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Pros: Most people who rely on their PCs to put food on their table stick with Dell/HP/Lenovo workstations. They just want their machine to deliver near top-notch performance as stably as possible for as long as possible. Multi-day renders or week-long simulations need to come out error-free.
Some people want not only stability and power, but a bit more with options to tweak almost every aspect of their system, including clock frequencies. Asus attempts to address this market niche with the X99-E WS.
This board checks ALL of the must-have boxes for a true workstation:
RDIMM Support, finally no more price-premium ECC UDIMMs
Up to 128GB DDR4, currently.
PLX Chip, if needed.
Dual Intel 1G NICs
For our workload, we have validated an overclock to 4.0 GHz as completely stable at VID with a few samples of Xeon E5-1660 V3. The first (and only, so far) board we received was and has been absolutely excellent.
Cons: Quality Control. Too many customers reporting broken or missing components and plenty seeing BIOS/stability issues that a motherboard swap fixes. It seems very few X99-E WS leave Asus without defect.
Once you get a good board, there are very few cons.
Cons in our use-case:
1: Very slim selection of QVL ECC RDIMMs
2: Asus took a few BIOS releases to finally support ECC.
3: No Integrated 10G Intel X540 like competitors.
4: As mentioned in another review, the on-board AsMedia SATA package is sub-par. A decent SAS controller could have been integrated instead.
5: Supplemental PCI-e bus power is in a spot that makes cable management difficult.
Other Thoughts: Typically, as you scale the number of cores in your workstation, your per-core clock goes down when all cores are in use to keep TDP in check. The software we use is license-limited to 8 threads. We need the fastest 8 cores money can buy and hyperthreading is of zero use. We also need to ensure correct results, so no "i7s" with crazy overclocks.
We bought some Dell T5810s with the Xeon E5-1660 V3, which comes in at 3.0 GHz across all cores, almost as fast as you can go with eight cores at stock speeds currently. Seeing other Haswell-based CPUs come at 4.0 GHz out of the box, we did some research and found that our Xeon E5-1660 V3s were unlocked, and all we needed was a motherboard that not only supports overclocking, but also meets all of our workstation-needs. This is where the X99-E WS comes to play.
Our production Asus Workstation with some Dell T5810 parts:
Xeon E5-1660 V3 (5960X as a Xeon)
64GB of Kingston KVR21R15D4/16 ECC REG DDR4
Nvidia Quadro K4200
Intel P3500 400GB
Intel 10G X540-T1
Dell PERC H310
The E5-1660 V3 is indeed unlocked, and yes, the samples we have are 24/7/*** stable at VID and 4.0 GHz across all cores. Traditional stability testing found no fault after two weeks of stress tests. This overclock has increased license utilization by ~25%, equating to ~20K a year. This board, actually the whole project, easily paid for itself.
We would not have experimented with the X99-E WS if Intel had some high-TDP/high-clock SKUs that utilize highly-binned Xeons. As seen in the consumer i7-4790K, Haswell is capable of running at higher frequency at the cost of power. Intel just needs to make it happen.
This motherboard has been such a success at work that I bought one myself, and have seen much of the same stability and performance with very similar components (Xeon/ECC).
***Up-Time Since BIOS update as of 4/14/2015: 101 Days.
This review is from: ASUS P9D-M Micro ATX Server Motherboard LGA 1150 DDR3 1600/1333
Pros: Class-Exclusive PCI arrangement. Jumpers everywhere for the control freak. ECC support. Nice mATX form factor.
Working VT-d, so ESXi 5.5 is set up right. The assured reliability of ECC makes this a dead stable virtualization platform for light use and little resource contention. Much cheaper than a 1P or 2P E5 setup.
Cons: Long boots, but that is expected with server boards. Did not work with PERC H310 until the pins B5 and B6 were covered with electrical tape because of a well documented bug with Intel's SM Bus since LGA 1366.
Dual channel memory bandwidth leaves something to be desired compared to LGA 2011.
Other Thoughts: Used a few spare parts lying around to make a compact, yet speedy virtualization server, and even a virtualized "desktop" with the GPU and USB passthrough.
Intel Xeon E3 1240 V3
Kingston KVR16E11K4/32 (32GB)
PERC H310, Low Profile
Sapphire HD 7750, Low Profile, PCIe Passthrough
Buffalo PCIe USB 3.0, Low Profile, PCIe Passthrough
Intel E10G42BTDA Fiber GBIC, Low Profile
x4 Crucial M4 256GB RAID 10 with 750GB 2.5" backup
Seasonic 360W G Series
Silverstone Milo ML03B
Pros: - Excellent acoustics for a blower-type fan-sink.
- Out of the box runs with a temperature target of 79°C and will adjust its clocks, voltages and fan speeds to give optimum performance all while maintaining quiet operation.
-Only 10.5" in length, so many small form factor cases can easily fir this card (Node 304, Prodigy, Elite 120, etc.).
- An ideal Nvidia solution for 2560x1440 displays, I run most new games maxed out (don't need as much AA at higher resolution, but every other setting is dialed to the max).
- Game play is much smoother than Crossfire or SLI.
- 7 and 1/2 hours GPUGrid long run.
- Extremely stable with the newest 331.65 WHQL driver.
- Much lower typical power consumption (50W+!) compared to R9 290/R9 290X.
- A reasonable amount of overclocking headroom (~100 MHZ), given a bump in the power threshold.
Cons: - Is louder than the EVGA ACX 780 by about 3-4 dB under load, which is not entirely noticeable.
- Some heat is still propelled into you case out the end of the card.
- Greatly reduced double precision floating point performance vs. Titan.
- A bit pricey compared to it's newer AMD competition, even after a recent price drop.
- Slight coil whine under rare instances, nothing too concerning.
Other Thoughts: 28nm has reached the end of it's life with these cards; buy anything more powerful than a GTX 780 and you are going to be thermally limited on the stock/aftermarket cooling, and overclocking them would require watercooling to maintain noise levels. Noise is a very important consideration with an ITX system, especially one that sits close to it's user. A GPU is not supposed to imitate a space heater or a jet turbine. Wait for 20nm if you already have 280X/770 or above.READ FULL REVIEW