A Closer Look
The X299 Taichi XE surprisingly still fits within the normal ATX form-factor footprint. The neutral metallic theme seems to appeal to many, hence the revamp into the higher-end category.
The rear of the Taichi XE has a few components, but there is little to really see on the matte black PCB.
The rear I/O covers all of the bases, two USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 and two USB 3.1 gen 2 handles most things. If you need, there is a dual personality PS/2 port that can use a splitter to support both at the same time. Network connectivity is handled with Dual Intel-based gigabit NIC’s as well as an Intel 802.11AC + Bluetooth 4.2 card. A BIOS flashback and CMOS reset button hide along the bottom edge near the Wifi antenna ports, and audio from the onboard Purity Sound 4 codec is handled with standard 8-channel analog outputs and a single optical output.
Like most HEDT boards, the Taichi XE’s top half is pretty well dominated by the socket and eight flanking memory slots. The rear I/O is partially covered with part of the new XXL heatsink, linked to the VRM heatsink with a heat pipe that hugs the rear DIMM slots tightly. Two 8-pin EPS connections are tucked in along the top as opposed to the single one on the non-XE version.
The bottom half of the board is covered in a huge silkscreened gear covers more than half of the board. The Chipset is covered by a heatsink shaped like a gear with the ASRock logo in the center. Three Ultra M.2 ports are woven in between all the PCIe slots, and all three support both SATA disks as well as PCIe disks up to 3.0 X4.
The bottom edge has the front panel Audio connector, a clear CMOS jumper, an RGB header, VROC key connector, a Thunderbolt expansion header, a TPMS connector and a pair of USB 2.0 front panel headers. A couple of 4-pin fan headers hide near the 2-digit POST code display as well as the front panel I/O connections.
Going up the front edge are a staggering ten SATA ports, 3 of which are shared with the M.2 slots, a pair of USB 3.0 front panel headers, the main 24-pin power plug, and another RGB connector. There is a spot on the motherboard for a USB 3.1 front panel connector, but it isn’t populated, which seems odd on a higher end offering when its lower end counterpart has it available. At this point in time, only a small percentage of cases on the market have this connector though, so perhaps it isn’t a big deal.
The biggest claim to fame is the XXL heatsink, a notable improvement over the stock X299 Taichi.
The additional section of the heatsink is only for the VRM and doesn’t actually contact anything near the rear of the board, sitting up on fairly tall standoff’s.
Like the rest of the Taichi boards, there is very little onboard lighting with the only RGB area being a nice glow from under the chipset heatsink. By default, it pulses blue but can be configured to your liking from the BIOS or your desktop.