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.

Comments closed
    • sentient04
    • 8 years ago

    The SR-X boards doesnโ€t place the PCIe 3.0 x16 on every other slot. Some cards use up 2 slot places and if you were to use this type on the SR-X you would only have room for 2 rendering the other 2 PCIe 3.0 x16 slots useless. Or are the pCIe slots placed far enough apart to handle these large GPUs?

    • sentient04
    • 8 years ago

    I would like to see a comparison between the SR-X and the Z9P3-D8. The SR-X has integrated bluetooth and tuboboost supporting 96 G RAM while Z9P3-D8 has remote management and supports 128 G RAM. The SR-X PCIe 3.0s are the first 4 slots while the Z9P3-D8 is every other. Both have a limit of 4 PCIe 3.0 slots but I believe the Z9P3-D8 can use the other 3 as PCIe 8.0. I think every other is a improvement because many GPUs use up two slots of space. Both should be overclockable and the Z9P3-D8 is a much smaller board. They will both be available near same time.

    • coyote
    • 8 years ago

    A theoretical question: if a motherboard supported more than one desktop socket, would Windows (let’s say 7 Pro 64-bit) know how to use them both, please?

      • cygnus1
      • 8 years ago

      It’s not that windows wouldn’t know what to do with them, it’s the chips are artificially limited so they can’t be used together. They don’t have the necessary inter-socket links enabled.

      • sentient04
      • 8 years ago

      Windows 7 will handle this quite well. Bear in mind however that present games up to now only access 1-4 cores. Why game programmers don’t program their games to utilize all available cores is unknown to me. First good game that does will have a great advantage over all others and will mean more dollars in their pockets and help to bring games to higher levels.

      • coyote
      • 8 years ago

      Thank you very much for your replies, sentient04 and cygnus1!

      @sentient04: I don’t mind what limitations games have, I’m not a gamer. I’ll do audio and video editing, and other workstation tasks.

      @cygnus1: Thank you for noting a lack of “necessary inter-socket links enabled”. I can’t claim to understand the practical implications. Would Windows be unable to utilize more than one socket for a single application’s tasks (but be able to utilize both sockets for tasks by different applications)?

        • sentient04
        • 8 years ago

        Yes, depending on the application. In Vista you could even program which cores you would like a particular application to use and let some have priority (not recommended) over others. Windows 7 should be same.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    …why? How does this differ from a normal server motherboard?

      • Krogoth
      • 8 years ago

      BIOS options and settings.

      This board is just an overclock-friendly version of a Workstation board.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        Asus and other MB makers already make ‘server’ boards with such settings…

    • pedro
    • 8 years ago

    Where’s Krogoth? I need a break down on why this is over-the-top.

      • Krogoth
      • 8 years ago

      Actually, it is a product that exists for one purpose, Epenis.

      DIY prosumers rather stick with more conservative boards that prides themselves on stability and reliability. (Tyan, SuperMicro, ASUS).

      There isn’t really any point to get dual-socket boards unless you are doing real work with your system.

      i5-2500K and i7-2600K can handle practically the need of any gamer/power user without clearing the checking account.

        • pedro
        • 8 years ago

        Thanks for that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • My Johnson
    • 8 years ago

    Enthusiast? No.

    But I could see its use in custom simulators for either industry or personal use.

    • Deanjo
    • 8 years ago

    Pfft. No db25 serial port……. and they call this an enthusiast board. ๐Ÿ˜›

      • slash3
      • 8 years ago

      No Token Ring, no buy.

    • ew
    • 8 years ago

    The motherboard of choice for the 1%.

      • Duck
      • 8 years ago

      0.005%

      • RickyTick
      • 8 years ago

      The motherboard of choice for the <1%.

      Fixed that for ya.

    • jdaven
    • 8 years ago

    Thank god this $500+ dual socket motherboard that uses two $1000+ six-core sandy bridge Xeon CPUs, 64GB+ quad channel DDR3 RAM and four $700+ dual chip GPUs still has the capability of using a keyboard from the late 1980s. I was worried there for a moment.

      • siberx
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]Thank god this $500+ dual socket motherboard that uses two $1000+ six-core sandy bridge Xeon CPUs, 64GB+ quad channel DDR3 RAM and four $700+ dual chip GPUs still has the capability of using a keyboard from the late 1980s. I was worried there for a moment.[/quote<] The PS2 keyboard port is typically left on boards like this because they're often used by fringe overclockers looking to break world records; when you're pushing a system that hard, peripherals like USB buses can crap out or limit you and need to be disabled. It's pretty tough to boot a system and do a benchmark with no keyboard, and PS2's simplicity makes it particularly robust in those scenarios - hence its inclusion.

      • Bauxite
      • 8 years ago

      Some keyboards from the late 80s are still in demand today, because they weren’t made like cheap pieces of crap. Good luck using one from now in 5 years.

      PS2 still has its place in the KVM/server world, its not going away yet. But its [i<]cool[/i<] (like sitting in starbucks with a shiny, not the good kind) to dump on it on hardware sites every time a motherboard has it. I saw a 'lol@oldtech' post about a serial [i<]header[/i<] too (just about any I/O chip comes with it for free, so why the hell not?) not even an actual port. If only they actually knew all usb::serial converters are [b<]still universally trash[/b<] after a decade to build one to proper spec, but how dare anyone to want to interface with external hardware that uses it.

        • sentient04
        • 8 years ago

        I’m hoping the USB 3.0 solves some of these problems.

      • Duck
      • 8 years ago

      Only people born after 1991 want the PS/2 port to die.

      • colinstu
      • 8 years ago

      Have to be able to plug a Model M into it some how!

      • shank15217
      • 8 years ago

      Some of the most expensive state of the art server hardware you can buy have serial ports, the reason why ps2 and serial ports are included is because they are very simple protocols and have direct access to the system interrupt subsystems making them ideal debugging and low level hardware access tools.

      • ColeLT1
      • 8 years ago

      Das Keyboard: full n-key rollover with a PS2 adapter, and 6 keys with USB.

    • Corrado
    • 8 years ago

    This seems like an odd market for a company like EVGA to get into. I can’t imagine the ‘DIY Dual Socket Xeon’ market is very big. Certainly not big enough to allocate the resources to, as this market is much much more demanding than the regular DIY and enthusiast markets.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      The only thing that makes this dramatically different from other dual socket workstation boards as far as I understand it is allowing easy CPU overlcocking and lots of PCI E slots. That margin for so little work is looking better now isn’t it.

      • Ringofett
      • 8 years ago

      From what I’ve noticed the SR2 was highly prized with the Folding@Home crowd. Given that the bitcoin crowd was able to single-handedly wipe out inventories of certain Radeon cards, maybe the F@H and DC in general market is a worthy one to toss a bone to, plus whatever business uses it might have?

      • eofpi
      • 8 years ago

      This is a halo product. The point of halo products is to raise the opinion of the brand as a whole in prospective customers’ eyes. They sell it at a loss because they think they’ll make up the difference in sales of more pedestrian products. It’s no different than the Dodge Viper or Ford GT.

    • alexsabree
    • 8 years ago

    I’m building a new system around this and Kepler. Hopefully the Xeons will be unlocked. *crosses fingers*

      • tyr2
      • 8 years ago

      @alexsabree
      I’ve modded the box (Lian-Li PC-V2120B) and have the w/c, etc. completed (Coolgate 3.140 top & XSPC 3.120 bottom, blah, blah). I, too had intended to use Kepler, but I think that I’m going to await Maxwell and may simply re-purpose the V2120 to a high-end AMD/Kepler build for a driver/DevBox.

      Having rewritten my financial engineering code (MATLAB/C++/CUDA) to SP, it’s running “too well” on my proof-of-concept X58 (i920 @ 4.1; 32GB @ 1680; 3 X EVGA 460/2GB) box to just “abandon” it for a modest incremental gain. Should Maxwell deliver half of what’s been “promised,” it seems daft to not build around it; modding, per se, has lost some of its allure over the years. Frankly, I’m still laughing about not needing the grossly overpriced and completely un-waterblock-able TESLA cards for dealing with my parallel/big data.

      @general comments
      As far as the SR-X’s overall practicality, if you know what you’re doing and have a halfway decent ‘Net connection, you can pretty well make as much money as you choose with this kind of setup.
      No, I don’t engage in folding@home; I started out as a scientist and concluded that there’d be little profit in it. Having seen enough of “poor,” I went back for an MBA in the late ’60’s and entered international finance. Hence, I engage in charity@home.

      SR-X gripes: I use dual PS/2 connectors with my “TrackPoint” keyboards (9!) … damn, EVGA has “allowed” the inevitable to happen. I do wish that they’d managed to squeeze in a full complement of quad-channel memory sockets, as it does make a difference in stochastics.

      • sentient04
      • 8 years ago

      They will be.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]it's designed for Xeons exclusively[/quote<] Actually, [quote<]it's designed to ensure that the maximum possible amount of your money goes to Intel exclusively[/quote<] There, fixed that for ya! Never mind; I just get cranky when I'm trying to build a 'maximum-value' system for a client only to discover that Intel artificially restricts some already-paid-for technologies (*cough*virtualization*cough*) to their highest-margin chips.

      • just brew it!
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]Never mind; I just get cranky when I'm trying to build a 'maximum-value' system for a client only to discover that Intel artificially restricts some already-paid-for technologies (*cough*virtualization*cough*) to their highest-margin chips.[/quote<] Yup, that's one of the main reasons I favor AMD CPUs -- they tend not to artificially segment their product line as aggressively as Intel does. Full support for ECC RAM is another way in which AMD's desktop platforms differ from Intel's (though you do give that up if you go with a Fusion APU, so AMD is starting to play that game too).

        • tfp
        • 8 years ago

        AMD’s desktop platforms also differ by being slower, Intel has no real reason to lower prices or to add those features. They might as well charge a premium for features most people don’t need. Does it suck sure but you could always get something else that runs slower.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      The Xeons with HT enabled have always started at lower prices than the i7s. This time around, they’re even starting the 6 core Xeons at $400 and 8 cores at $1,100, which is a huge price cut from Westmere EX.

        • Goty
        • 8 years ago

        Then again, EX actually stands for [b<]E[/b<]xtra e[b<]X[/b<]pensive.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      I don’t care for all the market manipulation that goes on. The lack of real competition is to blame though.

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