Dual-socket Sandy Bridge-EP workstation board hits Newegg

EVGA isn’t the only one with an enthusiast-friendly, dual-socket workstation board designed for Intel’s new Sandy Bridge-EP Xeons. Asus has officially lifted the lid on the Z9PE-D8 WS, which offers two LGA2011 sockets, eight DIMM slots, and seven PCI Express x16 slots. Unlike the EVGA board, the Asus model is already selling at Newegg, albeit for a pricey $599. You didn’t expect a dually Xeon board to be cheap, did you?

The Z9PE-D8 WS is based on Intel’s C602 platform hub, an updated version of the X79 chipset released last year. We expected the C602 to offer a broader array of storage connectivity options, and it seems to have more SATA ports. However, Intel’s official ARK entry for the chip says only two of the 10 Serial ATA ports support 6Gbps speeds, a fact echoed by Asus’ mobo specifications. Perhaps that’s why the Z9PE-D8 WS also comes equipped with an auxiliary Marvell storage controller that serves up four more 6Gbps SATA ports. Asus provides SSD caching through that Marvell controller, functionality that doesn’t appear to be available for the C602 chipset just yet. Intel hasn’t brought its Smart Response caching tech to the X79 chipset, either, although support for that platform is due to arrive in a drive update this year.

Strip away the extra ports, slots, and socket, and the Z9PE-D8 WS looks like an enthusiast board. An ASMedia USB 3.0 controller feeds two ports at the rear and two more for a front-panel connection. Realtek provides the DTS-compatible integrated audio, while Intel kicks in a couple of Gigabit Ethernet controllers. We haven’t seen the board’s firmware interface, but we’ve been told that overclocking options are included. If recent Asus EFIs are any indication, the GUI should be pretty snazzy, too.

The Z9PE-D8 WS is built on an EEB form factor that measures 12" x 13", making it more compact than EVGA’s Classified SR-X, which has a 13.6" x 15" footprint. Surprisingly, the SR-X is actually based on a slightly different chipset—the Intel C606, which has fewer 3Gbps SATA ports than the C602 but similar specifications otherwise. The SR-X boasts fewer auxiliary 6Gbps SATA ports but more USB 3.0 connectivity, and it costs about $50 more based on the price listed on EVGA’s site.

Comments closed
    • Krogoth
    • 8 years ago

    Interesting workstation class board guise as an “Ultra-High Enthusiast” board.

    The only problem with this board? Not enough DIMM slots (16 minimal for dual-socket LGA2011 board).

      • bacondreamer
      • 8 years ago

      Do pray-tell how you’re gonna manage to cram another 8 slots on this board withOUT removing any of the PCIex-16 slots? Besides, theoretically Westmere E5 for example can support up to 750GB of memory and should mobo manufacturer decides to do so, this board alone could support up to 256GB of memory…….why would you need more than 8 slots? It’s a workstation board, not a server board.

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 8 years ago

        The number of PCIe slots does seem a little excessive to me. Maybe it would work out OK with a few SSD-on-PCIe boards. Just in case someone had a use for that…

          • bacondreamer
          • 8 years ago

          Not if you’re building a Tesla workstation 😀

        • maxxcool
        • 8 years ago

        how? not sure… but CAD and editing raw uncompressed video would surely eat a measly 256gb of ram …

    • Anonymous Coward
    • 8 years ago

    At a certain point in my life I would definitely have gotten something like this. (Except from a maker of real server and workstation motherboards, not that trendy trashy desktop stuff.) I feel a bit sad inside that there is no purpose and no money for me to get these kind of things anymore.

    • Forge
    • 8 years ago

    This would be interesting as Hell if it took standard LGA2011 Core i7s and ran them dually. Needing Xeons makes it unaffordable for all but a very, very few.

    Intel! Send me two sexy Xeons and I’ll buy this motherboard! I’ll then tell everyone I meet about how elite these Xeons are!

    • shank15217
    • 8 years ago

    Asus put on a couple of shitty Intel 82574L LAN chips in this $600 mb, they could do better.

    • internetsandman
    • 8 years ago

    Well, the board is at a fairly reasonable price, considering what it is. It’s just a shame that to put two identical processors in it you’re looking at spending a minimum of $1300 after taxes, and that’s just for the lowest-end 6 core parts If you want to go whole-hog and fill this board with dual 8 core chips it’d costs you at least $2300. It’s quite daunting that even on an ultra-high-end board like this, you can still manage to spend two too three times as much on the processing power as you do on the board itself.

    Now I just wanna win the lottery so I can have the trouble of figuring out what case would hold the best watercooling loop for this board

    • Xenolith
    • 8 years ago

    How about 4 sockets?

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      Not for EP. That’s EX, which doesn’t exist yet (at least, outside Intel’s labs).

        • Xenolith
        • 8 years ago

        thanks.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    I know people don’t often see value in a product like this but if you are a professional who works with xeon workstations they are indeed a compromise in performance. The slower clock speeds have notable impact on certain applications and the idea of basically getting consumer snappiness with a near xeon thermal footprint is truly enticing. A 4.0 ghz xeon would be something to behold, let alone two! Useful for most people? NO. If I worked from home I sure could get something out of this though. (big fat tax write off!)

    • phileasfogg
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t understand how they could design in 7 PCIe x16 slots. That’s a total of 112 lanes. Are there really 56 PCIe lanes available on each SB-EP Xeon CPU?

      • continuum
      • 8 years ago

      Per the spec link above….

      4 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (dual x16 or quad x8) *1
      2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 *1
      1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x8 mode) *1

      Now, will it let me run dual Radeon HD 7970s is the real question. Some boards have a power limit on the PCI-e x16 slots…

        • Airmantharp
        • 8 years ago

        Will it let you run two?

        The real [b<][i<]question[/b<][/i<] is whether it will let you run [b<][i<]four[/b<][/i<]. (maybe that's Nvidia only, but you get the point)

    • derFunkenstein
    • 8 years ago

    Yes, but [url=https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=478597#p478597<]can it fold[/url<]?

      • DrCR
      • 8 years ago

      Do people still fold these days?

      I’m sure you were just making a joke, but folding seems like a fad that’s past. Maybe I’m mistaken though.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        It does seem to have fallen out of style here, at least. Rising energy costs and the recession in general probably keep people from building dedicated folding boxes.

        And yes, I was just resurrecting the very first TR meme with my comment. 🙂

    • 5150
    • 8 years ago

    Neat.

    • EV42TMAN
    • 8 years ago

    In the real world if you were going to build a “workstation” class system with a board like this you would most likely be using a dedicated RAID card. so having 14 sata ports on a board is kind of useless

      • 5150
      • 8 years ago

      Don’t know why you keep getting downvoted for this. Why spend all that money on a system and deal with on-board RAID?

        • tay
        • 8 years ago

        In this day and age, if you use Linux most people advise on software RAID. For Windows you could probably use onboard. Not sure what the RAID card gets you anymore unless you have a >64 MB cache on board.

    • UberGerbil
    • 8 years ago

    That certainly makes the ASUS look like the better choice, based on features alone (since the difference in price is pretty meaningless at this level, especially when it only shows up on the corporate purchase order).

    I find myself mesmerized by that black-and-white expanse of hieroglyphics produced by all the surface-mount components between the chipset and the PCIe slots…

      • Farting Bob
      • 8 years ago

      The black and white always looks nice, especially when a board is so tightly packed like this one. You know its high end with all the chips and stuff glued on. Having said that the baby blue DIMM’s look crap for those that care about mobo aesthetics.

        • ludi
        • 8 years ago

        If you do it right, you won’t be able to see any of the DIMM slots because every one of them will be hiding underneath a DIMM.

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