INCREASED LANEWAY, GRAPHICS CARDS AND PCIE SSDS
The problem with all gamers and power users since the beginning of time is the lack of lanes by which to run components directly to the CPU. With original Haswell processors, we were limited to 16 lanes, whereas the newest Intel Core i7-5820K has 28 lanes and enthusiasts are very vocal in their disappointment. It seems that Intel, in all their wisdom, wanted us to pay for that high traffic 40 lane highway found in the i7-5930K and i7-5960K and prices of these three processors can be found at $389 (5820K), $579 (5930K) and a whopping $1049 for our sample Intel Core i7-5960X. Looking at graphics card configurations alone, the 5820K may present some concern for those wanting to run a triple GPU configuration.
The ASRock X99 Formula OC motherboard has five PCIe 3.0 x16 by which slots 1 and 2 can be used for a dual x16 CrossfireX or SLI, 1,2 and 4 (x8/x8/x16) for 3 cards and 1,2.4 and 5 (x8/x8/x8x/x8) for a 4-card configurations, all using a 40 lane CPU of course. As soon as we can get our hands on a dual x16 Gfx cards combo, we will do some testing to see if we can completely fill all 40 lanes (ie Dual x16 SLI, Intel P3700 NVMe and Samsung XP941 X4 M2). Click on the below picture for a very high-resolution image.
Presently, we are running the EVGA GTX 770 (X16), Intel P3700 NVME SSD (X4), Samsung XP941 M.2 X4 SSD, Samsung 840 Pro SSD, and switching off between another Intel and the Crucial M.2 SATA SSD for test purposes. It is nowhere near what is possible to maximize lane usage, but we do hope to up this with some effective SLI testing in the near future.
X99 SSD PERFORMANCE TESTING
We make it a habit to not check out other reports and reviews that might tie into what we are doing, but in this case it might have saved us a bit of time. Our initial testing of the Intel X99 chip on the ASRock OC Formula brought in some less than impressive results and our main concern was whether it might be the ASRock boards fault; we don’t think so. Had we checked out 27 or so X99 motherboard reviews (of several manufacturers) previously, we would have wondered why not a single posted review has an AS SSD, Crystal DiskMark or Anvil Storage Utilities benchmark included in its native format.
To clarify, we could find plenty of charts that speak of these tests where the finer results are displayed, but none that displayed the full picture. Even less showed low 4K random write performance. Kudo’s to Legit Reviews who were the only that we could find to post this report that provides a very interesting 4K write perspective with respect to the boards they tested. Do you wonder why the Z-Series board performed better than all X-Series boards? In the motherboard world that might not seem too obvious but, in the storage world, this is a red flag just looking for attention.
X99 BENCHMARKS -INTEL P3700 NVME SSD
Can you identify the difference between the two benchmarks? The benchmark on the left is from a Z97 chipset and the result on the right is with the new X99 chipset. At first, one might think that the X99 performance is improved because of the high sequential results, however, below those high sequential speeds lie 4k performance that is significantly lower for both read and write performance. Thinking it may be the responsibility of our system OS, we conducted the test again with a fresh installation of Windows 8.1, all drivers installed and the BIOS optimized:
We had to admit we were very impressed with 4K-64Thrd results but, 4k read and write performance was still very low. The lesson learned here was to ensure all of our tests on the X99 board were conducted with this fresh OS. There is definitely a tradeoff between the lower 4K and the much higher 4K-64Thrd results than seen previously. How did this translate in Crystal DiskMark though?