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ASUS P9X79-E WS Workstation Motherboard Review
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ASUS P9X79-E WS Workstation Intel X79 Motherboard
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by Rob Williams on October 23, 2013 in Motherboards

If a workstation build is in the cards, or you’re looking to build the baddest multi-GPU gaming rig around, the X79 platform remains the one to consider. But what motherboard could possibly fill the “ultimate” void, one that’s able to handle a lot of stress, or for that matter, 7 graphics cards? Look no further than ASUS’ P9X79-E WS.

Features: Fan Xpert+, USB 3.0 Boost & Other Tools

Fan Xpert+

Today’s motherboards are beyond feature-packed, but something many of them still lack is truly robust fan control. For those who really want to tweak their fan’s behavior, this has no doubt been a little frustrating. When ASUS noted this void in the market, it released Fan Xpert+. This solution is driven by an on-board fan controller, negating the need for a hardware fan controller (unless you happen to want one for easy manual control).

In Fan Xpert+ (there’s a sequel, which I’ll touch on in a moment), you’re able to choose between a couple of different profiles; Standard, Silent, Turbo and User – all of which I’m sure are self-explanatory. User is the most powerful option here, as it allows you to choose exactly how fast each fan will go at a given CPU temperature. But how could you possibly know which RPM the fan will output at a given power output percentage? That’s where the “Test” option comes in.

Clicking the Test option will spin down the chosen fan and slowly ramp it up to its max value. Along the way, it will record the given RPM value at each increment of 10%. You can see an example of a result in the shot below:

ASUS P9X79-E WS

As you can imagine, different fans can behave in very different ways, and it’s for that reason that this Test tool is so useful. In this particular case, I have a fan that doesn’t even power on until 50% of its voltage is applied – rather nonsense if you ask me. However, between 50~100%, the fan ranges from 331 RPM straight up to 1,056 RPM. With these nice jumps in between each 10%, you can easily create the perfect profile for a given CPU temperature. The software is also aware of two fans for the same CPU, labelled as CPU_FAN and CPU_OPT, so the second fan won’t be treated as a chassis fan.

More ridiculous than the fan above might be one that doesn’t scale based on power at all, such as this one. It could be that this fan actually is ramping up in a regular manner, but for some reason isn’t reporting back the appropriate value. In this case, you’d actually have to listen by ear as the test conducts and get a feel for things that way. Ideally, you won’t have fans like this installed in your PC.

ASUS P9X79-E WS

With ASUS’ Z77 launch came Fan Xpert+ 2. What it adds is an auto-tuning option which tests each and every installed fan, one by one, much in the same way the test does above. However here, the tool will automatically create profiles using advanced algorithms built in-house based off of testing with a large collection of different fan models. Of course, once the profile is created, you’re able to further tune each and every value. It’s a little unfortunate to not have this ability available here, but on the upside, the Test feature at least is.

USB 3.0 Boost

Ever since the release of the first USB 3.0 products, we’ve heard the word “boost” everywhere, either in regards to transfer speeds or charging. It’s for that reason that I didn’t quite appreciate ASUS’ USB 3.0 Boost to the extent I think I should have. However, as I discovered, it does in fact have quite a bit of value.

ASUS P9X79-E WS

The most effective USB 3.0 transfer protocol is UASP, “USB Attached SCSI Protocol”. Compared to the traditional BOT transfer method, UASP is able to send files along more effectively at higher queue-depths. When you can copy more than one file at a time, that’s much more effective than going in a sequential order. Even though UASP, to me, should be standard on every motherboard, that’s not the case even at this point in time. ASUS once again had the foresight to include the solution as early as possible – so early, that it had to release the official upgrade after this board was released. If you want to know just how standard UASP is – Windows 8 utilizes it by default.

Here are the differences between the traditional BOT and new UASP protocols in terms of throughput:

ASUS P9X79 PRO - USB 3.0 Boost - Normal
(USB 3.0: Normal)

ASUS P9X79 PRO - USB 3.0 Boost - UASP
(USB 3.0: UASP)

Note: Results are from the P9X79 PRO, not this reviewed -E WS board.

It goes without saying that I’m a lot more interested in UASP than BOT after seeing these results. It’s worth mentioning that you need a UASP compatible device (card reader or dock) in order to take advantage of the extra speed. Unfortunately, these are still quite rare at this time, and the only hard drive dock that we’re aware of is the updated Thermaltake BlackX 5G.

Other Tools

To help wrap up our look at Ai Suite II, we’ll just briefly talk about a couple of the other smaller tools that ASUS includes in the package. Probe II is a hardware monitor that has the ability to alert you if one value experiences an unsafe variance; Sensor Recorder needs no explanation; BT GO! is ASUS’ Bluetooth solution that can provide extended interoperability with mobile devices (though my experience with my Transformer Prime was limited); SSD Caching, yet another self-explanatory feature by this point, and finally, System Information, a minimal system information tool.

ASUS P9X79-E WS ASUS P9X79-E WS

ASUS P9X79-E WS ASUS P9X79-E WS

ASUS P9X79-E WS ASUS P9X79-E WS

ASUS P9X79-E WS ASUS P9X79-E WS

Have you had your fill of Ai Suite II yet? If not, please re-read this page and the last. If so, let’s jump right into the benchmarks!


  • Morten Telling

    Nice review. How does the P9X79 -E WS differ from the P9X79 WS? Wich MOBO is the best for Workstation use – like Premiere Pro/Photoshop/Lightroom etc.?

    • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

      The boards are identical at the core, but the E ups the peripheral connectivity a little bit. The E board has 7 PCIe x16 slots whereas the non-E has 6, and unlike the non-E, the E board does not degrade the final two slots to x4 (regardless of how the other PCIe slots are utilized). The E board also includes 2 extra SATA 6 ports, 2 eSATA ports, and 2 additional USB ports at the back.

      Neither board will be better than the other for those workloads you mention, so you’d want to choose whichever fits the budget or your other needs better.

  • gerwingr

    thank you for the review, i am a few years behind with Bloomfield’s , looking for the performance percentage improvements with this configuration . i probably will wait until DDR4, and the new intel chipset. x99 but i am tempted. Cheers. and thanks again.

    • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

      I think Haswell-E and X99 will be well-worth waiting for. At least then we’ll have richer SATA 3 / USB 3 support on Intel’s highest-end platform. It still burns me that Intel didn’t update X79 for IV-E to at least match what Z87 offers.

      • gerwingr

        thank you for your thought, good point on the SATA 3 , i am just amazed at what good video production values and editing, can do for a good story line, such as this :> Cheers, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEcbwvNaxE8