PCIe 3.0 vs. PCIe 2.0

As part of our testing on the X79 Extreme11, we decided to test both PCIe 2.0 and PCIe 3.0 scenarios.  Due to the PLX chips onboard giving us a full x16/x16/x16/x16 minus any PLX latency, it should give a rough idea of how these two technologies perform.  Our testing incorporated each benchmark at 2560x1440 using full eye candy settings.  Here are our results, indicated by percentage difference of PCIe 3.0 over PCIe 2.0:

PCIe 3.0 vs. PCIe 2.0
2560x1440, Full AA/AF
ASRock X79 Extreme11
  Metro 2033 Dirt3
1x 7970 -0.3% +3.8%
2x 7970 +2.6% +4.3%
3x 7970 +1.2% +4.2%
4x 7970 +1.9% +0.5%

As we can see, there is an improvement for Dirt3 and Metro2033, though the difference is barely noticable. The effect of PCIe 3.0 depends on the different engines using DirectX and OpenGL – each system, and thus each gaming engine, uses the PCIe bus differently.  In the games where the PCIe bus is used extensively, then PCIe 3.0 will win out.  Otherwise we are at the whim of statistical variation between runs.

Dirt 3

Dirt 3 is a rallying video game and the third in the Dirt series of the Colin McRae Rally series, developed and published by Codemasters.  Using the in game benchmark, Dirt 3 is run at 2560x1440 with full graphical settings.  Results are reported as the average frame rate across four runs.

Dirt 3 - One 7972

Dirt 3 - Two 7972

Dirt 3 - Three 7972

Dirt 3 - Four 7972

Due to the PLX chips, we would expect the X79 Extreme11 to fall behind slightly in single and dual GPU performance, which is confirmed in the benchmark results.  In four-way GPU however, the X79 board falls behind some Z77 boards.

Dirt 3 - One 580

Dirt 3 - Two 580

Using NVIDIA GPUs, Dirt3 is still agnostic to any CPU or PCIe performance.


Metro2033 is a DX11 benchmark that challenges every system that tries to run it at any high-end settings.  Developed by 4A Games and released in March 2010, we use the inbuilt DirectX 11 Frontline benchmark to test the hardware at 2560x1440 with full graphical settings.  Results are given as the average frame rate from 4 runs.

Metro2033 - One 7972

Metro2033 - Two 7972

Metro2033 - Three 7972

Metro2033 - Four 7972

Metro 2033 mirrors similar findings from Dirt3 - the ASRock cannot keep pace with the other boards.  This must suggest that having dual PLX chips offers a much bigger hit to frame rates than previously thought.

Metro2033 - One 580

Metro2033 - Two 580

Computation Benchmarks Testing the LSI SAS 2308 PCIe Controller


View All Comments

  • StevoLincolnite - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    Chipset fans.
    WHY!? They're noisy, probably fail quickly when filled up with dust...

    I have the Asus Sabertooth x79 which has 2 small fans on it and the noise they generate drives me bonkers, thankfully the board has a 5 year warranty... Heck most of these chipset fans aren't even a standardized size so replacing them on your own is going to be tough/impossible.
  • Grebuloner - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    I think you might want to check your board or your case cooling setup then. I can't hear the fans on my Sabertooth unless I stick my ear up to the grill on the I/O plate, and the chipset fan is inaudible over the 580 it sits next to. Reply
  • owan - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    Its not rocket science, its right there in the review: 35+W underneath a very low-profile heatsink. Passive cooling just wasn't going to cut it. I swear, if people are going to complain about stuff on this motherboard, they could do a lot better than whinging about the fan. Reply
  • Master_shake_ - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    i have an LSI 9260 add in card and that thing gets super hot, and the fan on this is really loud...

    just check out linus tech tips on youtube and you can hear it.
  • mike55 - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    What are those little box-shaped components that are in the center of the CPU socket and appear in the dozens on every PCB I've ever seen? Reply
  • Ditiris - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    They're capacitors for the CPU, more specifically decoupling capacitors. Reply
  • mike55 - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    Ah, thanks! Good to finally know what the heck those things are. Reply
  • LamborghiniBooby43 - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    As the X79 chipset does not have USB 3.0 as standard, ASRock have included Texas Instrument USB 3.0 controllers for a total of eight ports (4 on the back panel, 4 via two onboard headers) and a 2-port front USB panel included in the box. http://goo.gl/XbQv9 Reply
  • JMC2000 - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    If ASRock says this board is aimed at the workstation user, why in the world did they put those useless decorative metal shields on the heatsinks? Those things just scream out 'Gamer' to me.

    I would like to see someone build a dual-2011 socket board utilizing 4 of the PLX8747 chips.
  • Belard - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    Yep... A Workstation board is just that... They don't need all the bling. Yes, this board has workstation features - but this looks nothing more than a board for an uber gamer who has money to spend.

    Of course, what game makes use of 4 gaming cards (yeah, the slots are only useful for rendering / compute type work).

    Still, if you want to have EVERYTHING possible... this should be it.

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