The ASUS X79 DELUXE is a top mid-range motherboard for LGA2011 systems, aimed on overclockers and enthusiasts. It includes four PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, four SATA-300 and eight SATA-600 ports, eight USB 3.0 ports, a high-end audio controller, and an integrated Wi-Fi interface. Let’s check it out.
In Figure 1, you see the ASUS X79 DELUXE motherboard. What catches the eye on the X79 DELUXE is the beautiful color set, with a black printed circuit board and components, and golden heatsinks. It uses the ATX form factor (12 x 9.6 inches or 305 x 244 mm).
Figure 1: ASUS X79 DELUXE motherboard
Socket LGA2011 processors have a total of 40 PCI Express 3.0 lanes for video cards. This allows a very high-end configuration for the PCI Express x16 slots, but the exact configuration used will depend on the motherboard model.
The ASUS X79 DELUXE comes with four PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots. The first one always works at x16, with the fourth one working at x16 if the second one is unused and at x8 if it is in use; the second slot working at x8; and the third one always works at x4 speed. This means the board supports x16/x0/x4/x16 or x16/x8/x4/x8 configurations.
The motherboard supports 3-Way SLI arrays, and CrossFireX with up to four video cards.
When installing dual-slot video cards, you “kill” the slot immediately to the left (looking at the motherboard with its rear connectors facing up) of the slot being used. If you install a dual-slot video card in the second PCI Express x16 slot, you will be unable to use the third one.
There are also two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots.
[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]
Intel socket LGA2011 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, which defines what memory technologies you can have and the maximum amount of memory that is possible. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
The integrated memory controller from socket LGA2011 processors officially supports DDR3 memories up to 1,600 MHz, but they actually support memories up to 2,133 MHz. According to ASUS, the X79 DELUXE supports memories up to 2,800 MHz.
One of the most important features of the socket LGA2011 processors is the support for the quad-channel memory architecture, which allows the memory to be accessed in 256-bit mode for higher performance. Since each memory module is a 64-bit entity, four memory modules are needed to enable this architecture. If only two or three memory modules are installed, the memory will be accessed under dual- or triple-channel architecture, respectively.
The ASUS X79 DELUXE has eight memory sockets (four at each side of the CPU socket) and, since DDR3 memory modules can be found in capacities up to 8 GiB, you can have up to 64 GiB with this motherboard if you use eight 8 GiB modules.
In order to enable the quad-channel mode, you must install four or eight identical memory modules. When installing four memory modules, you will have to “skip” one memory socket, filling only the dark gray sockets (you will have to pay a little attention to the sockets, since the dark gray and black slots are very close in color.)
Figure 3: Memory sockets; install four or eight modules for the best performance
[nextpage title=”On Board Peripherals”]
The Intel X79 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip supports two SATA-600 ports and four SATA-300 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5).
The ASUS X79 DELUXE has another six SATA-600 ports, four controlled by a Marvell 88SE9230 chip and two controlled by an ASMedia ASM1061 chip. All SATA ports are located at the motherboard’s edge and rotated 90°, so that video cards will not block them. The SATA-300 and SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset are black, and the SATA-600 ports controlled by the other chips use a dark brown color. ASUS could have used more distinguishable colors for different ports.
Figure 4: SATA-600 ports (dark brown) controlled by the additional chips; and SATA-300 and SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (black)
This motherboard also has two eSATA-600 ports, controlled by another ASMedia ASM1061 chip.
The Intel X79 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports. Unfortunately, support for USB 3.0 ports is not integrated in the chipset yet. The ASUS X79 DELUXE offers 12 USB 2.0 ports, four soldered on the rear panel and eight available through four headers located on the motherboard. It also supports eight USB 3.0 ports, six soldered on the motherboard rear panel and two available through a header on the motherboard, controlled by one ASMedia ASM1074 chip and three ASMedia ASM1042 chips.
The ASUS X79 DELUXE does not support FireWire ports.
This motherboard supports 7.1+2 audio format, i.e., eight channels plus two independent channels for audio streaming. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using the Realtek ALC1150 codec, which is an excellent audio codec, providing 115 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 104 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, with 24-bit resolution. These specifications are good even for the user who wants to work professionally capturing and editing analog audio (e.g., converting LPs to CDs or MP3, converting VHS to DVDs or any other digital format, etc.)
The analog audio outputs are independent and the motherboard also comes with an on-board optical SPDIF output. It also has a header labeled “SPDIF_OUT”, where you can install an adapter to have a coaxial SPDIF output or to connect a cable to older video cards that required a physical connection to have audio on their HDMI outputs.
The analog audio outputs are independent only if you use a 5.1 analog speaker set. If you install a 7.1 analog speaker set, you will need to use the “line in” jack.
The portrayed motherboard has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by an Intel WG82579V chip and one controlled by a Realtek RTL8111GR chip.
The X79 DELUXE has an integrated dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi interface. It comes with a stylish dual-band MIMO antenna, shown in Figure 5. The board also supports Bluetooth 4.0.
This motherboard comes with a button in the rear panel named “BIOS Flashback” that allows the user to update the BIOS even with no installed CPU and memory. Just insert a flash drive containing the BIOS file in an USB port, press the button for three seconds, and the BIOS will be flashed.
In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel, with four USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, the “BIOS Flashback” button, two eSATA-600 ports, two Wi-Fi antenna connectors, one optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio jacks.
Figure 6: Motherboard rear panel
[nextpage title=”Other Features”]
The portrayed motherboard supports the installation of a TPM (Trusted Platform Module), in charge of storing encryption keys in order to increase the security of the computer.
This motherboard has a POST diagnostics display that shows through a two-digit code which component is preventing the computer from turning on. It also has power and reset buttons, as shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7: POST diagnostics display, power and reset buttons
The ASUS X79 DELUXE also has a “DirectKey” button, which allows you to enter directly into the motherboard setup program, and a clear CMOS button.
There is a “TPU switch” that enables an automatic overclocking, increasing the CPU clock multiplier (position “I”) or both the CPU clock multiplier and the CPU base clock (position “II”), and an “EPU switch” that enables or disables a power-saving feature.
Figure 8: DirectKey button, CLR_CMOS button, TPU switch, and EPU switch
The “MemOK!” button, shown in Figure 9, allows you to test the compatibility of the memory modules that are installed.
In Figure 10, you can see all of the accessories that come with the ASUS X79 DELUXE.
[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the ASUS X79 DELUXE has eight phases for the CPU main voltage (Vcc a.k.a. Vcore), and two for the CPU VSA voltage (memory controller). Therefore, it uses an “8+2” configuration. The voltage regulator is controlled by an ASUS DIGI+ ASP1000C chip, using a digital design.
Figure 11: Voltage regulator circuit
The ASUS X79 DELUXE uses solid electrolytic capacitors with a 5,000-hour life-span, twice the amount presented by regular solid capacitors. All coils on this motherboard are ferrite-core models, which can provide up to 20% improvement in efficiency.
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the ASUS X79 DELUXE include:
- Socket: 2011
- Chipset: Intel X79 Express
- Super I/O: Nuvoton NCT6791D
- Parallel ATA: None
- Serial ATA: Four SATA-300 ports ans two SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5), four SATA-600 ports controlled by a Marvell 88SE9230 chip, and two SATA-600 ports controlled by one ASMedia ASM1061 chip
- External SATA: Two eSATA-600 ports controlled by another ASMedia ASM1061 chip
- USB 2.0: 12 USB 2.0 ports, four on the motherboard real panel and eight available through four headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: Eight USB 3.0 ports, six on the motherboard rear panel and two available through one header on the motherboard, controlled by three ASMedia ASM1042 chips and one ASMedia ASM1074 chip
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): None
- Thunderbolt: None
- On-board video: No
- On-board audio: Produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC1150 codec (7.1+2 channels, 24-bit resolution, 192 kHz sampling rate, 115 dB SNR for the outputs, and 104 dB SNR for the inputs), on-board optical SPDIF output
- On-board LAN: One Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by an Intel WG82579V chip and one Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by a Realtek RTL8111G chip; dual-band Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac with Bluetooth 4.0
- Buzzer: No
- Infrared interface: No
- Power supply required: EPS12V
- Slots: Four PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots (working at x16/x0/x4/x16 or x16/x8/x4/x8), one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (working at x4 or x1), and two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots
- Memory: Eight DDR3-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-2800, 64 GiB maximum)
- Fan connectors: Two four-pin connectors for the CPU cooler, and four four-pin connectors for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: Support for TPM
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: One
- Programs included: Motherboard utilities
- More Information: https://www.asus.com
- Average price in the U.S.*: USD 350.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
The ASUS X79 DELUXE is a good motherboard for socket LGA2011 systems. It only lacks a high-end PCI Express x16 slot configuration, with a PLX chip to automatically switch bandwidth to the slots that are requiring it. But this feature is only needed if you plan to build a very high-end gaming system with more than two video cards in SLI or CrossFireX configuration, which is not common.
The storage configuration is good, with four SATA-300 and eight SATA-600 ports, which will be more than enough for most users. Unfortunately, the six SATA-600 ports controlled by auxiliary chips do not support RAID arrays.
The highlights of this motherboard are the audio section, which uses a high-end codec with an outstanding signal/noise ratio, and the presence of a high-speed Wi-Fi interface, based on the new IEEE 802.11ac standard.
In conclusion, only a few users will need more than what the ASUS X79 DELUXE offers. If you don’t need a high-end three-way SLI or four-way CrossFireX setup, and have no intention to mount a massive RAID array, you will be pleased with this motherboard.
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