Gigabyte X79S-UP5 WiFi
Posted on: 09/16/2012 11:15 PM
Today we are checking out a new and rather unusual motherboard from Gigabyte called the X79S-UP5 WiFi, and itís unusual because of the name. You would expect given the name that this is another Intel X79 based motherboard but you would be wrong, well sort of. Instead at the heart of this board is the more expensive Intel C606 chipset and Gigabyte is offering it at X79 pricing...
Wind back the clock almost a year to November 14th 2011 and we find ourselves checking out the new Intel LGA2011 platform for the very first time using the Sandy Bridge-E based Core i7-3960X processor along with the then new X79 chipset.
This was an exciting time as we finally got to see how the hugely powerful six-core/twelve-thread Core i7 processors performed. On top of that we also got to find out what the new Intel X79 chipset had in store for us, though that turned out to be a lot less exciting.
Having heard rumors that the X79 would include more than a dozen SATA ports, and most would be 6GB/s capable and ready to accommodate SAS drives, had us excited. Unfortunately however what we were presented with was far less exciting. The X79 failed to differentiate itself from the older Z68 chipset as users still only got six SATA ports and shockingly just two of them were 6Gb/s capable. Additionally USB 3.0 support was nowhere to be found and users received the same 14 USB 2.0 ports as on the Z68.
All in all the chipsets were near enough to identical, which was very disappointing for Intelís new flagship platform. If you compared the features of the X79 to the older X58/ICH10R chipset combination, it was hard to believe after 3 years so little had changed. Essentially users got two extra USB ports, two extra PCIe x1 lanes and a pair of SATA 6Gb/s ports, though the overall amount of SATA ports remained the same when compared to the X58.
However some X79 motherboards did include the rumored SAS ports, namely those from ECS, and on launch day we found this very confusing. On one hand we had Intel telling us the X79 chipset only supports 6 SATA ports with no SAS support, and on the other ECS were claiming that their ECS X79R-AX used the X79ís SAS support.
With the ECS X79R-AX sitting in front of me there was no evidence of a third party controller which could be responsible for these extra SATA 3Gb/s ports. ECS went on to say that Intel had removed (or merely hidden, as it seems) the X79's six extra SATA/SAS ports. Therefore it appeared that the Taiwanese motherboard manufacturer had managed to successfully enable them using some kind of hack.
So in short then, the X79 chipset supports SAS but Intel decided to remove it at a software level and instead made it an exclusive feature of the more expensive C606/608 server orientated chipsets. With ECS appearing to be the only motherboard manufacturer ballsy enough to re-enable SAS support, no other X79 board would feature more than six SATA ports without a third party controller.
That was until Gigabyte decided to take a different approach by adopting the C606 chipset in favor of the X79, creating the first certified LGA2011 motherboard to include the C606 chipset at X79 pricing. At $330 the X79S-UP5-WiFi supports a staggering 14 SATA ports matching the far more expensive Asrock X79 Extreme11 ($600) which we reviewed recently. The X79S-UP5-WiFi is also the cheapest C606 motherboard money can buy!
Printed from Legion Hardware (http://www.legionhardware.com/articles_pages/gigabyte_x79s_up5_wifi,1.html)