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ASUS P9X79 Pro Motherboard E-mail
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Written by Olin Coles & David Ramsey   
Sunday, 20 November 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASUS P9X79 Pro Motherboard
The Intel X79 Express Chipset
Closer Look: ASUS P9X79 Pro
ASUS P9X79 Pro Details
ASUS UEFI BIOS
ASUS P9X79 Pro Specifications
Motherboard Testing Methodology
AIDA64 Extreme Edition Tests
PCMark Vantage Tests
CINEBENCH R11.5 Benchmarks
CPU-Dependent 3D Gaming
PassMark PerformanceTest
Media Encoding Benchmarks
SPECviewperf 11 Tests
SPECapc Lightwave
Blender and POV-Ray
ASUS P9X79 Pro Conclusion

The Intel 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.

Processor

Cores/Threads

L3 Cache

Base Frequency

Max Turbo
(Single Core)

Memory Support

TDP

Intel Core i7 3960X

6 / 12

15 MB

3.3 GHz

3.9 GHz

Quad-channel DDR3 1600

130W

Intel Core i7 3930K

6 / 12

12 MB

3.2 GHz

3.8 GHz

Quad-channel DDR3 1600

130W

Intel Core i7 3820

4 / 8

10 MB

3.6 GHz

3.9 GHz

Quad-channel DDR3 1600

130W

LGA2011 processors, like the Sandy Bridge Extreme series shown above, require the new X79 Express chipset. Intel provides this handy block diagram:

Intel-X79-Express-Block-Diagram.png

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") interface, which Intel has touted as a reason 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.

One nice thing is the abundance of PCI-E lanes, an area Intel has historically been a little skimpy on, especially on their LGA1155/1156 platforms. The Sandy Bridge E provides a full 40 PCI-E lanes from the processor, more than twice the 16 lanes of an LGA1155 Sandy Bridge CPU, and an additional eight lanes from the X79 chipset...the same as from the P67/Z68 chipsets. Together, that's a full 48 PCI-E lanes, besting even AMD's 42. Triple-card SLI/CrossFireX systems will run at 16/16/8 with eight lanes left over for SATA 6 and USB 3.0 use.

So the X79's a mixed bag: only two SATA 6G ports and no USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt, but plenty of PCI-E lanes.



 

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