Intel DX79SI

Surprisingly, Intel's flagship X79 motherboard is the cheapest in our roundup at $280. Naturally, that means "stuff" has been cut, as evidenced when you count the DX79SI's six SATA ports and four USB 3.0 ports. However, it does have some useful extras, such as dual Gigabit LAN, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Multi-GPU support includes 3-way SLI and CrossfireX courtesy of three PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots, all of which can be populated with dual-slot cards and operate at the full x16 bandwidth.

The DX79SI has eight DIMM slots supporting up to 64GB of RAM running at 1066MHz to 1866MHz with 2133 and 2400MHz possible via overclocking.

As previously mentioned, Intel has used the X79's standard SATA storage configuration of two SATA 6Gb/s ports and four SATA 3Gb/s ports with support for RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10. There is no eSATA.

The wired Gigabit network support comes from two Intel controllers, the WG82579LM and WG82574L. Additionally, the board also supports Bluetooth 2.1 and Wi-Fi (IEEE802.11b/g/n). The wireless module is connected to a USB 2.0 header.

Audio is covered by the Realtek ALC892 8-Channel High Definition codec -- the same solution used by ECS. The DX79SI also features two FireWire ports with one on the I/O panel and the other via header. Both are driven by a VIA VT6315N chip.

Intel includes two NEC (Renesas) PD720200 controllers for four USB 3.0 ports, two via the rear backplate and two via header.

The board features a 6 + 2 power phase design, which is all Intel recommend for use with the LGA2011 platform. Unlike other entries in our roundup, the DX79SI opts for a traditional BIOS sans mouse support. Although the DX79SI is fairly basic for an X79 motherboard, it doesn't disappoint in terms of layout or aesthetics.