For many professionals, consumer-level boards may not have the features required to meet their needs. Typically these boards include additional network functions and can have more and more types of storage options such as ports or switches U.2. Supermicro X11SRA, motherbaord in this review, is aimed at the workstation market that sometimes has non-consumer demand. X11SRA only works with Xeon-W CPU family, analogous to Skylake-X Core CPU but supports RDIMM and ECC up to 512GB memory. The system is designed to provide a lot of horsepower, up to 18 cores, as well as storage and other needs.
Overview of Supermicro X11SRA
Earlier this year at CES 2018, the AnandTech team was able to pop into Supermicro's suite. One of the items on display is the X11SRA workstation motherboard, supporting Xeon W processors with ECC-based DDR4 RAM and using the C422 chipset. This is slightly different to that used by most high-end desktop users, such as X299 and non-ECC. In the past, Intel had two product families served by one platform. However, now they are separated. Due to this more black and white depiction, users are seeing fewer professional grade motherboards on the open market for workstation processors, which makes most of the sales come from OEMs made before. Supermicro is one of those OEMs, but has issued X11SRA (and its variants) in the consumer market.
During testing, performance on workstation class motherboards is in line with the X299 motherboards we've tested so far. For this test, we use the equivalent Xeon-W in W-2155, which has the same number of cores / threads as our Core i9-7900X, as well as the same clock speed. The only difference between these settings is the motherboard and its ECC memory.
X11SRA really excels in power usage, using less power than X299 based motherboards we've tested so far. Load testing also leads to the top with only EVGA X299 boards that use less power on the load. The only area where the board sees a lackluster result is at boot time. Due to an additional check on the POST for memory, we see boot time of more than 1 minute and 20 seconds. Compared to consumer-level boards, X11SRA boot is almost four times slower as additional workstation board level checks are completed during its POST.
Being a workstation class council, expectations should be different than the consumer-level councils we have reviewed over the past few months. Motherboards are not marketed to extreme gamers for example (although it has a solid audio codec using the latest Realtek ALC1220), and SLI / Crossfire support will not be found here, with more focus on computing. The board will support three graphics cards in three full and reinforced slots.
Other features on board include USB 3.1 port from ASMedia controller, legacy PS / 2 port for keyboard or mouse, and multiple NICs. One is a standard Gigabit Ethernet Ethernet port, while another is a Aquantia 5 Gigabit Ethernet port that offers more throughput to users as well as additional features for workstation level boards.
Competition for X11SRA motherboards is limited, as only some C422 chipset motherboards are available to consumers. X11SRA is available for $ 340 from Amazon, while ASUS C422 PRO / SE is $ 410.
Side notes to thank Kingston, for taking our samples of some of their RDIMM ECC memories for this review.
Information about Intel C422 and our other reviews
On the workstation side of Intel's high-end desktop platform, the Xeon-W processor was released with the intent to work on the C422 chipset, separating the motherboard line for workstations and CPU class enthusiasts. As a result, the X299-based Skylake-X CPU will not work on this chipset, and the Xeon-W processor will not work on the X299 motherboard.