We were a little excited when we got EVGA’s mini X99 Micro into the labs last month. It was the first small form factor X99 board we’d come across, and the potential to have a little performance powerhouse was a tantalising prospect. And so we were more than willing to cut it a little slack given the trimmed-down PCB it was working with. Unfortunately, somewhere along the postal chain, a thumb had been unceremoniously jammed into the socket, rendering it more than a little forgetful. Check out the socket in last month’s centrefold to see exactly where chewed-up pins will break down a few memory channel connections…
Pushing the performance review back to this month has meant that it goes head-tohead with ASRock’s own micro ATX X99M Extreme4, and the comparison is not a kind one for the wee EVGA board. The mATX ASRock is more feature-complete for an X99 mobo than this X99 Micro, for the simple fact that it’s running the full x4 M.2 socket while this EVGA board only has a mini PCIe connection for Wi-Fi modules, not storage. But PCIe storage is a very immature market, and we’d bet few M.2 slots are being filled when it comes to fully built X99 PCs.
So, in the grand scheme of things, that’s not really a huge miss for the X99 Micro. The struggle is that it’s also a little behind the performance of its ASRock competition. The stock CPU and gaming performance is pretty close, but the damning thing for this sort of computing platform is the memory capabilities on the X99 Micro are so limited. It posts the weakest DDR4 performance of the entire grouptest and, where most of the other tests are at least relatively close across the group, the EVGA board is a long way behind in memory prowess. It’s almost 3GB/s slower than the ASRock.
Thanks to the fact the ASRock board is winning the numbers game against the X99 Micro, with a 12-phase power design against the EVGA’s six-phase setup, this board is also lagging a little behind in terms of overclocking performance too. Like the full ATX ASRock, we were able to get it to briefly run with the Corsair XMP in place for 2,800MHz, but it was incredibly flaky the one time we did get into the OS and we were never able to get it to boot at that speed again. You might look at the benchmark numbers on the following pages and think we’re being a little harsh on the X99 Micro, considering it’s all very tight apart from the memory metrics.
But there is one other place where it lags behind its only other mATX competition, and that’s price. The ASRock represents great value, being one of the most affordable X99 boards we’ve tested, but at £200 the X99 Micro feels like a lot of money when you’re missing some of the functionality and performance of similarly priced or less expensive motherboards. We do like the form factor EVGA has squeezed its X99 board down to, but it’s beaten on all the price, performance and feature set fronts.