Intel DX79SI & Core i7-3960X

As we make our way down the board and into the expansion area, we see things getting very busy. Intel provides two full length x16 PCI Express slots, one x8 full length slot, two x1 PCI Express slots and a single standard PCI slot. A plethora of chips and components are scattered throughout the slot area, such as the VIA VT3615N 1394 host controller, a series of clock crystals, clock distribution chip, NEC USB 3.0 controller and more.

The most important items are typically located along the rear and bottom edges of the board, and that is no different with the DX79SI. The onboard HD audio is provided by the Realtek ALC892 chip, while dual Intel Gigabit Ethernet chips provide support for each Gigabit Ethernet port. Intel has placed a single, four-pin rear chassis fan header next to the top PCI Express x16 port. This is an excellent location as it is oriented above the top slot and offers easy access. Finally, along the bottom rear of the board we have the S/PDIF header, system buzzer and the front panel audio header. Note that all audio headers are yellow in color making them easy to find.

The bottom edge of the board keeps to the busy nature we’ve seen thus far with a long array of status LEDs, a four-pin auxiliary fan header, power and reset switches, POST code display and another large array of headers. It would’ve been nice to see the aux fan connector farther forward on the board such that it could be used for a front intake fan, but in this orientation it could be used for a power supply fan or another miscellaneous use. The dark blue header is for 1394 connections, black for front panel LEDs and switches, white for IR and light blue for USB 3.0. The CFG BIOS jumper is also located here, but this is rarely needed with the B2B capability of the DX79SI.

In the vicinity of the PCH, we have another large array of four, black USB 2.0 headers. These are the long items along the bottom of the board. Along the front side of the board, we have six right angle SATA connectors. Two support SATA6 and four support SATA3. There are markings on the board for another four SATA connectors, but that connector is not populated on the DX79SI. Bummer. The PCH cooler itself is low profile, and anodized in black and blue. It connects to the central heatsink via a heatpipe, and stayed quite cool in our testing. Finally, we have a single four-pin fan header. I’d prefer two here rather than having the AUX fan connector down in the corner o the board, but to each his own.

Last, but not least, we have the area around the front most DIMMs. This area is pretty clean, mainly due to the lack of useable space. The 24-pin ATX connector is here, which is a reasonable and good position, but otherwise the area consists only of electrical components.

Overall, the board fits a number of high-end features with only minor areas of complaint. I do wish there were two fan headers on the front of the board, but we only have one. I also found the location of the eight-pin power connector to be somewhat difficult to reach. There is plenty of room around the socket for large coolers and options aren’t too limited for multi-GPU setups. The DX79SI is a solid board design that is easy to work with, just keep in mind the locations of the vital headers and connectors when completing your build. Now, onto the performance numbers!