ASUS WS X299 Sage Work Station Motherboard Review
Published: 6th March 2018 | Source: ASUS | Price: |
Often when we're reviewing a product we try and cover the needs of the people who are absolutely interested and are reading this to inform a purchase they've already got shortlisted, and also those of you who kindly read everything we review, or perhaps even are just in the market for a new system without knowing what they will base it around. For the large majority of products we can be all inclusive, or at least we try to be. Too many sites are dry and technical, something we've always strived to avoid. We like our relationship with our audience to more akin to good friends chatting over a beer, one of whom just happens to be an expert on the item about which you have questions. After all, if you wanted marketing speak or tedious technical things you'd just go to the manufacturers website and read their stuff.
However, the WS X299 Sage is such a niche product that we feel it would be wrong to suggest that it is suitable for all and have you wonder if it ticks your particular boxes. That isn't to say that it's a bad motherboard, far from it, just that in the same way we often wonder why people buy ATX motherboards when they have no plans on using more than one GPU, to buy the Sage and no plan on populating at least four of the PCI Express slots is completely wasting its capabilities and your investment. After all, those PLX chips don't come cheap. The Sage isn't difficult to use per se, it simply requires a certain level of knowledge and willingness to invest time getting it "just so" before it reveals its full potential. If you only require a build and forget motherboard there are many others we'd recommend before this one. However, if you require its particular set of charms then you'll be well rewarded.
The needs of the Enterprise market are different to that of the mainstream. Mainstream products are designed to be good at stock, perhaps even with a few tweaks to the BIOS to mildly overclock the CPU even at "stock" so as to appear faster than the competition. With Enterprise there are no so concessions, and in fact the primary concern is efficiency and low thermals so that you can buy confident that your investment will work faultlessly for many many years, without bankrupting the company with enormous energy bills. Thus this cautious approach means that the i9-7900 we use as the basis of our X299 reviews was running as cool as we've ever seen it, but at the expense of a little bit of performance when compared to more gamer orientated motherboards. It's not a negative, it's just an alternative approach. Once you recalibrate your brain to understand the Sage isn't looking for balls-to-the-wall performance at all costs it makes a lot of sense.
That isn't to say that it isn't extremely capable if you're willing to give it a damn good thrashing. It overclocks freely and, with the extraordinary effort ASUS have made towards keeping the power stages cool, without ever thermally throttling. The Sage might have often found itself at the foot of our graphs in stock, but when overclocked it was trading blows with some heavy hitters. Even more beneficial is the insane amount of PCI Express lanes available. Those PLX chips combine with seven PCI Express slots to free up more bandwidth than you could saturate with the most extreme system. If you've ever fancied going all in on chasing a quad-GPU 3D Mark world record there has rarely been a motherboard better suited, yet it's equally adept with having a suite of compute chips pumping out insane TFLOP performance.
The ASUS WS X299 Sage is a robust platform that rewards all the time you invest in obtaining the maximum from it, whilst giving you enough connectivity and expansion options to ensure it is never the limiting factor in your setup. It is most certainly not for the run at stock crowd, but if you put in the time you'll be handsomely rewarded.