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Asus P9X79 WS

Ultimate X79? Five $320+ LGA 2011 Motherboards, Reviewed
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Though the WS moniker implies a workstation target market, many of these boards have become preferred solutions for gamers and traditional power users. The P9X79 WS follows that tradition by facilitating six PCIe x16 slots, keeping the Deluxe model's Intel gigabit network PHY, and upgrading its second gigabit Ethernet controller from Realtek to an Intel PCIe model.

Even more traditional are two PS/2 ports and the lack of Asus' Deluxe model’s Bluetooth/Wi-Fi module. The WS also loses four of the Deluxe’s USB 3.0 rear-panel and four of its front-panel USB 2.0 ports favor of traditional FireWire and serial connectors. WS users do get one of those USB 2.0 ports back, however, in the form of an external port mounted internally for use with thumb drives. Did someone say ReadyBoost?

The P9X79 WS keeps the Deluxe version’s USB BIOS Flashback feature, along with its MemOK button and TPU/EPU switches. MemOK automatically underclocks RAM to help get through the boot process with poorly programmed modules, TPU enables Asus’ pre-defined automatic overclock settings, and EPU enables Asus’ power-saving CPU voltage reduction routine.

The P9X79 WS is specifically designed for four-way SLI, switching its blue x16 slots to x8 mode whenever its black x16 slots are filled. The included three-way SLI bridge is spaced for x8-x8-x16 transfers, and the grey slots each use four of the LGA 2011 package’s eight remaining PCIe lanes.

The P9X79 WS moves its front-panel audio connector several inches northward from it expected location, where it rests slightly forward of the rear audio jacks. While that does sound like a break from tradition, this placement makes it far easier to use with Thermaltake’s older cases (which had notoriously short front-panel cables).

Our only layout concern is that an upward-facing latch on the eight-pin CPU power connector could be difficult to reach when this board is installed with its cable wrapped over the top of a motherboard tray.

Two, three, and four-way SLI bridges are included in the P9X79 WS installation kit, along with eight SATA cables and even a serial port breakout plate. The mix of old and new might make this the perfect board for elder geeks, but we’ve yet to see how it performs!

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  • 5 Hide
    lradunovic77 , December 7, 2011 3:43 AM
    Something is wrong with your ASRock Extreme 9 testing. You article states that you used BIOS 1.40 however first release for this Motherboard was 1.60 and they also recently released 1.70. Bios 1.40 is for ASRock Extreme 4 which i own as well. Again in mean time they updated BIOS for ASRock Extreme 4 to version 1.50 which greatly improves overclocking. I have C1 and i am hitting 4.4Ghz easily. (1.50 BIOS ASRock Extreme 4).

    You might want re check the facts.

    Thanks.
  • 7 Hide
    Crashman , December 7, 2011 4:12 AM
    lradunovic77Something is wrong ...You might want re check the facts.
    Please do verify the facts beginning with the first X79 Extreme9 UEFI screenshot on page 3, showing version P 1.40 . The latest public firmware was downloaded for every motherboard on November 18, which is before ASRock says its P1.60 was even published. And, if you check Newegg, you'll find that Newegg was actually selling the X79 Extreme9 before firmware P1.60 was published.

    How could that happen? ASRock has repeatedly removed previous BIOS versions from its website and labeled the replacement as the initial release.

    This review was published after many hours of collaboration with ASRock, and some of the problems with this specific CPU are further detailed in the overclocking section. ASRock acknowledged the problem exists with a portion of the C1 CPU supply and has begun issuing patched BIOS to fix the multiplier issue, according to ASRock engineer William Yu.
  • 0 Hide
    oxxfatelostxxo , December 7, 2011 5:31 AM
    Quote:
    I have C1 and i am hitting 4.4Ghz easily. (1.50 BIOS ASRock Extreme 4).

    Not to mention that they didnt say they couldnt hit 4.4ghz, they just stated they didnt get that high without going beyond 1.35v

    Kinda wish we got to see a MAX overclock for air before temps got out of control =P
    But then you get various coolers involved... yada yada... but PLEASE anyway
  • -1 Hide
    clonazepam , December 7, 2011 5:58 AM
    This was a fun article to read. I wanted to quote a few bits here and there just to point out I enjoyed the humor in it, but that would have been a lot of quotes. It's subtle, tasteful way to add personality to the piece.

    I had to comment on something. I can't really comment on the hardware as its so enthusiast and SB-E is well beyond my needs. I can't comment too much on the bios because I still barely understand mine, but I am seeing the trend that it might be best to stick with what you know, or risk having to translate the various names/definitions of settings across different products. I'm not that smart nor that patient. I liked the comment on the 6.00...lol... %! I never would have thought. I think that just deciphered half of my bios options, thanks. /wink
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 7, 2011 6:54 AM
    In the comparison table on the ASUS : "6 (x16/x0/x4/x16/x4/x0 or x8/x8/x4/x8/x84/x8)" -- x84 seems somewhat unlikely ;-)
  • 1 Hide
    gmcizzle , December 7, 2011 8:11 AM
    Not surprised both Asus boards came out on top performance wise, on most of these mobo roundups they usually do.
  • 3 Hide
    Steveymoo , December 7, 2011 9:20 AM
    Without trying to sound critical, wouldn't it be prudent to test SLI scaling on these enthusiast boards? 1, 2, and 3 way SLI, extra PCI-E bandwidth is one of the main reason why people even bother splashing out the extra cash on these chipsets. (Aside from the extra epeen++)

    Just sayin'
  • 4 Hide
    Crashman , December 7, 2011 9:28 AM
    shstoneIn the comparison table on the ASUS : "6 (x16/x0/x4/x16/x4/x0 or x8/x8/x4/x8/x84/x8)" -- x84 seems somewhat unlikely ;-)
    Thanks. Yes, the x4 stays the same. Fixed!
    SteveymooWithout trying to sound critical, wouldn't it be prudent to test SLI scaling on these enthusiast boards? 1, 2, and 3 way SLI, extra PCI-E bandwidth is one of the main reason why people even bother splashing out the extra cash on these chipsets. (Aside from the extra epeen++)Just sayin'
    You obviously don't understand the value of those +++'s!
  • 0 Hide
    AstroTC , December 7, 2011 9:46 AM
    AsRock has the better looking MB by far...

    Question does tht little fan on the motherboard get loud? If it does that would be a deal breaker for me
  • 2 Hide
    CaedenV , December 7, 2011 10:05 AM
    the problem with testing mobos is that they all have the same core (in this case the x79) which is what determines the raw speed of the system and busses, so they are all pretty well bunched together with no possibility of seeing any real world difference between boards. The things that differentiate the boards is in their feature sets, and as they are all rather different there is no proper way to test them against one another. Add to that the fact that these are all brand new boards which will see improvements with new UEFI releases, and there is really no way to pick a clear winner.

    On a side note I would love to see how these boards look assembled :) 
  • 1 Hide
    bejabbers , December 7, 2011 11:35 AM
    This list of high end x79 boards seems top be missing the rampage iv extreme.
  • 1 Hide
    lradunovic77 , December 7, 2011 11:40 AM
    CrashmanPlease do verify the facts beginning with the first X79 Extreme9 UEFI screenshot on page 3, showing version P 1.40 . The latest public firmware was downloaded for every motherboard on November 18, which is before ASRock says its P1.60 was even published. And, if you check Newegg, you'll find that Newegg was actually selling the X79 Extreme9 before firmware P1.60 was published.How could that happen? ASRock has repeatedly removed previous BIOS versions from its website and labeled the replacement as the initial release.This review was published after many hours of collaboration with ASRock, and some of the problems with this specific CPU are further detailed in the overclocking section. ASRock acknowledged the problem exists with a portion of the C1 CPU supply and has begun issuing patched BIOS to fix the multiplier issue, according to ASRock engineer William Yu.


    I am running 4.4GHz on 1.2V Revision C1 ASRock Extreme4 Bios 1.50. At 1.4V i can run 5.0Ghz but i don't have good enough cooler so i reverted back to 4.4.
  • 2 Hide
    thearm , December 7, 2011 11:53 AM
    "This list of high end x79 boards seems top be missing the rampage iv extreme."

    I was wondering the same thing. I was about to purchase the rampage iv extreme then I saw this story. I was hoping to see it compaired with these boards. But, maybe it's in a league of its own.
  • 3 Hide
    elbert , December 7, 2011 12:24 PM
    If the average Joe can only expect 4.4GHz with x79 I would guess many will stick with easy to reach 4.7GHz 2600K on air.
  • 4 Hide
    zanny , December 7, 2011 12:27 PM
    thearm"This list of high end x79 boards seems top be missing the rampage iv extreme."I was wondering the same thing. I was about to purchase the rampage iv extreme then I saw this story. I was hoping to see it compaired with these boards. But, maybe it's in a league of its own.


    It uses the same chipset and Asus doesn't differentiate integrated components on a per board testing basis. It will almost assuredly perform at the same level the other boards do, it just has a brand name unscaled cost and different tweak software.

    In general, the entire x79 platform seems poorly executed to me. For having over twice the transistor count of a Sandy Bridge chip, the E line does not have performance to match that much of a die size increase, coupled with the base TDP being as high as it is, I would expect many more cores or much higher clocks out of them, especially considering they don't waste die space on integrated graphics.

    That and the motherboards to go with the platform are all extremely overpriced. It is understandable that a new socket type has a lot of manufacturing overhead, and 4 channel RAM is magnitudes more complicated circuitry than dual channel, and having the PCI lanes support almost three times the bandwidth and channels is costly. But it isn't triple the price of a reasonable z68 motherboard costly.
  • 1 Hide
    Onus , December 7, 2011 1:06 PM
    $320 buys a Core-i5 and a decent mobo, or a Phenom II X4, decent mobo, and RAM; either of which will fully meet the processing needs of at least 95% of computer users.
    The CPU is worse; for a total buy-in of $920+ (adds the cost of an i7-3930K) you can build a very nice system indeed, as the $1K SBM articles clearly show.
    In today's economic climate, X79 may make sense for only a very few people. I'm not one of them, and while there's certainly no harm in reading about it, I doubt many regular Tom's readers are either.
  • 0 Hide
    geekapproved , December 7, 2011 1:09 PM
    Only Intel can sell $320 plus motherboards with no lifespan.....remember X58.......X79 is supposed to have a shorter life than X58.

    Suckers!! haha
  • 1 Hide
    Hellbound , December 7, 2011 2:59 PM
    And of course, the rampage iv extreme, the board I going to get, is not on the list........
  • 3 Hide
    fulle , December 7, 2011 3:42 PM
    Uhm... with 1.35V I can hit 4.8GHz on my 2500k... which is actually quite typical. Most mid range p67 and z68 motherboards will allow for about the same OC with the 2500k / 2600k.

    Which makes me wonder. If a 2600K can normally hit 4.8GHz on modest air cooling, and an i7 3960X is going to typically max out at around 4.4GHz with the same Vcore and cooling.... that's a 10% higher clock speed on the 2600K. The 3960X should perform about 20% faster at the same speed.... meaning... the difference is going to be what? 10% in favor of the 3960X.

    So, 10% more performance for about 3 times the cost.

    For anything but professional workstations, it seems that X79 doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
  • 1 Hide
    makaveli316 , December 7, 2011 4:27 PM
    I don't get all the hype with this LGA 2011, seriously. Actually the motherboards are awesome, you get PCIE 3.0 and stuff, but the cpus are sooooo hyped. I see minimal improvements in speed, not to mention in games those few frames per seconds are ridiculous for a cpu that costs twice and more.
    Next year i'm getting a new LGA 2011 mobo and an "old" 2600K and spare some cash for a better GPU.
    Greedy bastards...
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