P9X79 Pro Overview
The P9X79 is one nice looking board. ASUS has gone with a black PCB with blue, white and silver accents on the board. All of the P9X79 SKU’s have this same color design. There are a total of 4 heatsinks on the board to help keep it cool. Both the top 2 and bottom 2 are connected by heatpipes.
Unlike the Gigabyte X79-UD3 board the we reviewed a little while ago the P9X79 Pro features the full 8 DIMM slots, so you can fit a total of 64GB of DDR3 memory. The DIMMs are color-coded blue and black. If you are only using 4 DIMMs then you will use the blue slots. These are further away from your CPU so there is less chance they will get in the way of your CPU cooler. All of the DIMM slots do not have the locks on the bottom. We have seen this on quite a few ASUS motherboard, this allows you to remove and install memory without having to take out your video card. At the center of the board is the Intel 2011 socket, which as you can see is larger than most. You will need a CPU cooler that does support the 2011 socket.
Ever since ASUS’s Intel P67 motherboards they have been using digital power control on their motherboards. Moving from analog power to digital gives them more control and made the most sense. On the X79 platform ASUS gives you full digital power control on the CPU, DRAM and VRM using Dual Intelligent Processors 3, which is comprised of 2 on-board chips; the TurboV Processing Unit (TPU) and Energy Processing Unit (EPU). The TPU and EPU use DIGI+ Power control technology, which is the world’s first total digital power design. The DIGI+ Power Control provides the most precise adjustment and flexible control parameters and leading transient response performance for the CPU & DRAM, enabling superior granularity, and accuracy in defined parameters as well as extending control and flexibility in definable parameters. This extends OC headroom and provides superior stability and reliability. So on the P9X79 Pro you have an 8+2+2+2 phase power design. 8-phase vCore power for the CPU, 2-phase VCCSA power for the processors memory controller, and 2+2 phase VDIMM power for the system memory.
At the top of the board you have the 8pin CPU power connector and two 4pin fan connectors. Moving along to the side of the board you have the small Mem OK button. If you are having trouble getting your system to boot you can press down this button and it will set the memory to the appropriate settings so your system will boot. You have two more 4pin fan connectors, the 24pin ATX power connector and a USB 3.0 header. I like that it is in the center of the board rather than the bottom as we have seen on other boards.
Moving down there are a total of 8 SATA ports. Starting at the top the two grey ports are SATA 6GB/s ports and are controlled by the Intel controller and are capable of RAID 0/1/5/10. The four blue ports are SATA 3GB/s and are also capable of RAID 0/1/5/10. Finally the two bottom grey ports are SATA 6GB/s ports, powered by the Marvell 88SE9128 controller and support RAID 0/1. These 2 bottom ports also are for ASUS’s SSD caching technology. Since Intel’s Smart Response Technology is not included with the X79 chipset ASUS decided to add their own. All you do is connect your solid state drive to one of the bottom two ports and enable ASUS’s SSD caching technology within AI Suite II and you are good to go. Unlike Intel’s SRT you are not limited to 64GB drives. All of the SATA ports are angled away from the board. This makes installing cables easy and makes sure your cables will not get in the way of longer video cards.
Along the bottom of the board you have quite a lot of connections and switchs. Starting right to left you have your front panel connections, TPU switch, 4pin fan connector, clear CMOS button, three USB 2.0 headers, EPU switch, power and reset buttons and debug LED’s. The TPU switch is a basic overclocking switch, depending on your processor it will overclock your system to 4.2-4.3GHz. The EPU switch enables an under-volt algorithm. It is going to run your system at 100% stock with an under-volt to the CPU. This will provide lower power consumption and a 2-4C temperature difference to the CPU.
As far as expansion slots go the first thing I noticed was that ASUS finally decided to remove the legacy PCI slot. No one really uses PCI devices anymore, so normally that slot just takes up space on most motherboards. You have four PCI-E x16 slots and two PCI-E x1 slots. If you have two cards installed you are going to want them in the two blue slots. If you are going to be running 3-way SLI or CrossFire your cards will run at x16/x8/x16. Finally with 4 cards installed they will run at x16/x8/x8/x8. As far as connections go on the back of the board starting from left to right you have 4 USB 2.0 ports, BIOS flash button, Gigabit Ethernet port (Intel), two USB 3.0 ports, optical out, two SATA 6GB/s eSATA ports, 2 more USB 3.0 ports, Bluetooth module, two USB 2.0 ports and you audio ports. The bottom white USB port is used for ASUS’s USB Flashback. You just load a new or old BIOS onto a flash drive, plug it into that USB port and hit the BIOS flash button. It will update your BIOS and you only need your power supply connected, no CPU, memory or video card is required. Intel’s X79 chipset only offers one pair of USB 3.0 ports so ASUS has added more USB 3.0 ports using the ASMedia ASM1042 chips.