Sunday, December 1, 2019

Asus ROG Strix X299-E Gaming II Mainboard (LGA 2066, Socket R4)

  • Intel X299 LGA 2066 ATX motherboard 
  • for Intel Core X-series processors
  • 12 power stages 
  • on-board Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
  • 2.5/1 Gbps dual LAN
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2
  • SATA, three M.2
  • OLED and Aura Sync RGB lighting

CPU Support

Can X299 be the most lasting Intel chipset of this past decade? It actually supports CPUs from more series for more than 2 years now - 7000, 9000 and incoming 10000 Skylake X processors (but all are 14nm still).

How so very unlike Intel to do something nice and commendable like that... and wow, the new X299 CPUs cost an amazing 50% less this time too. Overnight doubling performance per cost ratio, an instant win!? Should we thank Intel... or perhaps more rightly so, AMD instead? No need to answer that since it is brain dead crystal clear.


Surprising subdued small box for such a large socketed well featured HEDT motherboard.


A definite good heft to this model, clues one straightaway to the solid build. Eye pleasing aesthetics in matte black with cool white ROG prints on both sides of the PCB. Generous screwed down hunky heatsinks connected by a flat heatpipe with active cooling from a cleverly hidden fan (spot it yet?). LiveDash OLED is here too, oh wow such a beauty!

The Foxconn R4 socket is fully populated wtih caps both front and back. Even the plastic socket protector screams ROG!

Reassuring dual 8 pin metal reinforced EATX12V power sockets so no worry about inadequate power or overheating here.

Ample storage options abound - both SATA and M.2

A diagnostic onboard LED is always a welcome sight for tinkerers. Note the metal reinforced PCI-e slots. A solitary nondescript power button is present while the usual accompanying reset button is nowehere to be seen, guess this model may be solid enough to never hang... lol (of course, the reset headers are still there)

Supported Operating Systems

Officially, Asus seems to be supporting only Windows 10 x64 as can be seen from the availability of drivers solely for that OS.

During testing. Windows 7 x64 was also successfully installed via an updated patched USB flashdrive albeit with a couple of missing minor drivers*, Booting into the latest Linux Mint 19.2 x64 was totally without issue, just had to run GSAT for testing o'c RAM stability.

* ACPI0003E and INT\3451 iirc


Featuring the industry leading Asus UEFI still with unmatched features, usability and friendliness. Just a few screenshots for illustration.

Specific core tweaking is interesting and very versatile in that it allows choice of which core to overclock at your specified speed and voltage. Very nice!

Test Setup

Intel i7-7820X - this CPU has a slightly interesting history behind it.

A while ago, my usual SLS retailer was tasked to inform ASAP of any X299 CPU stock but they never ever got back to me (till now, 2+ years later!). Guess AMD Ryzen just plain rightly flattened the X299 platform first launch (cheap grease TIM in HEDT, what!?). So only managed to buy this particular CPU used and after testing, the reason why the original user sold it became clear... it just ran too hot even at at stock (92C with Cinebench R20). There is simply no meaningful core overclocking to be done. Probably just needs to be RMAed or delidded, going to do so right after all this sharing is done - subject matter more suited for another sharing.

Update - OK, just couldn't endure the Intel thermal grease situation anymore so delidded and metal regreased the sucker (it took multiple redos, ^%#@Intel). Too little stock thermal grease was inside with very poor spread, almost as if Intel had intentionally crippled this unlocked chip to run hot at stock to pre-empt any overclocking. So just Rockit baby and party like it is 1999 (bless his soul, ol' long gone Prince).

The 7000 series of Skylake-X processors exemplifies a big part of what went wrong with Intel's original X299 launch - too rushed to meet the Ryzen challenge, too costly for its performance and too much cost cutting eg. grease TIM in expensive high power high core count HEDT processors. Latter 9000 and the incoming 10000 series processors have reverted to soldered TIM so overheating is less of an issue. Availability of these chips is another headache for local fans cos SG shops seem not too keen to stock them.

Asus ROG Strix X299-E Gaming II Mainboard
Pre-unloved used Intel i7-7820X
4 x 8GB Crucial Ballistix DDR4-3200 sticks
Micron MX300 SSD
AMD Radeon R9 290 4GB
Corsair RM1000 PSU
Noctua NH-D14 with stock dual fans (Yes, 22nd November 2019 SG air)
Windows 1903 fresh install with latest updates

Do keep a critical eye on the beautiful motherboard sensor temps too and not just the CPU... afterall, this SIC is actually for the Strix Gaming II. Focus, focus and focus...

Picture Imperfect

This is the initial horror show with the stock shameful Intel crap TIM. Note that the Strix Gaming II mobo still ran nice and cool despite the dastardly Intel companion with its water boiling temps on all loaded cores. Yep, real scorching numbers, you can just read 'em and weep or ...

Take this lousy 2nd hand CPU as a good challenge since few of us get good handpicked cherry samples anyway. Think the quality of the Strix Gaming II mobo made it that much easier to conquer the crappy runt CPU in the end.

General consensus seems to favour big water cooling for X299 even in cooler temperate countries so staying  with air cooling in tropical SG was also a big part of the challenge. A big clue to the heat trapping within the CPU was that heatsinks themselves remained cool despite high CPU load temps / repeated remounts / changing to different proven heatsinks etc...


Before we move on, let's check out another Intel's bugbear - hacks and patches. For now, InSpectre reports clear!

CPU-Z Bench

Here it apparently matches the 7900X once o'ced

Cinebench R15

Cinebench R20

Specific Core Tweaking

If your CPU cores are unevenly binned like mine, this may be interesting to you. Not much info about this feature is found on the web, there seems to be only earlier reports of buggy implementation on other brand models (see this - "bugged?").

So naturally, I just had to try it out. :)

To reduce and even out the max load temps, 3 cooler cores were set to 46x and 2 hotter ones were set to 44x. Check out the results and new temps, worth the little effort invested?

CPU-Z bench reports this overclock as slightly faster than the previous gen, 10C/20T i7-6950X. On air, the max load temps are still toasty but there isn't any thermal throttling reported.

Asus Realbench 2.56

For old time's sake, this used to be one of my old fave benchmarks but now it looks like Cinebench R20 loads processor cores much harder. Running with OpenCL unticked thus no scores, just checking max load temps out of curiosity.

S3 Sleep/Resume OK!

Something I no longer do as part of my regular test routine ever since SSDs became mainstream but S3 sleep and resume do work nicely on this model.


Check out der8auer's (“the Builder”) review video - this is the guy who blew apart the original Intel X299 launch with his VRM debacle report.

Think he really sums it up very succinctly with the title of "Too late but great" and his comments "... much much better" (~4:10" mark) than the earlier Strix E/XE Gaming iterations.

Achtung! video in Deutsche, running hot with 18 cores.

Why Go Intel?

Compatibility - some software still has an obvious Intel bias, sometimes even hardware/drivers too
AVX512 feature - AMD still lacks this
DPC latency - some still swear by Intel for digital audio work
Hates red, bleeds blue blood when cut, Intel Blue of course (#0071c5 - 0% red, 44.31% green and 77.25% blue)
You caught Micro Center's infamous Intel Skylake-X blowout sales
Hackintosh, insanity, dementia, office set ie. someone else is paying etc... and other unmentionables
Others... discussion article, dated March 2019

Other Notes

Asus ROG X299 Support Forum
Single POST even when overclocked
BIOS option to disable Armoury Crate (still, see below)
Slow shutdown and reboots -  one likely culprit is AsusUpdateCheck.exe 

Initial Impressions

Attractive, well built, well featured and stable X299 motherboard.

The Strix Gaming II model is definitely a good choice for anyone still considering a X299 setup. Exploring specific core overclocking was quite fun and rewarding cos it allowed nitty gritty tweaking of core speed and voltage till max load temps were within 5C of each other. Satisfied my micro-management OCD inclinations and it took a good motherboard to salvage a bad chip situation.

Again, this particular model is rated highly by der8auer but do remember he had also said that the Intel X299 platform may have just taken too long to mature.
As good as a design and builld as the X299 Strix Gaming II is, there is no running away from the fact that it is built on an aging chipset lacking PCI-e 4.0 and is also tied to a very tired overstretched 14nm++ processor family. For now, AMD has the X299 platform nice and tightly choked squeezed with both mainstream Ryzen 3000 and high-end Threadripper 3 modern 7nm offerings.

Scoring - minus 1 point for being so late to the game and minus 1 more for its dated X299 foundations. In short, Tarzan mode summary - Asus build good, Intel platform meh!

Overall score, a solid 8. 

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Asus ROG Strix Helios GX601 Gaming Case

Official Product Specs

Asus Global
Asus SG


ATX mid-tower - N.W. 18 kg, 250 x 565 x 591 mm (WxDxH)
Bundled 4 x 140mm 0.3A non-LED fans


Newegg (check out Sean W.'s 5 Eggs feedback for his non-Asus mobo build!)

Ban Leong Online

Official Asus Motto





Truly recommend opting for an online purchase with doorstep delivery whenever possible cos this case is really solid heavy and the retail box is huge for extra protection.


Just a selection to highlight the salient points of this case

Clean tempered smoked glass facade brandishing prominent ROG logo with RGB lighting effect, I/O panel most suited for floor standing placement.

2 top handles of rather thick Aluminum  to bear the wright of everything, sturdy velcro strap with more ROG branding. Finely meshed ventilation top panel.

Thick tempered smoked glass sides (4mm thick) with quick release push button mechanism allowing immediate access to the interior. More ROG branding seen in the form of a small cloth label, note the noise/vibration dampening foam strip for the side panels.

Case factory label with date of manufacture. Single exhaust fan with adjustable moorings. Note the bottom mounted PSU with dampening foam rests.


Expansive spacious interior thanks especially to the depth allowing Big Freaking Giant GPUs of up to 450mm lengths. Good straight forward positive ventilation with front to back stock 3 intake and 1 exhaust 140mm fans. Note the X-Y axis adjustable GPU support mechanism. Interesting ROG wordings on the PSU shroud in multiple languages too.


Acrylic swing door panel for hiding the bundled fan hub and cable management, this is anchored by 2 Phillips screws. A missed opportunity to opt for a tool-free mechanism either with a snap on design or maybe thumbscrews.

Secure case placement with rubberized feet  . Note the oversized removable sliding dust mesh for easy regular maintenance.

Test placement of the Asus ROG Crosshair VI Extreme motherboard, eATX sized model. 2cm gap from the bottom, 6cm from the top and way way more than sufficient clearance from the front for fat rads and BFG cards.

Rather surprising small bundle leaving out the vertical GPU riser cable for such a high end case.

Initial Impressions

Very strong early effort from Asus for their modern gaming case series, surely more hits than misses. It's been a very long time coming since their functional Elan Vital and teenager Vento case series days of yore.

Clearly, this model is not meant for everybody but is aimed confidently at the well heeled Asus ROG enthusiast instead. The value and worth should perhaps be assessed in this light. Willingness to pay the Asus premium commanded by the exclusive ROG branding is obviously a personal propensity. It is indeed the first and for now, the only official ROG case from Asus itself.

Overall, the GX601 definitely ticks a lot of right boxes with room for improvement in certain areas like better bundling.

Branding satiation for ROG devotees
Solid build, all 18kg of it
RGB bling with Asus Aura Sync support
Clever seamless material mix of thick brushed Alu, steel, tempered glass, acrylic, ABS..
Fantastic overall looks with tasteful LED lighting, matte finishing (no fingerprints!), tight seams and double riveted joints
Supports both tall air coolers (190mm max) and large water coolers (420 rads)
Supports super long (max 450mm) and heavy GPUs (built-in adjustable GPU rests)
Supports motherboard sizes from mITX to eATX
Supports 4 x 2.5", 2 x 3.5" storage devices (remember gaming case, not storage/server case)
Bundled fan hub
Vertical GPU placement alternative
Caters for cable management, easy dust filter maintenance
Very easy push button access to case interior
I/O panel has great functionaility including LED, fan toggle switches

Pretty penny SRP (else do consider the well regarded TUF Gaming GT501 too)
Vertical GPU riser cable and 12V ATX extension cable are optional items
Tough to move around,  all 18kg of it
Screwdriver needed for assembly, missed opportunities for more thumbscrews and clip mechanisms