ASUS P9X79 Deluxe Review

ccokeman - 2008-02-27 06:15:31 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: April 12, 2012
Price: $359

Introduction:

Intel's Sandy Bridge Extreme lineup launched back in November of 2011 along with the X79 chipset to deliver a full refresh of the lineup for the enthusiast or power user segment of the market. This segment had been stagnant with Intel's mainstream Sandy Bridge socket 1155 lineup offering significant improvements in performance, with a series of unlocked processors delivering clock speeds of well above 4.0GHz. During each launch, motherboard manufacturers put together a package of motherboards that target specific price points based on the feature set being employed. ASUS is a company that has the ability to offer this kind of segmentation with its Republic of Gamers Rampage IV Extreme for the gamers and hardcore overclockers, all the way down to the baseline P9X79 and all the way back to the full-featured P9X79 Deluxe that I will be looking at today. The P9X79 Deluxe is built with the the whole kitchen sink thrown in for good measure. New features that this X79-based board offer include ASUS' new Digi+ power design using Dual Intelligent Processor 3 technology with three voltage controllers for more precise voltage control, ASUS SSD Caching that is much easier than Intel's solution to set up, USB 3.0 Boost, ASUS Crystal Sound, USB BIOS Flashback, and BT Go 3.0. What you get is a unique set of features that offers added value in terms of stability, connectivity, and usability. Let's take a look at the P9X79 Deluxe and see how it compares to other boards in the segment.

Closer Look:

The graphic used on the packaging of the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe is similar to that of the previous generation Z68 and P67 motherboards with a black base and the supported technologies highlighted boldly. The big callouts on the front panel are PCIe 3.0 readiness, ASUS Dual Intelligent processors (TPU and EPU), and DIGI+ power design for both the CPU and DRAM, for improved power control and efficiency. Add in the One Click Speedup for easy overclocking, uEFI BIOS, eight DIMM slots for huge bandwidth, SLI and CrossFireX support, and of course support for the latest Second Generation Core i7 processors. The front cover of the box lifts up to explore a bit more of the large feature set you can expect on a "Deluxe" level motherboard, including definitions and functions of the TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) and EPU ( Energy Processing Unit), which work in tandem to deliver world class overclocking and energy management. Additional features include USB BIOS Flashback, USB 3.0 Boost, Fan Xpert, and Dolby DTS Connect and Ultra PC II sound. The back side of the package shows the board and lists the specific features on the motherboard I/O panel and PCB. There is more detail on the full hardware-based Digi+ power control, ASUS SSD Caching, UEFI BIOS implementation, and BT Go 3.0 Bluetoooth and Wi-Fi technology, which open up new ways to transfer data.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the package is the expansive bundle of accessories and the P9X79 Deluxe motherboard. The bundle includes all the accessories needed to get the most out of the P9X79 Deluxe's feature set.

 

 

The accessory bundle for the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe is substantial and includes some unique parts that you most likely will not find elsewhere. The list of items includes the manual and driver disk, SATA 3Gbps and SATA 6bps cables, the I/O Shield that helps protect the board from EFI emissions, SLI and Tri-SLI bridge connections, ASUS Q-Connectors for the front panel and USB headers, and a BT GO 3.0 module and antenna. The BT Go 3.0 +HS module allows for wireless connectivity to portable devices for file transfers, as well as the ability to use mobile devices as a remote control, all thanks to wireless 802.11 b/g/n connectivity.

 

 

 

 

As is normally the case, ASUS has put together a fully featured board full of unique features for the end user to improve the flexibility and usability of the computer through continued innovation. Let's dig a little deeper into what the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe brings to the table.

Closer Look:

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.

Closer Look:

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.

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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.

Closer Look:

ASUS is using a UEFI BIOS implementation with the same user interface seen on the P67 and Z68 socket 1155 Sandy Bridge offerings. While the interface hasn't changed, what's under the skin is an upgrade to what ASUS has given the end user in the past. For instance, there is a "shorcut" menu to quickly access commonly used functions or areas without having to search the BIOS for them accessed by pressing the F3 key. There is an EZ Mode and an Advanced Mode to accommodate any and all users from the, dare I say it, noob to the extreme overclocker looking for that last MHz. There are a pair of 64MB Flash ROMs on board in case a BIOS flash goes bad or you just want to switch between BIOSs, if the eight programmable file presets are not enough. ASUS offers BIOS Flash protection via its Crash Free BIOS 3, USB BIOS Flashback, so that the BIOS can be flashed without a CPU or DRAM being installed in the system, 2.2TB+ HDD support, and GPT Boot. Overclocking recovery via CPR (CPU Parameter Recall) makes a failed boot a one-time occurrence. While the BIOS on the ASUS P9X79 is not as feature rich as the implementation on the ROG Rampage IV Extreme, it is nevertheless full of options to get the highest stable overclock you can, as well as take advantage of the feature set for maximum usability. It used to take a camera and some time transferring images over to the computer to share settings for either diagnostics or just to share an overclock. ASUS has a screenshot feature called BIOS Print to allow screenshots of the BIOS to be saved to a flash drive. Add in so many other features and you can understand why this board is for the extreme or power user. Let's take a tour through this implementation of ASUS' UEFI BIOS.

 

EZ and Advanced Mode:

The EZ Mode allows the user to make a limited amount of changes and is more to show what the time, date, and what the installed devices are. Advanced Mode gives the user the entire shooting match, with access to every setting and feature allowed in the BIOS. Advanced Mode consists of six sub-menus to take advantage of the installed hardware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main:

This section is sparse by comparison to many sections of ASUS' UEFI BIOS. In this section, you'll be able to access the time, date, BIOS revision, CPU information, amount of installed memory, system language, and security features, such as admin passwords.

 

Advanced Mode: AI Tweaker:

This section of the BIOS contains the settings used to adjust CPU and memory frequencies, timingm and the voltages needed to run the system. Up top is the option to overclock the system with AI Overclock tool, which sets a specific set of parameters to boot at enhanced clock speeds. The OC Tuner tool is much like what we have in the AI Suite tools. Voltage adjustments are granular enough that the user does not have to apply much more voltage than is needed to reach the clock speed goals. The DRAM timing section is almost as complex as the ROG Rampage IV in that it has most of the functionality of this section.

 

 

 

Advanced:

Under this tab, one can set the CPU configuration parameters, such as the bclock multiplier, enable Turbo Boost and Intel Speed step, C-states , SATA, USB, and have the ability to enable or disable the onboard device functionality. Under the SATA configuration, you can set the connection type for disk drives to AHCI, RAID or IDE, and turn on or off the hot swap feature. Under the USB sub-menu is the ability to configure how the USB interface is managed. Last but not least, the onboard device configuration allows the user to enable or disable the sound, Bluetooth, USB 3.0, LAN, and Boot Rom, as well as the USB 3.0 controller.

 

 

 

 

Monitor:

Under this tab is the monitoring functionality for the board. The voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures can be checked and verified against the set parameters.

 

 

Boot:

The Boot menu is where you set the sequence that the drives are polled for bootable media. The primary drive can be identified when more than one is installed. The full screen ROG logo can be enabled or disabled at POST, Wait for F1 if Errors can be enabled or disabled, the length of time the POST report shows can be altered, and the setup mode that the BIOS will open into can be set to EZ or Advanced.

 

 

Tool:

This section comes in real handy. ASUS' EZ Flash 2 utility is hands down one of the easiest ways to flash a BIOS. It has been imitated, but not duplicated. Search for the BIOS file on any installed media, choose the BIOS file, choose to flash the BIOS, and the process is automated from that point on. SPD Information shows the SPD profile on the memory DIMMs. Under ASUS OC Profile, the end user can save up to eight distinct profiles. BIOS Flashback is used to force the system to boot from either of the BIOS chips or copy the data from one to the other. Drive Expert is a utility that allows the user to choose from three different settings to maximize drive performance and usage.

 

 

 

Exit:

The Exit tab at the top right allows you to load optimized or safe default settings, save or discard changes made to the BIOS settings, launch the BIOS in EZ or Advanced mode, or launch the EFI shell.

 

The BIOS just continues to be one of pure fun to work through, with all the options spread out in areas that make sense. The shortcut feature accessed by pushing F3 from the BIOS screen allows for quick and easy access to the most used feature sets in the UEFI BIOS.

Specifications:

CPU
Intel® Socket 2011 for 2nd Generation Core™ i7 Processors
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2
* Refer to www.asus.com for CPU support list
Chipset
Intel® X79
Memory
8 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR3 2400(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Quad Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
* Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.
* Refer to www.asus.com or user manual for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
Multi-GPU Support
Supports NVIDIA® 3-Way SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Expansion Slots 3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (dual x16 or x16, x8, x8) *1
1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x8 mode) *1
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1
Storage               
Intel® X79 chipset :
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), white
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
ASMedia® ASM1061 controller :
2 x Power eSATA 6Gb/s port(s), green
LAN
Realtek® 8111E , 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Intel® 82579V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers- 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) appliance
Wireless Data Network Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth
Bluetooth V3.0+HS
ASUS BT GO! Utility
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
- Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
- DTS Ultra PC II
- DTS Connect
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
USB Ports
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller : *2
8 x USB 3.0 port(s) (6 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® X79 chipset :
12 x USB 2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, black+white, 8 at mid-board)
Special Features
ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 3 with New DIGI+ Power Control :
ASUS TPU :
- Auto Tuning
- TurboV
- TPU switch
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
- EPU switch
ASUS Digital Power Design :
- Industry leading Digital 16 + 4 Phase CPU Power Design
- Industry leading Digital 2 + 2 Phase DRAM Power Design
- CPU Power Utility
- DRAM Power Utility
ASUS BT GO! :
- Folder Sync
- BT Transfer
- Shot & Send
- BT to Net
- Music Player
- Personal Manager
ASUS BT Turbo Remote :
- Exclusive Smartphone Interface supporting iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, and Symbian systems
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+
ASUS EZ DIY :
- USB BIOS Flashback
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
- ASUS MyLogo 2
- Multi-language BIOS
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-Code
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS Q-Connector
Back I/O Ports
1 x Bluetooth module(s)
2 x Power eSATA 6Gb/s
2 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
6 x USB 3.0
4 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 Wi-Fi antenna port(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)
4 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 8 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 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)
1 x Bluetooth v3.0 + HS header(s)
Accessories
User's manual
I/O Shield
4 x SATA 3Gb/s cable(s)
4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x 3-Way SLI bridge(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
1 x Wi-Fi Ring Moving Antenna(s)
1 x Bluetooth v3.0 + HS module(s)
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
Manageability
WfM 2.0, DMI 2.0, WOL by PME, WOR by PME, PXE
Support Disc
Drivers
ASUS Utilities
ASUS Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor 12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )
Note
*1: This motherboard is ready to support PCIe 3.0 SPEC. Functions will be available when using PCIe 3.0-compliant devices. Please refer to www.asus.com for updated details.
*2: 6 x USB 3.0 ports at back panel with 1 additional VIA SuperSpeed USB hub controller.

 

Features:

 

 


All information courtesy of ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_2011/P9X79_DELUXE/

Testing:

Testing the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe will involve running it and its comparison products through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which include both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual game play, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and the latest AMD Catalyst drivers for the XFX HD 6970. To ensure as few variables as possible, all hardware will be tested at their stock speeds, timings, voltages, and latencies – unless otherwise stated. Turbo Boost is disabled on all processors to make a fair comparison without skewing the results.

 

Testing Setup: Intel Core i7 Socket 2011

 

Comparison Boards:

 

Overclocking:

After working with the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme, the overclocking expectations for the P9X79 Deluxe were set a little lower, just based on the pedigree of the ROG lineup. Fortunately, reduced expectations are not realized, as ASUS makes sure each of its boards are going to give a similar overclocking experience and equip each with the tools to enable spirited overclocking. By using standard methods for overclocking the Sandy Bridge processor, I was able to get the Core i7 3960X to roughly the same overclock as I have been able to get out of each of the boards I have tested — 4784MHz. To reach this overclock, I used a combination of bclock (104MHz) and a 46 bclock multiplier to reach the maximum overclock. Voltage stability was excellent and LLC functioned properly, as it is designed to do — as it should with its Digi+ 16+4+2+2 phase power design for the CPU and DRAM. My Core i7 3960X is a fairly hungry chip when it comes to the voltage required to get to the max clock, with 1.5v set in the BIOS using LLC set to high. What really was a pleasant surprise was the clock speed delivered by the TurboV Evo CPU Level Up feature. The ROG Rampage IV Extreme was really conservative at 4.25GHz, whereas the Deluxe drops a nice 4.5+GHz clock on the user for just a couple minutes worth of work. There were no BSODs while using this feature. In the past, the OC generated by the software had sometimes not been Prime 95 stable, but with this iteration of the software and platform, it has proven quite stable. I have to say that when pushed too far, the Crash-free BIOS 3 feature means a quick and easy recovery from a failed overclock. I have to say this board was just as much fun to overclock as the R4E. Thankfully, there are fewer settings to massage in the BIOS. Pushing the i7 3960X is fun in its own right, but after looking at what the Second Generation Core i7 3820 was capable of, I wanted to see if ASUS had indeed built up the component structure well enough to push this chip just as hard as the R4E. The result was a bench stable 5.1GHz from a partially locked chip. Any which way you go, the ASUS motherboards and Core i7 3960, 3820 CPU's give you have a stout combination that can deliver all the performance potential of your CPU and memory.

 

 

 

Maximum Clock Speed:

Each CPU and motherboard have been tested for stability at the clock speeds listed when in an overclocked state. These clock speeds will be used to run the test suite and will provide the performance difference increase over the stock settings in the overclocked scoring.

 

Benchmarks:

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. Geekbench 2.1
  4. Office 2007 Excel Number Crunch
  5. POV-Ray 3.7
  6. Bibble 5
  7. Sandra 2011
  8. AIDA64 1.85
  9. HandBrake .9.5
  10. ScienceMark 2.02
  11. Cinebench 10 & 11.5
  12. HD Tune 4.60
  1. Aliens vs. Predator
  2. Civilization V
  3. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  4. 3DMark 11

Testing:

The first part of our testing will involve system-specific benchmarks.

 

Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:

 

 

The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Lower is Better

 

WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. Here, we will test the time needed to compress files of 100MB and 500MB. Time will be measured in seconds.

 

ZIP:

  

  

Lower is Better

 

 

RAR:

  

  

Lower is Better

 

Geekbench:

Geekbench 2.1 is a benchmark that tests CPU and memory performance in an easy-to-use tool. The measure used for comparison is the total suite average score.

  

Higher is Better

 

Bibble 5:

This test consists of converting 100 8.2MP RAW images to jpeg format. The file size is 837MB. The measure used for comparison is time needed to convert the file in seconds.

  

Lower is Better

 

Throughout this first set of tests, the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe is rarely the lowest performer, with all four of the boards delivering comparable performance at stock speeds. When overclocked, a higher OC margin will deliver a better result.

Testing:

Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2MB Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations that represent many of the most commonly used calculations in Excel. The measure of this test is the amount of time it takes to refresh the sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Lower Is Better

 

POV-Ray 3.7: This program features a built-in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric MultiProcessing), enabling the workload to be spread across the cores for quicker completion.

  

Higher Is Better

 

 

HandBrake .9.5: is an open source application used to transcode multiple video formats to an h.264 output format. The test file size is 128MB in size and 43 seconds in length.

  

Lower Is Better

 

The margins between the performance of the four boards are minimal in these tests, but at stock speeds the ASUS P9X79 delivers performance comparable to the Rampage IV Extreme.

Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

  

  

Multi-Core Efficiency

  

  

 

Memory Bandwidth

  

  

 

Memory Latency

  

 

Cache and Memory

  

 

 

Power Management Efficiency

  

 

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the CPU Queen test that looks for the solution for the "Queens" problem on a 10x10 chessboard. This tests the branch-prediction capabilities of the processor. The FPU Mandel test measures double precision floating point performance through computation of several frames of the "Mandelbrot" fractal.

  

  

Higher is Better

While not always the highest performing board based on my testing, the P9X79 Deluxe is consistently #2 in the listing. In 8 out of 22 tests, it is the highest performer.

Testing:

ScienceMark tests real-world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we run the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

  

Higher is Better!

 

 

 

Cinebench 10 is useful for testing your system, CPU, and OpenGL capabilities using the software program, CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

  

 

  

Higher is Better

Cinebench 11.5

 

  

Higher is Better

 

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

  

 

  

Higher is Better

 

  

 

  

Lower is Better

 

PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This latest version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.

  

  

Higher is Better

 

At stock and overclocked speeds, the P9X79 Deluxe delivers performance equal to or better than the ROG RIVE.

Aliens vs. Predator, developed by Rebellion Developments, is a science fiction first-person shooter and a remake of its 1999 game. The game is based on the two popular sci-fi franchises. In this game, you have the option of playing through the single player campaigns as one of three species: the Alien, the Predator, or the Human Colonial Marine. The game uses Rebellion's Asura game engine, which supports Dynamic Lighting, Shader Model 3.0, Soft Particle systems, and Physics. For testing, I will be using the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark tool with the settings listed below. All DirectX 11 features are enabled.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

Higher = Better

 

The ASUS P9X79 Deluxe matches the performance of the Rampage IV Extreme in this benchmark, showing it has the ability to keep up with a gaming inspired board.

Testing:

Civilization V is a turn-based strategy game. The premise is to play as one of 18 civilizations and lead it from the "dawn of man" up to the space age. This latest iteration of the Civilization series uses a new game engine and brings massive changes to the AI behaviour in the game. Released for Windows in September of 2010, Civilization V was developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K games. Testing will be done using actual gameplay, with FPS measured by Fraps through a series of five turns, 199-205 turns into the game.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

Higher = Better

 

At both 1680x1050 and 1920x1080, stock and overclocked, the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe once again keeps up with the ROG offering, while keeping ahead of the Intel and MSI board in all four resolutions.

Testing:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first-person shooter developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts for Windows, PS3, and Xbox 360. This game is part of the Battlefield franchise and uses the Frostbite 1.5 Engine, allowing for destructible environments. You can play the single-player campaign or multiplayer, with five different game modes. Released in March 2010, it has sold in excess of six million copies so far.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In BF:BC2, the performance differential between all the boards at 1680x1050 amounts to a mere 5 FPS swing, while at 1920x1080 the margin shrinks to a maximum of 2 FPS at stock speeds.

Testing:

3DMark 11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series, with Vantage as its predecessor. The name implies the benchmark's focus on Microsoft DirectX 11 and with an unintended coincidence matches the current year in number (which was the naming scheme to some prior versions of 3DMark nonetheless). 3DMark 11 was designed solely for DirectX 11, so Windows Vista or 7 are required alongside a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition gives unlimited free tests on performance mode, whereas Vantage only allows for a single test run. The Advanced Edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all features of the benchmark, while the Professional Edition runs for $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing – one that tests physics handling and one that combines graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics Library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still remains a popular choice.

The new benchmark comes with two new demos that can be watched; both of which are based on the tests, but unlike the tests, contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and involves a number of vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and displays a location similar to South American tribal ruins, with statues and the occasional vehicle. The demos are simple in that they have no story, but really demonstrate testing conditions. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors, MSI and Antec, on the sides, helping to make the Basic Edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to find the performance of each card. The presets are used because they are comparable to what can be run with the free version, so results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the 3DMark11 testing, the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe once again delivers performance at the upper end of the tested motherboards, showing that it has performance to go with the expansive feature set.

Conclusion:

Having seen the progression of ASUS' technologies over the past few years, it is clear to see that ASUS is a step ahead when it comes to really unique features that are a point of difference between what it offers compared to the competition. Don't get me wrong, there is some cool stuff out there, but ASUS seems to have the design teams capable of pulling things off at will. This offers the end user added value for their purchase. In this instance, you have the BT Go 3.0 module for added connectivity and the flexibility to wirelessly transfer data between the computer and portable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices, such as smart phones or tablets. In addition, you get SSD Caching built onboard that is a much simpler solution to implement than Intel's IRST - all at the click of a mouse button once the hard drives are in place. You also get USB 3.0 Boost to improve transfer rates between the computer and USB 3.0 devices that support the new protocols (UASP). Last but not least, is the immense feature set that is included: Intel LAN, DTS Connect, USB BIOS Flashback, six PWM controlled fan headers, AI Suite, Crash Free BIOS, ASUS Web Storage, Dual Intelligent Processor 3, Digi+ all digital power circuits, 3-Way SLI and Quad-GPU support for great gaming potential, and more. The P9X79 Deluxe is equipped with eight DIMM slots instead of just four, allowing for capacities of up to 64GB of DDR3 2400MHz system memory when fully populated. This board features the standard look of the non ROG series in blue, gray, and white, which is appealing to the eye. The heat sink package on the board allows the VRM circuits and chipset to stay cool, even with some spirited overclocking.

ASUS has spent a lot of time making sure the product stack offers a similar overclocking experience and overclocking potential. The P9X79 Deluxe is not a ROG offering, but I was able to reach just as high of an overclock on the non ROG based board as I was able to on the Rampage IV Extreme. Of course there are fewer bells and whistles in the UEFI BIOS dedicated to "Extreme Overclocking", but that does not seem to diminish the potential of the motherboard. I was able to reach 104MHz x 46, or 4784MHz, by manually tweaking the settings on the board, which is about the maximum I can reach with my Core i7 3960X. ASUS' CPU Level Up feature in the AI Suite II does a great job of overclocking the CPU for the person who wants a good stable overclock without having to tweak the BIOS settings manually. I found this tool more aggressive than the implementation on the RIVE, as it delivered a 4.5GHz+ overclock with just a few mouse clicks, all while being Prime 95 stable. This tool has come a long way from the quirky early renditions that took a long time to run and delivered marginally stable results. ASUS Crash Free UEFI BIOS is by far the most reliable when it comes to overclocking recovery. So far it has always pulled through when there is a failure to post due to overclocking. Powering down and then powering up resets the BIOS to allow it to post with optimized defaults, but keeps the settings input from the last attempted post. This is very useful when you are chasing an overclock.

Pricing for this unique feature set comes in at right around $359 from your favorite e-tailers. This is not what you would consider inexpensive by any means, but again this is part of the socket 2011 "Extreme" lineup for use with Intel's Second Generation Core i7 Sandy Bridge Extreme lineup. In the end, you get a board that offers the best of both worlds with a massive feature set and the same overclocking chops as the ROG boards. The P9X79 Deluxe will meet the needs of the enthusiast as well as the power user, or even the novice, as it offers up something for everyone and does it all quite well.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: