Monday, May 28, 2012

Asus P9X79 and P9X79 Deluxe Motherboard Review by Kirk Spencer

Today we’ll be reviewing two motherboards from ASUS: The P9X79 and the P9X79 Deluxe. These motherboards are designed for the Intel X79 Express Chipset which launched back in November of 2011. We’re going to take an in depth look at the features offered by these two motherboards and what they bring to the table for the X79 Express Chipset. ASUS has always been a top competitor delivering a wide range of quality products targeted towards extreme users all the way to the everyday user. These two boards are not part of the lineup found on their Republic of Gamers segment but what does that mean in terms of features and performance? We’ll cover all this in our review.


The box looks similar to the ASUS motherboards we’ve seen recently. On the front we see mention of DIGI+, EPU and TPU in the top right corner along with PCIe 3.0 Ready. The Deluxe box is displayed above which shows off a few more features in the bottom left corner: DIGI+, One Click SpeedUp, UEFI BIOS, BT GO 3.0, Quad Channel DDR3.

On the back of the deluxe motherboard’s box we see five main sections that talk about the features of the motherboard: Dual Intelligent Processors 3 with New DIGI+ Power Control, New DIGI+ Power Control, ASUS SSD Caching, UEFI BIOS, BT Go 3.0.

These boxes have a top flap held down by velcro which can be opened to see mentions of even more features and you can also see what the motherboard looks like. The features listed on the inside of the deluxe box are Dual Intelligent Processors 3 with New DIGI+ Power Control, USB BIOS Flashback, Fan Xpert+, USB 3.0 Boost, DTS.

On the standard P9X79 we see the same graphic in the top right corner. The bottom left corner has the following graphics: DIGI+, UEFI BIOS, Easy Bios Flashback, True UASP Support, Quad Channel DDR3.

On the back of the standard motherboard’s box we see a similar breakdown of features into 5 sections: Dual Intelligent Processors 3 with New DIGI+ Power Control, New DIGI+ Power Control, UEFI Bios, USB Bios Flashback, USB 3.0 Boost.

Opening up the top flap of the standard motherboard’s box we see the same layout as the deluxe box. The features listed here are: Dual Intelligent Processors 3 with New DIGI+ Power Control, Auto Tuning, Fan Xpert+, AI Suite II, DTS.

As you can tell from the packaging alone there are a significant number of features these motherboards have to offer. Almost everywhere you look on these boxes you will see mention of the Dual Intelligent Processors 3 DIGI+ Power Control. It appears on all six sides of the box and on the inside flap. This is obviously an important feature of these motherboards and we’ll explain why later on in the review.
Asus defines their features as:
Dual Intelligent Processors 3 with New DIGI+ Power Control. The world’s first Dual Intelligent Processors from ASUS pioneered twin onboard chips - TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) and EPU (Energy Processing Unit). Third generation Dual Intelligent Processors with New DIGI+ Power Control include three digital voltage controllers, allowing ultra-precise DRAM tuning in addition to ultra-precise CPU voltage control. This evolution of innovative and industry-leading ASUS technology provides super-accurate voltage tuning for better efficiency, stability and performance.
All-New Digital Power Control for both CPU and DRAM. ASUS X79 motherboards include New DIGI+ Power Control with three digital voltage controllers, including all-new DRAM controllers that offers ultra-precise memory tuning in addition to ultra-precise CPU voltage control. This evolution of innovative, industry-leading ASUS technology provides the best in class control for better efficiency, stability and performance.
Support for up to 64GB of system memory with an 8-DIMM design on ASUS X79 motherboards provides the capacity for users to make full use of modern 64-bit software, ideal for rendering detailed images or manipulating large files without the bottlenecks of conventional storage. It also allows users to set up big RAM disks and speed up frequently accessed programs, minimizing the impact of storage transfer delays while maximizing user benefit.
SSD Caching from ASUS is easier than ever. At 3X faster, this feature boosts system performance by using an installed SSD with no capacity limitations as a cache for frequently accessed data. Harness a combination of SSD-like performance and response and hard drive capacity with just one click, no rebooting needed and instant activation for complete ease of use, and even prevent data loss with included backup functionality.
Onboard Bluetooth v3.0 + HS module enables smart connectivity to Bluetooth and wireless devices with no additional adapter, and peer-to-peer communications with no central access points. Faster than previous versions thanks to 802.11 b/g/n, it lets you enjoy the convenience and faster transfer rates of Wi-Fi on desktops. ASUS BT GO 3.0! includes seven special functions, so users can sync and transfer files between PC and mobile devices, and even use them as a remote to play music and other content on PC. All are fully accessible through the exclusive user friendly ASUS interface.
ASUS UEFI BIOS offers the first mouse-controlled graphical BIOS designed with selectable modes, providing a user-friendly interface that goes beyond traditional keyboard-only controls. It also natively supports fully-utilized hard drives larger than 2.2TB in 64-bit operating systems. EZ Mode displays frequently-accessed info. Users can choose system performance settings and drag and drop boot priorities. Advanced Mode for performance enthusiasts includes detailed DRAM settings via a dedicated memory info page for complete insight.
USB BIOS Flashback offers the most convenient way to flash the BIOS ever! It allows overclockers to try new UEFI BIOS versions easily, without even entering their existing BIOS or operating system. It even works without key components such as the CPU and memory installed. Just plug in any USB storage and push the dedicated button for 3 seconds. The UEFI BIOS is automatically flashed using ATX standby power. Worry-free updating for the ultimate convenience!
Hardware-level ASUS Fan Xpert+ allows users to independently adjust both CPU and case fan speeds with multiple dedicated controllers based on different ambient temperatures, climate conditions and system loads. Built-in profiles offer flexible automatic and manual fan speed controls to achieve a quiet and cool computing environment.
New ASUS USB 3.0 Boost technology supports UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol), the latest USB 3.0 standard. With USB 3.0 Boost technology, a USB device's transmission speed is significantly increased up to 170%, adding to an already impressive fast USB 3.0 transfer speed. ASUS software automatically accelerates data speeds for compatible USB 3.0 peripherals without the need for any user interaction.
With its user-friendly interface, ASUS AI Suite II consolidates all exclusive ASUS features into one simple-to-use package with an elegant design theme. It allows users to supervise overclocking, energy management, fan speeds, voltage, and sensor readings. This all-in-one software offers diverse and easy to use functions, with no need to switch back and forth between different utilities.
The latest PCI Express bus standard delivers improved encoding for twice the performance of current PCIe 2.0. Total bandwidth for a x16 link reaches a maximum of 32GB/s, double the 16GB/s of PCIe 2.0 (in x16 mode). PCIe 3.0 provides users unprecedented data speeds, combined with the convenience and seamless transition offered by complete backward compatibility with PCIe 1.0 and PCIe 2.0 devices. It’s a must-have feature for PC users aiming to improve and optimize graphics performance, as well as have the latest, most future-proof technology.
ASUS facilitates strategic USB 3.0 accessibility for both the front and rear panel - 8 USB 3.0 ports in total. Experience the latest plug & play connectivity at speeds up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0. The P9X79 DELUXE affords greater convenience to high speed connectivity.
Powered eSATA 6Gb/s combines data and power connectivity. Users enjoy 2X faster transfer rates, and can use external SATA 6Gb/s devices with no additional power adapters. ASUS provides two extra ports with enhanced scalability, faster data retrieval, and double the bandwidth of current bus systems for extra speed and accessibility.
To get the most out of your audio entertainment across all formats and quality levels, DTS Connect combines two enabling technologies. DTS Neo:PC™ upmixes stereo sources (CDs, MP3s, WMAs, internet radio) into as many as 7.1 channels of incredible surround sound. Consumers can then connect their PC to a home theater system.DTS Interactive is capable of performing multi-channel encoding of DTS bitstreams on personal computers, and sending encoded bitstreams out of a digital audio connection (such as S/PDIF or HDMI) designed to deliver audio to an external decoder.
DTS UltraPC II delivers exceptional 7.1 surround through the most popular PC audio setups - your existing stereo speakers or headphones. In addition to virtual surround, it upgrades original sound to new levels with Audio Restoration, recreating the dynamic range of audio files. Symmetry mode improves the balance of perceived loudness across different input sources and Enhance boosts audio quality through high and low frequency equalization. With these technologies, users experience better home theater audio with ease.


Inside the deluxe motherboard’s box you will find cables, connectors, a faceplate and a wifi and bluetooth dongle with an external wifi antenna. The standard motherboard does not come with the bluetooth and wifi attachment, it has half as many SATA cables and it only has a 2 way SLI connector.

Intel Express X79 Chipset

The P9X79 motherboards include PCI Express 3.0. The improvement over PCI Express 2.0 is twice the speed. PCIe 2.0 was capable of 500 MB/s on each lane. So on a single x16 PCIe slot it is capable of transfer speeds up to 8 GB/s in each direction. PCI Express 3.0 doubles that speed bringing it to an amazing 16 GB/s each way to total 32 GB/s of bi-directional transfer speeds. This feature will definitely leave the doors open as SSD’s increase in speed and graphics cards provide more processing power.

Another major improvement to PCI Express with the X79 Express Chipset is the number of PCIe lanes. The X79 Express Chipset supports up to 40 lanes. The P9X79 motherboard has 2 PCIe 3.0 x16 slots and one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot (PCIe x16_3@x8 speed) capable of running up to x8 speeds. The P9X79 also has 2 PCIe 2.0 x1 slots and one older PCI slot. The P9X79 Deluxe motherboard adds a few things here. There are three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot (PCIe x16_3@x8) and two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots. The deluxe board offers more flexibility with the extra PCIe x16 slot.

In the past we’ve seen dual channel setups and then triple-channel memory configurations. Sandy Bridge went back to dual channel memory while Sandy Bridge-E bumped it up to quad-channel memory. The P9X79 and the P9X79 deluxe both have 8 slots for up to 2 sets of quad channel memory for a maximum capacity of 64GB of RAM.

Intel started including the northbridge in the CPU with the introduction of Sandy Bridge processors. Here are a few other features we haven’t mentioned yet that the X79 Express Chipset offers:
  • 14 Hi-Speed USB 2.0 ports
  • Intel Gigabit LAN Connection
  • 2 SATA 6 Gb/s and 4 SATA 3 Gb/s ports

Improvements on X79

With a base set of features supported by the X79 Express Chipset it’s up to motherboard manufacturers to set their products apart from the competition. One of the key ways of doing this is through the features offered.

ASUS steps up the game to include a Marvell SATA controller in their P9X79 deluxe motherboard bringing the SATA 6 Gb/s count up to 4. Both the deluxe and the standard board come with an additional ASMedia SATA controller; however, in the deluxe version you get two power eSATA 6Gb/s ports while the standard P9X79 motherboard gets one power eSATA 6Gb/s and one eSATA 6Gb/s port.

The X79 Express Chipset does not natively support USB 3.0, but ASUS again picks up the slack and includes an ASMedia USB 3.0 controller on the P9X79 and the P9X79 deluxe. The standard motherboard comes with 4 USB 3.0 ports while the deluxe edition has a total of 8 USB 3.0 ports.

Closer Look

From our top down look at the deluxe motherboard we can see the overall layout. We have two areas for RAM above and below the LGA 2011 socket. In the bottom left corner we find the front panel connections. Above the front panel connections are switches for TPU and EPU, a fan connection and 4 USB connectors. If you keep going, there is a clear CMOS switch, a reset switch and a power switch. You will also find the P9X79 Deluxe Digital audio connector and the P9X79 Deluxe Analog front panel connector on the left side. There are a total of 6 fan connections, one for the CPU and an optional CPU fan connector with other case fan connections in the bottom right and one to the right of the PCIe slots.

The DIGI+ features mentioned on the outside of the motherboard box are distinguishable by wording on the heatsinks they are attached to. On the back panel of the deluxe motherboard we see six USB 3.0 connections and 4 USB 2.0 connections. There are two gigabit ethernet connections and two power eSATA connections supported by the included ASMedia SATA controller. The USB BIOS flashback button is to the right of the single white USB 2.0 port. The image above does not have the Deluxe Bluetooth and Wifi module connected, but it fits right in between the USB BIOS flashback button and the USB 3.0 and Intel Gigabit connections. The image above shows off the eight SATA connections. The connections in white on the right hand side are the two SATA 6Gb/s connectors supported by Intel’s X79 chipset. The four blue connectors are SATA 3Gb/s. The remaining two white SATA connections on the left are also SATA 6Gb/s supported by the included Marvell SATA controller.


Asus has the nicest BIOS Utility I’ve ever worked with. One thing I really enjoy is the level of customization they give you while still achieving the simpler easier to setup interface. To start off, There is an EZ Mode for their UEFI BIOS Utility. You can click and drag to change boot order. You can view important temperature, voltage and fan speed information. The EZ Mode even lets you manage to some degree overclocking the system. All this without the need to even touch the keyboard. I know that’s not a big deal to experienced users, but those who want to attempt overclocking their computers can start here and see a noticeable performance boost without needing to know much about proper voltage levels and BCLK, etc.

ASUS also provides an Advanced Mode to their UEFI BIOS Utility. In the advanced mode you really get to see what these motherboards are capable of offering.

The Ai Tweaker tab is where you will spend a lot of time while fine tuning that perfect overclock speed you’re looking for. the is where you can set the BCLK speed as well as all the voltage settings.

Remember how the DIGI+ Power Control was one of the things visible on practically every surface of the motherboard boxes? These are the screens where you can customize the settings. Anyone that is interested in the power profile of their system will be glad to know that ASUS has done a fantastic job of putting together a motherboard that can perform as well as be friendly to your electric bill.

There are so many features available with these motherboards we were happily overwhelmed by them. I have to really hand it to ASUS, they do a fine job of empowering their end users and the level of descriptions given on practically every feature found in the BIOS is incredible. If you don’t know what something does you can almost always read the description off to the right to find out more about it.


ASUS has really set the bar high here. They’ve provided a tool for Windows called ASUS AI Suite II which lets you perform several overclocking tasks right from within windows removing the need to go into BIOS. If you haven’t used this software on one of their previous motherboards then you’re in for a real treat as they’ve gone all out. You’ll have the following tools right at your fingertips: TurboV EVO, DIGI+ Power Control, EPU, FAN Xpert+, Probe II, Sensor Recorder, BT GO!, USB 3.0 Boost and ASUS SSD Caching. The BT GO! and SSD Caching are specific to the deluxe motherboard.

Overclock, manage, update, control and everything in between with the latest version of ASUS AI Suite II.

You didn’t think that was all did you? Not to be outdone by all the other recent cloud storage offerings, ASUS also includes a chunk of free cloud storage simply for purchasing one of their motherboards. It might be just one other way to win over your loyalty, but free cloud storage is
always nice to have.

The Setup

To test out the P9X79 motherboards we'll be using Intel’s Core i7-3820 processor . We have 32 GB of quad-channel Kingston HyperX Genesis 1600MHz memory. We're using a 240 GB Corsair Force GT SSD. The graphics card is an EVGA nVidia GTX 470.. To power this rig we've got an Antec High Current Gamer M 620 watt power supply. We’re using the Kuhler h2o 920 to keep the CPU nice and cool.


PassMark - PerformanceTest - Physics

PassMark - PerformanceTest - SSE

PassMark - PerformanceTest - Compression

PassMark - PerformanceTest - CPU Mark

SiSoftware - Sandra 2012 - Multi-Core Efficiency - Inter-Core Bandwidth

SiSoftware - Sandra 2021 - Multi-Core Efficiency - InterCore Latency

SiSoftware - Sandra 2012 - Multimedia Integer Native

SiSoftware - Sandra 2012 - Multimedia Float/Double Native

We can clearly see that the P9X79 motherboards do a fantastic job of opening up the capabilities of our Core i7-3820. With relatively little effort we were able to overclock the CPU up to 4.8GHz. The system was extremely stable while running all kinds of burn in tests and stress tests like Linx. As you can see from the benchmarks, not only was the system stable but we were enjoying a significant performance improvement all around. We would also like to mention this was done with a locked multiplier of the Core i7-3820.


These two P9X79 motherboards are both solid options to consider if you’re looking at building an X79 SB-E system. Certainly the support for 64GB or RAM will attract anyone interested in building a home server, looking to do a lot of virtualization or for those who run applications that need large amounts of RAM. The long list of features each of these motherboards offers is impressive and yet we’ve come to expect nothing less from ASUS. They continue to develop and improve upon the technology offered in their previous motherboards. The cost of entry is a bit high for the deluxe motherboard, so if that’s a deciding factor we would recommend going with the standard P9X79 motherboard. It doesn’t have as many USB 3.0 connections or SATA 6Gb/s connection, etc. But the list is still an impressive one and the motherboard is just as performant.

The P9X79 can be found for $259, and the P9X79 Deluxe is around $379. They both have enough features to keep the most avid enthusiast satisfied. And they both have the performance to keep the grin going from ear to ear for months after the purchase! We were very pleased with the performance, and the build quality is what we have come to expect from Asus as a top tier board manufacturer. Based on their design, features, quality, and performance, the Asus P9X79 motherboard has earned our Highly Recommended Award, and the Asus P9X79 Deluxe has earned our Editor's Choice Award. Some people enjoy spending hours online researching the best motherboard for their system build. If you don't want to spend the time, just go with Asus. You won't be disappointed.

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