|ASUS P9X79 Deluxe Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Olin Coles & David Ramsey|
|Sunday, 13 November 2011|
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ASUS P9X79 Deluxe Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
Without question, the Intel Core i7 3960X is the most powerful desktop processor produced to-date. Our benchmark performance tests illustrate how well this extreme edition processor compares to past CPUs from Intel and AMD, and also how well the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard performs with it installed. Quad-channel 64GB DDR3 system memory support makes a big difference over previous generations, and allows for speeds up to 2400MHz with XMP 1.3 support. Yielding forty PCI-Express lanes from the processor alone, we can also see why Sandy Bridge Extreme is best suited for the Intel X79 Express motherboard platform. If you're looking for a platform to build the best computer possible, Sandy Bridge Extreme and X79 Express are clearly the ideal way to go.
Yet while the 3960X is a significant step forward for CPU performance and efficiency, in terms of motherboard performance we must examine how well the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe compares to the previous generation and competing alternatives, as well as Intel's new DX79SI Desktop Board. More than anything else though, it will come down to the manufacturer-specific features that are value-added to the motherboard that make the difference. The term 'reference board' applies to video card products, not motherboards. Intel's own X79 Express solutions are retail products competing for shelf space, which is why we've used Intel's DX79SI flagship enthusiast desktop motherboard as a point of reference. By comparison, benchmark performance tests using identical system settings and hardware components pushed the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard ahead of Intel's DX79SI nearly every time. When overclocking, ASUS AI Suite II offered an incredibly simple process to achieve speeds beyond what the Intel motherboard could deliver, making it possible for even the most novice hardware enthusiast to reach impressive overclock results.
ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 3 (DIP3) could very well be the reason for this. The ASUS TurboV Processing Unit (TPU) can increase performance by automatically overclocking the system as well as offloading CPU duties to allow the processor to concentrate on more demanding tasks. The ASUS Energy Processing Unit (EPU) dramatically reduces wasteful energy consumption, while using DIGI+ Power Control to fine-tune extremely precise voltage levels. Taking proprietary functionality one step further, ASUS adds a Bluetooth 3.0 HS module with IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support, giving users remote system accessibility through mobile apps such as ASUS BT Turbo as well as connecting directly to other wireless devices. Additionally, because X79 Express does not currently support Intel's Smart Response Technology it then rests on the manufacturer to deliver suitable alternatives. ASUS addresses this problem by offering their own proprietary solution: ASUS SSD Cache, which can take advantage of a small solid state drive for hybrid storage configuration or even as part of the available 64GB DDR3 capacity to create a RAM-disk partition for the same purpose. In the end, these proprietary add-on features give one manufacturer an edge over others, because without them these are all just X79 Express platforms with the same basic potential.
Despite all the great features ASUS has added onto the P9X79 series, there are still a few fundamental design flaws with the Intel X79 Express platform that keep it from greatness. When Intel's P67 Platform Controller Hub (PCH) launched with only one set of native SATA 6Gb/s ports to supplement two older sets of SATA 3Gb/s ports, it made sense on some level because this was their mainstream platform. Most people then expected the X79 enthusiast platform to remedy this and deliver SATA 6Gb/s ports throughout, because after all, SATA 6Gb/s ports are backward compatible and automatically work with older SATA 3Gb/s or 1.5 Gb/s devices. This was not the case, and on paper the only real advancement Intel offered was native SuperSpeed USB 3.0 support - something manufacturers like ASUS have been offering for nearly a year before now.
With regard to functionality, ASUS has loaded every one of their X79-series motherboards with proprietary add-on technology to expand the user experience. Their second-generation UEFI BIOS gives new users a friendly way of making adjustments to the internal settings and tweak their hardware like a seasoned veteran. ASUS employs digital voltage regulator units for both CPU and RAM, with 16-phase vCore power for the CPU, 4-phase VCCSA power to the processor's integrated memory controller, and 2+2 phase VDIMM power for the system DRAM. USB BIOS Flashback is an innovative means of upgrading system firmware without the need for CPU/RAM/VGA/HDD, while ASUS SSD Caching and USB 3.0 Boost with UAS protocol are two great add-on technologies not delivered standard by Intel. Future-proofing features such as PCI-Express 3.0 support with compatible devices will double bandwidth up to 32Gb/s, which could become necessary since P9X79 Deluxe supports 3-Way/Quad-GPU NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX video card sets.
Good looks help turn heads, and ASUS knows how to keep a professional appearance while throwing off a few eye-catching combinations of color and material. The ASUS P9X79 Deluxe heatsinks are suitable for thermal loads far beyond what this motherboard will produce during heated operation, and to a larger extent they become fashion accessories. This is especially true for the faux-Northbridge heat-pipe cooler that covers a tiny ICS 9DB403DGLF PCI-Express differential buffer; despite creating almost no thermal load and measuring barely larger than a USB port. It takes aggressive looks to sell to an aggressive enthusiast market, and since aluminum is relatively inexpensive this trend isn't going to change anytime soon.
At the time of launch, 14 November 2011, the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard is sold for $399.99 at Newegg. This places P9X79 Deluxe among the most expensive premium-priced motherboards available. Rating value can be subjective since one person may need every single feature offered, while another only wants a few. Compared to other X79 Express motherboards, ASUS P9X79 Deluxe delivers unmatched functionality that could be considered worth every cent of the purchase price. Of course, for those willing to go without the Bluetooth module and extra Gigabit LAN adapter, there's always the ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard to consider.
The ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard has tremendous potential... to do anything and everything. This is the ASUS kitchen-sink model, with more integrated features than a multi-tasking super-user could ever hope to need. P9X79 Deluxe packs plenty of proprietary features onto Intel's X79 Express LGA2011 platform, making this the ideal motherboard for new Sandy Bridge Extreme Edition Core-i7 processors. Digital voltage regulation modules, performance-boosting micro-processors, and integrated Bluetooth 3.0 functionality are just a few of the items other manufacturers discount as unnecessary - to their own detriment. ASUS also enjoys construction quality that leads the industry, which translates into a longer product lifetime with fewer RMA's. It's my recommendation that for anyone seeking out a fully-loaded motherboard with future-proof features, the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe should be at the top of their list.
+ UEFI Graphical User Interface BIOS replacement
- High priced enthusiast-level motherboard solution
Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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