EVGA doubles down on Sandy Bridge-E

About a year and a half ago, EVGA showed us its first dual-socket motherboard at the Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan. The Classified SR-2 combined dual Xeon sockets with an overclocking-friendly BIOS and gobs of PCI Express x16 slots, setting a new standard for gratuitious enthusiast excess. At CES last week, EVGA outdid itself with the SR-2's natural evolution.

The new SR-X retains the dual-Xeon design of its forebear but swaps that board's LGA1366 sockets for compatibility with Intel's 2011-pin Sandy Bridge-E silicon. Alas, you won't be able to plug a couple of desktop-oriented CPUs like the Core i7-3960X into the SR-X; it's designed for Xeons exclusively. Just two Sandy Bridge-E based Xeons offer plenty of PCI Express 3.0 connectivity, allowing the SR-X to serve its seven expansion slots without tapping the PCIe lanes built into the chipset. EVGA does use a PLX switch chip to split the PCIe 3.0 lanes between the multiple slots, though.

On the chipset front, the board features an "Intel C600" platform hub that looks an awful like what the X79 should have been. See that pair of SAS connectors in the bottom right-hand corner of the board? It seems Intel has resolved the storage-controller issues that left the X79 with no more SATA ports than a run-of-the-mill desktop chipset.

You wouldn't know it from looking at the board, but EVGA was apparently a little pressed for real estate when developing the SR-X. There wasn't quite enough room to hang eight DIMM slots off both CPU sockets, so you'll have to make do with only four slots for one of the CPUs. That's still enough to exploit Sandy Bridge-E's quad memory channels, though.

The SR-X is still three months out, leaving EVGA time to tweak the final design. Already, the board looks like a great blend of workstation horsepower with enthusiast conveniences like USB 3.0 ports, integrated Bluetooth, and a CMOS reset switch in the rear cluster. While it certainly won't be cheap, the SR-X may well be one of the most lusted-after motherboards of the year.

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