Asus previews X79 motherboards

Intel’s upcoming Sandy Bridge-E processor isn’t out yet, but motherboard makers are already jockeying for position. A batch of X79 motherboards designed for the processor is waiting in the wings, and we weren’t supposed to talk about specifics until the official launch. However, leaks elsewhere have loosened the restrictions on the embargo, which means I get to tease you with details about some of the boards in Asus’ X79 lineup. There are numerous models, including fresh additions to the Republic of Gamers and Sabertooth families.

The Sabertooth line has become a favorite of ours for its high-grade electrical components, additional temperature monitoring sensors, and five-year warranty coverage. Those perks return in the Sabertooth X79, which offers a new take on the Thermal Armor concept that didn’t work out so well for the Sabertooth’s P67 incarnate. Rather than covering the entire board, this new Thermal Armor only shrouds the area around the rear port cluster. A fan is included this time around, and it’s apparently quite an expensive little number that’s been designed specifically for the Sabertooth and qualified for five years of operation.

Asus has also slapped a blower-style fan on the Sabertooth’s chipset, which strikes us as odd because some of the company’s X79 boards seem to get by just fine with passive chipset cooling. We’re told the fans are quiet, and they’ll at least be backed by robust temperature-based speed control.

Higher up the line, the Rampage IV Extreme wraps the X79 in the black and red colors of Asus’ Republic of Gamers family. Although it doesn’t appear that a final price has been set, this will undoubtedly be the most expensive board of the bunch. As you can see, the Rampage also features active chipset cooling. With enough PCI Express x16 slots to support four-way graphics configurations that can throw a lot of heat toward that area of the board, including a blower probably isn’t a bad idea.

Asus has a few new tricks up its sleeve for the Rampage, but we can’t discuss them today. Instead, let’s have a look at the P9X79 Deluxe.

The Deluxe has the same core features as the other boards, including digital power delivery circuitry that now covers the DRAM modules. Eight DIMM slots will be standard across Asus’ X79 lineup, which is a departure from the cheaper four-slot boards being offered by some manufacturers.

Although it won’t be available on all of Asus’ X79 models, the Deluxe features an SSD caching scheme similar to the Intel Smart Response Technology pinned to the Z68 chipset. The Asus implementation skips the chipset in favor of a Marvell controller with dual 6Gbps SATA ports: one for the SSD and one for the hard drive you want to accelerate. Some folks will recall that Marvell had its own HyperDuo caching scheme before SRT stole the limelight. Asus tells us that its implementation is different; the software and caching algorithms were all developed in-house.

We’ll have to testย  Asus’ caching system to see how it compares to Smart Response. Naturally, we’ll be taking a closer look at several X79 motherboards when the platform makes its official debut.

Comments closed
    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    Doesn’t look like any of these mobos will line up the back plate of the cpu with existing openings in our cases mobo trays.

    • Jambe
    • 8 years ago

    I hope you review some of the entry-level boards (and the entry-level processor, ftm). The usual focus on the most expensive stuff makes me feel left out.

    By all means, review the the thousand-dollar CPUs and $300 motherboards โ€” they’re neat to ogle. But it’s cool to have a sensible, thorough review of something I might actually purchase.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      There’s nothing entry-level about X79. This is not the platform you’re looking for.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 8 years ago

      Entry level? You’re looking for Sandy Bridge without the E.

      Sandy Bridge-E is E for Expensive. E for your Empty bank account. E for Excessive. E for Egregious. E for Extravagant. E for Extraordinarily Expensive. E for Extraordinarily Egregiously Excessively Extravagantly Expensive.

      E is for your wife saying, “Eeee ghad, what is this charge from Newegg for over a thousand dollars? I thought you just bought a CPU and a motherboard…” E is for, “Er, sir, I thought you should know your card has been declined for being over its limit. I’m afraid I’m going to have to cut it up now as per the card company’s request and advise you that there are quite a few dishes in the back that need to be washed if you can’t pay with cash.” E is for “Ehhhh, I thought I’d just borrow a little on the side,” when your daughter finds out you just had to have 1% more performance due to insane memory bandwidth and you left her with not enough money to attend college next year.

      SB-E is not for the entry level. SB-E is for The Few of Padded Wallets. The so-called 1%. SB without the E is for the “bottom 99%” where performance is great, but you need something “entry level.” Don’t worry, though, cuz we’ll all have 99% of the performance for considerably less of the Excessive cost.

        • LoneWolf15
        • 8 years ago

        Okay, I lol-ed. –What with Ivy Bridge likely being out for some time before Ivy Bridge-E as well, I think we’ll also see the Socket 1155 platform doing some quick catch-up to SB-E and even surpassing it for a bit. Plus, the lower electric bill is a bonus.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 8 years ago

    I’ve never understood how to differentiate ASUS’ Maximus, Rampage, and Sabertooth lines. I get the P-line (mid-end to upper-mid end value), but how do they segment the other three?

    • loophole
    • 8 years ago

    It’s nice to see that Asus’ X79 boards will all have eight DIMM slots. That provides a lot more flexibility with RAM upgrades in the future, not to mention it also means you can have double the amount of RAM without having to go to the high density stuff (and it makes for a better upgrade from 6 slot X58 boards).

      • LoneWolf15
      • 8 years ago

      Note that one reason some mainboard vendors may have four slots in some of their high-end X79 solutions is for best stability when overclocking.

      I’ve already heard of one memory vendor commenting that it is difficult to guarantee stability on a system with that many RAM sockets unless you buy a matched kit of eight modules. Going two at a time, or even with two quad kits reduces the chance for stability on a non-stock system –more so if you don’t buy all of the same type of modules.

        • loophole
        • 8 years ago

        That’s true – one DIMM per channel is always recommended for the ultimate stability when overclocking.

        I like the idea of just using four (of eight) DIMM slots if you want stability so you still have upgrade room (for a boatload of RAM) in the future, but maybe having the extra and longer traces on the board would make a difference, so that the four unfilled DIMMs would negatively impact on stability… Not sure. Or maybe we could bring back continuity RIMMs to help that ๐Ÿ˜›

        Really, I just like to have my cake and eat it too.

    • internetsandman
    • 8 years ago

    Will it be possible to see a GENE version of the X79 lineup? If ASUS is using 8 DIMM slots across its whole range it’ll be interesting to see how they cram everything onto an MATX board, seeing as how they’ve done the same for every other intel chipset since x58

    If we see a mITX board on this platform I will seriously burst out laughing though

    • Shark
    • 8 years ago

    Those look pretty awesome to me.

    • yokem55
    • 8 years ago

    So, am I the only one wondering what a system with 64GB of ram would be like? I swear it was just yesterday I was excited that my Celeron-A system had 64MB in it…..

      • tootercomputer
      • 8 years ago

      I remember updating my Compaq Presario that had a Super7 mobo and a K6-380 and I upgraded from 64mg of ram to 128mg (cost $100 in 2000) and it was just awesome.

      BTW, I replaced that K6-380 with a K6-450+ on that mobo and the system works to this day. Gathering dust, but it still runs quite well.

        • UberGerbil
        • 8 years ago

        Dude, I was excited when I upgraded my Apple ][+ to 64[b<]K[/b<]. And it cost me $200 for that 16K increment from 48K.

          • ClickClick5
          • 8 years ago

          I remember when 1MB worth of SIMM (30-pin) cost $100. Running 8MB of ram with Windows 3.11 was a blast!

          • Duck
          • 8 years ago

          Heh. That’s Apple RAM prices for ya.

      • PenGun
      • 8 years ago

      I spent nearly $1000 to up from 16MB to 32MB just before the price dropped in half.

    • Duck
    • 8 years ago

    No mATX option. I am disappoint.

      • Ryu Connor
      • 8 years ago

      I’m presuming Asus will release a GENE model of the X79 at some point. Just won’t be part of the initial rush I guess.

    • RickyTick
    • 8 years ago

    In today’s Shortbread there is also a review of some Gigabyte X79 motherboard’s as well as EVGA X79 FTW. What is the benefit of the EVGA having the 24 pin connector turn out at a 90 degree angle?

      • south side sammy
      • 8 years ago

      I didn’t see the board but 2 things come to mind right away. Clean cabling and better air circulation in the case.

      • FuturePastNow
      • 8 years ago

      That would help with cable management if you’ve got a case with a wiring cutout next to the mobo.

    • Firestarter
    • 8 years ago

    So, how long should I suffer not being able to play BF3 before I upgrade to Ivy Bridge?

    I’m hurting here ๐Ÿ™

    edit: Although I guess I could suffer through a 6-core CPU with 15mb L3 cache ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    • ModernPrimitive
    • 8 years ago

    Now that i talked them into putting fans on it, where’s my AGP 4x and ISA slot for good measure?

      • tay
      • 8 years ago

      Amazing.

    • Bauxite
    • 8 years ago

    What is that weird backpanel thing on the deluxe, wifi daughtercard with bizzaro antennas?

      • Chrispy_
      • 8 years ago

      Looks like a combined wifi+bluetooth board:
      [url<]http://lab501.ro/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/MG_5447.jpg[/url<]

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 8 years ago

        pretty nifty feature since those addons. Assuming its 11N I’d be happy to add another 30 or more to the board since decent 11N pci cards are 50 and up.

    • south side sammy
    • 8 years ago

    Everything is getting smaller and they keep making dinosaurs, just like the car company’s. Be nice to see an array instead of the top end boards all the time. Do like the upper color scheme. Maybe they should go in to interior decorating.

      • Lazier_Said
      • 8 years ago

      Yep. Just what the world needs, more boards with 6 card slots and nothing to put in them to go in huge cases with a 7″ stack of 5.25″ bays and nothing to put in them.

      The last ATX board I bought was circa 2005.

      Small cars OTOH are for greenies and poor people, never bought one and never will.

        • Duck
        • 8 years ago

        In my country, big cars are for middle aged people that just want something safe and practical. Never bought a big car and never will.

    • StuG
    • 8 years ago

    What the whaaat?! Fans on my motherboards again…NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!

      • DancinJack
      • 8 years ago

      furrreal. I won’t ever buy a motherboard with a fan on it again.

      • flip-mode
      • 8 years ago

      Heh, +1. Thanks for that, too, because the first thing I thought when I saw the fans was “oooh neat”. Your post brought me back to reality.

      • cfroese
      • 8 years ago

      Indeed. And why, oh why, does the port cluster need a fan?

        • 5150
        • 8 years ago

        MOAR POWER!

        • Chrispy_
        • 8 years ago

        Heh, it certainly looks like that, doesn’t it ๐Ÿ˜›
        The hottest VRM’s for the processor power circuits sit right behind the port cluster, I guess.

        My overclocked i5 and GTX460 system has three moving parts in total, two of which spin at only 600RPM. I’m too chicken/lazy to change the cooler on my GPU, but at least it’s really quiet most of the time.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      I was thinking, wow those are small and will make the worst sound ever when they start to break down.

        • Jambe
        • 8 years ago

        reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEE

        … sorry, I just wanted to bump this comment up because the only one of those boards that looks worthwhile is the fanless Deluxe. I suppose one could take the fans off the other models but it looks like they’re integrated into the heatsinks…

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