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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  • Tomatotech - Saturday, January 25, 2020 - link

    I don’t have prices to hand but there has been discussion that the Mac Pro is competitively priced compared to buying the same parts yourself.

    As said above, if you want Apple, get the Mac Pro. If your time is valuable, get it pre-built with a support contract that probably costs an extra $5k+ (which is very worth it for commercial buyers).

    I’d say only build this kind of system yourself if your time isn’t worth much - but then you wouldn’t be able to afford it - or if you have free support eg graduate students to farm it out to.
  • FunBunny2 - Saturday, January 25, 2020 - link

    "I don’t have prices to hand but there has been discussion that the Mac Pro is competitively priced compared to buying the same parts yourself."

    That's always true; BigCorps buy in bulk and therefore at lower unit cost. There's a reason Amazon is killing local stores, and that's it. Trouble is, either consumers ignore the transport cost, or Amazon eats it. So far, it's mostly the latter. (e-tail will, in due time, devolve into supplying only low volume niche products that aren't profitable to stock locally.) Also, it turns out, in recent years most (i.e. more than 50%) of Amazon's turnover is from other vendors. Don't know how much Amazon's cut is, but the notion of 'central purchasing' beating on price might not be a given.
  • Death666Angel - Monday, January 27, 2020 - link

    For some mid range configurations, the price is maybe okay. But you really should not upgrade the SSD or RAM at all via Apple, as far as I know, since the prices are steep. And the entry level is 5k for an 8 core, I believe?
    I stand by it, if you need MacOS, get Apple, otherwise why get a product that locks you into using Intel CPUs and AMD GPUs, both of which are not the be all end all these days in performance. Apple support also seems questionable with the Pro products, compared to other companies. Plus, if you don't need MacOS, chances are you need Windows or Linux and those don't run great (at all) on the Mac Pro.
    And my "build it yourself" was not meant as a stict "get all the cheapest parts from 5 different vendors, then assemble it and test out all the edge cases". This isn't LTT. But not going with Apple allows you the freedom to check out all the classic workstation vendors and boutiques, look for the combination of CPU, GPU, RAM and storage that fits your needs with an OS and applications you actually use and then decide which brand you trust most and see who has competitive pricing.
  • peevee - Monday, January 27, 2020 - link

    Is it the same company which has integrated Chinese spy chips on its boards?
  • HoLiFuc - Wednesday, January 29, 2020 - link

    That story was a whole lot of BS, is was already debunked already ages ago by Supermicro and other company's who where supposed to be affected.
  • otherwise - Wednesday, February 26, 2020 - link

    That was proven to be false. You might be thinking of Huawei which is still under sanctions for these claims.
  • ender8282 - Monday, January 27, 2020 - link

    Why no thread ripper comparisons?
  • duploxxx - Thursday, January 30, 2020 - link

    Because that would scratch half of the Intel benches from the graph
  • HollyDOL - Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - link

    Is it just me or is the board much more visually clean (layout wise, no rubbish etc.) than mainstream boards?
  • Xajel - Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - link

    I wish we see more mainstream workstation boards, things for Z390, X570 & TRX40 also...

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