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We have Asus’ new P9X79 Deluxe motherboard that we’re going to be reviewing but first let’s have a look at the new X79 Express Chipset from Intel. This is Intel’s latest enthusiast level chipset that will replace the venerable X58 chipset.
This new chipset adds quite a few new features and that are sure to make this new chipset a must-have for the enthusiast and hard-core gamer alike. First off this new chipset adds support for Intel’s latest socket of processors, the 2011 socket. We tested this particular board with their new flagship processor, the 3960x six core that runs at 3.3 Gigahertz and also has Hyperthreading. This new processor is manufactured on Intel’s 32nm process and features support for quad channel memory. These processors currently retail for about 1050 dollars and aren’t sold with any heat sink or fan from what we’ve seen from the online retailers. Our processor came with an all-in-one liquid cooling solution that is very similar to Corsair’s H50 water cooling unit.
One of the first things that stand out when you first see one of these new boards is that there are memory slots on either side of the processor. This particular board has a full eight slots for memory expansion which allows for a total of 64 gigs of ram to be installed. Quad channel is meant to make it easier for the CPU to address memory for the applications that need it and this should also increase performance. Our benchmarks will show if this actually adds up to the performance that it’s meant to. There is a drawback to this design though. If you are using taller memory you may have a problem with some CPU heat sinks. With the lack of motherboard real estate there could be some clearance issues with taller memory sticks and some of the larger heat sinks. This new memory architecture is also supposed to support speeds up to 2400 MHz of DDR3 with overclocking.
Another feature that Intel has added to this new chipset is that it features their Express Platform Controller Hub technology. This isn’t all that new for Intel but it means that instead of having a traditional south bridge and north bridge configuration there is just a single chip that relays information from the motherboard’s peripherals to the processor. This has the potential of reducing heat generation and power consumption. It also frees up valuable real-estate for other features like debug LEDs and switches for power, system reset, and BIOS reset for example. From our testing we noticed that none of the heat sinks on the board became too hot to touch during our testing. So it would appear that this technology actually does reduce overall temperatures. This chipset also features support for 40 PCI e 2.0 lanes and 8 PCI e 3.0 lanes for graphical and expansion cards. PCI e 3.0 isn’t supported yet by any of the current graphics cards but will hopefully be implemented in the next generation of cards.