Before we take a look at what this new board from Asus brings to the table let’s first have a look at the features that are specific to Intel’s latest chipset. This chipset replaces Intel’s previous enthusiast level chipset, the X58. So now let’s have a look at this new chipset and what it has to offer.
Of course the main feature of this new chipset is that it features support for Intel’s latest 2011 socket processors. These will be replacing Intel’s 1366 socket and it currently features their 3960x for the enthusiast, and the 3930k for the mainstream. Pricing for these is starting around 1050 dollars for the 3960x and the 3930k going for about 600 or so. Both of these processors are x6 and feature an additional 6 threads for a total of 12. Both also feature Intel’s 32nm SOI and 130 watts of thermal power. These have proven to be dramatically improved chips over their previous 1366 line of processors and our benchmarks are able to demonstrate this. Intel has basically produced a consumer level processor with server level performance.
This new chipset is geared for performance. Immediately you can see the difference when you first get a look at these boards. Intel has introduced a new addressing architecture for memory and this is called quad channel. What this essentially does is create an extra pathway for the processor to access system memory for all of your applications. In theory this should produce better performance because the processor will be able to access memory a little bit easier. Our benchmarks will show if this actually pays off. There is a potential downside to this feature. With ram slots now being located on either side of the CPU socket there could be clearance issues with taller ram and CPU heat sinks. We didn’t have this issue since we were using Intel’s included all-in-one water cooling unit. With this new memory architecture you will now have the ability to install up to 64 gigs of DDR3 memory at speeds up to 2400MHz with overclocking.
Intel has also added their Platform Controller Hub technology onto this new chipset. Many of you know that this concept isn’t entirely new but it does give Intel an advantage over their competition. With AMD still needing to use a dual chipset architecture Intel is able to potentially reduce power consumption and heat generation since they only need a single chip with the X79. During our testing none of the heat sinks on either the MOSFETs or the chipset became hot to the touch. This is not only a sign that these boards have really improved the thermal reduction aspects over the last chipset but these will also last longer because they don’t generate as much heat. This aspect of this chipset should also be beneficial for overclocking as well. Increasing voltages across a circuit has the potential to produce overheating of your hardware. If the hardware has a better thermal design it should allow for higher voltages and therefore higher and more stable overclocks. This new chipset also brings up to 40 PCI express 2.0 lanes for graphics and peripheral expansion and 8 additional lanes for PCI express 3.0. PCI express 3.0 is the new expansion architecture that so far only Intel has implemented.