock X299 Taichi is a high-end socket LGA2066 motherboard based on the Intel X299 chipset for the HEDT (High-end desktop) Intel "Skylake-X" and "Kaby Lake-X" CPUs that uses LGA2066 socket. It brings four PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, ten SATA-600 ports, three M.2 slots, Wi-Fi interface and high-end audio adapter. Let’s take a good look at it!
The X299 chipset was released with the new LGA2066 processors, models Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X. These CPUs are on the HEDT segment, which means they are aimed at high-performance desktop workstations, and not for servers.
The main differences between the X299 and its predecessor, the X99, besides the new CPU socket being supported, are the number of PCI lanes controlled by the chipset (24 on X299, eight on X99), USB 3.0 ports (ten on X299 and six on X99), and SATA-600 ports, reduced from ten on X99 to eight on the X299. The X299 chipset also supports Optane memory, that accelerates SATA drives.
From the compatible CPUs launched so far, the Kaby Lake-X models support only two memory channels, and the other ones support four channels. The number of PCI Express lanes controlled by the CPU also depend on the processor model, being 16, 24, or 44 lanes. All LGA2066 CPUs are unlocked for overclocking.
You can see the ASRock X299 Taichi motherboard in Figure 1. It uses the ATX form factor, measuring 12” x 9.6” (305 x 244 mm).
Figure 1: ASRock X299 Taichi motherboard
LGA2066 processors have 16, 28, or 44 PCI Express 3.0 lanes. It allows a high-end slot configuration with a 44-lane CPU installed, but the exact configuration will depend on the actual number of PCI Express lanes.
The ASRock X299 Taichi comes with four PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots and one PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot. With a 44-lane CPU, they work at x16/x8/x16/x0 (with up to three video cards installed) or x8/x8/x8/x8 (with four video cards). With a 28-lane processor, the possible configurations are x16/x0/x8/x0 (one or two video cards) or x8/x0/x8/x8 (three video cards). With a 16-lane CPU, the only configurations available are x16/x0/x0/x0 or x8/x0/x4/x0.
The motherboard supports CrossFire with up to three and SLI with two video cards, except when a 16-lane CPU is installed.
There are also three M.2 slots. The first and third ones are compatible with SSDs up to 2280 with SATA-600 or PCI Express 3.0 x4 connection, while the second one supports 22110 drives also with SATA or PCI Express interfaces.
The PCI Express x16 slots are covered by stainless steel shields, that shield against interference, and also improve the mechanical strength of each slot.
Figure 2: slots
Intel socket LGA2066 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that the processor, not the chipset, defines what memory technologies you can have and the maximum amount of memory that is possible. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
These CPUs are compatible with DDR4 (up to 2,666 MHz) memory. According to ASRock, the X299 Taichi supports DDR4 memories up to 4.400 MHz.
One of the highlights of the LGA2066 platform is the support for quad-channel architecture. The ASRock X299 Taichi has eight memory slots. The motherboard supports up to 128 GiB with this motherboard if you use eight 16 GiB modules.
The quad-core CPUs, however, support only two channels. So, if you use one of these CPUs, four memory sockets will be disabled, and you can install up to 64 GiB of RAM.
In order to enable the quad-channel mode, you must install four or eight memory modules (if your CPU supports it.) When installing four memory modules, you must skip one slot between modules.
Figure 3: memory sockets; install two or four modules for the best performance
The Intel X299 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip has eight SATA-600 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5). The motherboard comes with the eight ports, plus two ports controlled by an ASMedia ASN1061 chip. All of them are installed on the motherboard edge and rotated 90°, so the installation of video cards will not block them. Three of the ports are shared with M.2 slots.
Figure 4: the six SATA-600 ports
The Intel X299 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and ten USB 3.0 ports. The ASRock X299 Taichi offers six USB 2.0 ports, two on the rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard. There are eight USB 3.0 ports, four on the rear panel, and four available through two headers.
There are also two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, one Type A, one Type C on the rear panel, controlled by an ASMedia ASM3142 chip.
The ASRock X299 Taichi does not support Thunderbolt or FireWire ports.
This motherboard comes with a high-end audio circuit. It uses a Realtek ALC1220 codec, which offers 7.1 audio with a 120 dBA signal-to-noise ratio at the analog outputs and 108 dBA for the analog inputs. Unfortunately, no more specs for this codec are available. This circuit uses audio-specific capacitors from Nichicon, and a headphone amplifier using the TI NE5532 chip.
The analog audio outputs are independent and use gold-plated connectors. The motherboard also comes with an on-board optical SPDIF output.
Figure 5 shows the audio section of the motherboard.
Figure 5: audio section
The motherboard has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by an Intel I219V chip, and one controlled by an Intel i211AT chip.
There is also an M.2 Intel 3168NGW IEEE802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter with two antennas, which supports Bluetooth 4.2, shown in Figure 6 with its shield open.
Figure 6: Wi-Fi adapter
In Figure 7, you can see the motherboard rear panel with two USB 2.0 ports, a shared PS/2 keyboard/mouse connector, two Wi-Fi antennas connectors, BIOS flashback button, clear CMOS button, four USB 3.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one USB 3.1 type C port, one USB 3.1 Gen2 port, optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio jacks.
Figure 7: motherboard rear panel
The X299 Taichi has two BIOS chips, and support TPM (trusted platform module.) It also offers a two-digit display that informs the error code in case of an unsuccessful boot.
Figure 8: POST display
Besides that, it has programmable RGB LEDs around the chipset.
In Figure 9, you can see the accessories that come with the ASRock X299 Taichi.
Figure 9: Accessories
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the ASRock X299 Taichi has 12 phases for the CPU. The voltage regulator uses an Intersil ILS69138 controller chip (digital design). Each phase uses one chip with "27B 73AA" marking.
Figure 10: Voltage regulator circuit
The ASRock X299 Taichi uses high-end “12K Black” solid capacitors from Japanese Nichicon and all coils on this motherboard are ferrite with 65 A capacity.
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
The main specifications for the ASRock X299 Taichi include:
- Socket: LGA2066
- Chipset: Intel X299
- Super I/O: NUVOTON NCT6791D
- Serial ATA: tem SATA-600 ports, eight controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5) and two controlled by an ASMedia ASM1061 chip
- USB 2.0: six USB 2.0 ports, two at the rear panel and four available through two headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: eight USB 3.0 ports, four on the motherboard rear panel and four available through two headers, controlled by the chipset
- USB 3.1: two USB 3.1 ports, on the rear panel (one type A, and one type C), controlled by an ASMedia ASM3142
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): none
- Thunderbolt: none
- Onboard video: none
- Onboard audio: Produced by the chipset with a Realtek ALC1220 codec (7.1 channels, 120 dB SNR for the outputs, and 108 dB SNR for the inputs), on-board optical SPDIF output, and audio amplifier for analog headphones, audio-specific capacitors
- Onboard LAN: two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by an Intel I219V chip and one controlled by an Intel i211AT chip
- Wireless LAN: IEEE 802.11ac Intel 3168NGW with two antennas
- Bluetooth: yes, 4.2
- Infrared interface: no
- Power supply required: EPS12V
- Slots: four PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (working at x16/x8/x16/x0 or x8/x8/x8/x8 with a 44-lane CPU, x16/x0/x8/x0 or x8/x0/x8/x8 with a 28-lane CPU, or x16/x0/x0/x0 or x8/x0/x4/x0 with a 16-lane CPU), one PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot, three M.2 SATA/PCI Express 3.0 x4 slots
- Memory: eight DDR4-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-4400, 128 GiB maximum)
- Fan connectors: one four-pin connectors for the CPU cooler, and four four-pin connectors for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: two BIOS chips, RGB LED lights, POST status display, clear CMOS button
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: one
- Programs included: motherboard utilities and drivers
- More Information: http://www.asrock.com
- Average Price in the U.S.*: USD 270.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this article.
The ASRock X299 Taichi is a robust motherboard for LGA2066 processors, full of resources and with excellent cost/benefit ratio. Besides the features offered by the chipset (eight SATA-600 ports and eight USB 3.0 ports), that are more than enough for most users, it also brings two more SATA-600 ports and two more USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, being one of them type C.
It has eight memory sockets and four PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, supporting SLI and CrossFire with up to three video card, which is also more than most users need. As a plus, it brings a POST error code display and a "clear CMOS" button.
Other highlights are the audio section, that uses a high-end codec and some details that improve audio quality, the three M.2 slots, all of them compatible with SATA-600 and PCI Express SSDs, and the Wi-Fi interface. The best part is, however, the high quality voltage regulator circuit.
Being relatively affordable (considering, of course, it is a motherboard aimed on a high-end platform), we can say the ASRock X299 Taichi is an excellent deal if you are looking for a great motherboard to build a high-end computer for both gaming or work.