ASUS P9X79 Deluxe Reviewccokeman - April 12, 2012
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The ASUS P9X79 Deluxe is an ATX form factor motherboard that features Intel's X79 chipset and is designed for use with Intel's Second Generation Core i7 socket 2011 processors, including the Intel Core i7 3960X, i7 3930K, and i7 3820. The color scheme for the P9X79 Deluxe is blue, black and silver (gray), over a black PCB. The front side of the board shows that there is a lot going on with heat sinks flowing from the bottom over the X79 chipset to the top covering the VRM circuits. There are four x16 PCIe slots for CrossFire and SLI support, eight DIMM slots, and the large CPU socket. The back side has part of the Digi+ power circuit with the chokes and a flat heat sink covering the mosfet package. All the motherboard heatsinks are attached with screws instead of push pins for a more secure mount, offering better contact with the end result of better cooling.
The I/O panel features a wealth of connectivity. From the left are the USB 2.0 ports, one of which is white and is used with the ASUS USB BIOS flashback feature that allows the user to flash the BIOS even when a CPU or memory are not installed. Put the BIOS on a USB flash drive in the ASUS specified format, power up, and push the button just to the right of the USB 2.0 ports. A pretty cool tool to say the least. Next to the BIOS flashback button is a header used with the Bluetooth module, two RJ-45 Intel LAN ports, six USB 3.0 ports, a single Optical S/PDIF port, two Power eSATA 6Gb/s ports to improve connectivity to an external device without an added power connection, and the six Realtek® ALC898 audio ports that support DTS Ultra PC II and DTS Connect. There are a total of four 16x PCIe 3.0/2.0 and two PCIe 2.0 1x slots that support multi-GPU strategies from both NVIDIA and AMD with 3-way SLI and quad-GPU support for both SLI and CrossFireX. The three primary GPU 16x slots run at either 16x X 16x or 16x X 8x X 8x with the third slot down limited to 8x.
Along the bottom of the PCB is where you will find much of the connectivity and functionality of the P9X79. Starting on the left are some of the solid capacitors, the Q-Code debug LED, the digital S/PDIF out and front panel sound connections, the power, reset and clear CMOS buttons, the TPU (TurboV Processing Unit), four USB 2.0 headers, one of the six PWM controlled fan headers, the TPU and EPU switches to enable that functionality, and the front panel connections. Turning on the EPU switch will intelligently moderate the power consumption of the board and CPU. Turning on the TPU switch will allow the system to be boosted up automatically, much like using the CPU level up feature in AI Suite II.
The right side of the PCB starts off with the disk drive connectivity. The white ports labeled for SSD Caching are Marvell-controlled SATA 6Gb/s, while the four blue are Intel-controlled SATA 3Gb/s with the top white ports the Intel-controlled SATA 6Gb/s that support RAID 0, 1, 5, 10. ASUS SSD caching is a much simpler tool to use than Intel's SRT in that it is a one-click solution and does not limit the size of the caching drive. Moving further down the board is the USB 3.0 header that adds another pair of USB 3.0 ports, a pair of the six PWM controlled fan headers, and the 24-pin ATX power connection. Just beside the power connection is the MemOk button that helps with memory compatibility by working through a series of algorithms to ensure the memory settings are not the cause of a failed boot. Around the top are two more of the fan headers, the EPU (Energy Processing Unit), and the EATX 8-pin power connection.
The P9X79 Deluxe is built for use with Intel's Second Generation Core i7 Sandy Bridge Extreme processors in the LGA 2011 socket. The socket hardware is by LOTES. Around the socket is the 16+4+2+2 phase Digi+ power circuit using the Dual Intelligent Processor 3, which uses a total of three digital voltage controllers for the CPU, memory controller, and DRAM. This offers more precise and reliable voltage control to increase overclocking margins. The P9X79 Deluxe is equipped with eight DIMM slots to support up to 64GB of DDR3 2400MHz instead of just four slots on lower tier boards, such as the standard P9X79. One of the unique features of ASUS boards is the Q-DIMM design, which enables the design team to utilize all the space on the PCB for expansion slots. By using this design, the levers that traditionally are used to retain the DRAM are discarded and the DRAM locks into place with just one set of levers at the top of the PCB. It's a pretty neat feature that has made swapping DRAM out with the video card in the board a piece of cake.
The P9X79 Deluxe comes with a full bore cooling package. The four large heat sinks mirror the blue and gray theme of the P9X79 Deluxe. The X79 chipset gets a large passive heat sink that fits under a trio of video cards and is interconnected via heat pipe to the heat sink just under the socket. This heat sink only functions as a radiator using the airflow from the CPU cooling solution to cool the large passive sink. The VRM heat sinks wrap around the CPU socket and again are interconnected by way of a heat pipe and is a similar arrangement to the chipset solution.
When you look at what the P9X79 Deluxe has to offer, you have a significant amount of added value with the feature set and all that ASUS has packed into this board and support package. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, unparalleled power controls, and a full digital power design for not only the CPU, but the memory controller and DRAM. Not to mention the aesthetics of the board and the layout that just works. Let's look at the ASUS AI Suite II for a glimpse at more of the added value and functionality ASUS brings to the table.