Computing

Motherboard X299 Aorus Gaming 3 Review

Written by Tyler Rondman

Motherboard X299 Aorus Gaming 3 Review

We decided to get back on the bench and look at the Gigabyte X299 Aorus Gaming 3 motherboard.

If you have been following our motherboard reviews, you will remember we looked at the X299 Aorus Gaming 7 and the more expensive X299 Aorus Gaming 9. Comparing their features, we found there is not much difference between them.

The big question is, “How well does the X299 Aorus gaming series compare to its bigger siblings?” The X299 is the smallest model in the range.
One thing is for sure, this is a high-end motherboard supporting the latest Intel Skylake-X processors to the new i9-7900X.
Now only one question remains, how well does it compare to its feature-packed Gigabyte Aorus Gaming 9 and 7 big brothers? Let us find out.

Packing and Packaging

The first thing you notice is the X299 might not be as feature-packed at the Gaming 9, but supports 8 x DDR4 DIMMs, USB Type C and A, Optane Support, RGB lighting, M.2 and more, it’s sure to be a great start to any high-end gaming PC. You receive the X299 board Aorus Gaming 3 in a large box and include a DVD with drivers and utilities, a user’s manual, four SATA cables and a bracket for the rear panel of the connectors.

Configuration and Features of the X299 Board

To help you with the configuration and features of the X299 gaming board we have made a summary table for ease of use. Further, on in our review, you will find in depth details of the features and their functions.

Supported processors Intel Core-X (Skylake-X, Kaby Lake-X)
Processor Chipset LGA 2066
Chipset Intel X299
Memory 8 × DDR4 (the maximum amount depends on the processor)
Audio subsystem Realtek ALC1220
Network Controller 1 × Intel i219V
Expansion Slots 2 × PCI Express 3.0 x16
1 × PCI Express 3.0 x8 (in the form factor PCI Express 3.0 x16)
2 × PCI Express 3.0 x4 (in the form factor PCI Express 3.0 x16)
2 × M.2
SATA Connectors 8 × SATA 6 GB / s
USB Ports 10 × USB 3.0
2 × USB 3.1
4 × USB 2.0
Rear Connectors 1 × USB 3.1 (Type-A)
1 × USB 3.1 (Type-C)
6 × USB 3.0
1 × RJ-45
1 × PS / 2
6 audio connectors of the mini-jack type
Internal connectors 24-pin ATX power connector
8-pin ATX 12V
8 × SATA 6 GB / s
2 × M.2
power connector 8 connectors for 4-pin fans
2 connectors for USB 3.0
ports
2 USB 2.0 ports 2 connectors RGB (RGBW) LED strip
1 connector Digital LED strip
2 connectors for temperature sensors
1 connector Intel VROC Upgrade Key
Form Factor ATX (305 × 244 mm)
average price 19990 RUB.

Design

The X299 Aorus Gaming 3 board has a sleek design and made in the same ATX form factor as its bigger brother. The only difference is it measures 305 x 244mm and has nine pre-drilled holes for mounting into a PC. Here are some of the standout features on the motherboard:

Chipset and processor socket

The X299 Aorus Gaming 3 board is designed on the same concept as the on the new Intel X299 chipset. Furthermore, it supports an Intel Core-X processor (Kaby Lake-X and Skylake-X) with LGA 2066 connector.

Memory

There are eight DIMM slots provided for installing the DDR4 memory modules. However, you need to note if you plan using a 4-core Kaby Lake-X processor with a dual-channel memory controller – you can only use four of the memory slots. The maximum supported memory is 64 GB (non-ECC Un-buffered DIMM). When using Skylake-X processors with a four-channel memory controller, you can use all eight slots, and the maximum amount of supported memory will be 128 GB (non-ECC Un-buffered DIMM).

Expansion slots, M.2 connectors

To install video cards, expansion cards and drives on the X299 Aorus Gaming 3 motherboard, there are five slots with a PCI Express x16 form factor and two M.2 connectors.

The 1st and 3rd slots (if taken from the processor socket) are applied, based on PCIe 3.0 processor lines. These are PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots and can work at x16 speed (depending on the processor used). These slots indicated on the PCIEX16_1 and PCIEX16_2 cards.

The 2nd slot (if taken from the processor socket) is a PCI Express 3.0 x 4 slots. The slots found on the PCIe 3.0 processor lines. This slot is marked on the PCIEX4_1 card.

The 5th slot also has the same applied based on the PCIe 3.0 processor lines and is a PCI Express 3.0 x 8 slots. This slot is marked on the PCIEX8 board.

However, the 4th slot has a PCI Express x16 form factor. The slot is already applied on the same basis of the four PCIe 3.0 chipset lines and is a PCI Express 3.0 x 4 slots. This slot is marked on the PCIEX4_2 card.

The slots operating modes PCIEX16_1, PCIEX16_2, PCIEX4_1, and PCIEX8 depend on the processor used. If you can recall you may remember that the Intel Core-X family there are processors with 16 lines of PCIe 3.0 (processors of the Kaby Lake-X family), and also with 28 and 44 lines of PCIe 3.0 (processors of the Skylake-X family).

The user’s manual indicates that X299 Aorus Gaming 3 board supports AMD CrossFireX and Nvidia SLI technology, but only for three video cards in the version of processors with 44 lines of PCIe 3.0 and for two video cards in the version of the processor with 28 and 16 lines of PCIe 3.0.

In the version of the processor with 44 PCIe 3.0 lines, the PCIEX16_1, PCIEX16_2 and PCIEX8 slots are used for video cards, and the mode of operation is as follows: x16 / – / -, x16 / x16 / – or x16 / x16 / x8. In addition to PCIEX16_1, PCIEX16_2, and PCIEX8 slots, PCIEX4_1 slot is also available (not used for video cards).

In the version of the processor with 28 lines, the PCIe 3.0 is for video cards only PCIEX16_1, PCIEX16_2 slots are used. Their mode of operation is as follows: x16 / -, x16 / x8. The PCIEX8 slot is not available in this case, and the PCIEX4_1 slot will be available, but not for video cards.

In the version of the processor with 16 PCIe 3.0 lines, only PCIEX16_1 and PCIEX16_2 slots are used for video cards, and their mode of operation is x8 / – or x8 / x4. The PCIEX8 and PCIEX4_1 slots are inaccessible in this case.

In the version of the processor with 16 lines of PCIe 3.0, the slots operating mode with the PCI Express x16 form factor one cannot consider it as optimal. But it is much cheaper.

In general, in comparison with the X299 Aorus Gaming 9 and X299 Aorus Gaming 7 boards, which have exactly the same number of slots with the PCI Express x16 form factor, the X299 Aorus Gaming 7 board is as simple as possible. There are no PCIe 3.0 line switches. The result is not very optimal, but very cheap.

In addition to the slots with PCI Express x16 form factor, two M.2 connectors (M2P_32G and M2Q_32G) on X299 Aorus Gaming 7 board support both SATA- and PCIe-drives. These connectors are implemented through the Intel X299 chipset. Each port has 4 PCIe 3.0 ports and one SATA port.

The M2P_32G connector supports 2260/2280/22110 drives, and the M2Q_32G connector supports size 2242/2260/2280 drives.

SATA Ports

For connecting drives or optical drives on the board, eight SATA 6 GB / s ports are provided, which are based on an integrated controller in the Intel X299 chipset. These ports support the ability to create RAID arrays of levels 0, 1, 5, 10.

USB Connectors

To connect all kinds of peripherals on the board, there are loads of USB 3.0 ports, two USB 3.1 ports, and four USB 2.0 ports. Another standout is that all the USB 2.0 ports and USB 3.0 ports are applied throughout the Intel X299 chipset. Of the ten USB 3.0 chipset ports, six ports are connected to the back panel of the board. To connect four more ports on the board there are two more connectors. Four USB 2.0 ports are also available via two connectors on the board.

The ASMedia ASM3142 controller is connected to the chipset via two PCIe 3.0 lines and gives two USB 3.1 ports on the output. Both ports are connected to the back panel of the board, with one port designed as a Type-C connector and the other port has a Type-A connector.

Network Interface

To connect to the network on the X299 Aorus Gaming 3 board, there is a gigabit network interface based on the Intel i219V PHY-level controller.

Additional Features

In comparison with the X299 Aorus Gaming 9 and X299 Aorus Gaming 7 boards the X299 Aorus Gaming 3 board, does not have many added features. But there are a few we can mention.

To begin with, there is a power button and an OC button for automatic system overclocking. As it turned out during testing, the OC button allows overclocking the Core i7-7900X processor up to 4.7 GHz. Another feature is the presence of two connectors for connecting temperature sensors. There is also a special connector Intel VROC Upgrade Key, which is standard for motherboards based on the Intel X299 chipset.

The next feature of the board is the implementation of RGB-backlighting. The backlighting here, of course, is rather modest (especially in comparison with the X299 Aorus Gaming 9 and X299 Aorus Gaming 7 boards): only two PCI Express x16 slots and a chipset radiator is highlighted. On the back of the board, the audio tracks zone contours highlighted.

The backlight is customizable: you can choose not only the color, but also the type (pulsation, static, etc.). Backlight adjustment is possible in the BIOS Setup or using the special utility RGB Fusion.

There are also connectors for connecting the LED strip. Two connectors are five-pin (12V / G / R / B / W) for connection of RGB-tapes, one is a five-pin (12V / D / G / D / 5V) digital “Digital LED Strip Extension Cable Header.”

The tape itself is three-pin, but the power supply can be 12 V or 5 V. On the last connector, you can connect the tape to both the 5 V and 12 V cables through the adapter cable. Note that the adapter cables for connecting the tapes are not included in the package.

Supply System

The power supply system of the X299 Aorus Gaming 3 board is the same as the X299 Aorus Gaming 7 board. The processor voltage regulator is complex. Eight power phases are allocated to the processor cores (Vcore), an 8-phase PWM controller IR35201 powers these phases, and the feed channels themselves are based on the IR3556 chip base. For voltage VccSA and VccIO, the PWM controller IR35204 (one phase on VccSA and VccIO) answers, and the power channels themselves are based on MOSFET chips IR3553.

Cooling System

The cooling system of the X299 Aorus Gaming 3 board consists of two radiators. One radiator designed to remove heat from the elements of the processor voltage regulator. Another radiator designed to cool the chipset.

In addition, to create an effective heat sink system on the board, there are 2 by four-pin connectors for connecting CPU cooler fans, 4 by four-pin connectors for connecting the fan, and two more connectors can be used for either connecting fans or a water-cooling pump.

Audio subsystem

The audio subsystem of the X299 Aorus Gaming 3 board is very simple and based on the Realtek ALC1220 codec. There are no additional DACs and operational amplifiers here.

There are six mini-jacks (3.5 mm) on the back panel of the board.

To test the output audio path for connecting headphones or external acoustics, we used the external sound card Creative E-MU 0204 USB in conjunction with the utility Right Mark Audio Analyzer 6.3.0. The test was conducted in the stereo mode, 24-bit / 44.1 kHz. Based on the test results, the audio track rated “Good.”

Uneven response (in the range 40 Hz – 15 kHz), dB +0.01, -0.08 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A) -76.7 Mediocre
Dynamic range, dB (A) 76.8 Mediocre
Harmonic distortion,% 0,0052 Very good
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB (A) -71.8 Mediocre
Intermodulation distortion + noise,% 0.043 Good
Interpenetration of channels, dB -74.5 Good
Intermodulation at 10 kHz,% 0.023 Good
Overall rating Good

UEFI BIOS

If we talk about UEFI BIOS Setup, then it is absolutely the same as the X299 Aorus Gaming 9 boards. We will not reiterate ourselves.

Conclusion

In comparison with the X299 Aorus Gaming 9 and X299 Aorus Gaming 7 boards, the X299 Aorus Gaming 3 appears very modest. With the X299, you get a PCI Express x16 slots (without the use of PCIe 3.0 switches), only two M.2 connectors (there are three of them on Gaming 9 and Gaming 7), only one network controller, etc.

Comparing the X299, RGB-illumination of the board is rather primitive compared to its big brothers. There is not plenty buttons and no indicators of POST-codes. Everything is done at a minimum. With these comparisons taken into consideration, we feel the X299 Aorus Gaming 3 could be a bit cheaper.

As we see, the dissimilarity in cost between the older and younger models is quite adequate to the difference in their capabilities. If you do not need three M.2 connectors, an integrated Wi-Fi module, and two network gigabit adapters, the X299 Aorus Gaming 3 is a good option for a high-performance PC.

We feel skeptical about using the board for Gaming. You can find better gaming solutions available on the market.

About the author

Tyler Rondman

When he isn't enjoying the beautiful Northwest outdoors, you can find Tyler on business and tech sites, writing about the latest news, analyzing trends, and generally making the Internet a more interesting place.