Ultimate X79? Five £230+ LGA 2011 Motherboards, Reviewed

Asus P9X79 Deluxe

Asus caters to the high-end market’s connectivity needs with six USB 3.0 ports on the P9X79 Deluxe’s rear panel, in addition to two front-panel ports, four internal USB 2.0 headers, and four rear-panel ports. If that's not enough, one of the always-deluxe dual gigabit Ethernet network connectors is fed by Intel’s reputable PHY.

Asus’ BT Go 3.0 module adds both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to the I/O panel, plugging between Asus’ USB BIOS Flashback switch and the first set of USB 3.0 ports. USB BIOS Flashback allows BIOS to be updated from a USB flash drive (in the white USB 2.0 port) with nothing more than power cords connected.

The blue PCIe x16 slots each feature a full set of pathways connected directly to the CPU, spaced four slots apart for perfect graphics cooling, even with triple-slot cards. We did find a problem in the manual, however, which lists the wrong slot order. The two x16 slots in the middle are visibly wired for eight lanes, and the second of those two borrows its lanes from the bottom slot whenever a card is installed there.

That means three-way CrossFireX and SLI are possible within a standard seven-slot case, given x16-x8-x16 transfers, with each card spaced two slots apart. Quad-card arrays could be possible with single-slot cards, but the only single-slot boards you'll find with two bridges are high-end liquid-cooled parts.

The P9X79 Deluxe’s remaining layout is fairly good, with the front-panel audio cable moved forward along the motherboard’s bottom edge for easier cable reach, and the front-panel USB 3.0 header placed above all expansion slots on the front edge. The eight-pin ATX/EPS 12V header’s latch is on the top, which could cause a little difficulty removing the cable if the builder wraps it around the back of a motherboard tray.

We should also mention that four of the P9X79 Deluxe’s rear USB 3.0 ports are shared on a VL810 hub, a fact that might be noticed by anyone who tries to ram 20 Gb/s of data through its constrained 5 Gb/s connection.

We really love that Asus includes eight internal SATA cables with the eight-port P9X79 Deluxe, along with a Wi-Fi antenna, a flexible SLI bridge, and a rigid three-way SLI bridge. CrossFire users should find the appropriate bridges packaged with their cards.

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  • AndrewJacksonZA

    I think you're missing four tests that motherboards of thiscalibre price range might be used for: dual-SLI, dual-Crossfire, triple-SLI and triple-Crossfire using 590s and 6990s. Why am I suggesting this when you have GFX benchmarks at other places? To see the differences between each motherboard's implementation.

    Or am I not fully understanding how SLI and Crossfire are implemented?
  • CryptorX
    It all may seem pretty cool by now, after all this is the new high end platform... yeah right... the 1336 platform also seemed pretty cool when it came out, i spent a whole fortune upgrading to it, my triple channel ram kit alone cost me 210€, i was pretty sure i was investing in a "future proof" platform (upgradable for at least three years), that future was 5 months until it was discontinued... never again! That said, either this new socket drops prices drastically or AMD gets a new customer.
  • hipflask

    This issue is on more x79 boards. Gigabytes failing I.C's has just highlighted a problem that toms and everyone else that reviewed these boards should have known or found before end users started having throttling issues and failed boards.
    Brings the whole question of impartiality to mind