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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards
Written by Olin Coles & David Ramsey   
Sunday, 13 November 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF Motherboard
The Intel X79 Express Chipset
Closer Look: ASUS Sabertooth X79
ASUS Sabertooth X79 Details
ASUS Thermal Radar
ASUS UEFI BIOS
ASUS TUF Sabertooth X79 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 TUF Sabertooth X79 Conclusion

ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF Motherboard Review

Manufacturer: ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
Model Number: The Ultimate Force Sabertooth X79
Product Name: Intel X79 Express Motherboard
Price as Tested: $339.99 at Newegg

Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by ASUS.

TUF: The Ultimate Force. ASUS' most stable and reliable motherboard is backed by the industry's best five-year warranty. To attain this honor, the ASUS Sabertooth X79 motherboard endures extreme critical environmental testing that covers low to high chamber room temperatures up to 55°C at 90% humidity. TUF Thermal Armor combined with US mil-spec electronic components ensures this motherboard will remain mission-ready regardless of how extreme an overclocking experiment gets. In this article, Benchmark Reviews tests the ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF motherboard with Intel's Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition CPU.

Designed to support second-generation Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition processors for the LGA2011 socket, Intel's Sandy Bridge Extreme X79 Express motherboards raise the standard for performance computers. ASUSTek, the largest of Intel's partners, is using this occasion to debut some impressive technology of their own: the ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF motherboard. Standard are features such as SuperSpeed USB 3.0, SATA 6Gb/s, 14-phase digital power, and PCI-Express 3.0 compatibility. Complete with quad-channel DDR3 1866MHz system memory support, ASUS enables SSD caching and RAM-disk opportunities for high-demand tasks. A fresh new UEFI (BIOS) allows risk-free USB flashback, while digital power regulators now control every voltage on the system.

Based on more than a decade's worth of experience building computer systems with ASUS components, it seemed as though the ASUS P8P67 EVO Motherboard was a crowning achievement that offered so many robust features it would be a very long time before it was outdone. ASUS needed just under a year, since they've managed to pack so many new proprietary features in the ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF motherboard, once again setting the bar impossibly high for competing manufacturers. This review will focus on these new technologies, and explain how they integrate into the technical demands of hardware enthusiasts.

ASUS-TUF-Sabertooth-X79-Motherboard-Package.jpg

Of the many new features available on the ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF motherboard, the most notable are:

  • 3-Way NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX support
  • Quad-channel DDR3 1866MHz XMP 1.3 system memory support
  • SuperSpeed USB 3.0 for both front panel and rear IO ports
  • Native and supplemental SATA 6Gb/s ports
  • PCI-Express 3.0 support on compatible devices for up to 32GB/s
  • Digital voltage regulator units for both CPU and RAM

Beyond these platform improvement, some ASUS-specific motherboard features include:

  • DIGI+ Power Control voltage regulator modules for precision tuning and control
  • TUF Thermal Armor provides direct wind-tunnel airflow onto heat-critical components
  • TurboV Processing Unit (TPU) advanced monitoring enables expanded overclocking
  • ASUS SSD Caching uses a SATA-based SSD or RAM-Disk with any hard drive to boost system performance
  • USB BIOS Flashback enables firmware updates without any CPU/RAM/GPU present
  • USB 3.0 Boost goes beyond SuperSpeed USB transfers by using USB Attached SCSI protocol
  • ASUS AI Suite II consolidates all system utilities into one comprehensive software package
  • MemOK! enables the system to boot when memory compatibility becomes an issue
  • ASUS UEFI (User Extensible Firmware Interface - a BIOS replacement) with Graphical User Interface

Proprietary features are what separate the many motherboard solutions from one another. Generally speaking, without these special features overall system performance would be approximately identical between Intel X79 Express motherboard platforms. Tested using the same graphics card, system memory, central processor, and storage device on motherboards of the same platform, performance differences only appear when the manufacturer has introduced additional technology or made design sacrifices that penalize pipeline performance. This article compares several Intel X79 Express motherboards against previous Intel and AMD platforms.



 

Comments 

 
# sata/raid supportscott macfarlane 2011-11-14 20:52
Wow, another awesome review by the Benchmark Folks!
Thorough, detailed, and on the cutting edge as usual.
Not to mention that it coincides with their timely reviews of the new CPU chips and the Intel "Extreme"(cough) motherboard - its put them all together in perspective so we know where to focus Mom's xMas gaming and upgrade cash!

I have a previous X58 Sabertooth motherboard that has the Intel Raid chip supporting 6x3gb sata drives plus the Marvel chip that adds another 2x6gb ports. I have my C: Drive SSD and another SSD for virtual machines on the Marvell and two raid 5 arrays on the six sata ports.

One question is: with the new configuration that has 2x6gb asus ports plus 2x6gb chipset ports plus 4x3gb ports, will I be able to support both of my raid 5 arrays?
i.e. are all six of the chipset ports on the same controller, or are they logically split so raid arrays must stay within each set of ports?

Thanks BMR!
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# RE: sata/raid supportOlin Coles 2011-11-14 20:59
Once you set ports to RAID within the UEFI (formerly called BIOS), it will boot right into your old drives because they use the same Intel RAID driver.
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# sata/raid supportscott macfarlane 2011-11-14 20:59
O, and one more thingy: I see this baby has two fans integrated right into the motherboard to cool the components. Are these standard sized fans that can easily be replaced with aftermarket ones after they blow up or will we have to fly to Asia and wait in the cattle line to get a $99 cent proprietary fan replaced for one-k large?
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# RE: sata/raid supportOlin Coles 2011-11-14 21:01
Sadly, it's the latter. The back panel fan is fairly common if you order online, but that 'Southbridge' fan (which is really the X79 chip fan) is much harder to come by.
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# Wow, that's really too badMergatroid 2011-11-14 21:37
This looks like an excellent board. It's really too bad to hear they went with proprietary fans. Do they give any type of MTBF on those fans? I'm hate to be at their mercy.
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# RE: ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF MotherboardAthlonite 2011-11-15 08:29
The south bridge/x79 chipset fan looks like something out of a laptop maybe you'd be able to get one from a laptop repair shop or from an old dead single slot ATI cooler like an old HD2600/HD2400
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# LINUXThe Techno Alien 2011-11-15 12:33
Too bad I can't use all those nice features for overclocking and BIOS and stuff, I can always Dual Boot, but *sigh*... Why not? Windows is for gaming.
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# Memory supportratnev 2011-11-16 00:04
Does this board support 2133 MHz memory without overclocking? I mean if the memory module of 2133 MHz with xmp profile on is activated through the bios, will the motherboard recognize it? I'm asking because sabertooth x79 manual guide says it supports only 1866 memory max.
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# RE: Memory supportDavid Ramsey 2011-11-16 06:48
We didn't test 2133Mhz memory in this board, but I recall seeing that frequency as an option in the popup menu where you select memory frequency in the BIOS, so I don't see any reason it wouldn't work...
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# RE: RE: Memory supportratnev 2011-11-16 07:41
Thank you for your reply. It was very helpful for me and gave the last step in choosing the board. )))
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# RE: Memory supportOlin Coles 2011-11-16 07:56
My answer is that 1866MHz is suppported, as that's what the manual claims is the maximum speed. However, UEFI firmware revisions may change this.
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# RE: RE: Memory supportratnev 2011-11-16 08:15
I saw another review of that motherboard where the g.skill ripjaws Z 2133Mhz were used. They claim no problems at all. I just wanted to be insured that this will work.
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# RE: RE: RE: Memory supportDavid Ramsey 2011-11-16 13:29
Right now, this is my favorite X79 motherboard. I'm sure you'll like it.
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# RE: RE: RE: Memory supportDavid Ramsey 2011-11-30 13:58
Just in case anyone was still wondering: according to the specs on the box, the board handles up to DDR3-1866 memory. However, in the BIOS, you can set up to DDR3-2666.
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# RE: ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF Motherboardanonymous 2011-11-25 22:35
Here you say: "And it's really odd that only two of the SATA ports are SATA 6G"

But in the comparo-graph on this web page:
#benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=833&Itemid=69&limit=1&limitstart=2

for SATA this for this motherboard it says:

4xSATA 3G, 4xSATA 6G

Please clarify, am I reading one of these pages wrong?

Also, not really an issue, but on this page it says:

"there are 14 USB 2.0 ports and 6 SATA ports"
and
"touted as a reason for not supporting SuperSpeed USB 3.0"
which doesn't explicitly say that there are no USB 3.0 ports, but it sort of reads that way to the casual reader. On the other page listed above it says for USB for this motherboard:

"6xUSB 3.0, 14xUSB 2.0"


Thanks for the wonderful reviews of this cutting edge stuff! Its great to get all of this info so quickly after they are released.
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# ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF Motherboardcmjohncheng 2011-11-25 22:55
another 2 SATA 6G is [ESATA]
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# RE: ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF Motherboardanonymous 2011-11-25 22:36
Oh, there - you do say it: "no USB 3.0"
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# RE: ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2011-11-26 08:15
Anon, you're confused. The section where I say there are only 2 SATA 6G ports and no USB 3.0 is the section on Intel's X79 chipset. The clue is the heading "Intel's X79 Express Chipset" in large type at the start of that section.

ASUS adds extra SATA 6G ports and USB 3.0 via third party controller chips, which is part of the "added value" they bring to this board.
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# RE: RE: ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF Motherboardanonymous 2011-11-28 16:46
Awesome. I am indeed going to build a computer based on this board. Thanks for the clarification!
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# Software EngineerVan Anast 2011-12-07 17:31
The most complete review of a product this type i've ever seen and since i recently ordered the exact pair of mobo-processor i have to thank you very much for this article.
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# RE: ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF MotherboardArt Ford 2011-12-22 11:48
I wanted to use G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory Model F3-14900CL9Q-16GBXL with the mobo but have been unable to find out if this RAM is compatible.
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# RE: RE: ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2011-12-22 15:22
That memory will work fine...
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# tpurichard alexander 2012-01-30 19:42
Where exactly is the tpu switch located?
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# PCI-E:16/16/8 = okay for Revo?Bruce 2012-05-13 22:21
Hi.
Love the review... nice and thorough.
Question (as I have been looking for a suitable upgrade & replacement for my P67 Sabertooth board...

Will this board allow me to run my two GTX580's in SLI @ 16x, and allow the Revodrive3 x2 to run in the bottom PCI-E okay?

In my present rig, I have to drop a GPU.

Thanks
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# RE: PCI-E:16/16/8 = okay for Revo?David Ramsey 2012-05-14 07:55
Yes. In fact, I'm running two GTX 580s in exactly the configuration you mentioned. In the bottom slot, I'm running an Asus Xonar sound card, but your Revodrive will work just fine.
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# terrific review siteGord 2013-02-11 21:49
Thanks for the very comprehensive review. Off to buy one tomorrow for my graphics workstation build along with the i7 3930K and a Corsair Graphite Series case and various other goodies.
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