|X79 Express Motherboard Performance Comparison|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Wednesday, 23 November 2011|
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X79 Express Chipset
If you look at the block diagrams of the Z68 and X79 chipsets side by side, the X79 seems functionally identical to the Z68, except that it lacks the digital display support and Intel Smart Response Technology. The lack of the latter is disappointing, since our tests with Intel Smart Response Technology showed that its use of an SSD as an intelligent cache to a hard drive could dramatically improve storage performance. Perhaps to make up for this, the X79 does permit overclocking via raising the base clock (BCLK) frequency, something that's almost impossible on the previous Sandy Bridge chipsets since most of the other clocks on the board were derived from the base clock, and raising it more than a few MHz would make the entire board unstable.
As with the Z68 and earlier P67 chipsets, there are 14 USB 2.0 ports and 6 SATA ports, of which only two are SATA 6G. Notably missing is Intel's "Light Peak" (aka "Thunderbolt"), which has been used as Intel's excuse for not supporting SuperSpeed USB 3.0. And it's really odd that only two of the SATA ports are SATA 6G, since 6G devices are becoming more common, especially among SSDs. For a cutting-edge platform, this is impossible to justify. At least AMD gives you a full six SATA 6G ports.
Aside from supporting LGA2011 processors such as the Sandy Bridge Extreme 3960X, the main new feature of the X79 chipset is its support for quad-channel memory, which results in enormous memory bandwidth improvements as we'll see later in this article. It can also directly support single, dual, and triple-channel memory, with performance exceeding existing dual and triple channel systems.