The performance of the Intel X79 Express chipset didn’t exactly wow me by any means. At least not in the series of tests that we run for our motherboard reviews. Please don’t get me wrong, it pretty much outperformed all of the systems that we compared it to. Especially in the SiSoftware Sandra Memory Bandwidth test where it was more than double the performance of anything else we tested. The series of tests that we used today were designed more to gauge the performance of the ASUS P9X79 Pro rather than the performance of the Intel Core i7 3960X. With that being said, looking at the more CPU specific tests of the Intel Core i7 3960X I was definitely impressed. The CPU performance of the Intel Core i7 3960X is going to be tough to beat for anything that can take advantage of the multiple threads. For more details on the more CPU orientated performance of the Intel Core i7 3960X be sure to check out the Legit Reviews Intel Core i7 3960X Processor Review here.
Back to the matter at hand: the ASUS P9X79 Pro Intel X79 Express motherboard. While the overall performance of the Intel X79 Express chipset didn’t wow me (in my battery of tests), the gaming performance does outperform all of our other systems in multi-GPU setups. The single card performance of the Intel X79 platform was right on par with our other systems, but once we fired up two graphics cards in either NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFireX the ASUS P9X79 Pro started to shine! In some of our gaming tests the ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard was as much as 30 frames per second faster than the next board. What makes this impressive is the fact that both of the systems had nearly the same single card performance! Intel has really made some improvement in the way that multi-GPU scaling is performed.
Typically speaking, there isn’t a huge difference between motherboard performances, at least not in day-to-day usage. What does separate motherboards is the feature set. When it comes to features the ASUS P9X79 Pro didn’t leave much out. With features like the ASUS SSD Caching, USB Boost, DTS audio, and the added benefit of the ASUS AI Suite II that offers many of the BIOS options from within Windows, this is a feature set that will be tough to beat!
Once we get a few more Intel X79 motherboards on hand, it’s going to be interesting to see how each one performs. Since the ASUS P9X79 Pro is the first Intel X79 motherboard to come across our bench, it’s really too early to say that the P9X79 Pro is a great performing motherboard. If our history with ASUS motherboards is any sort of indicator, the ASUS P9X79 Pro has set the bar nice and high for our future X79 boards!
One of the features that has been optimized for the Intel X79 Express chipset is three-way SLI. When running three NVIDIA GPU’s in SLI on the X79 platform they’re seeing 10-30% gains over the performance of the same setup on an Intel X58 platform. Between the increased PCIe lanes and the improved bandwidth of PCIe 3.0 ready slots the graphics cards have more room to stretch their legs.
One of the aspects of the Intel X79 platform that I’m not too keen on is the price point. At $329.00 the ASUS P9X79 Pro is on the lower end of the price spectrum. We are hearing that the expected price of all Intel X79 motherboards will likely be between $300 and $500. This may be a tough pill for some to swallow in today’s economy. I’m not saying that the ASUS P9X79 Pro price is out of line, it’s right in line with what we were expecting before we got our hands on any of the hardware. Since Intel has the top performing gear right now, if we want the best performance out there, we’ll have to pay for it. The ASUS P9X79 Pro is backed by a three year warranty from ASUS.
Legit Bottom Line: If you are looking for a great motherboard to build an Intel Sandy Bridge-E machine around, the ASUS P9X79 Pro was incredibly easy to work with, was rock solid, and has a feature set that that will make many envious.