Supermicro X12SCA-F Review Intel Xeon W-1200 Motherboard


Supermicro X12SCA-F Market Perspective

At STH, we have been covering this space since the Intel X3400 series which means over a decade. Intel is returning to competing with AMD on the desktop side, and that is forcing the workstation/ server-side to get more competitive. As a result, we see that Intel is using a very simple pricing strategy compared to what we have seen in the past. Intel is still extracting value from higher-performing parts, but there is no longer a 2x price premium for a few hundred MHz on a quad-core part.

Intel Xeon W 1200 SKUs Price Per Core
Intel Xeon W 1200 SKUs Price Per Core

For the Supermicro X12SCA-F, this is very important. There are buyers who have purchased the -F Supermicro platforms in this segment for years and they are now getting generational performance gains that far exceed what happened in this segment for the better part of a decade. While AMD is not really competing in this segment, the impacts spill over to these platforms and are providing an indirect boost.

Supermicro X12SAE BMC Not Populated
Supermicro X12SAE BMC Not Populated

To us, the Supermicro X12SCA-F is probably the platform we would choose over the X12SAE we reviewed previously. To be fair, we are the site that does server reviews so the prospect of having the BMC is highly attractive. For our readers, this simply means that this platform can be deployed more like a server which is a big bonus. A common model has been to migrate primary workstations to server roles, and this is a motherboard that can service both use cases well.

Final Words

This is a platform that many STH readers will have owned a predecessor to at some point. The Xeon E3-1200 series is popular because it allows for small, quiet, and power-efficient servers to be built for the edge. While the Xeon W-1200 series and the Supermicro X12SCA-F bring more to the table than previous generations, this traditional segment is not scaling as fast as we are seeing modern large servers. Newer generations of large servers are becoming so large that it is going to be impractical to migrate them to edge deployments. That is the true opportunity of the X12SCA-F.

Supermicro X12SCA F Overview
Supermicro X12SCA F Overview

This is certainly a funny motherboard. It straddles the line between workstation and server by using a workstation Xeon W-1200 series processor along with a server management function.

At the same time, maybe being a longtime STH reader before starting to write for STH, this resonates with me. This is a successor to the Xeon E3-1200 motherboards I have personally owned several of. It has new features like 2.5GbE which is a break from the dual 1GbE options that have been in this space for years. There are fun features like the gaming BIOS and PCIe and DIMM reinforcements. Onboard audio and a useful amount of USB connectivity are welcome on any edge system workstation or server. Yet, when I look at the overview picture, this still looks like a traditional Supermicro server motherboard that we have been using for years, just with a few nice to have features.


  1. It’s a home PC board tarted up with a management solution. It does not even give a nod to front to back airflow. IDK why Intel keeps up the S1151/S1200 Xeon fiction. I guess there are ppl who will pay a bit extra for those four letters.

  2. They aren’t paying extra for the word ‘Xeon’, they are paying extra for the ECC support, which if you are a pro using a workstation that peace of mind can be worthwhile.

    Board looks good but the IPMI feels a little redundant on a platform that can support AMT – would be nice if this had been tested on this and the equivalent board without IPMI – as I understand it you should be able to install meshcommander directly into the firmware to put a web interface on it:

  3. Getting the HIGH END server gear to review –

    Between You, Toms’s and The Corpse of Anandtech – you guys can’t get 1 high end product between you all.

    Tim Walker

    a Pro using a workstation does not have a use for 8C and 2 memory channels

  4. I read somewhere that Intel is planning to expand the DMI link to x8 lanes.
    Can anyone else shed some light on that rumor?
    See Page 2 in this review, where DMI is still x4.

  5. @Bob, I partially agree on the memory channels but I think 8C systems are still very important for many “Pros”. With software companies aggressively using per core licensing (i.e. Ansys) they are still relevant. This subject has been discussed on this website. This is especially true in a year where budgets may be tight and you may not be able to get those extra core license packs approved. You might be down to only 4 cores for simulation work. With the SKU’s being released by AMD and Intel I think they recognize this issue as well. Once W-1300 and Ice Lake release I’d love to see a round up of 8C system solutions.

  6. @Tim W, speaking as a guy who has been working in the computer racket as both a sysadmin and a dev for 25 years, the ECC claims qua workstations are overrated and almost entirely related to making customers feel good.


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