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Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Tri-CrossFire Graphics Card Review

Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Tri-CrossFire Graphics Card Review

Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Tri-CrossFire featuring the Pure Black X79N Motherboard

The Sapphire Pure Black X79N Motherboard

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For their new Pure Black X79N Sapphire use a similar box design to the rest of their motherboard range and inside the box we find a decent bundle. This includes product documentation, Sapphire Select Club invite, software CD, IO shield and drive cables. Sapphire also include a USB 3.0 bracket so that we can add additional ports to the back or front of our system.

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Sapphire use a black ATX PCB for their X79N and it measures 304x244mm with solid capacitors used throughout. Sapphire Diamond Black chokes are also present and blue, black and red are the predominant colour choices for the board parts which include useful features such as dual BIOS. This is a socket 2011 based board with digital power management and server grade PWM components which are capable of delivering 270w and jumpers are present to enable/disable PCIe slots as required.

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Down at the bottom left of the board we can see our debug LED which will assist in fault finding and beside it are our on-board clear CMOS, power and reset buttons. Above these are six PCIe slots which have a varied configuration of 2x PCIE 2.0 8x, 1x PCIe 3.0 16x, 1x PCIe 8x and 2x PCIe 2.0 16x and are Crossfire capable.

Over at the right side of the board Sapphire has included an internal USB 3.0 header and eight SATA ports. Four of these use the Intel Southbridge and are SATA 2 spec, two more use the same controller but are SATA 3 spec and the remaining two use a Marvell SATA 6Gb/s controller.

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Sapphire provide us with four DDR3 memory slots on the X79N and each is capable of holding 8GB of memory, up to a total of 32GB with speeds in excess of 1600MHz over quad channels. A passive heatsink sits above the CPU socket which supports all SandyBridge-E CPUs, including the fastest i7-3960X. Reading points for key board aspects can be found along the top edge of the board, just along from the 8-pin CPU power connector.

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Round at the back panel Sapphire start with PS/2 which sits above 2x USB 2.0. Beside these are optical and coaxial audio out (Realtek) and moving along there is Bluetooth (Atheros 2.1+EDR), dual eSATA, 4x USB 2.0, dual GB LAN (Marvell), 4x USB 3.0 (ASMedia) and our 3.5mm audio in/out.


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Sapphire use Q-BIOS on their new motherboards and as with other manufacturers it uses a GUI which means we have full keyboard and mouse functionality within the screens. As always there are plenty of tweaking and configuration options with the majority of the interesting options found in the "performance" tab.

Sapphire also include a tool which allows us to update the BIOS quickly and easily from USB and as with their other boards the useful Trixx utility is included. This allows us to monitor and tweak our system and includes a handy widget for quick access to key readings.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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