The ASUS X299 motherboard guide: ROG, Prime, and TUF for LGA 2066

39389

TUF enough to endure

Our Prime and ROG takes on X299 are balanced by entries from the TUF family. These models march to a different beat that prioritizes reliability and durability for PCs built to go the distance. They use tougher components than conventional counterparts, and they’re subjected to more stringent testing. We’re so confident that the boards are covered by five-year warranties, providing extra coverage that protects your investment over the long haul.

Shifting focus requires a new outlook, and TUF answers with distinctive designs that meld industrial sensibilities with a touch of space marine. Stealthy by nature, the new boards minimize RGB lighting to concentrate on different priorities.

Arm yourself with the TUF X299 Mark 1

A new coat of reinforced armor makes the TUF X299 Mark 1 stand out from its predecessors. The protective cover streamlines airflow over the board and prevents dust from accumulating in nooks and crannies. Airflow beneath the surface is generated by a dedicated fan that also directs cool air toward the primary M.2 slot. NVMe SSDs installed in that slot are covered by a metal heatsink that further improves thermals, while those in the secondary slot stand vertically, where they can be cooled by air moving through the chassis.

Managing thermals is critical to maintaining stability on a high-end desktop platform that pumps more watts through the CPU. The TUF X299 Mark 1 is laced with additional temperature sensors to monitor different zones on the motherboard and in your system as a whole. Sensor data is fed into Thermal Radar 3 software that intelligently manages your cooling to keep temperatures and acoustics low.

The updated armor is our strongest yet, but the Mark 1’s real strength comes from its Fortifier backplate. This rear reinforcement uses a carefully shaped and folded metal plate to stiffen the board against warping. It’s especially helpful with massive air coolers that hang a lot of weight off the socket. And, as an added bonus, it helps dissipate thermal energy from multiple hot spots on the back of the PCB.

To deliver reinforcement where it’s needed most, the TUF Fortifier now includes a removable GPU Holder that supports the weight of sagging graphics cards. The bracket is carved from a single sheet of metal to provide maximum strength, there’s an adjustable bumper to fit different fan shrouds, and the low profile ensures clearance for SLI bridges. Finally, a solution to the scourge of GPU sag.

TUF Detective reprises its role as smartphone-powered troubleshooter and monitoring utility. Unlike previous iterations, which require a wired USB connection, the latest version performs diagnostics wirelessly over Bluetooth using the included USB adapter.

As the highpoint in the TUF line, the Mark 1 also wears more upgrades. The glowing logo at the center of the board changes based on the load to show how hard the system is working. There are dual Intel LAN controllers instead of just one, more onboard sensors for temperature probes, plus all the flavors in the USB 3.1 Gen2 rainbow: old-school Type-A, reversible Type-C, and internal header.

 TUF X299 Mark 1
SizeATX
Memory8 x DDR4 up to 3600 (OC)
Multi-GPU3 x SLI, CrossFireX
PCIe3 x16 (CPU): x16/x16/x8
2 x4 (Chipset): x1/x4
Storage1 x M.2 (NVMe x4 or SATA 6Gbps)
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4)
6 x SATA 6Gbps
Networking2 x Intel Gigabit Ethernet
AudioRealtek S1220A
USB3.1 Gen 2: 1 x front, 1 x Type-C, 1 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 1: 4 x front, 4 x Type-A
2.0: 2 x front, 4 x Type-A
AuraTUF badge
Price$339.99 USD
$449.99 CAD
Availability (USA)Amazon
Newegg
Availability (Canada)Memory Express

Reaching the top of the TUF lineup will cost you $339.99 USD. You can pre-order the board from the vendors listed in the spec table. Read more about the Mark 1 on the product page.

Welcome the X299 Mark 2 into the TUF family

TUF strips down to the essentials with the X299 Mark 2. Like the Prime X299-A, the entry point to the family delivers all the features of the new Intel platform, plus must-have ASUS innovations like advanced overclocking and tuning options. It removes the armor and backplate in favor of a naked PCB with a darker motif that blends into the shadows. Stealth mode is optional; you can fly under the radar or light up the edge with a backlit glow.

The two main PCIe x16 slots are structurally reinforced to support heavy graphics cards, but like on the Mark 1, the third lacks the full SafeSlot treatment. It’s more likely to be used with VROC cards that put minimal stress on the slot. Even without VROC, the board has dual M.2 slots for running RAID through the chipset. There are provisions to keep SSDs cool, too. The primary M.2 slot is compatible with our 3D-printed fan bracket, while the secondary one mounts drives vertically so they can benefit from ambient chassis airflow.

Including the header for the M.2 fan, the X299 Mark 2 has onboard connectors for a total of seven fans, two of which are pre-configured for custom liquid loops and all-in-one units. You can manage a complete system’s cooling through one powerful Thermal Radar interface.

 TUF X299 Mark 2
SizeATX
Memory8 x DDR4 up to 3600 (OC)
Multi-GPU3 x SLI, CrossFireX
PCIe3 x16 (CPU): x16/x16/x8
1 x4 (Chipset): x2
2 x1 (Chipset)
Storage1 x M.2 (NVMe x4 or SATA 6Gbps)
1 x M.2 (NVMe x4)
6 x SATA 6Gbps
NetworkingIntel Gigabit Ethernet
AudioRealtek S1220A
USB3.1 Gen 2: 2 x Type-A
3.1 Gen 1: 4 x front, 4 x Type-A
2.0: 2 x front, 4 x Type-A
AuraRight edge
Price$259.99 USD
$349.99 CAD
Availability (USA)Amazon
Newegg
Availability (Canada)Memory Express

The Mark 2 makes TUF more accessible for X299 builders who want to deviate from the conventional formula. It’s a breath of fresh air at a time when far too many motherboards offer more of the same. You can pre-order it for $259.99 USD from the retailers listed in the specs. Find out more on the product page.