- Introduction, Packaging and Specifications
- Layout and Add-on Compatibility
- BIOS Overview
- Test System and Testing Metholody
- CPU Overclocking and Memory Profile benchmark
- SATA Performance Testing
- USB 3.1 Gen 1 Transfer Test
- Boot Load Timings
- Online Purchase Links
- View All
Disclosure: This motherboard is provided by Supermicro
Supermicro’s X99 chipset motherboard!
Supermicro is a known name within the server business, but it also has some consumer-class motherboards. One of them is the C7X99-OCE, an ATX motherboard for the LGA 2011-3 processors Haswell-E and Broadwell-E(?) SKUs. While these aren’t the new motherboard variants, it reminds me of the Gigabyte X99-UD4– a good X99 chipset motherboard with good layout options. There are some additional features, such as overclocking buttons and the debug LEDs, dual LANs and probably a few more. The Supermicro C7X99-OCE was around for a while (a year?) but I am curious to see how good the motherboard is. Intel X99 chipset is still around reinvigorated by the Broadwell-E lineup.
Supermicro has two variants of the X99 OC boards. The OCE-F has a VGA output for IPMI. But the OCE has ten SATA III ports. There are a couple of more differences but essentially is the same.
Supermicro pitches its six key selling points- eight layered PCB (many motherboards have six), top grade ceramic chip capacitors, Nippon Chemi-con NPCAP solid caps, 15u gold plated socket pins and slots, a combination of digital PWMs, DrMOS and ferrite chokes followed by more components to reduce noise and boost reliability.
The packaging and accessories are nothing more than bare essentials. While Supermicro did provide a quickstart guide, the absence of a user’s manual is the first I’ve seen in a motherboard. Supermicro does have a PDF copy on its website. The rear I/O shield as the standard cushioning behind it, but the I/O holes are not punched out. Supermicro provides six cables, but none of those are with right angled connectors.
|MBD-C7X99-OCE -O||C7X99-OCE (Gift Box Pack)|
|Dimensions||12″ x 9.6″, (30.5cm x 24.4cm)|
|Core / Cache||Up to 22 Cores† / Up to 55MB† Cache|
|Note||† BIOS version 2.0 or above is required
|DIMM Sizes||8GB, 4GB, 2GB, 1GB|
|Chipset||Intel X99 chipset|
|Audio||RealTek ALC1150 High Definition Audio|
|Input / Output|
|SATA||10x SATA3 (6Gbps) ports|
|LAN||2x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports|
|Audio||7.1 HD Jacks|
|Keyboard/Mouse||1x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse port|
|Serial Port / Header||1x header|
|TPM||1x TPM 1.2 20-pin Header|
|OS Compatibility||Please reference the OS Compatibility Chart for details|
|Chassis ( Optimized for C7X99-OCE )|
|Important Chassis Notes||To support motherboards based on Intel® Xeon® processor 5500/3500 series,Revision K or later chassis is recommended for most models. Please talk to your sales representative for details.|
|BIOS Type||128Mb SPI Flash EEPROM with AMI BIOS|
|PC Health Monitoring|
|Voltage||+12V, +3.3V, +5V, 1.05 (PCH), 1.2V (VDIMM), 3.3V standby, Chassis intrusion header, Monitors CPU voltages, VBAT|
The Supermicro C7X99-OCE motherboard is a standard ATX design with 8 DDR4 DIMM Slots, totaling the support up to 128GB 3300MHz. There are a total of 10 SATA III ports, of which 4 are sSATA. The motherboard has two gigabit ports using Intel i210-AT, total six USB 3.0 ports including the header. While it doesn’t have USB 3.0 Gen 2 Type A and C, SuperMicro could have provided more USB 3.0 in the rear panel.
There is a single keyboard/mouse PS/2 port, a TPM header and a serial port header. It only has a single BIOS EEPROM but it does have a chassis intrusion header which is not seen typically in consumer-class motherboards. There a total five fan headers out of which 1 of them is labeled for CPU.
The motherboard colour scheme reminds you of the time blue/black combination was a thing. Despite 4 DIMM placements on each side, the layout doesn’t look too crowded. Of course, that shouldn’t be a difficult task as it doesn’t have any M.2 ports, BT+WiFi adapter or NVMe U.2 ports. For the LAN, the Supermicro C7X99 OCE uses Intel I210 gigabit controllers. To power up two USB 3.0 ports, it uses two ASMEDIA 1042AE controller and the Nuvoton NCT67760 for speed control, temperature/voltage monitoring, COM and PS2 port.
The upper section of the motherboard has all the five four-pin fan headers. The eight-pin CPU power connector is centered rather than the usual left corner. Only a single fan header is assigned for CPU, while newer motherboards have optional CPU for the second CPU fan or the liquid cooling unit. There is an eight power phase for the CPU and a total of four for the DIMMs- two on each side.
There a total of six USB 3.0 ports with the keyboard/mouse PS/2 port. There are dual gigabit LANs with indicator LEDs, seven audio jacks and a S/PDIF connector. The empty space is practically begging to have more USB ports, but the VGA port is present in the other variant. There is a small clear CMOS switch between the audio and the LAN ports but it can be accessible from within.
There are four PCIe x16 slots (blue) with two PCIe x4 slots (black). The PCIe lane distribution is very straight forward. For four PCIe 3.0 runs, its x16/x16/NA/x8 or X16/X8/X8/X8. The first PCIe x16 slot also supports x4 card. The 4th PCIe x16 will not work if used with the Core i7 5820K as it has 28 PCIe 3.0 lanes. Notice the PCIe slot lock.
The OCE has a lot of jumpers to switch on/off specific functions- audio, LAN ports, Intel Recovery Mode, Watch Dog, BIOS recovery and USB Wake. Its redundant as most of these functions are there within UEFI. Its much easier to enable/disable certain sub-components via UEFI than to power down the system and changing jumpers in a closed case setup.
Towards the left of the 2nd PCIe x16 slot is the clear CMOS button. The button below the chipset sink is the BIOS restore button.
The connectors on the bottom start from the serial port, followed by a series of jumpers. The dedicated buttons are for power, memory overclocking, CPU overclocking (OC1- 15%, OC2- 20-25% and user defined OC3 button that loads the OC profile set and saved via the UEFI), . Supermicro has an extra add-on for a panel that is sold separately. The front panel headers are marked, but it would be nice if there was an additional connector (similar to Asus’ Q-connector and MSI M-connector) to provide that hassle-free installation.
After the front panel headers, there’s the watch dog headers, TPM header, Power/LED and buzzer header and the USB 3.0 header. Above the Power/LED headers, you’ll find the BIOS recovery button, the Chassis intrusion header, the debug LEDs, additional points for the CMOS reset and the onboard buzzer. I appreciate the onboard buzzer, something that its not seen in any consumer-class motherboards. Also, I also believe I haven’t seen chassis intrusion headers in previously reviewed motherboards as well. Server motherboard stepping in general consumer base does have its advantages.
For the OCE, there are two LED indicators. One above the front panel header is to indicate power and towards the left of the PCIe slots is the BMC heartbeat indicator.
What’s sensible over here is that Supermicro did not have any SATA express connectors. Yes, it was boasted to have many advantage over the standard SATA III bandwidth. But its been around for a while and yet we haven’t seen any SATA express SSDs. Above the fan_3 header, there’s a SATA DOM power connector. Its a small SATA3 interface for a flash memory module that’s typically used in server motherboards.
CPU Cooler and GPU compatibility
There are some minor inconveniences. Typical motherboard manufacturers either have all the buttons and pins towards the base or the top right corner as chances of less of having any add-on cards overlapping them. The debug LED gets covered once the GPU is installed in the second PCIe x16 slot. Some graphic cards such as the Zotac Extreme AMP! editions (even with the GeForce 10 series) eats up three slots worth of space. All things considering the placement of the headers and buttons, having the USB 3.0 towards the corner is the right call. While a right angled USB 3.0 headers may have some convenience, it also depends on the PC’s cases cable management holes and design as its connector and headers are thick. Using the off-set design Noctua NH-D15s, there is a good amount of space between the 140mm dual tower and the first PCIe x16 slot, even if the graphic card has a backplate.
The Supermicro C7X99-OCE contained 1.0a BIOS version. The only way you can flash a BIOS in this motherboard is by creating a DOS bootable flash drive. Very retro! It had a good set of challenges for the system to boot the flash drive, so the only way I was able to do is by disconnecting all the SATA drives, reset BIOS while the drive is connected and then restart. Skipping the BIOS reset will have the system boot through EFI Shell. The 2.0 BIOS did not have that issue.
The flash process is much longer than desired. Supermicro should have the onboard UEFI flash function to make it easier. Furthermore, the BIOS listing in Supermicro’s website should list the set of improvements and fixes. There’s also no indication of Broadwell-E SKUs compatibility. The interface with the 2.0 BIOS is very different.
The GUI between of both the UEFI is completely different. The first BIOS was hard to scroll and operate. Long story made short, it reduced some of the issues related to BIOS interface.
The part I did like is that I can turn off all the power saving features simply by disabling the power technology option. Keep in mind that if you do use the onboard overclocking presets, you will need to restart and again disable the power saving should you need to do so.
The overclocking tab is a big change. For manual overclocking, specific voltage tweaks are added. You can select the memory XMP profile via memory overclocking option.
For some reason, the VCore for the overclock presets is set 1.5v. While understandably overclock profiles have a slightly higher VCORE to be on the safe side, I’ve never seen one crossing 1.40v. MSI Gaming Pro Carbon Edition has a 5960x 4.7 GHz profile with up to 1.39v. Keep in mind, both 4.6 GHz and 4.7 GHz profiles were not stable with the OCE. It also resets the power management system’s settings to custom. Shutting it off allowed me to boot successfully, but it wasn’t able to complete PCMark 8 Home preset.
More memory options are found on the memory tab, which lists the brand, latency and frequency of the memory kits its running.
For some reason, Supermicro did not have temperature control option for its CPU header. Instead, all the headers work like a chassis controller- with three fan profiles. This is too bad. CPU should have an independent control where the user can set accordingly. Many popular motherboards even allow you to set fan profiles whose speed increases according to CPU load/temperatures. Another issue is that you’ll need to restart the system to see the fan speed indicating. This is the second function where you require to restart for updating the information.
A majority of the users who pick consumer-class motherboards rarely need dual boot options. This motherboard provides 15 options and its shown under the primary interface. The legacy boot options are under hard drive boot options once you scroll down. There needs to be a simplified process. I just don’t see the point for users to have that many boot options.
The ‘BIOS Features’ option under Boot tab feels out of place. The BIOS does allow you to save profiles. It does not have the option to take screenshots and save the screenshot on a USB drive, a standard feature on many mid to high-end motherboards. While this isn’t a big deal, I could not find the option to set time.
Test System and Testing Methodology
The following setup is what’s used to test the Supermicro C7X99-OCE motherboard:
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit Pro|
|Processor+ Cooler||Intel 5960X + Noctua NH-D15S|
|Motherboard||Supermicro C7X99-OCE motherboard|
|GPU||Nvidia GTX 1070|
|OS Drive||Kingston HyperX 3K 90GB|
|Secondary||SanDisk Extreme II , WD Red 3TB|
|PC Case||CM MasterCase Maker 5|
The CPU’s throttling, Turbo and power saving options have been turned off to keep the clock speed constant. Overclocking results are not compared as it was not stable with 4.6 and 4.7 GHz. Both overclock profile’s carried 1.50v setting.
The Benchmarks are as follows:
- CPU Overclocking: PCMark 8 Benchmarks’ Home, Creativity and Office test score comparison
- Memory Profile Benchmark: AIDA64 Benchmark memory test
- SATA Testing: AS SSD Benchmark
- USB 3.1 Gen 1 Transfer Test
- Boot Load Test: Tested with fresh OS Install and all drivers installed and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
Usually, I use the onboard function to overclock in reviews. This way it can show itself what it’s capable of and the overclock presets set by the manufacturer. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with the OCE.
The i7 5960x that is used in these X99 motherboard reviews can typically overclock up to 4.7 GHz. But that wasn’t the case as it frequently crashes during PCMark 8 benchmark run. Both 4.6 GHz and 4.7 GHz profiles overclock the processor with a 1.5v VCORE. In comparison, MSI X99 Gaming Pro Carbon did it a bit under 1.39v stable. Even with the high voltages, it didn’t make any difference. Attempting to boot using 4.7 GHz @ 1.39v didn’t work out.
The stock clock comparisons between the Supermicro C7X99-OCE and the MSI X99 Gaming Pro Carbon are as follows:
SATA Performance Testing
I’ve chosen SanDisk Extreme II 240GB since I’ve tested this on various motherboards- Gigabyte 890GPA UD3H, Gigabyte X99-UD4, Z97X-Gaming GT and MSI X99 Gaming Pro Carbon. Note that before doing these tests, secure erase has been done using the tool provided by SanDisk via its SSD Dashboard. Note that all of these tests were done on the SATA_1 port (typical label for the second native SATA III port).
USB 3.1 Gen 1 Transfer Test
I have the eight-channel Kingston HyperX 64GB USB 3.0 (now referred to as “USB 3.1 GEN 1”) which is the best performance flash drive I have. The test is done exist the rear I/O USB 3.0 Gen 1 outputs. This motherboard does not have Gen 2 USB ports, but its compared with MSI X99 Gaming Pro which is benchmarked on an ASMEDIA Gen 2 USB 3.0 controller.
The standard boot speed could improve a bit. Judging by constant code changes on the debug LED, its doing a lot of verification and pre-POST checks. Note that the primary OS SSD is always connected to the SATA port marked as the first.
This was made clear when I applied ‘Fast Boot’ option. But this is the speed that should be with the standard boot setting.
Long story made short…
The Supermicro C7X99-OCE doesn’t make an impression its made only for gamers. But it has a lot of room for improvement. Starting with the basics- there is no physical manual. Its much easier to troubleshoot or identify functions with a book than scrolling through a PDF file in an alternate device. The motherboard should have more USB drives at the rear I/O. The PCIe lock while its convenient for the first X16 slot with a CPU liquid unit, it would not be the case for the second and when you’re using an air cooler in the size of NH-D15S and NH-U14S. Another part is the placement of the debug indicator as adding the card on the second x16 slot covers it. There’s a reason why some manufacturers have buttons, switches and debug indicator towards the top right corner or towards the bottom next to the headers.
There are five four-pin fan headers. While the first fan 1 placement is labeled for CPU, it does not have the usual function. Typically in motherboards, one or two CPU headers are provided and have the BIOS option to be temperature controlled. Many motherboards even allow you to set a fan profile for the CPU cooler. This does not. It has three fan profiles- standard, heavy I/O and full speed. All headers are basically chassis fan headers.
The new UEFI is easier on the eyes, but it still needs work. Usually, manufacturers do a bit of an overvolting in OC presets keeping in mind the one may have the bad luck of a not-so-good overclocking chip. But this is the same 5960X that I’ve been using since its review and following X99 reviews. The latest one being the MSI X99 Gaming Pro Carbon with 4.7 GHz @ 1.39v. The arrow in the UEFI needs to stand out. Imagine the trouble to find it on a larger resolution.
To be fair, this is Supermicro’s first X99 chipset motherboard for the consumers outside the server space. The Supermicro C7X99-OCE has been around since last year. Its not flashy, which is a good point for a lot of people. It doesn’t have plastic overlays over the PCB and LEDs. Most of the issues can be solved with upcoming motherboards. For the most part, the layout is good with the exception of DIP push-button switches and debug LED placement. It does not bring anything new to the table. For the price, it should have more features- more USB 3.0 ports, 3.1 port Type A and C, M.2 for storage, dual BIOS, etc.
- Eight-layered PCB
- Excellent quality components
- Near-clean Layout
- No fancy gimmicks and LEDs
- Dual Gigabit LAN
- PCIe x4 slots
- embedded buzzer
- No SATA express slot
- No M.2 ports
- No dual bios
- 1.5V on all CPU overclock profiles.
- Needs more USB ports and headers
- Difficult to access PCIe locks with large CPU air coolers and second GPUs
- CMOS reset and debug LED placement
With this price and lack of future-ready features, I don’t see how it can be recommended. It does use eight-layered PCB and solid capacitor plus excellent components. There are brands who do all of that (up to six-layered PCB) and still has dual M.2, U.2 and few USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Type A and C for same or lesser price point.
— Hardware BBQ (@HardwareBBQ) November 10, 2016