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Intel’s latest high-performance platform launches today, with the advent of its second generation Core-i7 LGA2011 CPUs and the X79 chipset.

ASUS has complemented the new platform with its own P9X79 Series motherboards, including the P9X79 (standard), Pro and Deluxe models. They should all be available now from your local retailers so check around and we’ve also rounded up a few reviews on our TechinStyle Facebook page if you want a concise breakdown with benchmarks.

Here’s a run-down of the new features on the new series.

P9X79 Deluxe

P9X79 Deluxe. 'Scuse the hand!

Dual Intelligent Processors 3 and DIGI+ Power Control.

Dual Intelligent Processors started off with the TPU and EPU, then evolved into the EPU/DIGI+ VRM and TPU with the recent LGA1155 platform and P67/H67/Z68 chipsets. In this third generation DIGI+ VRM has been replaced with DIGI+ Power Control to represent the fact that the digital power control extends beyond just the CPU to the memory as well. In fact, there are three DIGI+ controllers: one for the CPU and one for each bank of 4-DIMMs of memory. This is because of the more extensive power and data demands in the 6-core CPU with huge memory footprint, so it demands extremely accurate power control to avoid waste creating excess heat and errors, especially when overclocking. To demonstrate this, on the P9X79 Series ASUS engineers have already pushed 2,400MHz memory performance with all 8-DIMMs installed, while on ROG boards this has gone to 2,600MHz, due to their more focused OC design (opposed to feature driven like the P9X79 Series)!

For the technically minded this is achieved through specific improvements; including more VCCSA loadline calibration options (VCCSA relates to the CPU memory controller) and a 30% increased overhead in current provision to the DIMMs than standard. In the UEFI BIOS and AI Suite II all these options are controlled by simple sliders.

Both the Deluxe and Pro feature the full DIGI+ Power Control.

P9X79 Deluxe

The P9X79 Deluxe: tons of PCIe, tons of USB 3.0, tons of memory, UEFI BIOS, Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi @n, SSD caching and Digital Power Control.. phew!

X79 Done Right: All boards get 8-DIMM slots

All three P9X79 Series boards right down to the standard model get 8-DIMM slots. This means you get maximium upgrade potential to 64GB of memory, even from the budget board. If you’re only investing in 8GB of memory now but anticipatean upgrade in the coming years – there’s no need to get rid of your current DDR3 memory to do so. The X79 platform supports 8 DIMM slots, so you should get 8 DIMM slots!

SSD Caching from Day 1

Intel hasn’t enabled its SSD caching from day 1 on the new platform, however it will come in time. Still, why wait? It’s a needed feature so the P9X79 Series motherboards has included SSD caching from out the box on two of its SATA 6Gbps ports. In addition, the ASUS hardware allows much larger SSD caching drive sizes and a single click setup program from within AI Suite II makes it as easy as it possibly can be.

Even if you don’t need caching from the start, just install Windows to a hard drive on one of the right SATA ports and then add a cache drive at a later date – it’ll take about 30 mins to an hour to do its automated setup. Then each time you use a program or reboot the PC it’ll learn more and more, progressively speeding up your system.

Why would you need caching though? Surely a ‘full’ SSD isn’t that much more money and the performance is better? This is true, but SSD caching is limited to P9X79 Series because ASUS believes these users are less likely to want to intimately manage smaller drives, or they are professionals who need cutting-edge performance and massive memory footprints, as well as considerable working disk space. SSD caching therefore makes life simpler by giving the lightning fast access advantage of SSDs, along with the considerably greater HDD capacity. In contrast, ROG boards don’t include this feature, as these users will be more familiar and willing to file manage small drives and more sensitive to small performance differences, so they will always opt for the full SSD experience.

P9X79 Deluxe X79 heatsink and SATA ports

P9X79 Deluxe X79 heatsink and SATA ports: SSD caching SATA 6Gbps ports are the white ones on the left.

Bluetooth and Wireless thrown in

The Deluxe model has BT GO! 3.0 which includes the Bluetooth 3.0 spec and WiFi built-in. This means it can act as a local 802.11n spec wireless access point and adapter, as well as several other modes for the Bluetooth, depending what you need it to do or connect to.

The Pro offers BT GO! with the 2.1 spec Bluetooth and no wireless, while all the boards down to the standard P9X79 includes Intel Gigabit Ethernet for maximum wired throughput performance.

P9X79 Deluxe BT GO! 3.0 with 802.11n WiFi

P9X79 Deluxe BT GO! 3.0 with 802.11n WiFi. This module is optional and can be removed.

UEFI BIOS tweaks and BIOS Flashback

The latest generation of ASUS’ UEFI BIOS features a few new features; firstly F3 shortcut that allows easy flicking to the most popular Advanced Mode options while in EZ Mode, and F12 screenshot which saves the pictures to a USB flash drive for sharing settings online in forums and communities.

BIOS Flashback is a crucial addition to the whole P9X79 Series. Basically you drop a UEFI BIOS file onto a FAT32 formatted USB drive, then plug it into the white Flashback port. Next press and hold the button and after several seconds your BIOS is updated! No need to even turn on your PC or even install a CPU or memory: just plug in your ATX power connector. This means you can update it even before you’ve built the system, or, if there’s a new CPU revision and the motherboard requires a new BIOS for compatibility then this is the easiest and most failsafe way to do it.

USB 3.0 Boost and brand new UASP support

USB 3.0 Boost is a software add-on to the standard USB 3.0 drivers. It has two modes: #1 is boosting the throughput of standard USB 3.0 drives to maximize the use of the bus and increase performance, while #2 is using the brand new UASP protocol with compatible USB 3.0 products. UASP is a new standard that now enables things like sending multiple commands at once and using NCQ commands to bring accessing external hard drives more efficient.

The ASUS drivers auto-detect which mode the USB device can run in and applies the settings without any user interaction, so you always know you’re getting the best performance. Which mode is running can be checked from AI Suite II.

Fan Xpert+: The best motherboard software fan control. Ever.

Fan Xpert+ is the next level of fan control. Nestled within the AI Suite II, the software allows you not only to manually select the fan speeds at any particular temperature, giving you complete control over the speed scaling curve, it also allows calibration of each and every fan so that it knows exactly which voltage stops the fan speed and what RPM hits maximum speed. From this it can more accurately profile where any relative voltage:RPM ratio is, rather than work to some arbitrary preset that might in no way represent the fans you’re using. This means you can tailor any PC chassis and fan type/setup, using up to six of the 4-pin fan controllers onboard to create the perfect system that is both quiet and cool.

Let us know what you think of all these new features and the new P9X79 Series in the comments below, or on our TechinStyle Facebook page.

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