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Ultimate X79? Five $320+ 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.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.