|Intel DX79SI LGA2011 Desktop Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 14 November 2011|
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Closer Look: Intel DX79SI Motherboard
Intel wants you to know they're serious about this whole "enthusiast motherboard" thing, and as we all know, nothing says "serious" like a giant skull.
Since this motherboard is a prototype, there's no manual or standard accessories package (although Intel did include a back port cover and two and three-card SLI bridges). Like all X79 motherboards (so far, anyway), Intel splits the DIMM sockets on either side of the processor socket, presumably because the number of traces required for quad-channel memory operation would make putting all the sockets on one side too complex. With eight DIMM slots, each capable of handling an 8GB DIMM, you could put 64GB of RAM on this motherboard! The blue and black DIMM sockets each define a quad-channel memory bank. DIMMs on either side of the CPU socket will make fitting performance air coolers difficult unless you use low profile memory.
You have to see the LGA2011 socket in person to appreciate how large it is. The pin spacing remains about the same as it was on the LGA1155 sockets, so with almost twice as many pins, the LGA2011 socket occupies almost twice the board area. Note that there are now two locking levers, which must be opened or closed in the correct sequence.
The back I/O panel is refreshingly legacy-free, without even a single combo PS/2 port. From left to right we see the "Back to BIOS" recovery button, two USB 3.0 ports, three dual USB 2.0 port connectors topped by Ethernet, FireWire (IEEE 1394), and another Ethernet port, and finally the audio ports with an optical output.
The large CPU socket and 8 DIMM slots have crowded some components to unusual locations. The EPS 12V socket, just to the right of the middle bottom of this image, gets squeezed to the very outside edge of the motherboard, and the position of the bright red CPU fan header at the lower right of this image means that your cooling fan connector might have to be routed over the tops of the rear DIMMs.
The giant socket and eight DIMM slots leave little room for the elaborate multi-phase CPU power systems we've come to expect on high-end X58 motherboards. The DX79SI's voltage regulators are split on either side of the CPU socket (above and below it in this photo). Intel didn't provide any specification on the CPU power supply circuitry (number of phases, etc.)
Let's take a closer look at this board in the next section.