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Gigabyte X79S-UP5-WiFi Review

Size wise, the X79S-UP5-WiFi is an E-ATX motherboard, meaning that it is almost an inch wider than normal ATX boards. Users will have to ensure that their case can support an E-ATX motherboard, even if the case is spacious. Gigabyte made their enthusiast/workstation hybrid motherboard black and kept the design relatively simple and ergonomic, maintaining the serious professional appearance of a workstation board but with a few extra additions for high end home users.

There are six SATA ports and eight SAS ports on this motherboard, all tightly packed together that the lowermost right side of the board. The white SATA ports run at 6Gbps bandwidth (SATA 3), while the black SATA ports can reach up to 3Gbps (SATA II). The grey SAS ports are backwards compatible with all normal SATA drives, mechanical and solid state alike, but they will not support optical devices. All of the SAS ports have a bandwidth of 3Gbps, equivalent to SATA II mode. Considering that an eight channel RAID controller can set your budget back by several hundred dollars, the integrated SAS controller is probably the most important feature of the X79S-UP5-WiFi board.

At the lower right side of the board, Gigabyte placed all of the internal USB 2.0 headers, the case front panel button/LED headers and a basic reset switch for those hardcore users who will be running their system on a bench table. One of the fan headers can also be found at the very corner of the board. The dual BIOS chips have been placed between the SATA/SAS ports and the chipset heatsink.

Moving towards the left side of the board, we found another fan header, a header for a Firewire 1394 port, a SPDIF out header for digital audio and the case front panel audio jacks header. There also is a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header for encryption devices, something especially rare on boards meant for casual users and even common professionals.

An ITE IT8728F Super I/O chip has been installed on the lower left corner of the X79S-UP5-WiFi. The Super I/O chip has many capabilities, from timers and modem controls to the point that it adds support for almost every legacy port (PS2, Parallel, Serial, etc.), but we suspect that Gigabyte used it for its very accurate voltage and temperature sensor readings more than anything else. After all, we will later see that this board offers great flexibility to enthusiasts and overclockers; high precision controls would not be of much good if the BIOS readings were highly inaccurate.

A VIA VT6308P Firewire 1394 host controller chip sits right next to the ITE IT8728F chip, responsible for the onboard header we have previously seen and for the Firewire port on the back I/O panel as well.

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