Intel may not have offered a new ultra-enthusiast platform to go with its new Broadwell-E processors, but motherboard manufacturers wouldn't like you to let you plug the 10-core Intel Core i7-6950X into an old board. No, they've refreshed their Intel X99 motherboard line-ups with new features and scintillating (quite literally) designs. Here's a look at three of the newest boards from ASUS, MSI, and Gigabyte.
The ASUS ROG Strix X99 Gaming is the first motherboard from ASUS to feature the ROG Strix branding. Its solid black PCB and heatsinks may look muted at first, but don't let that fool you. This board boasts ASUS' Aura RGB lighting, and the PCIe slot clips, PCH heatsink, and I/O cover will light up in a rainbow of colors when the board is powered on.
The motherboard comes bundled with three different colored decals that you can stick onto the PCH heatsink and I/O cover to match the color of the onboard LEDs that you can preset.
The first PCIe slot has been reinforced with metal, a design ASUS has dubbed SafeSlot. An insert-molding process integrates metal with the slot, which is then firmly anchored to the PCB with additional solder points.
There's an additional 4-pin CPU header to supply more power to the chip during overclocking. But if you aren't overclocking, the system will boot just fine with only the 8-pin header connected.
The power and reset switches are located at the bottom of the board. On their left, you can also see the 4-pin RGB header, which will allow you to connect an external LED strip (assuming it's compatible with ASUS' Aura feature) and sync it to the onboard lighting.
The MSI X99A XPower Gaming Titanium brings the Titanium branding to MSI's Intel X99 motherboards. Its titanium-colored PCB helps it stand out from the sea of boards, and it comes crammed chock full of overclocking features to satisfy enthusiasts.
The heatsinks match the PCB, and feature a nice grainy texture and a mirror-like finish for the MSI dragon logo.
All five full-length PCIe slots feature MSI's Steel Armor, which reinforces the slots with metal and additional solder points. This supposedly helps the slots withstand the weight of heavy cards, and shields the PCIe signals from electromagnetic interference.
There's a fairly beefy heatsink located below the I/O cover. The heatsink is in turn connected via a heatpipe to the VRM heatsink, which should theoretically help with heat dissipation.
The upper right quadrant of the board houses all manner of overclocking-oriented buttons and DIP switches. The red button is the Game Boost knob, which allows you to overclock the CPU manually by tweaking the BCLK value.
The Gigabyte X99 Ultra Gaming features Gigabyte's familiar red-and-white color scheme. If that isn't striking enough, this board also comes with a full array of onboard LEDs around the PCIe and RAM slots. These are fully customizable, and you can also choose from a variety of lighting effects.
Like the ASUS and MSI motherboards, the PCIe slots have been beefed-up with metal to prevent damage from heavy graphics cards. The Gigabyte board also features two M.2 sockets, and you can even install a Wi-Fi module in one of them.
Here's a look at the rear I/O ports. The two circular cutouts are actually Wi-Fi antenna connector holes, in case you wish to install a third-party Wi-Fi module.
The RAM slots have been reinforced with metal shielding as well. In addition, the board features a heatpipe that links the VRM and PCH heatsinks.