By now, we suspect most of you are aware of Intel’s extreme enthusiast platform – a.k.a. Skulltrail – that couples a pair of quad-core Core 2 Extreme QX9775 processors with the dual-socket D5400XS motherboard, for a total of eight cores of high-performance goodness. We recently evaluated Skulltrail and have our thoughts on the platform posted for you all available right here.
What you may not be aware of at this point is that some of Intel’s partners also plan to introduce enthusiast-class motherboards complete with dual LGA771 sockets, similar to the D5400XS. Asus, for example is prepping the Z7S WS motherboard you see pictured below...
The Asus Z7S WS features dual LGA771 sockets that support Intel Xeon 5000, 5100, and 5300 series processors of both the dual and quad-core varieties. The Z7S WS is built around the Intel 5400 and ESB2E chipset and supports 1600MHz / 1333MHz / 1066MHz / 800MHz front side bus speeds, it has six Fully-Buffered DDR2 DIMM slots, and a pair of Marvell 88E8056 Gigabit LAN jacks with teaming functionality. The Asus Z7S WS’ expansion slot configuration consists of two PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, one PCIe x16 slot with an x8 electrical connection, and single PCIe x1, PCI-X, and PCI 2.2 slots. The dual x16 PEG slots are a differentiating factor for the Z7S WS because Intel’s D5400XS only supports PCI Express 1.1. The D5400XS, however, is outfitted with NVIDIA PCI Express switches which enable SLI, something the Z7S WS lacks. Also note that the Asus Z7S WS requires standard LGA771 heatsinks, whereas Intel’s Skulltrail mobo will work with a wider variety of LGA775 CPU coolers. We should also point out that the Z7S WS features a digital VRM, which significantly clears up the area around the CPU sockets and the PCB is "only" 12" x 10.5", which is much smaller than the DX5400XS.
The Z7S WS’ I/O port cluster is pictured above, as are the board’s various heatsinks and its built-in active RAM cooler. If you’ve ever worked with FB-DIMMs, you know they can get quite hot, so the active RAM cooler is a welcome addition to this motherboard in our opinion.
We’ll be firing the Z7S WS up and taking it for a spin around the lab real soon, so stay tuned for more details and a full review.