A few weeks ago, the fine folks at ASUS
invited a gaggle of us tech newsies out to San Jose to get up close and personal with their new X79
chipset-based motherboards. In addition to setting us up with top-notch accommodations, the ASUS crew had lots for us to see, hear, and busily jot down.
After breakfast, we listened to several brief but informative presentations by various ASUS representatives on the X79 platform (and Intel’s upcoming CPUs) and all the new features on the ASUS X79-based motherboards. After that, we hit the demo floor.
ASUS had several stations set up where we could take our time getting familiar with the new products. Boy, they demoed a lot of new ones (which we mentioned in brief earlier), including the P9X79 Standard, Pro, and Deluxe; RoG Series Rampage IV Extremel TUF Series Sabertooth X79; and the P9X79 WS (worsktation board).
All of the new motherboards support second-gen Intel CPUs with the 2011 socket, and they all offer quad-channel DDR3 memory via 8 DIMM slots. All of the boards have either 8 or 10 SATA ports with equal number of SATA 6Gbps and 3Gbps as well as more than enough USB ports with a healthy mix of USB 3.0 and 2.0 represented. For graphics, the entire line supports PCI-e gen 3 and SLI/CrossFire X--2-way, 3-way, or 4-way, depending on the board.
There are plenty of other features of note as well, including support for SSD caching. If you’re aware of the features of the Z68 chipset, you know about SSD caching; however, with X79, SSD caching is not actually part of the chipset. ASUS nevertheless baked it in, so you can still take advantage of that feature.
A look at the new UEFI and Fan Xpert+
Overclockers have some new options to try out. ASUS has updated its UEFI and included more granular fan controls (via ASUS Fan Xpert+) and a new version of Ai Suite. Further, ASUS included the third generation of Dual Intelligent Processors (TPU and EPU) and new Digi+ Power controls for precise RAM and CPU tuning. Fearless/foolish overclockers may also find that the BIOS Flashback feature (which allows you to update the BIOS via USB flash drive without the CPU or hard drive running) comes in handy.
Predictably, the Sabertooth X79 has a few extra features. In addition to being built with touch components for optimal stability and reliability, the board sports TUF Thermal Armor to protect the components from overheating, TUF Thermal Radar (which is comprised of no fewer than 12 thermal sensors), and eight fan headers. In terms of looks, this board is a sight to behold with the tan and metallic green accents. Even the DIMM slots (by Corsair) match the look.
Possibly the most impressive motherboard of the bunch is the RoG Rampage IV Extreme. The thing is just packed with features, including X Socket, which is kind of a universal cooler adapter; RoG Connect; an OC Key, which lets you overclock on the fly; VGA Hotwire, for easily overclocking your graphics card; and more.
RoG Rampage IV Extreme
The new lineup of ASUS motherboards has products for every class--entry, mainstream, enthusiast, and so on--and they’re all loaded with compelling features and solid specs.