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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards
Written by David Ramsey   
Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation Motherboard
Closer Look: ASUS P9X79 WS Motherboard
P9X79 WS Detailed Features
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
USB 3.0 Boost
P9X79 WS Overclocking
X79 Express Motherboard Final Thoughts
ASUS P9X79 WS Conclusion

ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Motherboard Review

Manufacturer: ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
Model Number: P9X79 WS
Product Name: Intel X79 Express motherboard
Price: $379.99 (Newegg)

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

Generally when we here at Benchmark Reviews get a motherboard in to test, it's aimed at a specific market: it might be an enthusiast-oriented motherboard for gaming, or a micro-ATX motherboard designed for a HTPC, or even just an inexpensive motherboard for users on a budget. Today, though, we have one of ASUS' "Workstation" motherboards: the ASUS P9X79 WS. How does it differ from other X79 motherboards, what's the performance, and should this board be on your short list for your X79 rig?

ASUS' line of "workstation" motherboards was introduced with Intel's X58 chipset and LGA1366 socket. In fact, ASUS had three versions: the WS Professional, the WS Revolution, and the WS Supercomputer, each tailored to a specific market segment. These motherboards were qualified for Xeon processors as well as Core i7 processors. ASUS followed up with the P7P55 WS Supercomputer for Socket LGA1156 systems and the P8P67 WS Supercomputer board for socket LGA1155 systems.


The details differed but one of the main points of the various Workstation motherboards with the ability to run quad graphics systems. In the case of the LGA1155/1156 based boards, this necessitated the use of an NVIDIA NF200 PLX chip to compensate for the lack of PCI-E lanes in these chipsets. No such help is needed with the P9X79 WS, though, since the Sandy Bridge Extreme CPUs it uses have more than enough PCI-E lanes.

ASUS P9X79 WS Specifications

Specifications supplied by ASUS.

CPU Intel Socket 2011 for 2nd Generation Core i7 Processors
Intel Xeon series processors
Supports Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2
Chipset Intel X79
Memory 8 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR3 2400(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz ECC, Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Quad Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA 4-Way SLI Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX Technology
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (dual x16, triple x16/8/8, quad x8, black+blue) *1
2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x4 mode, white)
Storage Intel X79 chipset :
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), navy blue
4 x SATA 3Gb/s port(s), blue
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Marvell PCIe 9128 controller :
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), white
LAN Intel 82579V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Intel 82574L, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Audio Realtek ALC898 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
- Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound
- DTS Ultra PC II
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
IEEE 1394 1 x IEEE 1394a port(s)
USB Ports ASMedia USB 3.0 controller :
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel X79 chipset :
13 x USB 2.0 port(s) (8 at back panel, black, 5 at mid-board)
Workstation Feature 6 x PCIe x 16 slot(s)
Quick Gate: 1 x vertical USB 2.0 on board
ASUS SASsaby series Cards support
ASUS WS 3-color LED
Special Features ASUS TPU :
- Auto Tuning
- TurboV
- TPU switch
- EPU switch
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 8 + 2 Phase CPU Power Design
- Industry leading Digital 2 + 2 Phase DRAM Power Design
- CPU Power Utility
- DRAM Power Utility
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- MemOK!
- AI Suite II
- Ai Charger
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
- ASUS SSD Caching
- USB 3.0 Boost
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
- Stylish Fanless Design Heat-pipe solution
- ASUS Fan Xpert+
- USB BIOS Flashback
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS MyLogo 2
- Multi-language BIOS
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-Code
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-Connector
Back I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard (purple)
1 x PS/2 mouse (green)
1 x IEEE 1394a
2 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
2 x USB 3.0
8 x USB 2.0 (one port can be switched to USB BIOS Flashback)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)
Internal I/O Ports 1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x Vertical USB 2.0 port(s)
4 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
4 x SATA 3Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
4 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
1 x Optional Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x 4-pin EZ_PLUG Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x TPU switch(es)
1 x EPU switch(es)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
Accessories User's manual
I/O Shield
2 x SATA 3Gb/s cable(s)
4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x 3-Way SLI bridge(s)
1 x 4-Way SLI bridge(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
BIOS 64 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.6, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
Support Disc Drivers
ASUS Utilities
ASUS Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor CEB Form Factor
12 inch x 10.5 inch ( 30.48 cm x 26.67 cm )

The six PCI-E x16 slots on the motherboard are your first clue that this board's aimed at people with specific needs. Even the most rabid gamer with a triple-monitor setup would find it hard to justify a quad-GPU system...but there are people that can.



# RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation Motherboardredacted one 2012-01-25 10:09
About that white usb port.
Please read chapter 2.3.11 "USB BIOS Flashback".
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# RE: RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2012-01-25 11:06
Thanks for pointing this out. ASUS didn't call out the port in their port diagram in the manual, so I missed it. I'll update the review to reflect this.
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# BIOS FlashbackHank Tolman 2012-01-26 06:34
The best part about that BIOS Flashback is that you can flash the BIOS even with no CPU or RAM in the motherboard. All you need is the USB drive with the BIOS on it and power to the MB.
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# Once again the door is open - horizontallyMichael 2012-01-25 23:38
I cannot see using this WS in a pro environment without a rackmount case. Please review something in the near future.
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# RE: Once again the door is open - horizontallyPeter 2012-01-26 06:38
Second that - a top-quality rackmount case review would be appreciated.
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# RE: RE: Once again the door is open - horizontallyOlin Coles 2012-01-26 08:43
You guys realize that this is a motherboard review, right? It doesn't matter which case we put it in, the performance would be exactly the same. There are a few rackmount cases reviewed here:

Also, I don't know of anyone who builds workstation machines in a rackmount case. Servers are usually fitted into a rack, and workstations are usually on a desk.
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# RE: RE: RE: Once again the door is open - horizontallyMichael 2012-01-26 13:39
O.C., Yes I believe we did read the same PX979 WS review. And I do not know of too many professional level businesses that do not use machine rooms, in order to avert excess noise and temperature with regards to 64GB RAM workstations. But I wondering what review did you read?

My point was simple, Audio Engineering being my profession and game stations my hobby, there is a market for rack mount Case reviews. There are dozens of Turn-Key Rack Mount WS for Pro applications used in Broadcasting, Film, and Recording Industries; its been that way for years. Laboratory applications also used machine racked WS. I have friends that travel with their lab in shock mounted road cases. Many engineers build a lot of what they used, including the Mother Ship. Enough with the HTPC cases, I would like to see some pro 19" machine racks chassis, so I can utilize a PX979 and the USB 3 and SATA 6Gb/s features, not mention keeping the WS cool.

And yes I would happy to build 64GBDDR work station for audio/video production.

Rack Mount Cases
Unloaded examples:
ANTEC 4U22EPS650 4U Rackmount with ATX12V v2.0 PSU

Loaded Pro Audio examples:
Sweetwater CSRackXT Creation Station Rack Extreme Core i7 CPU, 6GB DDR3 RAM, Seagate 500GB and 1TB Hard Drives, GeForce 9500GT Video Card

Or check this sexy thing:

And Peter thank you for also noticing the need for a pro level chassis for an exciting pro-level motherboard like the PX979.

And always remember, don't sell yourself short on PSU's, buy big wattage and let the gaming begin.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Once again the door is open - horizontallyDavid Ramsey 2012-01-26 13:51
None of the 4U rack mount cases you mention have more than 7 slots, making them unsuitable for a fully loaded P9X79 WS motherboard with four GPUs. Also it looks as if their cooling suffers in comparison to enthusiast desktop cases-- a single 120mm intake and two 80mm exhausts isn't going to cut it for a Fermi-based GPGPU station.

That's not to say that there aren't suitable rackmount cases out there...but these don't seem to be them.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Once again the door is open - horizontallyMichael 2012-01-26 23:06
"None of the 4U rack mount cases you mention have more than 7 slots, making them unsuitable for a fully loaded P9X79 WS", exactly, and that's the point.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Once again the door is open - horizontallyDavid Ramsey 2012-01-27 09:00
I don't understand, Michael. You originally said "I would like to see some pro 19" machine racks chassis, so I can utilize a PX979 and the USB 3 and SATA 6Gb/s features, not mention keeping the WS cool." I pointed out that none of the cases you mentioned would be a good match for that motherboard, and your reply was "that's the point."

Could you try again, using small words and simple concepts, so I can understand?
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Once again the door is open - horizontallyMichael 2012-01-27 12:25
Hello David, I apologize for any confusion.

As Peter and I agree there have been many articles on HTPC cases, mini's and of course our fav gaming towers, but with recent bus advancements and the increase capabilities of higher end high RAM motherboards, such as the P9X79, there is a need for 19" rack mount chassis cases that can incorporate these high RAM hotrods. It had little to do with the P9X79 performance, and more to do with real world application. There is a need and as I asked, and Peter agreed, it would be great to see reviews on some 19" racks to match the P9X79, of which I cannot recall any 19" RU enclosure reviews in recent times. I only use the Antec and Ark Tech as examples that manufactures do understand the need for such products and there are AMD Black and i7 rack mount machines for professional level application (Rain Recording). The rendering of A/V productions re: Film, Game Design, etc., crunches numbers just as hard as when I throw Crysis, Dragon Age or X3 on my Gigabyte/AMD game rig in a Windstorm tower. I have Macs for in-house a/v production but use PC notebooks on the road for particular reasons, one being cost. I have not bought a PC tower in over 15 years and have no plans to buy one when I can build my own. Why not, Fry's is 15 minutes away?

That said, your comment stating the examples I referred to, do not match the example's specs,(Antec), I replied "exactly, that's the point." I, and probably Peter too, would like to see newer 19" RU's enclosures fitting of newer bussing technologies i.e. SATA6 and USB3, and physical WS board dimensions as they come available and I hope they do. In fact I going to shoot Antec an email on the subject.

David, thank you for another in depth review. The site offers the best information I can usually find and I appreciate the articles,,, keeps me thinking.

Once again thanks and all the best.
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# tech specbman 2012-03-25 19:51
haha that's awesome. I love how people love to critique things of which they are grossly misinformed. Workstations in a rack mount case?
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# DesignerMark-the-spark 2012-05-01 00:43
Michael, David, Olin, Peter ... maybe by the time P9X79 gets racked and wrapped in conserved Kingston memory loops, v12000 will be priced where v5900 is today. I would love to work with a group of creative pros on desktop community served by such as you dream. But by then, considering the leapfrog p8x68 to p9x79, you will probably be dreaming on boards with terabytes of GDDR10 ... and peripherals noding in THZ's. Frankly though, gotta go with bman's confusion. Market is so confused now that Adobe, AMD, NVidia and every computer shop in town have no clue if i5 with a gaming card is the same potential as i5 with a workstation graphic card for running Photoshop C5-6. Seriously!. Out here on the street, we need much more than rack dreams to sort ourselves out. But thanks for all your wonderful thoughts!
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# Balls n Knuckles llc.theUglyMan0war 2012-01-26 08:21
The "30% graphics boost with 4-way SLI" ASUS touts on the box is in comparison to a 3-way SLI (or, presumably, 3-way CrossFireX) system. In reality, of course, you'll rarely see perfect scaling in performance when adding more graphics cards, especially when going from three to four.


I keep hearing that presumption ( U Will Not See CLOSE TO near perfect Scaling! ) when in my experience ( with tri sli admittedly ) I see very good scaling making 3 27 inch Acer Monitors in 3D and surround bearable.

I see comparison arguments/charts where SLI x16 vs x8 vs x4 speed do not make a 7 percent difference until surround/eyefinity resolutions are used. And knowing that! The same reviewers do not add 3D on top of that were the difference is suddenly OVER 10% and make quite a big difference when yer trying to turn everything up in Battlefield 3 and Metro 2033.

Between Maya and Zbrush and Photoshop open at the sametime and 3dSurround playtime in Arkham City, I have to wonder? Are there really that many secretaries reading an enthusiast review of a $350 motherboard? What does anyone use a computer for otherwise that does not require more power than will be available in my lifetime.

I know indie and lo fi trendy is perty hip nowadayz but I got a billion tris werth of creativity and openworlds as big as states in my handicapped imagination ready to bring yer strongest computer to it's knees! I want mo POWER~!
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# RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation Motherboardscheherazade 2012-01-26 09:33
"I keep hearing that presumption ( U Will Not See CLOSE TO near perfect Scaling! ) when in my experience ( with tri sli admittedly ) I see very good scaling making 3 27 inch Acer Monitors in 3D and surround bearable."

You just explained why you see good scaling - you put a good load on your cards.
SLI scaling depends on your load versus the SLI overhead.

Run a single display, 2D, at 1920x1080 or less, low AA (or none).
Then look at your scaling, it will be OK from 1 card to 2, meh from 2 to 3, and probably negative from 3 to 4.

You could say 'so what, because no one will get quad SLI for that rez'.
But some people want to go with 120hz displays, 2D, and maintain a MINIMUM fps of 120, basically valuing supreme smoothness over appearance.

Then you find your options limited.
Say 1 card is too slow to give you minimum of 120 fps.
2 might do it with some conservative settings.
And if you still can't get there, adding more cards will only hurt your performance.
So you're basically stuck until a next gen card that can perform faster.

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# RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation MotherboardMack 2012-01-26 22:52
Thanks for the very good review of this board. I was really hoping that a great workstation motherboard would be released, but for this price, I was expecting dual cpu.

Consider, possibly lowering the Value score for this board? And maybe increasing the appearance score? Probably this will have no overall effect to the total score, but this might be more in line with the reviewer's actual written conclusion: "At $380, the ASUS P9X79 WS motherboard is almost double the price of the top-rated ASUS P8Z68-V Pro LGA1155 motherboard. This is why system builders will want to carefully consider which X79 Express motherboard they choose for their next rig."
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# RE: RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2012-01-27 08:58
There currently are no Sandy Bridge-based Xeon processors, which would be necessary for a multi-CPU workstation board, so there's really nothing to compare against in that area. (There obviously will be some Sandy Bridge-E- based Xeons soon, since the existing 3930X and 3960X are obviously cut-down 8-core CPUs).

Also, Sandy Bridge E processors are so powerful that the need for multi-CPU motherboards is reduced, even in workstation situations. 12 threads can handle a lot.

The P9X79 WS motherboard does cost almost twice as much as the P8Z68-V Pro, but that's the cost of getting into Sandy Bridge E right now. The big win for workstation applications is the 40 PCI-E lanes you get from that CPU (as compared to the measly 16 you get from a 2700K), which is something that multi-GPU rigs can use.

Lastly, although you and I would probably find a thorough review of a multi-CPU workstation motherboard interesting, it probably wouldn't appeal to the vast majority of our readers.
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# RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation MotherboardDavid carr 2012-01-30 09:16
If these motherboards are anything like the P55 chipsets the Sabertooth will OC much better the the WS motherboard by art least 300Mhz if not more.
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# RE: RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2012-01-30 09:23
Perhaps, but in general workstation users are less interested in overclocking and more interested in features and stability.
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# RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation MotherboardTed Nickel 2012-02-22 21:46
RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation Motherboard
It appears to me that for one to be interested in this board, one must either need it for its phenomenal thruput in order to make a living with it, or have a bunch of cash to build something they can boast to their friends about. Few if any have have 8 channel memory like this one does. Few if any have 40 PCI-E lanes. I have built some of the P8 series boards that really cooked and did a fine job, but they don't hold a candle to this P9 in video editing and CAD. Hooking up an SSD as a drive casche makes this board jump out in front of most. Yes, sombody will say "mine is better because--- ", but that's OK. Don't speculate, build it. Prove your point. Yea, and rack mount it.
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# RE: RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2012-02-24 13:28
Just to be slightly picky:

-- It has four channel memory (like all X79 boards), not 8 channel memory
-- Total PCI-E lanes: 48, 40 from CPU and 8 from X79 chipset. This compares to 42 total lanes for an AMD FX system and 40 in an X58 system.
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# 3 video cardsMichael 2013-09-20 11:30
Hi David, I have a question about PCIE slots in this board.

I plan to use two Tesla cards, plus a single Quadro K600 for video output. Which slots should I put them into to maximize Teslas performance?
I'm thinking two blue slots for Teslas in x16/x16 configuration, and K600 into a white slot (x4).

Can mixing PCIE 3.0 and 2.0 cards on the same board cause issues? I really don't want K600 to bring Teslas down to 2.0 level.

What do you think?
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# RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2013-09-20 15:57
Michael, for your setup, put the Teslas into the blue slots, and the K600 into the first black slot (the one nearest the CPU). This will give you 16x8x8 lanes. You could loop the flexible 2-card SLI bridge over the top of the K600.

As best I know, each card will run at its PCI-E level...that is, a 2.0 card will not "drag down" the 3.0 cards.
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# RE: RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation MotherboardMichael 2013-09-20 19:03
Thanks. Why do you recommend 16x8x8 setup over 16x16x4?
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# RE: RE: RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2013-09-20 19:10
Because you're using the K600 for your video output. There's no performance advantage to running the Teslas in 16x16 vs. 16x8, since the bandwidth of PCI-E 3.0 lanes is much more than sufficient for anything you'd want to do. But dropping from x8 to x4 with PCI-E 2.0 would likely have a performance hit.

Of course it's relatively easy to simply try both configurations and see which works best for you.
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# RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation MotherboardMichael 2013-09-20 19:44
Why do you think x16 won't be saturated? CPU has 60GB/c memory bandwidth, while Teslas access their memory at over 200GB/s. It looks like mere 16GB/s of PCIE 3.0 x16 bus would be a severe bottleneck. I'm new to CUDA, but if I understand correctly, cudaMemcpy operations initiate direct CPU-GPU transfers over PCIE bus, so I'd want it to be as fast as possible.

On the other hand, are you saying K600 would not work right in x4 slot? I need it to drive two 2560x1440 monitors (typical desktop apps/youtube videos)?
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# RE: RE: ASUS P9X79 WS LGA2011 Workstation MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2013-09-20 19:57
I don't have any experience with CUDA apps, and I don't know what your CUDA apps will be doing, but I'd be amazed if you were moving anything within an order of magnitude of that kind of bandwidth around. It would be hard to sustain for more than a fraction of a second since your system likely isn't going to have that much RAM in it!

The K600 will work find in the x4 slot...depending on how much data you're moving through it. You'd see performance bottlenecks if gaming on multiple monitors but "typical desktop apps" should be OK.

Note, again, that I'm just making educated guesses here. You'll likely want to experiment to find out which configuration works best for you, or if there's any noticeable difference at all.
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