Intel recently released its server focused C246 chipset to the market to supplement the release of the entry-level Xeon E-2100 series of processors. On that day Supermicro released four different C246 models onto the market including the X11SCA-W which we are taking a look at today. The Supermicro X11SCA-W has support for up to 64GB of ECC and non-ECC memory, eight SATA ports, dual M.2 and a single U.2 port. The goal here is for a good run-of-the-mill Xeon E motherboard.

The Supermicro X11SCA-W Overview

Earlier this year, Intel launched their Coffee Lake based Xeon E processors onto the market, and then re-released them with a server angle more recently. The processors are mirrored analogues of the desktop range of Coffee Lake SKUs, but with ECC support and different efficiency points. The major caveat to using Xeon E is that users will need to adopt the Intel C246 chipset, rather than the consumer chipsets. To complement this new Intel launch, Supermicro released four models: the X11SCA, X11SCA-F, X11SCA-W and X11SCZ-F.

The differences in model numbers are very easy to distinguish with Supermicro publishing their product naming convention on their website. The model we have in hand is the X11SCA-W which according to the above naming convention denotes that this model is from Supermicro's 11th generation of workstation boards, it has a single socket, the socket type is Socket H (aka LGA1151 v2), it's a workstation board and that this model has integrated Wi-Fi. 

The Supermicro X11SCA-W on the surface looks like any regular consumer-focused commercial motherboard with a basic green PCB. The X11SCA-W has support for ECC and non-ECC unbuffered DDR4-2666 up to 64GB, as well as support for both Xeon E CPUs and consumer Core processors. On the PCB are two full-length PCIe 3.0 slots which allow users to operate graphics cards at x16 or at x8/x8, as well as a single PCIe 3.0 x1 slot, a larger PCIe 3.0 x4 slot and a single PCI 32-bit slot with support for up to 5 V. The X11SCA-W has a pair of PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots but unfortunately they both share bandwidth with other slots; M.2_1 shares bandwidth with the PCIe 3.0 x4 slot, while the M.2_2 slot shares bandwidth directly with the single U.2 port. Located towards the bottom right-hand corner of the PCB is a total of eight SATA ports with support for RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 arrays.

Coming from a range of products aimed at commercial users, the X11SCA-W uses a Realtek ALC888S audio codec, dual 1G Intel based LAN, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The board has three video outputs; a DisplayPort, a DVI and HDMI. USB capability is quite basic with two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports (Type-A and Type-C) and two USB 3.0 Type-A ports.

When comparing performance, we combined the Supermicro X11SCA-W with an Intel Xeon E-2186G processor. With six cores and twelve threads, a base frequency of 3.8 GHz and a turbo of 4.7 GHz, this is very similar to the Intel Core i7-8700K we use on our other similar LGA1151 v2 systems. Performance in our power testing did show the X11SCA-W to have one of the lowest power draws in our long idle test, but things changed quickly when at full load. Other elements of system performance including DPC latency and POST times also came in quite weak, but booting times on server boards are usually higher than regular consumer boards so this can be overlooked. The performance in the CPU, memory and our gaming tests proved fruitful for Supermicro as the X11SCA-W didn't flag up any aberrations and there are no real areas of concern.

Supermicro doesn't have much competition in the way of consumer targeted C246 chipset motherboards. ASUS recently released two options, the ASUS WS C246 Pro ($254) and ASUS WS C246M Pro ($251). ASRock did announce one of the first micro-ATX C246M motherboards but the availability of this model doesn't seem to have transitioned to retail shelves as of yet. The Supermicro X11SCA-W has a current selling price of $285 at Newegg at the time of writing with the base model from Supermicro (X11SCA) retailing for $270 which drops the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 support.

The Current Intel Xeon E-2100 Series Product Stack

As we reported back in July, Intel is coming out with a range of quad-core and six-core parts for Xeon E. Those labeled with ‘G’ at the end of the name will have integrated graphics. Sitting at the top is the Xeon E-2186G, a six core processor with a TDP of 95W, a base frequency of 3.8 GHz, and a turbo frequency of 4.7 GHz. In the past, the top processor was often called the ‘E3-1285’, so the naming scheme follows.

Intel Xeon E-2100 Series Processors (LGA 1151/C246)
    Cores   Base Freq.    Turbo  
L3 Cache   TDP    Price  
Xeon E-2186G 6/12 3.8 GHz 4.7 GHz 12 MB 95 W $450
Xeon E-2176G 6/12 3.7 GHz 4.7 GHz 12 MB 80 W $362
Xeon E-2174G 4/8 3.8 GHz 4.7 GHz 8 MB 71 W $328
Xeon E-2146G 6/12 3.5 GHz 4.5 GHz 12 MB 80 W $311
Xeon E-2144G 4/8 3.6 GHz 4.5 GHz 8 MB 71 W $272
Xeon E-2136 6/12 3.3 GHz 4.5 GHz 12 MB 80 W $284
Xeon E-2134 4/8 3.5 GHz 4.5 GHz 8 MB 71 W $250
Xeon E-2126G 6/6 3.3 GHz 4.5 GHz 12 MB 80 W $255
Xeon E-2124G 4/4 3.4 GHz 4.5 GHz 8 MB 71 W $213
Xeon E-2124 4/4 3.3 GHz 4.3 GHz 8 MB 71 W $193

For a summary of the results, move onto the conclusion but for a deeper look into the X11SCA-W motherboard, we detail the following over the next few pages:

  1. Overview [this page]
  2. Visual Inspection: Analysis of the Board Components
  3. BIOS and Software: Focusing on the firmware and non-hardware side
  4. Board Features and Test Bed: The full specifications list, and how we test
  5. System Performance: Component testing such as power, boot times and DPC Latency
  6. CPU Performance
  7. Gaming Performance
  8. Conclusion
Visual Inspection
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  • mode_13h - Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - link

    Gah! What's the point in using/testing this without ECC RAM?
  • bill.rookard - Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - link

    Well the only real advantage to testing with ECC is to see if it catches errors. How would you go about simulating errors?

    If ECC RAM is rated at x MHz, and it runs at x MHz, then it’s good. I don’t think this board has real support for overclocking, so why worry about it?
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - link

    ECC places an extra burden on the CPU's IMC. I don't expect it would have a noticeable impact on performance, but why not benchmark it & find out?
  • bolkhov - Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - link

    Feature-wise, the whole X11SCA line is a bit scarce compared to its predecessor X11SAE: less slots, less USB ports, much I/O sharing (X11SAE* shared nothing).
    And no mATX variant (X11SAE-M was a little gem!).

    Even consumer-grade C9Z390-CGW has a reacher feature set, despite being cheaper.

    X11SCA* line is a bit disappointing, to put it mildly.
  • dsplover - Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - link

    I love Supermicro for mission critical stability and long life. Wish I knew about these before but my 8086k/Q370 in the CSE-512f-410B 1U is loud and stable.

    Mine came with Rice Chips which are higher quality than Spy chips.
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - link

    You mean "sparse"? "spare"?

    As you probably know, the X11SAE only supports Skylake and Kaby Lake.

    I used to run Supermicro, but more recently switched to ASRock Rack. So far, so good.
  • bolkhov - Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - link

    I meant "poor", but tried to be more polite.

    Yes, incompatibility between C236 and Coffee Lake is a problem (I even tried i5-8500 on X11SAE-F ("what if?") -- no go: BMC works, but CPU doesn't start).

    To be honest, the x11sae-F isn't ideal: it has some glitches and stability problems.
    But BMC-less X11SAE and its predecessor X10SAE are ideal for workstation use.

    If only Supermicro could create an adequate X11SAE successor (not a cut-down one like X11SCA), that could be an ideal mobo for CFL.

    As to ASRock Rack: some models look interesting, but those are hard to get in my organization (a government scientific institution).
    So, now the most feature-rich Xeon E mobo is Asus C246 PRO.
  • mode_13h - Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - link

    Sorry, what do you mean by "CFL"?
  • bolkhov - Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - link

    "CFL" is Intel's abbreviation for Coffee Lake (similarly KBL is Kaby Lake, SKL=Skylake, BDW=Broadwell, HSW=Haswell, KNL=Knight's Landing, etc.)
  • mode_13h - Friday, November 23, 2018 - link

    Thanks. I knew about HSW, SKL, KNL, and KBL. In the right context, I'd have figured that, but I was thinking it was some reference to what you were using it for.

    So, what's Coffee Lake Refresh? CLR? Or do they still call it CFL?

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