Board Features

The Supermicro X12SAE is an ATX motherboard aimed towards workstation users. It includes support for the latest Comet Lake-W processors and benefits from Intel vPro specific features such as Hardware Shield. Focusing on the hardware, it includes two full-length PCIe 3.0 slots which operate at x16 and x8/x8, with an open ended half-length PCIe 3.0 x4 and a single PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. For storage is a pair of PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, with can accommodate both M.2 2280 and 22110 drives. There are also four SATA ports with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. The W480 chipset and power delivery are cooled by a pair of silver aluminum finned heatsinks synonymous with Supermicro's professional looking design. At the same time, a total of five 4-pin headers make up the boards cooling capabilities. Both ECC and non-ECC memory is supported, with maximum speeds of up to DDR4-2933 and a maximum capacity of 128 GB. It should be noted that both ECC and non-ECC memory can operate in dual channel unbuffered.

Supermicro X12SAE ATX Motherboard
Warranty Period 3 Years
Product Page Link
Price $280
Size ATX
CPU Interface LGA1200
Chipset Intel W480
Memory Slots (DDR4) Four DDR4
Supporting 128 GB
Dual-Channel
Up to DDR4-2933
ECC/Non-ECC (unbuffered)
Video Outputs 1 x HDMI
1 x DisplayPort
1 x DVI-I
Video Inputs N/A
Network Connectivity Intel I225V 2.5 GbE
Intel I219LM (AMT/vPro)
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC888S
PCIe Slots for Graphics (from CPU) 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16, x8/x8)
PCIe Slots for Other (from PCH) 1 x PCIe 3.0 x4
1 x PCIe 3.0 x1
Onboard SATA Four, RAID 0/1/5/10 (W480)
Onboard M.2 2 x PCIe 3.0 x4
Thunderbolt 3 N/A
USB 3.2 (20 Gbps) N/A
USB 3.2 (10 Gbps) 1 x USB Type-C (Rear panel)
3 x USB Type-A (Rear panel)
1 x USB Type-C (One header)
USB 3.2 (5 Gbps) 2 x USB Type-A (Rear panel)
1 x USB Type-A (One header)
USB 2.0 2 x USB Type-A (Rear panel)
2 x USB Type-A (One header)
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin Motherboard
1 x 8-pin CPU
Fan Headers 5 x 4-pin CPU/Chassis
Rear Panel 1 x HDMI Output
1 x DisplayPort Output
1 x DVI-I Output
3 x USB 3.2 G2 Type-A
1 x USB 3.2 G2 Type-C
2 x USB 3.2 G1 Type-A
1 x RJ45 (Intel 2.5 G)
1 x RJ45 (Intel Gigabit PHY)
5 x 3.5 mm audio jacks (Realtek)
1 x S/PDIF Output (Realtek)

On the rear panel is a host of connectivity with a pair of Ethernet ports. One is powered by an Intel I219LM Gigabit PHY, while the other is driven by a premium Intel I225-V 2.5 Gb controller. There is plenty of USB for users to benefit from, including three USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C, and two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports. Users can add more through internal headers, with one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C header, one USB 3.2 G1 Type-A header for an additional port, and one USB 2.0 header, which provides two ports. Users looking to make use of the integrated graphics on the Xeon W-1200 series chips will find the DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI-I video output very useful. Handling the onboard audio is a Realtek ALC888S HD audio codec, which provides five 3.5 mm jacks and S/PDIF optical output on the rear and a front panel header located in the bottom left-hand corner of the board.

Test Bed

As per our testing policy, we take a high-end CPU suitable for the motherboard released during the socket’s initial launch and equip the system with a suitable amount of memory running at the processor's maximum supported frequency. This is also typically run at JEDEC subtimings where possible. It is noted that some users are not keen on this policy, stating that sometimes the maximum supported frequency is quite low, or faster memory is available at a similar price, or that the JEDEC speeds can be prohibitive for performance. While these comments make sense, ultimately very few users apply memory profiles (either XMP or other) as they require interaction with the BIOS, and most users will fall back on JEDEC supported speeds - this includes home users as well as industry who might want to shave off a cent or two from the cost or stay within the margins set by the manufacturer. Where possible, we will extend out testing to include faster memory modules either at the same time as the review or a later date.

Test Setup
Processor Intel Xeon W-1270, 80 W, $362
8 Cores, 16 Threads 3.4 GHz (5.0 GHz Turbo)
Motherboard Supermicro X12SAE (BIOS 1.0c)
Cooling Corsair H100i AIO
Power Supply Corsair HX850 850 W 80 PLUS Platinum
Memory ADATA DDR4-2933 CL 22-21-21-47 2T (2 x 32 GB)
Video Card MSI GTX 1080 (1178/1279 Boost)
Hard Drive Crucial MX300 1TB
Case Open Bench Table (OBT)
Operating System Windows 10 1909 inc. Spectre/Meltdown Patches

Readers of our motherboard review section will have noted the trend in modern motherboards to implement a form of MultiCore Enhancement / Acceleration / Turbo (read our report here) on their motherboards. This does several things, including better benchmark results at stock settings (not entirely needed if overclocking is an end-user goal) at the expense of heat and temperature. It also gives, in essence, an automatic overclock which may be against what the user wants. Our testing methodology is ‘out-of-the-box’, with the latest public BIOS installed and XMP enabled, and thus subject to the whims of this feature. It is ultimately up to the motherboard manufacturer to take this risk – and manufacturers taking risks in the setup is something they do on every product (think C-state settings, USB priority, DPC Latency / monitoring priority, overriding memory sub-timings at JEDEC). Processor speed change is part of that risk, and ultimately if no overclocking is planned, some motherboards will affect how fast that shiny new processor goes and can be an important factor in the system build.

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57 Comments

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  • Operandi - Friday, December 11, 2020 - link

    **meant to reply here**

    Point being why even review this in the context of a world where the platform AMD exists? From a feature and performance stance AMD is better on both. Unless there is something Supermicro has that other board vendors don't as I don't think Supermicro has a "workstation" AM4 board but still, so what...
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, December 11, 2020 - link

    Products deserve reviews even if the reviews show them to be less compelling versus the competition. For a general audience, the competitiveness factor should be mentioned. For more niche audiences it's not necessarily necessary. Reply
  • Jorgp2 - Sunday, December 13, 2020 - link

    >Point being why even review this in the context of a world where the platform AMD exists?

    AMD exists?

    Last time i checked there were only two AM4 workstation boards, and they're both made by supermicro.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Tuesday, December 15, 2020 - link

    "Last time i checked there were only two AM4 workstation boards, and they're both made by supermicro."

    How many does a person need to pick from? Just one means the company is present in the niche. And, when a company isn't present but could be that is also noteworthy context.
    Reply
  • FLHerne - Friday, December 11, 2020 - link

    AMD doesn't officially validate ECC on Ryzen processors. Most motherboards don't support it at all, and the ones that do are on a "this seems to work" basis, which isn't how corporate IT does things. There've been many reports of Ryzen setups where ECC appears to be fully enabled in the BIOS and hardware but doesn't actually report memory errors.

    Threadripper has proper support for ECC, but is far above the price range of CPUs mentioned in this article.

    There are also a handful of workloads where Intel processors do outperform the AMD price-equivalent, most obviously things using AVX512.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, December 11, 2020 - link

    Amazon is currently selling TR 2950X at $590, although that is a clear-out price.

    So, that takes the 2950X near to the W-1290P in terms of price while being a 16/32 chip rather than 6/12. The TR is probably not as good for things like high-frequency trading but should kill the Intel in the heavily threaded stuff.

    Not so relevant for big business since those parts are probably rather limited in terms of stock but relevant to individual shoppers.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, December 11, 2020 - link

    "e.g. 1290p is 10 cores, 20 threads."

    Okay... so a bit less drastic of a difference.
    Reply
  • npz - Friday, December 11, 2020 - link

    Most AMD motherboards DO *officially* support ECC, and have for a long time now. I should know, because I've been using AMD + ECC since the AM2 days with ddr2 and ddr3 ecc udimms. Just about all the Asrock and Asus motherboards officially support ECC on desktop. And a few Gigabyte. Check the websites. Their officially validated memory list also includes ECC btw. Reply
  • AntonErtl - Saturday, December 12, 2020 - link

    Concerning the "many reports", where do I find them? And if there are no failures, I would not expect any error reports. And while reports are useful to find broken DIMMs, the most important feature of ECC memory is that errors are corrected. In any case, in my testing I did see errors reported to the OS. Reply
  • AdrianBc - Saturday, December 12, 2020 - link

    While you are mostly right, nonetheless there are a few Ryzen motherboards that are sold as server motherboards or as workstation motherboards, so at least for the motherboards, full ECC support is claimed.

    For example, I am using since last year a workstation motherboard that directly competes with the one reviewed: ASUS Pro WS X570-ACE.

    I am using it with ECC memory, and I have verified that it works OK.
    Reply

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