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Intel Core i7 3930K & Asus P9X79 WS LGA2011 WorkStation Review

Asus box artwork is always attractive and this is no exception. A lovely selection of fonts and subtle background imagery.

The box is a gatefold design which folds out to reveal a detailed list of specifications and key selling points. Ideal for a store environment.

The bundle is extensive as we would expect from a flagship product.

They include:

  • User's manual
  • Driver and software disc
  • I/O Shield
  • 2 x SATA 3Gb/s cable(s)
  • 4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
  • 1 x 3-Way SLI bridge(s)
  • 1 x 4-Way SLI bridge(s)
  • 1 x SLI bridge(s)
  • 1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)

The board is an impressive design and is classed as a ‘CEB' form factor motherboard. It measures 30.48 cm x 26.67 cm (12 inch by 10.5 inch). This is an unusual size, because it is bigger than the standard ATX size (12 x 9.6 inches), but not quite as big as the E-ATX form factor (12 x 13 inches). We used the enormous Cooler Master Cosmos 2 for the review today, so we experienced no fitting problems.

ASUS are using a digital 8+2 phase power design for this board and a 2+2 phase power design for the memory. The layout of the board is exceptional and we love the industrial appearance of the heatsinks. There is also plenty of room around the CPU socket for oversized coolers, which is always good to see.

The P9X79 WS LGA2011 has 8 DIMM memory slots supporting up to 64GB of memory. The board can handle 1066/1333/1600/1866/2133 (O.C.)/2400 (O/C) non ECC unbuffered memory in a Quad channel configuration. There is full support for the Intel Extreme memory profile (XMP). We will test the memory support thoroughly today with flagship Corsair 2400mhz GTX8 sticks.

The main ATX power connector is close to the USB 3.0 header (at the left), an EPU on/off switch, and a fan header (one of six – which is generous). The molex header on the far right in the image above can deliver more power to the PCI-E slots for added stability. We didn't need to use this at all during our review, but the option is welcomed for 3 or more video cards. We like the inclusion of the MemOK! button which can help rescue a non posting system.

The bottom area of the board is fully loaded. There is another PWM fan header here which is useful.  There are easy to access power and reset buttons, two standard USB headers, a four pin USB connector and a front panel connector. They include a handy diagnostic readout above this row to troubleshoot any issues. The USB port is a useful addition for professional level software which can sometimes require a dongle for security reasons.

No concerns regarding graphics card support with the P9X79 WS board. Each blue slot will provide 16x bandwidth, which is ideal for maximum performance with Crossfire and SLI configurations. You may notice the positioning, which earns the PCB design bonus points. Asus have left a lot of space between the blue slots meaning that dual slot graphics cards have plenty of room for enhanced air flow and cooling efficiency.

If you are using a three way graphics card configuration then adding in the first black slot will give x16/x16/x8 bandwidth. Using four cards in both blue and black slots drop the bandwidth to x8/x8/x8/x8. The white slots are x4 each and are ideal for PCI based SSD drives or sound cards. If you pay careful attention you can see a plastic block which resides between the bottom white slot and the lower blue slot. This glows blue for ‘normal' mode, green for ‘power saving' mode and red if the ‘AI Tweaker' mode is enabled. It isn't ideally positioned however as with two cards in the system it is all but hidden from view.

Unlike other X79 boards we have reviewed, the P9X79 WS is passively cooled, for silent operation. Next to this heatsink are the SATA ports. The white/grey ports are SATA 3 (6Gbps) controlled by the Intel chipset. The four light blue in the middle are SATA 2 (3Gbps) and the two darker blue are Marvell controlled ports, rated SATA 3 (6Gbps).

The back I/O plate has connectors for:

  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard (purple)
  • 1 x PS/2 mouse (green)
  • 1 x IEEE 1394a
  • 2 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 8 x USB 2.0 (one port can be switched to USB BIOS Flashback)
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF out
  • 6 x Audio jack(s)
  • 1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)

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