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Sapphire and ECS X79 Motherboard Review

BluePanda    -   September 3, 2012
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Conclusion: ECS

Overall the ECS board performed well. The 2011 socket is really there for an interesting select few among the community. If you have the budget to support it, it is most certainly something fun to monkey with; otherwise it's just another processor that is a little better than the last. The only real downfall for the ECS board was the USB 3.0 scores as it was beaten out by a large amount each time. This probably doesn't matter to most of you, as to be perfectly honest the USB 3.0 devices still haven't exactly taken over the market. Few devices really find profound amounts of improvement from USB 3.0; until they do, I don't mind too much.

Support is in hand for both Quad CrossfireX and Quad-SLI - you can run about whatever you can imagine. The only downside here is the lack of full 16x speeds with multiple cards. At a full quad pace each slot is only electrically 8x so scores and gaming may be a little less impressive; though the more common two card setup can be completed with 16x speeds no problem. It does support SLI, which was an issue some earlier boards I've owned had that made them a little less worthwhile.

The SATA setup on this board is phenomenal, though. It loses out on the USB 3.0 scores, but it has a lot of options here with ten SATA ports; four of them 6Gb/s and two with SAS capabilities. This is a great board for a RAID setup and the cost is quite fine as well. Overall, the ECS X79R-AX is a heck of a board that is well worth a buy if you've got a 2011 chip.

 

Pros:

  • Quad Xfire and Quad SLI support at 8x speeds
  • 10 SATA ports w/4 6GB/s enabled and 2 SAS controlled

 

Cons:

  • Nothing Major

 

 

 

Conclusion: Sapphire

The Sapphire X79N comes to the plate with a higher price tag, which lead me to think there would be a higher performance margin compared to the "lesser" ECS board. Unfortunately the only defining test between the two was the USB 3.0 test segment. I'm not sure this really qualifies the board to be twice the value in cost, nor would I personally get up to buy this board for its features at such pricing.

There are more PCIe slots, which would lead me to think it were to be a better board but I was again defeated when I found out there was no support for SLI and I would also be limited to 3-way CrossfireX. It doesn't seem worthwhile to have the extra slots if I can't hardly use half of them. However, to be fair I can do x16 for all three cards whereas the ECS board could only handle three at x8 (via the Nvidia NF200 PCIe bridge chip that can hamper performance because of its additional latency), but to be fair yet again, no SLI support? Not sure there is a "fair" here.

There are a lot of things to play with on this board including voltage check points, CMOS reset buttons, and even power buttons on the board itself. Unfortunately I don't think I can justify the additional cost over the ECS for the little additions. Sadly I think this board is great, but with the features it has or is lacking, it isn't worthy of its higher price tag.

 

Pros:

  • Four 6Gb/s SATA ports
  • Extended cooling for MOSFETs
  • Onboard voltage testing points

 

Cons:

  • No SLI support
  • Limited to 3-way CrossFireX


 

OCC Silver



  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look: ECS X79R-AX Black Deluxe
  3. Closer Look: Sapphire Pure Black X79N
  4. Closer Look: Utilities
  5. Closer Look: ECS BIOS
  6. Closer Look: Sapphire BIOS
  7. Specifications and Features: ECS
  8. Specifications and Features: Sapphire
  9. Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  10. Testing: PCM7
  11. Testing: HD Tune (5.0), AIDA64 2.20
  12. Testing: Sandra, X264, Handbrake
  13. Testing: USB 3.0
  14. Testing: 3DMark 11, DiRT 3, BF3
  15. Conclusion
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