ASUS P9X79 Deluxe Reviewccokeman - April 12, 2012
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ASUS usually pulls together a pretty comprehensive suite of tools for use with its motherboards. Starting with the Intel Sandy Bridge socket 1155 launch, the interface of its popular AI Suite has seen significant improvements in form, as well as function. To start, this implementation has four functional areas, as well as the CPU Level Up function as a primary area. Under the Tool section is the majority of the functionality. Included here are TurboV EVO, Digi+Power Control, EPU, Fan Xpert, Probe II, Sensor Recorder, BT Go, USB 3.0 Boost, and SSD Caching . Each of these specific tools are designed together with the rest of the suite. The CPU Level Up function is part of the TurboV Evo Tool and is ASUS' one-stop-shop overclocking utility — set the level of performance you want, agree to the changes, and the system does a quick test on the hardware and restarts the computer to set and run some stability tests on the overclock. The manual settings in TurboV Evo mimic much of what is found in the BIOS, from the core and memory voltages to the bclock adjustments. Digi+ Power Control has options to improve the overclocking margins by fine tuning the load line calibration, the CPU and DRAM voltage switching frequency, the CPU and DRAM current capability, and power phase control. Just because the P9X79 is not a ROG offering does not mean that the AI Suite II implementation is less well equipped; in fact, the opposite is true.
ASUS EPU system delivers measurable energy savings when used to its maximum capabilities. There are three different presets to choose from with each offering a more aggressive approach to energy management. Auto, High Performance, and Max Power saving modes each work around five different aspects of power management to deliver power savings on this board that is built for users who do not worry about power consumption, but rather raw MHz and highend gaming. CO2 emissions reduced through the use of the profiles is shown on the right hand side of the application.
Fan Xpert allows the end user to build and use a specific fan profile for each of the fans attached to the system. It is a small part of the AI Suite, but is flexible in how it manages the thermal load of the chassis or CPU by the profiles assigned. Higher fan speeds would equate to improved CPU overclocking by way of lower temperatures. With a total of six 4-pin PWM fan headers, this tool is especially useful in managing the airflow through the chassis or cooling solution.
The Probe II section of AI Suite is full of monitoring tools that provide the end user the ability to monitor the system from within the Windows environment with five different tools: Alert, Temperature, Fan, Preferences, and Alert Log. The first tab, Alert, allows the user to set alert levels for system voltages. The Temperature tab is where the alert levels for system temperatures is set. Under the Fan tab you have the same functionality, but with fan speed. The Preferences tab sets up how the alerts are displayed. The Alert Log shows when the alerts happened over a period of time, in graph form.
Sensor Recorder is used to display the voltage and fan speeds over a period of time. This is in addition to the alert tracking. AI Charger+ is an application that allows the user to charge USB BC 1.1 compatible portable devices up to three times faster than through a standard USB port.
Under the Update radio button, you can update the BIOS and change the boot logo that is currently displayed by the BIOS or in another saved BIOS. The Settings tab allows the end user to pick what items are shown on the AI Suite tool bar under "Application", while the actual configuration of the tool bar is managed under the "Bar" tab.
A couple of added value items on the P9X79 are ASUS SSD Caching and USB 3.0 Boost. ASUS' version of SSD caching is a much simpler way than using IRST to set up a caching drive, without the need to create a RAID array. Connect the drives to the Marvell-controlled SATA 6Gbps ports and choose the option to enable the caching and you are done. Sure that may be minimizing the steps, but it is that simple. USB Boost 3.0 uses the latest USB protocol, UASP, to improve data throughput on external USB 3.0 devices that support this standard. Clearly another out-of-the-box feature for improved usability.
ASUS WebStorage is a "cloud" storage tool that allows the end user to back up, retrieve and sync data from many different types of devices. 2GB of cloud storage is included for free with this service. In this increasingly mobile world, having access to your files from anywhere means that showing off a treasured picture or listening to your music is just a connection away. Currently, ASUS is running a promotion for Android users to celebrate the one millionth download of the ASUS Storage app that gives the user free additional cloud storage space for each referral.