Board Features

The Supermicro X11SPA-T is an E-ATX sized model which is designed to be used with Intel's Xeon W-3200 and the Xeon Scalable processor family. Based on Intel's C621 chipset, it comes with a variety of core features including seven full-length PCIe 3.0 slots with four operating at x16, and another three at x8. On the storage front is four PCIe 3.0 x4 slots which include support for VROC, and eight SATA ports which allow users to build RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. Going for a more conventional route in the networking department, the Supermicro X11SPA-T has three Ethernet ports that are controlled by individual controllers. An Aquantia AQC107 10 G Ethernet controller spearheads this, with a secondary Intel I210-AT Gigabit controller, and a Realtek RTL8211E PHY controller which is dedicated to the boards IPMI. There are twelve memory slots that support both LRDIMM and RDIMM ECC DDR4 memory; this particular platform supports hex-channel memory.

Supermicro X11SPA-T EATX Motherboard
Warranty Period 3 Years
Product Page Link
Price $650
CPU Interface LGA3647
Chipset Intel C621
Memory Slots (DDR4) Twelve DDR4
Hex Channel
Up to DDR4-2933
Video Outputs 1 x D-Sub (IPMI)
Network Connectivity Intel I210-AT Gigabit
Aquantia AQC107 10 Gigabit
Realtek RTL8211E PHY (IPMI)
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC888
PCIe Slots for Graphics (from CPU) 7 x PCIe 3.0 x16
- x16/x0/x16/x0/x16/x0/x16)
- x16/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8
PCIe Slots for Other (from PCH) N/A
Onboard SATA Eight, RAID 0/1/5/10
Onboard M.2 4 x PCIe 3.0 x4/SATA
Onboard U.2 N/A
USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) 1 x Type-A Rear Panel
1 x Type-C Rear Panel
USB 3.0 (5 Gbps) 4 x Type-A Rear Panel
1 x Header (two ports)
USB 2.0 1 x Header (two ports)
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX
2 x 8pin CPU
Fan Headers 2 x CPU (4-pin)
1 x Water Cooler power connector (4-pin
8 x System (4-pin)
IO Panel 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A
1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C
4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A
3 x Network RJ45 (Intel, Aquantia, Realtek)
1 x D-Sub (IPMI)
5 x 3.5mm Audio Jacks (Realtek)
1 x S/PDIF Output (Realtek)
1 x Serial Port

As expected with a premium model on a high-end professional chipset, the single socketed Supermicro X11SPA-T has plenty of cooling options with a total of ten 4-pin headers. To assist the boards ASPEED AST2500 IPMI management controller, the rear panel includes a D-sub video output. Also on the rear panel is a single USB 3.1 G2 Type-A, one USB 3.1 G2 Type-C, and four USB 3.1 G1 Type-A ports. The five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output are powered by a Realtek ALC888 HD audio codec, which isn't high-end by any measure, but it's more than the norm for a board aimed at professional use case scenarios.

Test Bed

As per our testing policy, we take a high-end CPU suitable for the motherboard that was released during the socket’s initial launch, and equip the system with a suitable amount of memory running at the processor 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.

To utilize the C246 chipset and for the Supermicro X11SCA-W review specifically, we used an Intel Xeon E-2186G processor which has similar specifications to the Core i7-8700K; the Xeon E-2186 has a 100 MHz increase on the base frequency, while the turbo clocks remain the same across both processors (4.7 GHz).

Test Setup
Processor Intel Xeon W-3235 180W, $1398,
12 Cores, 24 Threads, 3.3 GHz (4.4 GHz Turbo)
Motherboard Supermicro X11SCA-W
Cooling Noctua U14S DX-3647
Power Supply Thermaltake Toughpower Grand 1200W Gold PSU
Memory 2x16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2400
Ran at DDR4-2666
Video Card ASUS GTX 980 STRIX (1178/1279 Boost)
Hard Drive Crucial MX300 1TB
Case Open Test Bed
Operating System Windows 10 RS3 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.

Many thanks to...

We must thank the following companies for kindly providing hardware for our multiple test beds. Some of this hardware is not in this test bed specifically, but is used in other testing.

Hardware Providers
Sapphire RX 460 Nitro MSI GTX 1080 Gaming X OC Crucial MX300 +
MX500 SSDs
Corsair AX860i +
AX1200i PSUs
G.Skill RipjawsV,
SniperX, FlareX
Crucial Ballistix
BIOS And Software System Performance
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  • SSNSeawolf - Friday, January 24, 2020 - link

    Gavin, can you comment as to why the W-3235 has a poor showing in some benchmarks, such as Ashes of the Singularity? It loses against it's older cousin, the 7900X, even though it has a slightly faster turbo, much more cache, more memory channels and the same mesh architecture.

    The only thing I can think of is that the 7900X is LCC Skylake silicon while the W-3235 is HCC, but it doesn't seem that such a big delta can be explained by an extra tile hop or two.
  • olafgarten - Friday, January 24, 2020 - link

    As far as I know it's most likely because AOTS uses a lot of multiprocessing and so the HCC might make a difference there
  • PCWarrior - Monday, January 27, 2020 - link

    Three reasons for the difference:
    1. Looser memory timings (secondary, tertiary) on the workstation Supermicro boards compared to the enthusiast X299 ones with tighter timings. Also, likely looser primary timings (as well as looser secondary and tertiary) due to using 16GB DIMMs (and 6 of them) as opposed to 8GB DIMMS (and only 4 of them).

    2. The cascade lake processors have built-in hardware mitigations that are known to have some performance impact. Sure this impact is smaller impact than equivalent software mitigations but larger impact than no security mitigations at all. The 7900X results show in the charts are likely from 2 years ago with no or fewer security mitigations applied.

    3. Unlike enthusiast X299 boards that out-of-the box have no power limits and the cpu can turbo to its all-core turbo indefinitely, the Supermicro C246 boards adhere to Intel’s spec so the TDP is enforced after 28 (or so) seconds. So the 3235 in the above results was turboing to its all-core frequency (and we don’t know if it is 4GHZ as it is for the 7900X to begin with) for only 28 seconds - after that its frequency dropped to a value that would make the cpu power consumption not exceed 180W (i.e. equal to the TDP).

    P.S: There is a mistake in the article. Specifically, under the Test Bed section it says that the board used was the X11SCA-W (instead of the X11SPA-T that this review is supposedly about). It also says that the RAM used was 2x16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2400 (run at 2666) which would have been the case for the X11SCA-W (mainstream 1151 socket and dual channel RAM). This board (the X11SPA-T) should have been tested with 6x16GB at 2933MHZ. Clearly the author forgot to fully update the table when he copy-pasted it from the older article about the X11SCA-W.
  • Tomatotech - Friday, January 24, 2020 - link

    Nice to see how the big boys handle it. Most of my work is with mITX systems. Would be lovely to see a reasonably priced SFF mobo with more than 2 RAM slots and more than 1 nvme m.2 slot. There have been some but they’re not cheap.
  • eastcoast_pete - Friday, January 24, 2020 - link

    This board is outside my personal needs, but I would love to see a lower-priced good quality consumer ATX board with good VRMs, no LEDs and the appearance of this workstation board at a fair price. Something tells me I wouldn't be the only potential customer. Any takers?
  • Foeketijn - Sunday, January 26, 2020 - link

    I even emailed them to ask for a bullet proof no nonsense AM4 board (with official ECC support).
  • otherwise - Tuesday, February 25, 2020 - link

    The Asus "WS" boards are directly aimed at this market.
  • watersb - Saturday, January 25, 2020 - link

    Wow. Do I build one of these, or go for the Mac Pro?
  • Licky McShmickletips - Saturday, January 25, 2020 - link

    Please allow me to correct a small error in your postulation:

    "Do I build -two- of these, or buy one Mac Pro equivalent?"
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, January 25, 2020 - link

    Do you need MacOS? Go with Apple. Do you just need a good workstation? Build it yourself. :)

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