Up For Debate - Are X99 Chipsets Worth Buying

Written by Kyle Echols on Sun, Jul 12, 2015 6:00 PM

It's been roughly a year since Intel's X99 arrived, but the question still remains as to whether there is value now in the platform. There are those of us who do not have excessive money kicking about to make a poor PC build decision. I, for one, had to make such a decision recently, and one wrong move can leave your PC performance and upgrade plans crippled for the next years. 

What that in mind, let’s break down the pros and cons of X99 and what you can expect from it. Firstly, it should be said that Intel X99 supports the Intel Core i7 Extreme and Intel Xeon E5-16xx Haswell-E processors, so the number of CPUs it's compatible with is actually extremely limited. What X99 did bring to the table, however, was the first DDR4 memory support.

DDR4 Memory

Despite sky-high prices this time last year, DDR4 is clearly becoming mainstream. With prices of DDR4 plummeting fast, you can easily find a wide range of ultra-performance RAM for reasonable prices. 16GB of DDR4 memory clocked at 3000MHz for $160, which isn't too much of a premium over the $120 you can expect for pay for 16GB of DDR3 clocked at 2400MHz.

However, DDR4 memory runs at 1.2v rather than the 1.5v standard for DDR3. It won't make too much of a difference on a gaming PC, equating to just 10-20W saving, but every little counts. Secondly, those speeds. DDR4 is typically much faster, as indicated by the clock speed. This means data can be transferred quicker. Ironically, this also causes a few problems - the latency of RAM is measured in ms, and is known as CAS. DDR4 is commonly CAS15, while DDR3 operates from CAS9 to CAS11. These two things counterbalance one another, giving an overall net boost in performance.

Ultimately, DDR4 is better, as you'd expect. That's the very reason it's been created. The DDR4 RAM you buy will be useful for many more years, since DDR3 is steadily being phased out. If DDR4 seemed like a waste of money before, the drop in prices means the reverse should now be true.  DDR4 RAM is much more valuable in the long-term.

X99 Motherboards

To go with X99 you need an X99 motherboard. These are still on the expensive side - you're typically looking at $240 - $340- but there are some very nice boards that can be had for the $160 range if you keep your eyes peeled for sales and rebates. More than that you should keep in mind that X99 CPUs offer the PCIe lanes on the CPU itself now. This means the motherboard should not have nearly as many overclocking limitations as previous boards, which will add more life to any quality CPU+Mobo combination. A penny spent is a penny earned? Perhaps.

CPUs Needed For X99 Builds

Last but not least, picking up an X99 motherboard means you're going to need a new processor to go with. As you saw earlier, both Intel Xeon E5-16xx  and Intel Core i7 Extreme Haswell-E processors are compatible. The former are designed for servers and workstations and aren't applicable to gaming, while the latter is enthusiast-tier gaming processors. 

An X99 i7-5820K 6-core behemoth can be had for as low as $299 if you are near a Microcenter for in-store pickup and ~$400 if bought online. This price easily competes with the top-tier i7 Haswell quad cores selling for only slightly less, such as the Core i7-4790K, which can be had for $340.

From a future-driven perspective, there’s likely no way a 6-core CPU will become obsolete within the next 5 or so years, bar something drastic happening. This is especially true considering how DirectX 12 will make systems less reliant on the CPU for gaming. 

X99 Example Build

  • CPU- Intel Core i7-5820k, Microcenter walk-in $299 (Link)
  • Cooler- Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO, at Amazon $31.24 (Link)
  • Motherboard- ASRock X99 Extreme3, at Newegg $156.98 with $40 promo (Link)
  • RAM- G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 16GB (4x4GB) DDR4 3000MHz CAS 15, at Newegg $169.99 (Link)

Total- $626.28

Z97 Example Build

  • CPU- Intel Core i5-4460, at Superbiiz $166.95 (Link)
  • Cooler- Included with CPU (Link)
  • Motherboard- Asus Z97-A ATX LGA1150, at NCIX $144.99 
  • RAM- G.Skill Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2400, at Newegg $89.99 (Link)

Total- $401.93

The price for the X99 build is around $220 more, but it's worth bearing in mind that the 4460 will not be able to overclock and the DDR3 RAM will not make the jump into future upgrades. However, does the $220 saving make it worth it to you? What would you do with that money if not placed into the CPU+MOBO+RAM? Let us know in the comments below!

Are X99 gaming rigs worth paying the extra cash for?

Login or Register to join the debate

Rep
219
Offline
admin approved badge
00:19 Jul-13-2015

IDK extra cash can buy this monster , you need a lost of money espically with a high end gpu

0
Rep
0
Offline
23:53 Jul-12-2015

at the end , I guess that they will let us need those ddr4 in a way or another in gaming in the future

1
Rep
90
Offline
22:22 Jul-12-2015

IMO. Yes, yes they are. Mainly becuase if you're serious, you want something futureproof and something that will high performance. 200$ isn't that much and you get much more with it. Worth it totally imo.

1
Rep
7
Offline
22:18 Jul-12-2015

am happy with my msi z97 gaming 5 with my 17-4790k oc @ 4.4 and 8 gb 1333hz of ddr3, if needed i could upgrade up to 32 gb and i believe that in gaming the ram speed doesnt matter when u have a dedicated GPU ( gtx 970 ssc from evga), it matters only for apu. DDR4 is useless for gaming. DX 12 please dont disappoint us.

1
Rep
17
Offline
22:09 Jul-12-2015

Combined i7 5960x with X99, the High Budget combination gaming i ever imagine..

0
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
21:57 Jul-12-2015

I think very few people realize that enthusiast market is being opened to public,
X99 is successor to X79, being huge leap forward from X79 which didn't even have native USB 3.0 support, i7-5820K costs slightly more than i7-4790K and can be OCed way more than i7-4790K so it's amazing deal if you accept the fact DDR4 is still fairly expensive and all X99 mobos offer a lot and so aren't exactly cheap

4
Rep
4
Offline
admin approved badge
21:59 Jul-12-2015

that was the point I was trying to make to my readers. Most PC gamers use i5's though so even if the 5820K is really competitive with the 4790K it's still priced in the i7 region (thereby making it enthusiast still). I came from a laptop so buying an X99 from scratch for future proofing made much more sense to me since I would not have to worry about pre-exising parts

1
Rep
8
Offline
00:20 Jul-13-2015

The 5820K can be oc'd more than the 4790K? If that's true, then as long as you can afford DDR4 RAM, X99 is definitely worth it.

0
Rep
181
Offline
admin approved badge
01:57 Jul-13-2015

X99 is worth it, moped over Fron z87/4770K to x99/5820K. Still worth it!

0
Rep
82
Offline
07:24 Jul-13-2015

I haven't actually thought of enthusiast market being opened to public,but yeah,that is actually the case.This is the argument that we all needed! :)

0
Rep
49
Offline
21:52 Jul-12-2015

my wallet voted no but my heart votes yes, there many advantages including performance but to me the main one is actually having an upgrade path if you stick at z97 the i7 4790k is the best u will ever get with the x99 the entry level hexcores outperform the 4 core cpu. if prices fall or things move on you could swap

1
Rep
49
Offline
21:53 Jul-12-2015

. . . your hex for an 8 core years away from now where as 4790k will need new boards new ram n a new cpu at the point of upgrade (the current price difference isnt much atm about £200 and where ur spending over £1000 anyway its worth the extra bucks)

1
Rep
49
Offline
21:57 Jul-12-2015

dont actually know the max core count for the socket but i know its mental and will kill anything for decades

1
Rep
2
Offline
21:44 Jul-12-2015

Probably not worth it because a good z97 build will keep you gaming carelessly for a couple of years, but... if i had money burning a hole in my pocket i would go for it

0
Rep
1
Offline
21:17 Jul-12-2015

No not imo, that money would be best spent on an even better gpu.

-1
Rep
15
Offline
admin approved badge
21:01 Jul-12-2015

Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope, and did I mention NOPE?

0
Rep
82
Offline
20:48 Jul-12-2015

They were,but now with Skylake they are not competitive.

-1
Rep
4
Offline
admin approved badge
20:54 Jul-12-2015

Skylake is still a quad core even if it is i7 so the hyperthreading doesn't help in games, meanwhile the price for the actual chip is $40 more over the 6-core 5820K if you don't mind walking into a Microcenter. This means that the i7-quad core 6700K for $339 might have less value over the 5820K hexacore for $299. It just depends on the buyer but the money for either because it is very close. I wonder if it will make people see X99 as the new value deal of the i7 lineups

3
Rep
82
Offline
21:48 Jul-12-2015

Since the prices are a bit crazy here in Croatia,i didn't know it actually cost more.But in games i7 4790K performs better then 5820K,So if you are a game developer,ofc you are gonna go with 6-core,but for gaming this could be better.Although I would buy it now,considering I now know it's actually cheaper.

-1
Rep
4
Offline
admin approved badge
22:38 Jul-12-2015

an overclocked 4790K only performs 1-3 frames per second better than a STOCK 5820K from the benchmarks I've seen. And when the 5820K is overclocked to 4.6GHz it's really just numbers after that of whose GPU is better

2
Rep
15
Offline
20:42 Jul-12-2015

It really depends on what you're doing with your computer. If you're just an average gamer, even a quad-core i7 is overkill, at least for now.

-1
Rep
4
Offline
admin approved badge
20:51 Jul-12-2015

Elakyn is correct. The only reason anyone needs more than a core-i5-4460 is because PC games keep pushing forward when consoles remain the same. If a PC gamer doesn't mind medium graphics (which are still quite superior to consoles) then the point of upgrading the CPU becomes even more irrelevant. The X99 platform is for enthusiasts and the comparison of prices was based on the latest quad i7 (not i5) to the 5820K. My article was meant to spur enthusiast discussion of value at the enthusiast level without dropping $1000 on the 5960X but maybe have a little of both worlds

0
Rep
319
Offline
admin badge
21:56 Jul-12-2015

Erm.. No I don't think the main reason for getting CPUs like i7s is gaming. It's mostly rendering or extreme multitasking (like running many VMs at once) and stuff like that I believe. Not to mention that in the vast majority of cases medium to ultrav graphics settings won't make the slightest difference to the CPU..

0
Rep
94
Offline
19:24 Jul-12-2015

If the normal CPUs like LGA 1150 sockets could support at least 24 PCIe lanes, we could use a 3 way SLI/Crossfire at X8 or a 2 way at X16 and X8. Those 8 lanes could also be used for SSD in PCIe or sound cards.

1
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
19:27 Jul-12-2015

yes, that's the main problem of the future, M.2 and SATA Express eat PCI lanes, so one can't even go 2-way SLI and speedy SSD, not even talking about Wi-Fi card or audio card, with current 1150 platform

0
Rep
386
Offline
admin approved badge
19:05 Jul-12-2015

Considering that DDR4 ram is going to become a standard in 2016/2017, that the i7 5820k is only 30$ more expensive than a i7 4790k and that asrock make the most reliable and cheap(as much as a mid-range z97 - 150-170$) x99 motherboards from what I've seen. Then I'd say hell yes the x99 is worth.
Now does one need it? For gaming - NO... Recently there have been many videos showing that a pentium g3258 plays 99% of the the games with 99-100% of the performance of a i7 5960x and a i7 5820k with only 2 cores enabled pretty much plays the newest AAA mainstream titles as good as a i7 5820k with all the cores and Hyper-Threading Enabled just goes to show that as long as we are stuck with DX 11...

2
Rep
386
Offline
admin approved badge
19:07 Jul-12-2015

...as long as we are stuck with DX 11 more than 2 core/threads with enough CACHE is enough. (DX 11 games like a lot of cache and fast cache more than core count and core performance).
When DX12 comes though, it will utilize up to 6 cores/threads from what AMD and Microsoft have said/shown so far, then the i7 5820k will be really worth it.

2
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
19:26 Jul-12-2015

and also if DX12 could efficiently make use of multiple graphics cards at once it might be pretty interesting to see 3 GTX750Ti's running (not in SLI though) being powered by mobo only :D

0
Rep
42
Offline
21:08 Jul-12-2015

+27

0
Rep
319
Offline
admin badge
22:01 Jul-12-2015

I think asrock motherboards are a bit crappy... Which explains why they are cheaper. I wouldnt recommend one for heavy overclocking and that kind of stuff. So that price of the x99 build is a bit misleading imo.. The mobo price should be like +100$. That's the typical price. And can go a lot higher too.

0
Rep
26
Offline
23:11 Jul-12-2015

Where do you base that on? Reviews show different results to me. This is a good (dutch) example

0
Rep
26
Offline
23:13 Jul-12-2015
0
Rep
319
Offline
admin badge
08:07 Jul-13-2015

Well on the prices I saw and still see here or in amazon. As for the asrock quality, I don't know about the specific x99 model but the total opinion I have formed about the brand in general. Had issues with one personally and also worked on a computer repair shop.

0
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
18:53 Jul-12-2015

I got i7-5820K, ASUS X99-S, 32GB DDR4 less than 2 weeks ago,
of course it's not worth for casual gamers or regular users,
but for me it is, I needed more than 16 PCI lanes, can make use of all 12 threads and 32GB ram in quad channel mode, for things like video rendering, audio mixing, 3D modelling, game making, formats encoding and much more

0
Rep
-25
Offline
18:56 Jul-12-2015

Your gpu is making the rest of your hardware bleed... my eyes did as well when I saw it.

3
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
19:24 Jul-12-2015

I know I know, I bought only the "essentials" at first, and I am actually going to replace it soon, but I haven't decided which one to get, GTX980Ti prices are fairly high, but I set my eyes on MSI Gaming 6G dang

0
Rep
319
Offline
admin badge
22:04 Jul-12-2015

Really dude? He just said that he doesn't have ask that power just for gaming and have a dozen examples that have pretty little to do with the gpu. Nothing weird here...

0
Rep
-25
Offline
19:30 Jul-12-2015

I got the EVGA Ti SC+ ordered, its a bit shorter and has white iluminated logo on the side, I got windowed case all in white... therefore. The new Palit Ti which comes in white was also an option but was a bit to long for my case...

1
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
19:34 Jul-12-2015

primarily I need a card which will be able to run with fans not spinning while idle,
I heard so far released EVGA 980Ti's have reference PCB, not sure if that's what I want (again)

0
Rep
10
Offline
20:29 Jul-12-2015

Asus STRIX is what you need sir.

2
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
20:33 Jul-12-2015

that, or MSI TwinFrozrV Gaming :)

0
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
21:20 Jul-12-2015

EVGA Classified would be best though...

0
Rep
-25
Offline
18:49 Jul-12-2015

Strange to make this question now... when skylake and Z170 motherboards are around the corner... which I am waiting for, they will have ddr3 and ddr4 versions... question is only price of the mbs and the cpus... but most surely they will be still cheaper than x99 and the cpus of those...

0
Rep
5
Offline
18:51 Jul-12-2015

LOL, not Skylaker :D it's Skywalker :)

0
Rep
-25
Offline
18:55 Jul-12-2015

To bad I changed before ur comment lol... **** happens posting from phones... :)

0
Rep
386
Offline
admin approved badge
19:11 Jul-12-2015

asrock x99 Extreme 3 costs 150$ on newegg after mail and rebate.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157542&cm_re=Asrock_x99_extreme_3-_-13-157-542-_-Product
That is as much as a mid-range z97
Of course this is if you live in America.


In europe the x99 Extrreme 3 costs 200 Euro, again as much as mid-range z97 motherboard.
https://de.pcpartpicker.com/part/asrock-motherboard-x99extreme4

0
Rep
262
Offline
admin approved badge
22:23 Jul-12-2015

Most mid-range Z97(Maximus VII Ranger or MSI Gaming 5) is between 100-150 in europe, the really High-End ones 200+

0
Rep
3
Offline
18:41 Jul-12-2015

I just upgraded to the i7 5820k. Right now it is overkill, but 6 cores are more future proof than "only" 4, so i have more time left before i have to upgrade.

0
Rep
5
Offline
18:45 Jul-12-2015

remember that each extra thread of a cpu you have adds roughly 20% the performance of a core, ie. you have 6 cores 12 threads, then the extra 6 threads add to the total performance by about an extra 1.5 cores in heavily threaded apps .

0
Rep
5
Offline
18:45 Jul-12-2015

same with I7 and I3(not I5 or any AMD processor)

0
Rep
3
Offline
19:07 Jul-12-2015

Thanks mate :)

0
Rep
16
Offline
18:40 Jul-12-2015

Hmm, well can we do this poll again after dx12 features are fully known, see if the two extra cores and the extra threads help more in gaming terms then.

0
Rep
4
Offline
admin approved badge
20:48 Jul-12-2015

I can probably rewrite this again later when DX12 is out in full force but we're still going to wait a long time. All the previous DX API's took 2 years to really come out and by the time the base version was being widely utilized there were new revisions. By the time DX12 is widely use DX12_3 will probably be out with DX13 on the horizon

1
Rep
5
Offline
18:40 Jul-12-2015

come on AMD, we need ZEN, and we need it with a good TIM(solder please) for better overclocking :D

0
Rep
4
Offline
admin approved badge
18:28 Jul-12-2015

my first article :D and everyone agrees with me :D nooooot lol thanks so much guys for taking the time to read my writing! I'm interested in everyone's opinions about X99 and keep an eye peeled for my coming article "Choppy Seas at AMD Headquarters" coming in a few days!

0

Can They Run... |

Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 3070 AFOX 8GB 32GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
Pentium G2020 2.9GHz GeForce GTX 960 Gigabyte OC 2GB Edition 8GB
Core i3-9100F 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1650 8GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 9 5900HX 8-Core 3.3GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
Core i7-2600 4-Core 3.40GHz Radeon HD 5770 1024MB 8GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-6800K 6-Core 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 970 MSI Gaming 4GB Edition 32GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-920 Quad 2.67GHz GeForce GTX 970 4GB 24GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz Radeon RX 580 Sapphire Nitro+ 4GB 16GB
| Ultra, 1440p
Core i9-10900K 10-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 3090 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 24GB 32GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 7 5800X 8-Core 3.8GHz Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB 32GB
Ryzen 5 2600 GeForce GTX 1660 Ti MSI Ventus XS OC 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-11700K 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 6GB Edition 32GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-11700K 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 6GB Edition 32GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-7400 3.0GHz GeForce GTX 1060 3GB 8GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-10400F 6-Core 2.90GHz GeForce GTX 1650 MSI Ventus XS 4GB 16GB
0% No [1 votes]