Intel dx79si review: Intel DX79SI Review: The Default X79?

Intel DX79SI Review |

Written by

Antony Leather

January 6, 2012 | 08:01

Tags: #best-2011-motherboard #best-sandy-bridge-e-motherboard #best-x79-board #lga2011 #lga2011-motherboard-review #micro-atx-sandybridge-e-motherboard #sandy-bridge-e #x79

Companies: #intel

1 — Intel DX79SI Review2 — Intel DX79SI Test Setup3 — Intel DX79SI Image Editing and Video Encoding Performance4 — Intel DX79SI Multi-Tasking and Overall Performance5 — Intel DX79SI SATA Performance6 — Intel DX79SI Gaming Performance7 — Intel DX79SI Performance Analysis and Conclusion

UK Price (as reviewed):£239.75 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed):$279.99 (ex tax)

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Intel often releases a motherboard or two
along with its new socket architectures and it was no different this time round with the launch of LGA2011.

At first glance, the DX79SI, appears to be just another token Intel motherboard, soon to be thrashed by the likes of Asus and MSI with their offerings battering it into a bloody pulp when it comes to features and overclocking.

However, the DX79SI has a noticeably busy PCB that includes many of the features you’d expect on more enthusiast-orientated motherboards. There are power and reset buttons, a POST code readout display, edge-mounted power connectors and right-angled SATA ports, and the board doesn’t look bad either.

The blue anodised heatsinks look great, and there’s the usual skull logo on the Southbridge heatsink too. It has dual Intel Gigabit LAN ports as well – this is a definite plus point, as they offer superior network performance over those provided by Marvell or Broadcom.

There are enough USB ports to please everyone too; a total of 14 USB 2 ports – six on the I/O panel and a further eight provided by four USB headers on the motherboard. USB 3 is also catered for, with two ports on the I/O panel and a single header on the motherboard, bringing the total to five ports.

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Elsewhere, the specs for the DX79SI tail off a little; there are only four fan headers (although they’re at least spread evenly over the motherboard), only two SATA 6Gbps ports and no eSATA.

Unlike all the other LGA2011 motherboards we’ve tested, the DX79SI also has no additional SATA 6Gbps controller – the SATA 6Gbps ports are provided by the Intel X79 Southbridge. There are six SATA ports in total, with four more SATA 3Gbps ports, also provided by the Southbridge.

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The sample we received was so new that it didn’t include many extras in the box either – a skull-themed mouse mat and SLI bridge connector were the only inclusions. Intel assured us that the retail product will be equipped with a Bluetooth and WiFi module and thermal probe, but there’s no mention of the usual additions such as SATA cables and the typical niceties you expect with a new motherboard.

Back to the board itself, and the DX79SI doesn’t lose any marks for layout – most of the useful parts such as the power and reset switches, CMOS jumper and numerous USB headers are all located within easy reach at the very edge of the PCB.

1 — Intel DX79SI Review2 — Intel DX79SI Test Setup3 — Intel DX79SI Image Editing and Video Encoding Performance4 — Intel DX79SI Multi-Tasking and Overall Performance5 — Intel DX79SI SATA Performance6 — Intel DX79SI Gaming Performance7 — Intel DX79SI Performance Analysis and Conclusion

Intel DX79SI Review |

At stock speeds, the DX79SI proved just as capable as the other LGA2011 boards we’ve tested. Its score of 1,735 in the image editing test was top of the class, as was its SATA 6Gbps read speed of 553MB/sec. It also managed a SATA 6Gbps write speed of 521MB/sec, essentially maxing out our OCZ Vertex 3 SSD.

The SATA 3Gbps ports are also fast enough to push older SSDs such as OCZ’s Vertex to their limits; the DX79SI managed a read speed of 279MB/sec and write speed of 280MB/sec on its SATA 3Gbps ports. You’ll need to make use of the SATA 6Gbps ports (coloured blue) to provide enough throughput for modern SSDs, though.

It was a fair bit slower than other boards in the HandBrake H.264 video encoding test, however. Its score of 3,530 is some way off the fastest boards we’ve seen. This resulted in an overall score of 2,252 for the DX79SI — the lowest we’ve seen from an LGA2011 board – but thanks to good results in the other two tests, this was only 59 points short of the ASRock X79 Extreme4-M, which managed 2,311. Meanwhile, our Arma II game test showed very little variation in results, with just 2fps separating the minimum frame rates of all the boards at stock speed.

We then headed into the EFI to see how far we could push our CPU. It was fairly easy to navigate but not as snappy as those from Asus and ASRock. However, it has the full range of tweakable options you’d expect for an LGA2011 motherboard, such as System Agent voltage adjustment and the ability to adjust the CPU straps to 1.00x, 1.25x or 1.67x. This allows for CPU Base Clock speeds in excess of 120MHz without the other bus speeds throwing their toys out of the pram.

Aiming for the CPU frequency of 4.7GHz that we’ve seen on most other boards proved fruitless, though, as anything higher than a CPU Base Clock of 121.65MHz using a 38x CPU multiplier resulted in Windows freezing, no matter what voltages we used. In the end we resorted to increasing the Turbo Boost Short Power MAX and Turbo Boost Max settings to 220W and settled on a vcore of 1.4V, a System Agent voltage of 1.005V and opted for the 1.25x CPU strap. Along with a CPU Base Clock frequency of 121.65MHz, this meant the System Base Clock was running at 97.32MHz, with an overall CPU frequency of 4.6GHz.

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The Windows-based tweaking software proved fairly capable at tweaking the CPU multiplier and CPU Base Clock by small amounts, and provided real-time information on the various clock speeds and straps. However, it doesn’t offer as much potential for system tuning as Asus’ AI Suite and Thermal Radar utilities.

Our tweaking resulted in some sizeable performance gains, although with the smallest overclock of the seven boards we’ve tested so far, it wasn’t surprising to see the DX79SI return the lowest results. In our Media Benchmarks, its overall score rose to 2,848 from 2,252, while the minimum frame rate in Arma II rose to 85fps – a 5 per cent improvement.


The DX79SI is one of the better enthusiast-orientated motherboards we’ve seen from Intel and it surprised us with its looks and features. Many of these, such as the power and reset buttons and POST code readout, are absent from more expensive boards.

However, it’s also lacking in a few key areas, namely in its ability to overclock as easily as other LGA2011 boards, and when it comes to motherboard cooling. Asus’ Sabertooth X79 has much better cooling and sports the superb Thermal Radar tweaking suite. Given that the Sabertooth X79 costs just £17 more, this is money well spent as far as we’re concerned.

1 — Intel DX79SI Review2 — Intel DX79SI Test Setup3 — Intel DX79SI Image Editing and Video Encoding Performance4 — Intel DX79SI Multi-Tasking and Overall Performance5 — Intel DX79SI SATA Performance6 — Intel DX79SI Gaming Performance7 — Intel DX79SI Performance Analysis and Conclusion

Intel DX79SI motherboard review and test (page 2)

Mosfet processor assemblies are covered with a tall blue aluminum heatsink.

It has a black plate of the same material with a silver inscription indicating the model name. A gray thermal rubber is used as a thermal interface. But with the mount, the engineers were clearly too clever. It is not even so important that the screw that you unscrew from the back is not one. In fact, this is a nut, and a threaded stud is located in the radiator itself.

It can be seen that one part of it was adapted for a hole specially made in the textolite for mounting, and a washer and a spring were placed in the upper part. But now it’s not about the complexity of the design, but about the fact that there is actually no clamp. Yes, the radiator just dangles in different directions, and don’t even think about charging for it. And, unfortunately, this design is not easy to finalize, because it is necessary not only to select a washer of certain sizes, but also to be able to install it.

The northbridge is covering. .. No, wait, there is no northbridge, then why is this radiator in its place?

You can’t call it anything other than props. The radiator does not touch any parts, moreover, grooves are specially made in it so that it does not interfere with the power elements of the phase on the CPU Vtt line, which it covers. It, like the mosfet, is made of aluminum. And in this case, there was a black plate, this time with the manufacturer’s logo. Unlike the mosfet radiator, the «north bridge» consists of two parts, between which there is a heat pipe extending towards the chipset. For safe contact with the textolite, black legs can be seen on it.

The other end of the heatpipe is connected to the heatsink that sits above the chipset.


Top with black decorative skull lid and blue mesh inserts. On the reverse side, you can see the copper base, to which the heat pipe is glued. She, in turn, passes in a special groove of a low black radiator, which is crowned with this decorative cover. I tried to remove it, but it was well glued and did not succumb to my efforts. As a thermal interface, a plastic gray substance is used, which is like a very thick thermal paste. The contact is good, so there is no point in changing it. But the mount is still the same ugly, one more reason not to touch the cooling system.

Hidden under the heatsink is the Intel X79 Express chipset, better known as the company’s most expensive chipset.

The board has three PCI-e x16 slots, the bottom one works in x8 mode. All black with white stripes.

The convenience of their use is in doubt because the bottom part is almost always covered by the video card, and the upper ledge is very small, you need to put some pressure on it, but there is a high risk that this object will slip and hit the board. This is especially noticeable in the case of the top slot itself, because it is located in close proximity to the radiator. I tried to insert a pencil with an eraser at the end into the opening — it didn’t fit, I had to look for a wooden ruler. And for constant manipulations with video cards — it’s generally a disaster, it’s better to immediately bite off this radiator from the heat pipe.

Nevertheless, the manufacturer claims support for all multigraphic technologies: SLI, Quad SLI, 3WAY SLI, CrossFireX, Quad CrossFire. For some of these bundles, bridges are even provided in the kit. In addition to the above slots, there are two PCI-e x1 and one regular PCI.

Someone will certainly like this arrangement of connectors. For others, it will be unacceptable. Yes, this option is suitable for 3WAY SLI from two-slot cards, but there will be practically no gap between them, the air will flow badly, and you can forget about two three-slot cards like ASUS GTX 580 DCII. This item is purely individual, and does not apply to pluses or minuses, but only to features.

To support drives and drives, the board has three dual SATA connectors, providing support for six devices.

Two of them conform to the SATA 3 standard and are highlighted in blue, the remaining four are limited to SATA II specifications only. All of them are represented by the Intel x79 logic chip.

I remember, when studying the package, I came across a leaflet describing Smart Response Technology (can be confused with Intel Rapid Storage Tecnology) and an Intel 311 series drive. But in fact, SRT only supports Intel Z68, while Intel x79it is missing at the moment. On the other hand, its usefulness is doubtful, especially in the high-performance segment, simply because the buyer would prefer to buy a regular SSD drive for the system. It won’t be much more expensive, but much more efficient.

No other SATA controllers are provided on the board, and there are no eSATA ports on the rear panel.

Now let’s look at the presence of another popular interface, namely USB 2.0. Here the company again used the full capabilities of the controller of this bus integrated into the chipset. In the lower right corner there are four pads for connecting eight devices.

Six more USB 2.0 ports are located on the rear panel. Plus, the company’s engineers decided to endow the Intel DX79SI board with USB 3.0 standard support using two third-party NEC / Renesas D720200AF1 controllers.

Two connectors are located on the rear panel. A USB 3.0 header for connecting a rear bracket or front panel with two ports can be found along the bottom edge of the board.

There are CIR connectors on both sides and a BIOS reset jumper on the right.

Almost in the middle of the bottom edge of the board there is a connector for connecting buttons and case indicators.

Next to it you can find: POST code indicator, contact pads for measuring voltages, Power, Reset buttons, IEEE 1394 block. Users owe the presence of the latter interface to a separate VIA VT6315N controller.

It supports two ports at once, so there was room for one more on the rear panel.

In the lower left corner there are connectors for the front audio panel and S / PDIF Out, and closer to the bottom edge there is a whole bunch of LEDs that serve as indicators of the operation of certain components.

A special table is provided in the instructions for deciphering the values.

Above on the left side is the Realtek ALC892 eight-channel audio codec.

Further, moving up, we find two chips of gigabit network adapters.

These are two Intel products: WG82574L and WG82579L.

Two clock generator chips ICS 1643853 and SLG505YC264CT are wired between the top two PCI-e x16 slots.

Now let’s look at the connectors located on the rear panel.

  • Back to BIOS switch;
  • Two USB 3.0 ports;
  • Six USB 2.0 ports;
  • One IEEE139 connector4;
  • Two Gigabit RJ-45 network connectors;
  • Five audio minijacks;
  • One optical S/PDIF Out.


Processors supported Second generation Core i7 in Socket 2011
System bus frequency DMI 2. 0 (20 Gbps)
System logic Intel X79 Express
RAM 8 x 240-pin DDR3 DIMM, quad-channel,
up to 64 GB @ 1066 / 1333 / 1600 / 1866 / 2133 (overclocked) / 2400 (overclocked)
Expansion slots 3 — PCIe 3.0 x16 (lower in x8 mode)
2 — PCIe 3.0 x1
1 — PCI 2.2
Multi-GPU support CrossFireX, SLI, Quad CrossFire, Quad SLI, 3-WAY SLI (x16+x16+x8).
SATA/RAID support 2x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports — Intel X79; RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, JBOD;
4x SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports — Intel X79; RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, JBOD
IDE and eSATA support no;
Network 1x Intel WG82574L
1x Intel WG82579L
Audio Realtek ALC892 — 8-channel HD audio codec
USB 2. 0 6+8x USB 2.0 (Intel X79)
USB 3.0 2+2x NEC D720200AF1
IEEE-1394 1+1x VIA VT6315N
System monitoring Winbond W83677HG-i
Motherboard power supply ATX 24-pin, 8-pin ATX 12V
Rear connectors and buttons 6x USB 2.0/1.1
2x USB 3.0
1x IEEE1394a
2x RJ45
1x optical S/PDIF Out
5x 3.5mm Jack
1x Back to BIOS switch
Proprietary technologies
  • Power Supervisor
  • Intel Overclocking Assistant
  • Fast Boot
  • BIOS Vault Technology
  • Xtreme Tuning Utility
  • Diagnostic LED
  • Initialization LED
  • POST Code Reader
  • Back to BIOS Button
Dimensions, mm 305 x 244
Form factor ATX.