Intel X79 Sandy Bridge-E Motherboards Roundup

By on November 30, 2011
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MSI vs ECS vs ASUS vs Gigabyte

For all the four motherboards the first thing I did was update the BIOS, which was a very easy process. Outside of that everything was just a matter of plugging in the components on the board to get everything started.

One of the biggest issues we had, after the fact that we didn’t have our test CPU until very recently, was that we didn’t have a heatsink. No existing cooler blocks have compatibility with socket LGA 2011. Thankfully Noctua came to our rescue and gave us their recently released NH-D14 SE2011 heatsink. This heatsink is a behemoth, and matches perfectly with a processor as huge as the Intel Core i7-3960X. And the best part is that it clamps on top of the LGA 2011 bracket, so installation time was less than 4 minutes. The NH-D14 SE2011 really is a capable air cooler, to the point where it easily handled an overclock of 4.7GHz without breaking a sweat! You’ll find more details in the benchmarks later on.

After that came the issue of thoroughly utilizing the new quad-channel memory on X79 motherboards and this is where G.Skill came in to help us out with their RipJaws Z 4x4GB DDR3-1600MHz memory kit. These bad boys run at 1.5v and speeds of CL9-9-9-24. Not once during our overclocking session did the RipJaws Z fail to keep up; running significantly cooler than the rest of the system when running benchmarks. The RipJaws Z is one of the most stable and overclocking friendly RAM kit I have used in a long time, especially given the fact that on a new chipset not every memory will work on a variety of motherboards under such extreme overclocking conditions.

Then of course there was the Intel Core i7-3960X itself, which sadly arrived a little too late for us to run benchmarks on it on the day of its worldwide release. And even though I knew it had 2,011 pins which meant it would be bigger than the old LGA 1366 processors, and indeed the recent LGA 1155 processors, I honestly didn’t expect it would be this huge.

LGA 1155 vs LGA 2011

Apart from the above components, the rest of the test system consisted of the following:

GPU: Zotac GeForce GTX 580 AMP! Edition

SSD: Kingston HyperX 240GB

PSU: Cooler Master 1200W Silent Pro Gold

Motherboards: MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) \ ECS X79R-AX \ ASUS P9X79 Deluxe \ Gigabyte A1 Assassin 2

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From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

  • NoThankYou

    Thanks for the great review.  For those of us who are not familiar with the benchmark tests, it would be very helpful if you added “Higher is better” or “Lower is better” to the charts.
    I had planed to go with the MSI before reading your article, but now I’m even more sure.  Thanks again.

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