Intel's Sandy Bridge-E platform is slated to be with us well into 2013.  Thus if you want the highest performing system with no expense spared, there is only one way to achieve this - through the X79 chipset.  This chipset has been with us since November, and typically eight months into a chipset we get a new set of motherboards based on feedback and updates.  Such is the case when we met with Gigabyte today, who showed us their top end X79 refresh board.

Rather than simply reuse the X79 chipset, Gigabyte have gone a different way with the X79S we saw.  Using the server based C606 chipset, a motherboard manufacturer has access to a variety of different features - SAS ports, full Xeon support, and also ECC memory.  By using a server chipset, we now have a total of 14 SATA ports on board, with 8 of them being certified for SAS use.  Combine this with 8 DIMMs and ECC support, and what you have on your hands is a really nice workstation product.

The heatpipe design connects together the chipset, and both the VRM heatsinks.  The backpanel gives us two NICs - one Intel and one Atheros, and also a trio of buttons on the side.  The top one, marked OC, should presumably give a factory set overclock.  The button underneath lets users switch between BIOSes (useful if the system is in a case), and the third button is a simple ClearCMOS.

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  • Breit - Monday, June 4, 2012 - link

    Where is the Thunderbolt connector? I think a 2nd-gen x79 board should have one...
  • Roland00Address - Monday, June 4, 2012 - link

    You won't see thunderbolt on something without integrated intel graphics for you need something to drive the minidisplayport part of thunderbolt.

    x79 is not going to get least is not going to get thunderbolt with intel blessing since x79 can't have integrated graphics (remember x79 is designed for quad and hex cores and possibly octocores).
  • Breit - Monday, June 4, 2012 - link

    DisplayPort is not the only application thunderbolt is useful for...
  • SteveTheWalrus - Monday, June 4, 2012 - link

    yes but its part of it and the iGPU is fairly necessary for that...just like he said, not with intel's blessing
  • Taft12 - Monday, June 4, 2012 - link

    I can't see this coming in at anything less than $500 US.

    Anybody know if you can do Thunderbolt via a PCI-E x16 expansion card? No such thing on Newegg, but this is the time of year such a product would be announced....
  • zerorift - Monday, June 4, 2012 - link

    The server component had me really excited, but then I saw the Atheros card....

    Why would a motherboard vendor go through the trouble of providing 14 (!) SATA ports only to slap a 35c NIC onboard to pair with the Intel hardware?

    Would it have really cost that much more to provide two Intel NICs so you could use LACP?
  • mars2k - Monday, June 4, 2012 - link

    Good point, why not dual Intel? Also, surely there will be Thunderbolt add ons. The exclusivity agreement with Apple is up so now we're seeing Thunderbolt support on some boards. See the recent Asus review on this site
  • MadHacker - Friday, June 8, 2012 - link

    yes that truly sucks.
    with dual intel, it would suport NIC teaming,
    until more specs on the board is relase, i'm going to guess that that won't be posible.

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